By Law, I Am Required to Post This

From FanGraphs, when pitching statistics become reliable:

150 BF – K/PA, grounder rate, line drive rate
200 BF – flyball rate, GB/FB
500 BF – K/BB, pop up rate
550 BF – BB/PA

In case it’s not obvious, you can tell a lot more about a hitter from one year of data than you can about a pitcher.  All this data is from research that Pizza Cutter conducted, which can be found in the links below.  If a statistic is not included, the means it did not stabilize over the intervals that Pizza Cutter tested (which was up to 750 PA / BF).

Last year, Cole Hamels faced 26 batters per game on average, which means that we need to see at least six starts (about one month) before we can begin making up Hamels-related theories.

Hamels was bad last night. Was it a fluke? Maybe. Is his performance a bad omen? Maybe. In one isolated game last night, Hamels had trouble with his command (two walks in two and two-thirds innings) and was a bit unlucky on balls in play (lots of bloop hits, a scorching line drive by Ike Davis notwithstanding). Perhaps the weather bothered him, though he pitched just fine in the cold, rainy weather during the 2008 World Series.

I can see the Bleacher Report articles now: “10 reasons why Hamels doesn’t have the mental fortitude to pitch in April” or “17 signs Hamels is offended to be the #4 starter”. The 610 WIP callers will scream about how Hamels has become complacent pitching behind three aces.

Using sample size constraints limits discussion topics, but you’ll thank yourself at the end of the season when you think back on the season and don’t look like an idiot for projecting doomsday scenarios, as many did with Hamels last year. I get it, though. Corey Seidman said it beautifully at Brotherly Glove:

When Hamels annoys us, we react. When the other three [Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt] annoy us, we bite our tongue because we’re so grateful that they bless us with their presence.

[…] [we] don’t hate Hamels, [we’re] just so much more passionate about him because he dated us before we had money.

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12 comments

  1. Richard

    April 06, 2011 08:15 AM

    I didn’t think Corey Seidman said anything beautifully. But the worst part of his post was his dismissal of luck as a factor last night (which indicated a lack of understanding of what’s meant when it is invoked). Yes, Hamels’ command was off, and some balls were, as a result, hit sharply (though few were really scorched like the Davis hit was). Yet he could have pitched exactly the same and still gotten out of that inning with anywhere from 0 runs to the 6 he gave up, with a little shifting in the results on balls in play, that is to say, different luck. He gets through that with 2 or 3 runs, and it’s the same quality of pitching, but certain ground balls didn’t find holes, Reyes bunt is handled better, etc. Things look a whole lot different.

    In some respects, obviously, pitchers contribute to their own luck. Bad command results in both walks and more balls in play, after which anything can happen. So I’m not saying Hamels bears no responsibility for the inning, just that bad luck meant he got knocked out before having a chance to find his command.

  2. css228

    April 06, 2011 09:08 AM

    Hamels did have an inflated BABIP last night, but it doesn’t mean that his changeup wasn’t off. Also I did not see one curve from him last night (I missed the first inning and a half though). If his changeup is offand he can’t locate it it’d be nice if he used his curve just so guys won’t sit on his fast pitches.

  3. sean

    April 06, 2011 09:34 AM

    i’m curious what @fansince09 has to say since ja happ got lit up as well

  4. Sean C

    April 06, 2011 09:45 AM

    i also noticed his curve ball made only one appearance and was curious as to why he was reluctant to use it. I think the one good thing about Hamels getting knocked out early was that, with the exception of Herndon’s allowed run, the bullpen looked pretty solid.

  5. Tim

    April 06, 2011 10:46 AM

    Ugh, I was at the game last night, and the yahoos behind me started booing in the first inning, before any runs had even scored. Obviously it got much worse in the admittedly frustrating 3rd inning.

    These fans need to get their shit together. It’s a long season, and the team was 3-0 at the time. If I wanted to be around fans with a huge sense of entitlement, I’d start going to Red Sox and Yankees game. I thought we were better than that.

  6. awh

    April 06, 2011 12:49 PM

    Tim, exactly.

    Bill, great post about realiability of sample sizes.

    I have predicted this elsewhere, and I’ll do it here:

    At the end of the season Hamels will have a sub-3.50 ERA….AGAIN….and will have 200+ IP.

    I’ll take the occasional meltdown if I get that from him for a season.

    Also, it’s not like he hasn’t had performances like this before.

    Take a look at the 4th inning of the April 23rd Dbacks game last season: 5-run, 3 HR meltdown.

    Hamels will be just fine.

  7. COAL HAMLETS

    April 06, 2011 04:15 PM

    Cole didn’t look great last night, but I didn’t think he was as bad as the final stat-line makes it look. His command wasn’t great, but a lot of the hits were flukey and not hit very hard. A lot of it could be chalked up to bad luck, even if Cole was a bit off last night.

    Anyone who’s panicking over Cole having a shaky spring training and first start is out of their freaking mind. He may take until around May or so before we start seeing better results, but people should NOT be concerned this early in the season.

  8. Hugs not Boos for Hamels

    April 06, 2011 08:17 PM

    Sometimes I hate being a philly fan, or I at least hate other philly fans. These nights happen. It just looks worse because it’s the first game. Overeaction to that game is almost as bad as the people who said Pujols 2 double plays in the first game meant he was distracted. Dumb

  9. Hugs not Boos for Hamels

    April 06, 2011 08:19 PM

    On a side note, I’d like to see an article on pitchers with low run support and what kind of sample size is needed for that to no longer be random.

  10. derekcarstairs

    April 07, 2011 03:50 AM

    Those FanGraph stats identify ground balls, fly balls, line drives, and pop ups. Are there any stats on the velocity of balls coming off bats? Wouldn’t velocity off the bat be a better indicator than trajectory for base hits on balls in play?

  11. Scott

    April 07, 2011 06:50 AM

    Hamels’ start was a fluke. However, I could see him taking a step back this year just from the mental side once again. He was the man, now he’s basically forgotten. Granted, he’ll still be a hell of a fourth starter…but I just don’t know…

    I hope the Phils can get another ring out of this run, because I think that Hamels is probably gone after his contract is up.

    Donuts, on the other hand, he’ll be fine.

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