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  1. Hip hop anonymous

    May 19, 2011 07:09 AM

    Can we refer to him only as Mad Dog from here on out? I can’t help but picture him kicking a chair every time he gets emotional.

  2. Mark

    May 19, 2011 07:34 AM

    Seriously, when he is on his stuff is unhittable… I mean the change ups he struck out Gonzalez and Tulowitzki with came out of his hand with a trajectory above the belt, came across the plate at the knees, and chooch caught them 6 to 8 inches off the ground. Thats like 18″ trajectory decent from his hand to the plate.

    Bill, How could they possibly move him back to the eighth when Lidge or Contrares come back? You can’t take this guy out of the closers role now. He’s mentally locked into that role!

    The MAD DOGs got a lot of bite on those pitches!

  3. Dan

    May 19, 2011 07:44 AM

    I hope they keep him as the closer all year too. The only reason they put Contreras in the role is because management said they didn’t think he could handle role. Well, he’s certainly proven that wrong so the only other reason to send him back to the 8th inning is to deflate his save total and drive town his price as a FA this off-season. He deserves the role and he’s thriving in it.

  4. Richard

    May 19, 2011 08:22 AM

    I love that last gif too. Dude is bringing it.

  5. Sean C

    May 19, 2011 08:24 AM

    I have the hugest man crush on Madson. Always have loved the guy and I’m so happy to see him succeed in the “Closers Mentality” so he can shut up all the people who think he’s unable to “handle it”.

  6. sean

    May 19, 2011 08:26 AM

    closers mentality

    btw can anyone explain to me how people can say ryan howard “isn’t being pitched to” yet he performing the same as he always does strikeout and walk wise. Shouldn’t it be called “that’s how you pitch to ryan howard”. preeminent slugger of our time has 18 walks to 50 strikeouts

  7. Scott G

    May 19, 2011 08:35 AM


    I’d have to agree. I loved him even when he was struggling as a starter. His knuckle curve ball was probably my favorite thing ever. I hated that he got rid of it, but now his change-up is just filthy.

  8. Fatalotti

    May 19, 2011 08:49 AM

    You can watch the pitches themselves, which each tell a great story, but I think the best story is to look at CarGo and Tulo after they’re done swinging. CArGo’s hips are WIDE open, ready to pull a fastball, but is so off balance because of the changeup and the location, as it fades to opposite side of the plate, out of the zone. That tells me that ball looked like a middle in fastball at some point, but when he swings at it, it’s a foot off the plate and down, coming in much later than he expected. Fooling a good hitter like CarGo that much: not easy.

    The same can basically be said about Tulo. He doesn’t open up quite as much, but his timing is absolutely annihilated, as he almost goes down to one knee at the end of his swing. Madson just made maybe the best 3-4 in the league looks like AAA batters, all with a runner standing at second.

    Giambi got fooled by some really late movement on a cutter.

    Ryan Madson has the best stuff on the team, in my opinion. Roy Halladay is the best pitcher, but I’m not sure, if I need one inning, I’m not going to Madson over anyone on the staff.

    High strikeout rate, reasonable walk rate, ground ball machine. Yeah.

  9. hk

    May 19, 2011 09:17 AM


    Good stuff. It’s funny to hear how the “Ryan Madson can’t pitch in the 9th inning” crowd has turned into the “Ryan Madson has learned how to pitch in the 9th inning” crowd. Unfortunately, it’s not so funny to see the K to BB ratio of the “pre-eminent slugger of our time.” I wonder if 97.5 ever had / still has a podcast of that Mike Missanelli interview with Keith Law where Law abused Missanelli with stats and reasoning why Howard’s next contract was a huge overpay and Missanelli could only respond with the line that you quoted.

  10. Scott G

    May 19, 2011 09:21 AM


    love that you pointed out the “he learned how to pitch” thing. It’s absolutely insane.

  11. sean

    May 19, 2011 09:29 AM

    also last night i was watching the braves arizona game and kimbrel came in and gives up 4 singles, and twitter explodes that he can’t close. i just laughed about that for a while.

    if kimbrel doesn’t deflect a ball that was hit to the left of the mound towards uggla, it’s a double play because of how hard it was hit on the ground and it’s game over, but 2 singles later it’s game. i almost hope they take their best reliever out of the closers job!

  12. Sean F

    May 19, 2011 09:37 AM

    Ever since the Mad Dog really emerged asan excellent reliever in 2008 he has been my favorite pitcher in the ‘pen. He is absolutely filthy and mostly due to the fact that he has a fastball that can get up to 97 mph at times paired with an 85 mph changeup that drops off about a foot and a half. Now that he has cutter to mix in there it’s ridiculous. He has an arsenal of pitches Mariano Rivera dreams of. BYW I wonder what the Mad Dog yelled after striking out Giambi? Looked like “FUN Yeah!” to me.

  13. Dave

    May 19, 2011 09:43 AM

    His transformation has been pretty remarkable. He’s always had the change-up, but Madson got lit-up as a starter (’06?) – a 5+ era, I believe. He seemed to really get some life on his fastball in ’07, and has been awesome ever since.

    (Note: my timeline could be off there).

    Good to see. I love Mad Dog. Too bad his wife hates us:-)

  14. Matt

    May 19, 2011 09:56 AM

    Obviously, this won’t last, but it’s one of those early season things that’s still really cool to look at…Madson’s ERA+ on B.R. is 734.

  15. Bob

    May 19, 2011 10:12 AM

    Madson should be our answer to the closer issue for years to come.

    Re Sean’s comment on Ryan Howard: If I were a pitcher, I’d never throw him a strike with the expectation that he’ll swing anyway. I can’t remember a hitter of note who swings and misses at so many pitches out of the strike zone. Would love to see numbers on percentage of swings (and misses) at pitches out of the strike zone.

  16. KH

    May 19, 2011 12:00 PM

    What do you expect them to say about Howard though. Thats how people covering the team are going to talk. Teams have refined how to pitch to him its pure and simple. He has some huge blind spots. You throw the ball in those spots and even if they look like obvious balls to you and me Howard is going to swing at them. Its amazing that he can’t learn to be even a little more patient because a lot of the pitches he swings at are clearly not strikes. Not even borderline.

  17. Chris

    May 19, 2011 01:45 PM

    Howard’s o-swing percent, while down from last years 33%, is still a far cry from his ’05-’07 rates around 25.5% and so far this season is at ~30%. However, his o-contact percent is way above career averages at 57% (compared to ~42% career and 48% last year) leading to an overall swinging strike percentage of around 13% on pitches thrown outside the strike zone (someone correct me if I’m wrong on that), compared to 16% career and 17% last year. So, yeah even though it may not have seemed like it this past week or so, he’s actually been doing better than his career in terms of swinging strike % on pitches outside the zone. Meanwhile, he’s seeing the least amount of pitches inside the zone this year for his entire career (40% in zone this year compared to 45% career). All that said, while his k rate is up from last year, it actually isn’t that far off from his ’06 season, and his walk rate is absolutely abysmal, especially considering the few number of pitches he sees in the zone. The optimists have chase coming back this homestand, so hopefully he can teach him how to stop striking out so much…

  18. Red

    May 19, 2011 01:53 PM

    Question for folks: given how Charlie is so old school about his pen management, wouldn’t folks rather have Madson pitch the 8th? Madson is, in my opinion, the best RP in that pen, but as the set up guy Charlie has used him more dynamically than he has ever used any closer: for outs in the 7th, when needed, for 1+ IP, in late innings of tied games on the road, when the game is tied at home. Furthermore, I think that Bill showed that Madson faced higher leverage situation in the 8th last year than Lidge did as the closer. That may have been a fluke, or it could be that higher leverage situations happen in the 8th more frequently than the 9th. Wouldn’t you rather Madson face the toughest situations, and be used basically when needed, than be saved for the 9th only?

  19. Scott G

    May 19, 2011 02:23 PM


    Yes. Most people here want him used in the highest leverage situations. Manuel does not use him in tie games on the road. See two nights ago.

  20. Joe Redden

    May 19, 2011 03:12 PM

    While I completely love Madson and his filthy pitches, we only won that game because of poor management by the Rockies. That and outstanding pitching from Hamels and Madson. Here’s how the ninth should have went down.

    1. Smith doubles to right. One on, no outs.
    2. Cargo sac bunts, Smith to third, 1 out.
    3. Helton hits Sac fly, two outs, game tied.
    4. Madson strikes out Tulo.

    Now the Phillies would be screwed. Anemic offense in bottom of the ninth, most likely going to extra innings, and we already used our closer. While the Phils used small ball, the Rockies over-looked it. And I’m glad they did.

  21. Joe Redden

    May 19, 2011 03:14 PM

    Just to add, because of the speed of Cargo and the fact that Polanco was staying back to keep Smith from stealing second, the bunt probably would be for a base hit. Just saying.

  22. hk

    May 19, 2011 03:23 PM

    Joe Redden,

    In your scenario, after Cargo sacrifice bunted Smith over to 3rd, Tulowitki’s K would have been the 2nd out and Helton’s sacrifice fly would have been the 3rd out.

  23. Dubee Dubee Du

    May 19, 2011 03:24 PM

    No Joe. If CarGo bunts Smith to third Madson strikes out Tulo for the 2nd out, gives IBB to Helton and Ks Giambi for the win.

  24. Bill Baer

    May 19, 2011 03:24 PM

    Joe, I think you mean Tulowitzki instead of Helton, since he was ahead in the batting order. I also think you mean Polanco was staying back to prevent Smith from stealing third.

    I don’t agree with the overall alternate reality, let alone the assumption that the sacrifice fly is converted. As you can see above, Madson is awesome at missing bats, and he is also awesome at generating ground balls.

    Additionally, sacrifice bunting wouldn’t increase the probability of scoring runs.


    Runner on second, no outs: 1.04 expected runs

    Runner on third, one out: 0.90 expected runs

    Lastly, it’s quite a leap to simply assume that Gonzalez A) gets the bunt down correctly, and B) beats the throw. He hasn’t had a sacrifice bunt since 2009. Hitting in the middle of the order, I’d be surprised if he even practices bunts anymore.

  25. Scott G

    May 19, 2011 03:24 PM

    1) Would you want Chase Utley to bunt there?

    2) Luckily we could have appealed the play had Helton batted before Tulowitzki and hit a sacrifice fly resulting in Smith scoring. Had the Phillies been paying attention, Tulowitzki would have been called out, and the run would be removed as part of rule 6.07 in the rulebook.

    Tulowitzki would be ruled out, and Todd Helton would then bat again with Seth Smith on third and 2 outs. The same result probably would have followed.


  26. Frank K

    May 19, 2011 03:25 PM

    I hope the Phillies have the money to pay him. I cringe when I think of the big money handed away to Blanton, Ibanez and Howard’s re-up when they knew Hamels and Madson contracts were not far from ending.

  27. Dubee Dubee Du

    May 19, 2011 03:25 PM

    Smith hit a double Joe he wouldn’t be stealing second. Just saying.

  28. Bill Baer

    May 19, 2011 03:27 PM

    Holy moly, everybody and their grandmother jumped on Joe. Proud that all the points were rationally argued, unlike 99% of comment threads on the Internet.

    Crashburn Alley commenters > all other commenters

  29. Greg

    May 19, 2011 03:30 PM

    Much as I love Madson “Mad Dog” still has to be belong to Greg Maddux, right? Though I always thought “the Professor” was much more fitting, especially later in his career.

  30. Colonelmike

    May 19, 2011 05:14 PM

    Bill – Love your blog. I agree that Cargo shouldn’t have bunted in the 9th for the 2nd reason you cited (he hasn’t bunted since 2009). I don’t think the total expected run projections have anything to do with it, though. A 10 run inning is more likely without a bunt, and that’s what pulls the average expected return to 1.04 runs… but since you don’t need a 10 run inning there, it isn’t really relevant to the analysis.

  31. Bill Baer

    May 19, 2011 05:26 PM

    A 10-run inning wouldn’t affect the average very much at all, since they’re so rare and there are so many samples included in the data set.

  32. Colonelmike

    May 19, 2011 06:01 PM

    I agree. I was using 10 runs as an extreme to illustrate diminishing marginal return. There are plenty of 3 run innings that do affect the average runs scored, though. The critical run is the 1st run (tying), after that the 2nd run (go-ahead), and finally the 3rd run (insurance). Runs are not created equal. The probability of scoring any runs is higher with the bunt, while the probability of scoring 2+ runs in that inning is higher swinging away. From there you would need ESPN’s win probability calculator.

  33. Jack

    May 19, 2011 06:53 PM

    Nothing much to add to your analysis here. He’s absolutely dirty. I have more faith in him in a high leverage inning than I do in Contrares, Baez, Kendrick, and Lidge combined.

    And any time you want to write another entry about why Baez/Kendrick do not deserve big league roster spots, please feel free. I am not always married to the notion that big k/9 = greatness… but I do agree that abysmally low k/9 = can’t hack it, regardless of what a player’s era is 24 innings into a season (cough cough, Kendrick, cough cough). You’ll have to excuse me. I’m currently watching Kendrick make a joke out of himself and Charlie for starting him. What is the deal here?!

  34. jauer

    May 22, 2011 03:23 PM

    run frequency charts are better than run expectancy charts when youre arguing against a sac bunt from first to second. it decreases your odds of scoring even one run when you bunt a man from first to second

  35. David

    May 22, 2011 05:24 PM

    hey Bill, I see you are using some .gif’s recently, while this works, have you considered converting them to flash, it would look better (there is nothing functionally wrong with the .gif’s mind you it would just look better to possibly embed them in a flash video player) theirs nothing wrong with the .gifs but it would look more professional IMO….and as far as Madson’s stuff goes, its not only filthy but when he is on its lights out

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