Author Topic: John Lannan is a better man than I'll ever be  (Read 8378 times)

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Offline The Chief

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Obviously you haven't seen the regression model they built to quantify luck...

If Sharp says the big wig stat guys are looking for an explanation, then I believe him, but that doesn't mean the people in the lower levels of the pyramid don't have a problem with confirmation bias.

Offline Sharp

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I'm sorry but I just can't accept that 95 games over 3.5 seasons is "lucky" but 14 games over half a season condemns him.  That absolutely screams "bias" in big read letters to me.
I'm not really sure what to make of this.  In 25 games last year his ERA pretty much matched his FIP.  In the previous two seasons, his ERA was less than his FIP by nearly a full run, causing a bunch of articles to be written as people tried to figure out what was driving it.  The conclusion was that there didn't appear to be anything--he had a consistently low BABIP but nothing, from his groundballing rate to the defense behind him to the types of hits he produced to his pitch location or selection or rotation, showed any consistent difference from what was expected from year to year.  Now, it's possible that he really can magically keep his ERA below his FIP despite there being no evidence to the contrary, but you need a lot more data than he currently has to make that argument.  People are still arguing about exactly what causes Cain's low HR/FB rate and he has over ten years of data to back him up.  Baseball stats take time.

Online MarquisDeSade

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If Sharp says the big wig stat guys are looking for an explanation, then I believe him, but that doesn't mean the people in the lower levels of the pyramid don't have a problem with confirmation bias.

I don't know, some morons pay me to build econometric models and I still have problems with most of the "suspend disbelief" SABR models/metrics. 

Offline The Chief

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I'm not really sure what to make of this.  In 25 games last year his ERA pretty much matched his FIP.  In the previous two seasons, his ERA was less than his FIP by nearly a full run, causing a bunch of articles to be written as people tried to figure out what was driving it.  The conclusion was that there didn't appear to be anything--he had a consistently low BABIP but nothing, from his groundballing rate to the defense behind him to the types of hits he produced to his pitch location or selection or rotation, showed any consistent difference from what was expected from year to year.  Now, it's possible that he really can magically keep his ERA below his FIP despite there being no evidence to the contrary, but you need a lot more data than he currently has to make that argument.  People are still arguing about exactly what causes Cain's low HR/FB rate and he has over ten years of data to back him up.  Baseball stats take time.

That's all fine, but I personally feel it's a disservice to the man and the game (not to mention downright silly) to disregard YEARS worth of games as "just lucky."

Offline Evolution33

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Lannan has changed his approach a bit this season. He is throwing his fastball less than ever before at just 59.7% of the time compared to career average of 63..5% and he is throwing his slider more often at 16.0% compared to career average of 12.5% his curveball percent has really come down the last two seasons and this year he is throwing it just 7.1% of the time compared to career average of 10.6%. Also his change up has constantly been rated his best pitch and he is not throwing it 17.2% of the time compared to 13.0% on his career. It looks like a lot of these changes started last season except last year he only threw his slider 9.3% of the time. He also has career highs in swinging strike % but a career low in zone %, and batters are missing more of his pitches in the strike zone than they even have before by a little over 3%.

So it does appear there are a few differences in John Lannan this year compared to Lannan of previous years.

Offline Lintyfresh85

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I'm sorry but I just can't accept that 95 games over 3.5 seasons is "lucky" but 14 games over half a season condemns him.  That absolutely screams "bias" in big read letters to me.

I think there's just as much bias from the other side of the coin as well.

Devoting commercials to his ability to get DP's, which in itself means he's allowing runners on base, is pretty dumb, as well.

Offline Sharp

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People have gone through Lannan's pitch selection looking to see if he was fooling batters by using unusual pitch combinations in weird counts.  They have checked to see if he has better location with runners on base, or higher velocity, or fewer line drives.  They have checked to see if maybe he is better at getting soft hits than hard ones, or has some extremely good pitch (like his changeup) that's driving his ability to suppress runs, and on and on and on.  People haven't been able to find anything, and believe me they've been looking.  Like I said, I would love for Lannan to be able to consistently do what he did in '08 and '09, and appears to be doing in '11.  But I can't in good conscience believe that he can.
Lannan has changed his approach a bit this season. He is throwing his fastball less than ever before at just 59.7% of the time compared to career average of 63..5% and he is throwing his slider more often at 16.0% compared to career average of 12.5% his curveball percent has really come down the last two seasons and this year he is throwing it just 7.1% of the time compared to career average of 10.6%. Also his change up has constantly been rated his best pitch and he is not throwing it 17.2% of the time compared to 13.0% on his career. It looks like a lot of these changes started last season except last year he only threw his slider 9.3% of the time. He also has career highs in swinging strike % but a career low in zone %, and batters are missing more of his pitches in the strike zone than they even have before by a little over 3%.

So it does appear there are a few differences in John Lannan this year compared to Lannan of previous years.
This more recent news is interesting stuff.  If it leads to better results in the future for him, I'm happy for him.

Offline The Chief

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I think there's just as much bias from the other side of the coin as well.

Devoting commercials to his ability to get DP's, which in itself means he's allowing runners on base, is pretty dumb, as well.

But that isn't relevant to this discussion because I'm not the one who made those commercials, nor am I claiming that Lannan is the best thing since sliced bread.

Also, two wrongs don't make a right ;)

Offline Evolution33

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I know on the gun at Nats Park in his game against the Padres it hit 94 a couple times. I simply dismissed it to a juiced gun, and that might be the case, but on this road trip MASN kept showing Lannan at around 91-92 with the fastball. According to pitch/fx this might actually be the case. It looks like his fastball has added velocity over the years. http://www.fangraphs.com/pitchfxo.aspx?playerid=7080&position=P&pitch=FA

Still doesn't have him near 94 so likely the gun was juiced for that Padres game.

Offline The Chief

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Also, if there's no "explanation" for Lannan's two good years, that's making a pretty damning statement about how much the league's batters sucked at adjusting to him.

Again, I just think it's arrogant and silly to write off two full seasons as "luck" because they weren't able to find a better explanation themselves.  That's really my only beef with it.

Offline Sharp

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It depends how you quantify luck.  Halladay had two no-hitters last season.  Statistically, the odds of that happening are absurdly low and I think most people would agree that a lot of getting a no-hitter is luck.  That doesn't mean that on those particular days, the odds weren't much higher--that Halladay wasn't bringing "no-hit stuff."  In the same way, it's totally possible that from start to start, or even for longer stretches, pitchers like Lannan or Ubaldo are able to pitch to weak contact.  The only reason people are skeptical of it is because so few pitchers have been able to maintain those kind of results consistently, and pretty much all of them save Lannan have had pretty solid explanations for how they were doing it.  Given the choice between "this guy is perhaps the only guy we studied who is able to do this" and "there are a lot of pitchers out there, so a few of them have to get lucky," stats people tend to assume the null hypothesis and take option B, while fans take option A.  The more data we have, the closer we'll be towards determining who was right.

Offline The Chief

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The more data we have, the closer we'll be towards determining who was right.

No, because Lannan isn't stuck in time.  He'll deteriorate one way or another sooner or later and everyone who wanted to believe he was lucky all along will say "told you so" without any regard for other possible explanations.

Quote
It depends how you quantify luck.  Halladay had two no-hitters last season.  Statistically, the odds of that happening are absurdly low and I think most people would agree that a lot of getting a no-hitter is luck.  That doesn't mean that on those particular days, the odds weren't much higher--that Halladay wasn't bringing "no-hit stuff."

Nearly anyone can luck out and pitch a no-hitter.  Ramon Ortiz nearly did it for the Nats once.  Pitching decently for two seasons is another beast altogether.  Comparing the two is a joke, as is comparing Lannan with Jiminez.

You have your views and I have mine.  Unless there's something else to discuss besides what is and isn't luck, I consider this an "agree to disagree" situation.

Either way, I don't see the rush to get rid of Lannan unless we really pull one over on somebody.

Offline GMUNat

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I'm sorry but I just can't accept that 95 games over 3.5 seasons is "lucky" but 14 games over half a season condemns him.  That absolutely screams "bias" in big read letters to me.
Here are Lannan's numbers since 2008 if you take out his pre-minor stint from last year.

89 GS
536.2 IP (6.03 IP/start)
3.79 ERA
4.63 FIP
3.14 BB/9
5.00 K/9
0.99 HR/9

That seems like a decent sample size to me to compared to a bad 14 games in 2010.

Online MarquisDeSade

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The funny part about this whole discussion is that it mirrors one I had about seven years ago with a friend of mine that works at a NGO that's in serious trouble right now.  He liked to make the same "more data will determine who's right" argument when it came to something that was pretty much obvious if you paid attention.  Moreover, much like with current baseball data, he had a ton of data to work from already that would show him the reality of the situation.  Anyone want to take a guess what we were disagreeing on?  I'll give you a big hint, I went short on being right and made out like a bandit.

Offline Tyler Durden

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The funny part about this whole discussion is that it mirrors one I had about seven years ago with a friend of mine that works at a NGO that's in serious trouble right now.  He liked to make the same "more data will determine who's right" argument when it came to something that was pretty much obvious if you paid attention.  Moreover, much like with current baseball data, he had a ton of data to work from already that would show him the reality of the situation.  Anyone want to take a guess what we were disagreeing on?  I'll give you a big hint, I went short on being right and made out like a bandit.

Housing market?

Online MarquisDeSade

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Offline Tyler Durden

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Here are Lannan's numbers since 2008 if you take out his pre-minor stint from last year.

89 GS
536.2 IP (6.03 IP/start)
3.79 ERA
4.63 FIP
3.14 BB/9
5.00 K/9
0.99 HR/9

That seems like a decent sample size to me to compared to a bad 14 games in 2010.


It is possible that Lannan was hurting for that set of games and if that's the case, I suppose it would be fair to cut out those bad games and look at this set of stats.  Otherwise, I think you have to include them and just look at Lannan as the guy he's been for a while now - an ML caliber #4ish starter.  No better and no worse.

Offline Lintyfresh85

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Woah... now it's ok to remove bad games from a pitcher's career?

I'm pretty sure I could make any MLB pitcher look good if we can pick and choose what starts to look at.

Offline The Chief

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Woah... now it's ok to remove bad games from a pitcher's career?

I'm pretty sure I could make any MLB pitcher look good if we can pick and choose what starts to look at.

:roll:

I suppose you think that a bad 14-game stretch bookended by an offseason and a trip to the minors is more representative of "the real john lannan"?

Offline Lintyfresh85

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No. But to ignore 14% of a career is a large leap, as well.

Offline The Chief

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No. But to ignore 14% of a career is a large leap, as well.

I don't think anyone is suggesting we ignore it, but that part of his career is clearly demarcated and by definition anomalous, at least as it stands right now.

Offline wpa2629

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Geez, you guys can sure suck the fun out of a winning road trip

Damn

Offline Tyler Durden

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Geez, you guys can sure suck the fun out of a winning road trip

Damn

Take a look at the Livan-drug dealer thread.

Offline wpa2629

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Take a look at the Livan-drug dealer thread.

Pfft ... hearsay, not gonna get all wrapped around the Axel on that at this point

Offline GMUNat

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204 IP, 3.52 ERA pace. And you guys are telling me he is a bum. This is why I don't listen to the panic monkeys here. John Lannan is fine and always has been fine. Solid and steady contributor for years to come.