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Thursday, February 05, 2004

Case Study: Darrell May

Some interesting comments from Rob and Rany on the Royals Darrell May that relate to my post about what pitcher's can control.

"He's right that May's surface indicators suggest that he had a fluke season. Let's put it this way: May finished in the top 10 in the league in fewest hits per nine innings despite: 1) a strikeout rate below league-average and 2) surrendering the fifth-most homers in the league. Opposing batters hit .253 on balls in play against May, compared to .301 for the Royals a whole.

I calculate that May gave up 32 fewer hits than expected. Paul Byrd, who astonished both of us with his hit-lucky ways in 2002, was 33 hits below expectations."

Here is another test of whether or not a pitcher influences the ratio of hits to balls put into play. Since opposing batters hit 50 points less against May than against other Royals pitchers in 2003 when a ball was put into play it will be interesting to see if the trend continues. Rany notes that the fences moving back should work in May's favor being a fly ball pitcher and that his Japanese experience lends some credibility to the belief that he does in fact have this Jamie Moyer like ability. May struck out 4.98 batters per 9 innings and walked just 2.27 batters per 9 innings - a reason why his 31 homers didn't hurt him so badly. Interestingly, his 2002 rates were twice as high for all three categories which lends some belief that in 2003 he figured out how to pitch a little bit.

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