Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Putting the Screws to Zach Miner

I have been questioning a perception I hold about Zach Miner. My thinking was that he doesn’t perform that well under pressure. I decided to be fair to him and take a look at the numbers. Baseball Reference has this cool stat known as aLI, Average Leverage Index. It measures the pressure a pitcher is under in a given outing. The stat uses 1.0 as average pressure. Anything below that is low pressure, anything above it is high pressure. I’m also going to look at inherited runners that came around to score when Miner entered a game (because inherited runners that score make me want to break things).

It's been well-publicized that Zach pitched 12 scoreless innings before the fateful October 6 outing in which he allowed 2 earned runs and also earned the ire of many fans. I'm not hanging the loss on him by any means. It just got me thinking when many questioned Leyland's choosing him to relieve Porcello. The twelve innings in which he put up zeros came over eight outings. Of those eight, four had an aLI of over 1.0. In that same span, he only had two inherited runners. They both came from the outing on September 29 vs. Minnesota, and neither of those runners scored.

Let's look at his season in total. Zack pitched 17 outings in which he inherited runners. Of 28 runners inherited, 10 eventually scored for a total of 36%. As far as knowing whether that's good or not, the only data I could find was this older chart from Baseball Reference in 2007. It showed the top 25 in inherited runners scoring percentage. The minimum was 80% relief appearances and 20 inherited runners (with a funny reference to Kyle Farnsworth, so click over). Tops was .05 , and the 25th ranking guy in the league was at .21.

With regard to pitching under pressure, Miner had 21 appearances in which the aLI was over 1.0. In the five most pressure packed outings, he fared pretty well. Here's a brief summary of those:

Game H R BB aLI

6/24 1 1 1 2.68

8/1 2 1 0 3.38

8/22 2 1 0 2.87

9/3 0 0 1 2.30

9/5 2 0 0 3.31

Overall, Miner performed better under the gun than I had anticipated. His strand rate is not the best, so lets just bring him in at the beginning of an inning from now on, shall we?

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