27 May 2014

Tommy "Country Style Breakfast" Hunter

When I think of a "Country Style Breakfast", I think of a mountain of food.  A plate standing tall with eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, and hash.  The thought of that being a typical breakfast perhaps says something about our shared nostalgia for the simple bucolic country life that resides in our nation's heritage.  Of course, that heritage is largely false and quite inflated in comparison to the reality of the typical farmer who was teetering on the edge of malnourishment, but that truth simply is not that useful of a story when trying to communicate the greatness of this country.

Similarly, when one might think of a shut down closer, they probably think of a pitcher who comes into the ninth and sends several guys down in order.  Tommy Hunter is almost that guy, but he really is not.  Before injuries prevented him from pitching and with a resurgent Zach Britton likely preventing a return back to a closer role, Hunter performed admirably well for the Orioles.  However, the reality of his play was enjoyable, but heart attack inducing...which is also similar to a diet consisting solely of Country Style Breakfasts.  Hunter had a habit of pitching quite poorly with the bases empty, but turning it up a notch when a runner was on base.

Jordan Ellenberg explored this in a post over at his blog Quomodocumque.  He is the money table from that article with OPS of Runners in Scoring Position in bold and Total Overall OPS residing to the right of that number.


Rk I Player Split G OPS OPStot Diff
1
Tommy Hunter RISP 133 .683 .777 -.094
2
Pedro Feliciano RISP 268 .604 .696 -.092
3
Hideki Irabu RISP 106 .707 .797 -.090
4
Julio Santana RISP 169 .730 .820 -.090
5
Steve Parris RISP 136 .740 .829 -.089
6
J.A. Happ RISP 131 .669 .756 -.087
7
Doug Rau RISP 209 .612 .698 -.086
8
John Grabow RISP 294 .665 .751 -.086
9
Bob Sebra RISP 86 .689 .775 -.086
10
Victor Zambrano RISP 165 .679 .764 -.085
11
Jordan Zimmermann RISP 118 .615 .695 -.080
12
Scott Proctor RISP 194 .704 .782 -.078
13
Scott Baker RISP 159 .661 .737 -.076
14
Cecilio Guante RISP 267 .612 .685 -.073
15
Frank Francisco RISP 239 .624 .697 -.073
16
Dennis Bennett RISP 163 .659 .732 -.073
17
Kevin Slowey RISP 125 .726 .798 -.072
18
Buzz Capra RISP 127 .644 .712 -.068
19
Erik Bedard RISP 222 .632 .699 -.067
20
Scott Linebrink RISP 338 .662 .729 -.067
21
John Frascatore RISP 203 .714 .781 -.067
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/23/2014.
 
The list looks interesting, but I was wondering whether or not Hunter was being hurt here by his time as a starter.  One of the talking points has been that part of Hunter's bullpen emergence has been due to him no longer having to rely on a windup that had been problematic.  To test this out, I looked at 2013 and 2014 to see how things stacked up with him being a strict reliever.  The data set included pitchers from that time period who had fewer than five starts and more than 45 outs with men on base.
 
Here is the top 40:
 
Rk Player G OPS OPStot Ops-total
1 Junichi Tazawa 51 0.402 0.719 -0.317
2 Joe Thatcher 54 0.404 0.720 -0.316
3 Alex Sanabia 10 0.632 0.935 -0.303
4 Kevin Slowey 31 0.534 0.819 -0.285
5 Heath Bell 50 0.538 0.816 -0.278
6 Wesley Wright 49 0.471 0.729 -0.258
7 David Hale 13 0.315 0.563 -0.248
8 Jarred Cosart 20 0.412 0.657 -0.245
9 Freddy Garcia 14 0.544 0.782 -0.238
10 Seth Maness 53 0.525 0.754 -0.229
11 Ross Wolf 19 0.57 0.797 -0.227
12 Kenley Jansen 52 0.336 0.560 -0.224
13 Tommy Hanson 15 0.595 0.813 -0.218
14 Stephen Fife 13 0.619 0.835 -0.216
15 Sam LeCure 43 0.405 0.620 -0.215
16 Donovan Hand 24 0.574 0.785 -0.211
17 Tony Cingrani 28 0.464 0.675 -0.211
18 Alex Wood 32 0.479 0.688 -0.209
19 Ernesto Frieri 48 0.493 0.701 -0.208
20 Joe Kelly 34 0.483 0.682 -0.199
21 Brandon Morrow 16 0.672 0.871 -0.199
22 Vidal Nuno 12 0.583 0.772 -0.189
23 Huston Street 32 0.461 0.644 -0.183
24 Taylor Jordan 14 0.572 0.753 -0.181
25 Alfredo Simon 50 0.462 0.629 -0.167
26 Franklin Morales 21 0.668 0.835 -0.167
27 Tony Watson 44 0.405 0.571 -0.166
28 Joaquin Benoit 43 0.394 0.558 -0.164
29 Darren O'Day 40 0.454 0.618 -0.164
30 Edward Mujica 46 0.572 0.728 -0.156
31 Brian Matusz 43 0.506 0.661 -0.155
32 Carter Capps 37 0.677 0.829 -0.152
33 Tommy Hunter 45 0.539 0.688 -0.149
34 Greg Holland 36 0.355 0.500 -0.145
35 Jim Henderson 38 0.539 0.679 -0.140
36 David Hernandez 30 0.564 0.702 -0.138
37 Aroldis Chapman 30 0.414 0.550 -0.136
38 J.C. Gutierrez 39 0.548 0.681 -0.133
39 Paul Clemens 35 0.729 0.858 -0.129
40 Alfredo Figaro 26 0.634 0.762 -0.128
 
 Hunter comes in on this table at number 33.  Above him you find several closers as well as brand new Norfolk Tides pitcher, Heath Bell.  In other words, it appears quite a few pitchers are clamping down when they find themselves in rough situations.

3 comments:

JSE said...

Very interesting! Those differences for the relievers are HUGE, and I wonder how much they come from random fluctuations in small sample size.

Lonnie Miller said...

So America isn't and never was that great because we've collectively minimized the tough reality of being a family farmer? Uh-huh. If only income taxes were higher back then, someone could've taken care of those poor souls and their substandard diets. Instead we had to suffer their whole "pride in the value of hard work and individual responsibility" nonsense infecting our national conscience. Thank goodness it should be mostly gone in a generation or two.

Jon Shepherd said...

Lonnie...perhaps my writing was a bit clumsy. America was never as great as we think it was due to the effect of nostalgia. The 1950s are often brought up as a pristine time. We tend to forget the horrors of the arms race, race riots, blacklisting, and so many other things that were plaguing society. Memory often scrubs those things clean and so we wind up with weird ivory tower false impressions of how things were.