Command Ratio and Drew Smyly
or it is smily


BaseballHQ is still selling its Baseball Forecaster on your mobile device for $16.  In its "Roto Pitching 101" section it included this little table ... whoop, no way that will copy in.  You know what?  Think I'll go ahead and type it.


K/BB Ratio 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
0 to 1 6.22 5.98 6.81 6.31 7.71
1.1 to 1.5 5.03 4.91 4.97 5.23 5.51
1.6 to 2.0 Trust me 4.66
2.1 to 2.5 4.09 and so forth 4.30
2.6 to 3.0 4.02
3.1 to 3.5 3.67 yada yada 3.95
3.6 to 4.0 3.34 3.51
4.1+ 3.12 2.86 2.92 3.07 3.30


Yeah, no shtick, Sherlock...

This is the 4th generation of Ph.D. sabermetrics now.  There have been MILLIONS of words written on baseball stats and probabilities, formulas that look like the state of the art in physics.  Not only that, but for some reason baseball shtick seems to attract math majors like flies to honey.  Well, flies isn't the right characterization...

There is something that feels so secure about ancient wisdom.  No progress is possible on this sentence: "Make sure your child knows that you mean what you say; be consistent and fair with him."  Come up with any formula you want; there were mothers in 3,000 B.C. who were every inch as good as mothers today.

"Measure twice and cut once."  No amount of edumacashun helps us get farther than that.  "Wherever you go, there you are."  A better way to put that is --- > "All gardeners live in beautiful places."  Heh!

Fill in your own blank.  I claim, boldly, that 90 percent plus of human behavioral wisdom was known and applied a long time ago.  Truth was not the discovery of "Millennials."  It is a possession of millennia.


You can connect the dots between the above shtick and the lead-in title, can you not?  There were some things that Earl Weaver, no, John McGraw had figured out that were TRUE.  If something is true, really TRUE, it'll stick around.

Which is why much of Bill James' 70s work has prevailed.  And become the platform for subordinate insights.  Things were known before the 1970s also.

College keeeds have the idea that the NEWER a thought is, the more TRUE it must be.  They'll outgrow it.  :- )


Strikeout to walk ratio is underrated.  Not overrated, underrated.  It has always been underrated, and it is underrated as things stand today, January 27, 2016.  You need look no farther than our 5SP slot to unnerstan' that...  no, that was a cheap shot.  Just kidding, Jer'.

If you imagine (let us say) The Sherminator posting a 3.2 strikeout ratio in the major leagues this year, 160 to 50 or something ... there is SO much athletic skill that would be captured in that statement.  The more so (as Shandler points out) if he threw 160:50 in only 180 innings.


Drew Smyly strikes out 8.71 men per game, and walks only 2.54.  Lifetime, over 570 innings.  Last year, he was right there, right on the dot, 8.54 to 2.52 in 175 innings.  It is odd, but over the past 40 years we have never shaken off the temptation to look at ERA, have we?  :- )

In 2016, Drew Smyly was #12 among American League pitchers for this skill - right behind Chris Archer at #11 and Jose Quintana at #10, way ahead of Jake Odorizzi at what was it, #18.  Just a toasty thought for late January.  Time to go have a second cuppa.






"College keeeds have the idea that the NEWER a thought is, the more TRUE it must be.  They'll outgrow it.  :- )"

Doc, shoots.....and scores!  A triple from downtown!  And the SSI crowd goes wild!

Of course, that never applied to me!  :)  I must admit that the "outgrowing it" part, for this generation, is a bit worrisome.  But someone probably said that on Dec. 6th of 1941, too.

Great stuff, Maestro!

Then, to top it off, you poked a finger in the eye of my (ex) Odorizzi fixation!  :)

 And all of that was on just one cup!

A good morning's work, indeed!



Gosh Doc, a 3.2 K/B rate? I'd be happy to maintain a 3.2 (pitches thrown)/(HR allowed) rate in a softball game.

As for the jab at millenials... as one of those millenials (well, is 1995 close enough for government work?) I'd like to stick up for my generation, just a little bit. Thrust my head bravely into the strike zone like Mitch Haniger, prepared to ingloriously catapult myself away from the first brushback pitch like Nori Aoki, as it were.

Course I don't speak for my generation, any more than any other member of it. Less, probably. But by my way of looking at the world, millenials aren't especially enamored with new-fangled ideas. It's more that we're receptive to them, and the internet age has allowed us to be exposed to them at a historically high rate. What I'm getting at is, I've never heard one of my peers laud a new idea over an old one simply because it's still got that new-meme-smell. We're just slow to dismiss them, relative to the general population.

I also feel there was a subtle jab against progressivism in there, maybe. What's the saying, a young conservative has no heart and an old liberal has no brain? Thus the young Bernie fan turns into an aging... Romney fan? The GOP is a little lacking in authority figures that aren't having twitter wars over crowd sizes,  so I dunno where to go with that one. Anyway, it's a decent theory for organizing the data we see in the world.

 Personally I view it more like this: each new generation enters a world they did not authorize, looks around, and spots some stuff they want to change. They pursue that change, with varying degrees of passion and success, throughout their youth and early adulthood. Then, at some point, they sit back and go "Y'know what? I think I like it now. I've fixed the things I wanted to, insofar as was possible. Time to protect what I've built from those darn whippersnappers and their new whatnots ;-)

Course I'm a 21 year old kid at a liberal arts college, so what do I know? And I mean that, really. I'm in no position to argue my side with anything approaching certainty. Just throwing some thoughts out there, probably in gross overeaction to a throwaway comment by an idol of mine. Carry on, gentlemen.


Might have to parlay them into a Konspiracy Korner.

 ... No, the line about college kids was good-natured teasing.  An OSU activist is one thing, the twentysomethings that I know personally a different thing.  I find my nieces and nephews to be wonderfully eclectic and thoughtful.  Any resemblance between (1) you young people born since 1990 and (2) the PC terrorists of the 1980's is (3) purely conicidental.  My little joke transposed the two groups unfairly.

Good stuff Sherm :- )


P.S. the sheer eclecticism of today's young people never ceases to amaze me.  You might find a math major nephew of mine wearing a Zelda triforce T-shirt, a bondage wristband and listening to Katie Perry on his iPod, settling in to watch Donnie Darko (or Fox News or PBS) on TV.  Back in my day, the wrong T-shirt or the wrong rock band could lose you some friends; I'd like to know more about how such a cool, diverse, and accepting atmosphere developed.

That's how it is with the young people I know.  Though whether it works that way at UC Berkeley, i couldn't tell you...


You're a gracious man :- )

Although, with Smyly in Safeco, I wouldn't bet anything I was afraid to lose that Smyly DOESN'T outpitch Odorizzi this year ....


As a charter member of the Boomers, I will testify that we thought we had it all figured out way back when, too.

On the other hand, if every younger generation simply thought and did exactly what its predecessors did, where would we be?


The life on society's fastball comes from the kiddies' fresh eyes.  Too true.  That's where we get our vitality.  To say nothing of our cell phones...

j/k.  But look at all the good Sherm has done us in just a coupla weeks!


Some facets of human psychology/sociology *are* innate and, apparently, nearly impossible to extricate from age arcs (at least in the broad sense when analyizing large groups).

So, to me, every younger generation *DOES* simply think and do *EXACTLY* what its predecessors did: they rebel against established authority, declare themselves to possess some significant measure of moral authority, and march out full of spit and vinegar with world reform on their minds and in their hearts.

I've always wondered just how much of the age-arc stuff (lib at 20 and conservative at 40, etc..) is simply due to accumulating life experience which refutes many/most of their New Ideas, vs. how much is due to a generation 'buying in' to the system that was already in place, vs. how much is because they did, like the 60s Free Speech activists, actually have a tangible impact on the cultural landscape of the world around them?

So, to me, it *looks* like we *are* repeating the cycle over, and over, and over again re: young people entering society.  And it seems like that particular bit of the equation might be essential to a high-functioning society.


Your rundown on starters got me curious about relievers.

In all MLB last year (warning: small miniscule sample sizes may apply):

#2  Altavilla   10.0

#6  Scribner  7.5

#16  Nuno (?!)  6.13

#17  Diaz  5.87


He's liable to wind up with a 9-figure contract someday.  But yeah.  That kid is VERY intriguing.

Vidal Nuno, I might argue that he's an over-challenger, which serves as a minor asterisk on the CMD idea... Scribner too.  Any ML pitcher can walk 1+ if he simply prefers the sound of tee shots to the sight of the umpire's ball-four motion towards 1B.  

But that's not to say Scribner isn't cool; I like him really well.  Just that K/BB is very powerful except for those 5-10% of cases in which pitchers take way too much of the plate.  Don't believe that over-challenge caveat applies to Smyly to any yuuge extent...

Sports Fan's picture

Yup. There will always be exceptions to the rule, but in general high K/BB = good. Who would have thought? :-)


Smyly has a 108 ERA+ career. Unless you really can't get off his 2016 ERA, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.


So I just happened to compare Smyly's career K/BB rate to that of a few random HoF'ers, some dudes named Palmer, Seaver, Maddux, Carlton and Marichal. 

From top to bottom, here is how they stand in career K/BB:

Smyly     3.43

Maddux  3.37

Marichal  3.25

Seaver    2.62

Carlton   2.26

Palmer   1.69

How weird is that?  Palmer won his first Cy in '73 and had a 1.41.

Smyly's 8.7 K/9 whoops all the others (Carlton at 7.1 is the high, Palmer's 5.0 is the low)

I know the game is different....but Wow!  It is WAY different.  Marichal and Maddux both walked only 1.8 guys/9, the best among this group.  Carlton was the worst at 3.2.   Palmer's was 3.0.  He had the lowest K rate of the group and the next-to-highest BB rate....and he was still Jim Flippin' Palmer.

Doc, in the back of my mind I think I always thought (back in the day) that Palmer was a smart hoss on the mound with spot on location, Maddux-like in those regard.  But my apprecation for his guile is even greater now.  And I wonder just how much he told the Al Kalines of the world, "You're not beating'll get nothing but balls off the plate." 

Then he got Bill Freehan to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.

Am I wrong?  He K'ed 5 guys a game and walked 3 and he's in the Hall: First round, I think. Wade LeBlanc and his 6.2/3 looks pretty sexy in that regard, doesn't he!  :)

Keep Smyly healthy, M's training staff!


And here's the thing that strikes me.

I wonder if any organization today would allow either Palmer or (especially) Marichal to use their incredibly high leg kicks.

Or Seaver to throw with the max effort that he exerted on every pitch.

And if they didn't...would those guys have lost their command?

Baseball is perplexing...

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