Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stat Line of the Day: May 3rd

F. Liriano (MIN): 9 IP, 0 H, 6 BB, 2 Ks @ CHW

Well, the same day I said that Liriano's rookie year was his career exception, not a rule, he goes and throws a no-hitter. Obviously with six walks it wasn't the best no-hitter ever thrown, though at least it was better than Edwin Jackson's last year (149 pitches, 8 walks). While a no-hitter pretty much is automatically going to be the stat-line of the night, you have to be wary that any pitcher who threw a 2-strikeout no-hitter also relied on some luck. Liriano only  threw 11 first-pitch strikes out of 30 batters (36.7%),
How lucky did Liriano (M) get during his no-hitter?
while Jackson did it to 21/36 (58.3%), neither of which are great numbers. For comparison, Cole Hamels' complete-game last night involved first-pitch strikes to 26/31 batters, or 83.9%. The lack of strikeouts means that 25 balls were put into play last night by the Chicago White Sox. The key stat to look at here is something called BABIP--Batting Average of Balls In Play. The typical BABIP average is around .290; in other words, 29% of all batted balls are expected to land in play as hits, based on fielder variation, luck, and a few other factors. What it comes down to is that when a player hits a ball, they only have so much control over where it goes--a hard-hit line drive could be a double down the line, or hit six inches to the left and be caught for an out. So, of those 25 balls in play, we would expect (in the long term) that the White Sox would average about seven hits. Now, more strikeouts would mean Liriano was really on his game--but he wasn't, as he walked six batters. "Effectively wild" is what we can call Liriano tonight, but I'm not so sure it will have any impact on the rest of his season. Coming into last night, he had an ERA of 9.16, but don't expect this to show a turnaround in Liriano's season. The once-talented pitcher could still improve this season, but don't use this game as a sign of those times.

Honorable Mentions:

C. Hamels (PHI): 9 IP, 5 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 6 Ks vs. WAS
This complete game was not quite as nice as Liriano's, but Cole Hamels still took care of business for the Phillies. In addition to his complete-game, five-hitter (albeit against the Nationals), Hamels also had two hits--including a triple off the top of the right field wall. To compare Cole's BABIP to Liriano's (see above), Cole allowed 21 balls in play and five hits, or a BABIP of 23.8%, which is much closer to what you would expect from a soft-hitting Nationals squad. Cole also scored the first run of the game, and ended up stranded on third base another time later in the game. If you go out and help your team offensively while at the same time pitching a complete game, that's a good night. Over his last 5 starts, Cole is 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA and a WHIP of just 0.84, an average gamescore just over 70, and a 4.63 K/BB ratio.

L. James (MIA): 35 points (14-25 FG), 7 rebs, 2 assts vs. BOS
Despite being outplayed by D-Wade in Game One, LeBron James was fantastic last night against the Celtics. LeBron scored 35 points on 14-25 shooting (56%) from the field while grabbing seven rebounds en route to a +10 +/- rating. After a lackluster first half--that ended with Miami only holding a five-point lead--James broke out in the second half. He scored 12 points in the final five minutes of the third quarter, turning a one-point Boston lead into a five-point Miami edge heading into the final period. In that fourth quarter, LeBron kept up the pressure as he scored 12 more, including a personal 7-0 run that increased Miami's lead from five to 12.  At that point, with 4:35 left in the fourth, the game was all but over.

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