By Jason Wojciechowski on December 18, 2011 at 10:05 PM
This has only a minor A's connection, but Dave Gershman apparently thinks the A's are in desperate need of a first base prospect. Sure, Brandon Allen and Chris Carter and Daric Barton and Kila Ka'aihue aren't amazing, but Barton has flashed leather and on-base ability in the past, Carter and Allen have been considered top prospects, and Ka'aihue is a minor-league masher of the type that every once in a while turns into something useful at the big-league level. I'm pretty sure the last thing the A's need to do is trade Michael Choice for Anthony Rizzo.
Also, "it's clear [Garza's] success wasn't a fluke" should be pointed out in the piece because nothing is ever clear. The sooner we, as outside analysts, really understand that, the better off we'll all be.
David Wiers, writing at his new home at Bullpen Banter, says that Trevor Cahill is going places because his ability to induce swinging strikes out of the zone foretells a higher strikeout rate than he's so far shown in the bigs. I learned a long time ago that everything can't be everything -- every idea I had in papers and articles I wrote during law school spawned four questions that I thought needed answering before I could honestly publish my results or turn in my paper. That approach, of course, is a recipe for never finishing anything at all. Sometimes we have to call it a day.
With that said, I think Wiers may have called it a day a little too early here. Getting batters to swing outside the zone may be a big part of getting whiffs (Wiers found an r^2 a tad over 0.5 when he ran a regression on strikeout percentage and StatCorner's out-of-zone misses metric), but it's not the only piece of the puzzle. It may well be that Cahill's particular mix of pitches fools hitters out of the zone and results in balls hammered in the zone. It might be the case that he simply doesn't throw enough pitches in the zone. It might be that, when hitters do chase, they miss, but they don't chase nearly enough.
I'm not saying Wiers is wrong, but I am saying that I'm not ready to plunk my money down on Cahill as a #2 starter next year for fantasy purposes or otherwise just because he gets misses on pitches out of the zone at the same rate that Madison Bumgarner does. (Of course, Kevin Towers, who knows more about baseball than I can ever hope to learn, apparently does feel ready to plunk down said money (and said prospects), so who knows.)
Of course, while I'm here complaining, David Wishinsky is actually digging in and doing some work, noting a variety of sinkerball pitchers who induce misses outside the zone at various rates and who have had varying degrees of success. He points out that hitters don't chase Cahill outside the zone as often as they do against Hiroki Kuroda or Tim Hudson (and (thus?) that Cahill walks a lot more batters than those pitchers do). These two pieces are worth reading together.