One of the beauties of baseball as an analytical pursuit is that there’s a record kept of pretty much everything. What we’ve all been familiar with from our young ages are the records of results, or statistics, like dingers or ERA. What we’ve only more recently gained access to, though, are records of processes, the factors that to some extent determine or respond to the results. Considering the processes opens up a whole new layer of potential analysis, as you can see not just what happened, but why it happened, and what has or hasn’t been done about it.
Myself, I like to look at how players get pitched. I’m still getting used to the fact that I can look at this at all, and I think it’s fascinating to basically see evidence of the scouting reports. It’s readily evident that, say, pitchers don’t want to throw Josh Hamilton fastballs in the zone, because they don’t need to. It’s readily evident, as well, that pitchers are perfectly happy to be aggressive with Ben Revere, because, why not? Certain guys get pitched in certain ways, and there’s a broad spread between the extremes. And more often than not, scouting reports and approaches will hold consistent from year to year. Weaknesses tend to stay weaknesses, and strengths tend to stay strengths.
So given the consistency of this kind of data, it’s interesting to look at the cases where the numbers change. If the changes are big enough, it stands to reason the changes aren’t accidental. This all builds to the question: who’s been pitched the most differently in 2014, relative to 2013? This isn’t something we could’ve easily played with in 2004. In 2014, the information’s out there for anyone.
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.