"Pitching has got to be the foundation in the organization. Everybody wants a good pitcher. The more pitchers we have, the stronger our organization will be."
- Dayton Moore, Kansas City Royals General Manager

Friday, May 4, 2007

Ryan Madson

originally posted on april 19, 2007

raw stats:

2004 77 55 19 6 68 2.34
2005 87 75 25 11 84 4.15
2006 134 99 50 20 176 5.69

looking deeper:

2004 3.56 .276 1.21
2005 3.74 .299 1.25
2006 4.58 .358 1.69

madson was great in 2004. by any metric, he was a very good relief pitcher. in 2005, madson was still pretty good, but his homerun rate climbed from its 2004 level, as did his hit rate.

if looking at the lines from 2004 and 2005, it would be within reason to have expected madson to bounce back in 2006. his babip was moderately high in the 2005 season, and if it regressed back to league average levels, he would have remained a slightly above league average pitcher.

but it didn't regress. it became even more of a statistical outlier. the average major league BABIP is between .270 and .290. there is very little variation in this number because the amount of control that an individual pitcher has over balls in play is extremely limited.

a .358 BABIP is all but unheard of; it indicates something that goes beyond luck, something that happens while madson was on the mound that caused balls in play to fall in for hits at a higher than normal rate.

but is this outlier unique to ryan madson? here's a look at the phillies three other right handed relievers that logged 50 innings:

last name BABIP ERA
geary .330 2.96
gordon .303 3.34
franklin .284 4.58

geary has the exact same bloated batting average on balls in play (BABIP) that madson has. gordon's is also a little high. franklin's is significant only in that he had the potential of having an era north of 6 were his BABIP were more in line with the rest of the staff.

i'll be monitoring this effect more as this season goes on, and the sample sizes grow. right now, i'm not quite sure how these numbers will affect madson and geary in 2007.

Where does madson go from here?

as much as i talked about it in this posting, BABIP was not madson's only problem. his k rate dropped, while his BB and HR rate rose. this combination alone would have made for a mediocre season regardless of BABIP. so, what can be done to return madson to his 2004 form?

1. madson cannot go back to throwing only his fastball and changeup. he needs to develop a third pitch. i don't think a curveball is the right pitch for him because of its similar velocity to his changeup. i'd be thinking more along the lines of a cut fastball or a sinker that would be about 4-5 MPH off from his fastball and 10-15 MPH off from his changeup. this pitch would not be a strikeout pitch, per se, but more of a pitch that he can rely on to limit the amount of contact that hitters can make off of him.

2. madson should be put back into a situation where he can log a significant amount of innings. whether it is in kansas city, tampa bay, or ottawa, doesn't much matter, but what is important is that he should not continue to function in a 6th/7th inning role. that is not going to help him get back to his 2004 form.

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