Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Zack Greinke, #2 Starter And PH Threat?

I remember facing Micah Owings back when he was on the Diamondbacks and Padres, and how Owings was a threat from the plate (even more so from the mound). But maybe now, the Dodgers have their own pitcher / hitter threat, in Zack Greinke, whom Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan says is having a "Babe Ruth-like season" (hat tip, Mr. F):

On Saturday in DC, there was a showdown between the Dodgers and the Nationals, as two teams with high expectations looked to kick-start strong second halves. The Dodgers won 3-1, but that’s not important, for this. The matchup on the mound was Zack Greinke vs. Gio Gonzalez. In the top of the third, Greinke batted and led off with a first-pitch double to deep center. Mark Ellis, Yasiel Puig, and Adrian Gonzalez would leave him stranded. In the top of the fifth, Greinke batted again and drilled a second-pitch single up the middle. Around him, Tim Federowicz, Ellis, and Puig struck out swinging. That night, Hanley Ramirez led the Dodgers with three hits, and Greinke was alone in second with two.

By now you might’ve heard something about this. After reading that first paragraph, you’ve certainly heard something about this. Zack Greinke has been having a hell of a year at the plate. Obviously with pitchers batting the samples are always tiny, but that generally doesn’t stop pitchers from posting miserable offensive statistics. Greinke, at this writing, is batting .406. No other pitcher in baseball is batting at least .400. No other pitcher in baseball is batting at least .300. No other pitcher in baseball has a wRC+ in the triple digits.

The highest wOBA of all time was posted by Babe Ruth in 1920. That year, his wOBA was 250 points higher than the league average. So far this year, Zack Greinke’s wOBA is 267 points higher than the league average, for National League pitchers. That’s how Greinke’s offense has already been worth 0.9 wins above replacement, while his pitching comes in at 1.1. Astros position players have been worth -0.6 WAR. Marlins position players have been worth 0.7. Zack Greinke, as a position player, has been more valuable than the Astros, and the Marlins, and the Astros and Marlins combined. Greinke stands some chance of being a contributing pitcher to end a year with a higher offensive WAR than pitching WAR. It’s not unprecedented, and for Greinke it probably won’t happen, but these are extraordinary circumstances.

The piece gets a lot of help from some animated gif files, comparing Greinke's swing with the swing of the Giants' albatross, Barry Zito:

It’s interesting to examine Greinke’s statistics. A third of his balls in play have been line drives. He’s taken 55 swings, and missed just five times. That’s good enough to rank Greinke second in contact rate among regular pitchers, behind only Barry Zito. And let’s compare and contrast some Greinke swings with a Zito swing:

Greinke isn’t afraid to take a real swing, to try to do real damage. Zito’s whole approach is that he just wants to be able to touch the baseball with the bat, and he swings gently so as to simply make the defense make a play. For Zito, the goal is making contact. For Greinke, the goal is reaching base, and he happens to make contact along the way.

Sullivan goes on to outline how Greinke really seems to pride himself on his plate performance, now that he's over in the National League. Pretty cool piece; worth a read!


MR.F said...

HardballTalk ‏@HardballTalk 15s
Report: Dodgers sign Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero for $32 million http://dlvr.it/3hlhYZ #mlb #hbt

MR.F said...

Dustin Nosler ‏@FeelinKindaBlue 32s
Hmm, seems reports of Guerrero's official signing are premature.

QuadSevens said...

Zito swings like a girl!

Hideo Nomo said...

Greinke has decent bat flips too!

spank said...

Matt Damon?