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April 2, 2014

Pebble Hunting

Bonds vs. Pedro, and More Fun with Batter-Pitcher Matchups

by Sam Miller


As we talked about on Monday, Mike Trout has hit Felix Hernandez very well. After his first-inning home run on Opening Day, Trout is now hitting .441/.447/.794 in 38 plate appearances against Hernandez since being called up to the majors for good in April 2012. The question for the day, then, is this: How well should Mike Trout do against Felix Hernandez?

Which inevitably leads to this: How well would Bartolo Colon do in 600 at-bats against Craig Kimbrel? How many bases would Billy Hamilton steal if every pitcher in the league were Adam Wainwright? But we’re getting ahead of the intro.

To answer the Trout/Hernandez question, we turn to our old friend Log5, a Bill James invention that helps us determine how two teams with different winning percentages would fare against each other, and that can be tweaked slightly to tell us what a hitter of a certain skill level should do against a pitcher of a certain skill level. (Or observed performance level, since we're not regressing to determine each player's true talent over a given period.) If a batter who homers 20 percent more than the league average faces a pitcher who allows 20 percent more home runs than the league average, he should hit even more home runs. And so on. Intro. Words. Segue. Bold text:

Felix Hernandez (2012-2014) vs. Mike Trout (2012-2014)
So we’ll imagine that they face each other 600 times, that Felix Hernandez’s entire season is spent facing Mike Trout, over and over, in a league filled with reasonably-priced Mike Trout clones (and that neither one benefits more from seeing the other so often). In that season,

  • Trout would strike out 155 times and walk 64.
  • That leaves 381 struck balls, of which 19 would be home runs, leaving
  • 362 balls in play, of which 144 are hits (.398 BABIP), 28 of them doubles and nine of them triples
  • For an overall slash line, that goes like this: .305/.379/.499

Most comparable hitter: Matt Holliday (.297/.383/.492)

Most comparable pitcher: Randy Wolf (.313/.370/.510)

So Mike Trout turns Felix Hernandez into Randy Wolf. Felix Hernandez turns Mike Trout into Matt Holliday. See how this works? Onward!

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11 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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John Geer
(44)

"a .274/.418/.584 line"

Holy. Crap.

Nope, not a Hall of Famer, move along.

Apr 02, 2014 06:16 AM
rating: 6
 
Bryan Cole

For those of you wondering (like me) why he used Log5 instead of (Russell Carleton's favorite) Odds Ratio, it's because both methods give you the same expected number. http://www.chancesis.com/2010/10/03/the-origins-of-log5/ has details, but you can show it yourself with some algebra.

Apr 02, 2014 10:01 AM
rating: 0
 
kcheaden
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Barry Bonds was amazing. The Cy Young stat is unbelievable.

Any chance you could do this using Bonds' best season pre-roids?

Apr 02, 2014 12:17 PM
rating: -4
 
Rob Miller
(162)

Since Barry Bonds never failed an in-season drug test, how would we know when that was?

Apr 02, 2014 12:35 PM
rating: 10
 
tptht12
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Bonds got lucky in a time they were looking the other way and not cracking down or enforcing.

Apr 02, 2014 16:21 PM
rating: -10
 
SC

And if Bartolo Colon faced Bartolo Colon? Other than the obvious black-hole related implications certain when so much mass is so proximate.

Apr 02, 2014 13:55 PM
rating: 7
 
SC

And out of curiosity, how frequently does PECOTA project a Billy Hamilton SB when he's on second? Third?

Apr 02, 2014 17:37 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

It doesn't project those steals I mentioned specifically when he's on first; I just used the ratio for total times reaching first so I'd have something to prorate.

Apr 02, 2014 21:36 PM
 
TtheWM

What if Micah Owings faced Micah Owings?
Or what if Rick Ankiel (2000) pitched to Rick Ankiel (2008)?

Apr 02, 2014 19:50 PM
rating: 2
 
Bryan Cole

We're missing the obvious one: Babe Ruth (1918) vs. Babe Ruth (1927).

Apr 03, 2014 05:31 AM
rating: 9
 
TucsonTumbleweed

This was an awesome read. Would like to see some more comparables. Ruth vs Maddux or Pedro would be interesting as well.

Apr 10, 2014 12:52 PM
rating: 0
 
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Fantasy Article Deep Impact: Introduct... (04/02)
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Premium Article Pebble Hunting: Mike T... (03/31)
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