Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Saint Richmond Flies with the Swallows

This is the part where I admit I was wrong about Scott Richmond.

Dead wrong. Maybe not dead wrong, but he's shown me things I didn't expect to see. Sure he gets hit hard by left-handed pitching and doesn't induce enough ground balls, but he misses bats in a big way. That counts for a lot.

Looking at Scott Richmond on his own I see a continuation and improvement on last year's numbers. Line drives are down slightly, ground balls up a little. His home run/fly ball has inevitably normalized, but not at the detriment of his overall line. Strand rate up, BABIP down from too high to too low. It will work itself out and settle around .300. It's God's will.

Looking at his contact numbers I see more improvement. Overall contact rate down, outside the zone swings up. Most importantly, inside the zone contact rate way, way down despite an increase in zone swings. Missing bats! Richmond has surprisingly added some velocity to all his pitches but throwing more offspeed stuff than last year. Mixing your pitches and missing bats? To me, those are repeatable skills.

Richmond may be exposed a second time through the league should "professional" hitters figure out his patterns and such, but reading this post Dave Cameron wrote for Fangraphs got me thinking about sample size. Consider this:
The evidence might not be overwhelming, but as it begins to pile up, remaining wedded to your preseason thoughts is just as ignorant as overreacting to the performance.
Comparing Richmond's early season contact numbers against the league leaders is something I encourage everyone to do. It's good for the soul and good for the boner. It's also easy to do as Richmond's right up there among them in terms of outside the zone swing & contact rates as well as strike zone contact rates. Better yet, look at the type of names that surrond him on those lists. Rich Harden, Ryan Dempster, Jered Weaver, Roy Halladay, Johan Santana, Tim Lincecum. I'm not saying Richmond will ever join this echelon of pitching talent, but the more you have in common with pitchers like that, the better.

One guy with across the board similarities to Richmond: Dan Haren. Similar contact rates etc, similar velocity. As a big league pitcher with similar experience, they share similar K/BB ratios, ground ball & home run numbers. I'll more than a little bit encouraged.

So here's to you, Scott Richmond. I've now publicly admitted I was wrong about you and your seemingly underwhelming stuff. Kool-aid is delicious on a nice, sunny day.


  1. The gap between Haren's FIP and ERA is ENORMOUS.

    3.01 FIP vs. 1.54 ERA? Wow.

  2. Just Verlander's ERA is 9.00 but his FIP is 4.5. That's enormus!

  3. Correction: his ERA is 6.75 with a FIP of 3.22. Halladay's FIP is 3.35 FYI

  4. I would not have blamed anyone for saying early on this season that Scott Richmond didn't have what it takes to remain in the starting rotation. After all, last year's numbers with the Jays were very misleading. Glad to see that we have another person on bangwagon!

  5. So, you're going to make right to the stevadore and add Richmond to your banner then, eh? I hope you're not just on the rebound from Jesse Litsch.

  6. I'm happy with my decidedly anti-Litsch stance from last year. It all comes back to missing bats. Pitching to contact only really works when your name is Roy Halladay and people have no idea where your pitches are going to end up. If the hitters don't have to do much guesswork, you're going to end up in trouble.


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