Quick Hits: Marcum, Braun, Gomez, Gallardo | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

The Brewers may be statistically eliminated from the postseason race, but they still put together a quality win last night against the Padres. An overwhelming sense of hope surrounds this team for the upcoming ’13 season — which certainly bodes well for ticket sales next year.

Here are some thoughts that have been bouncing around my brain this morning.

COUNT ME OUT ON MARCUM

Right-hander Shaun Marcum has struggled through some injuries this year, but has ultimately been a very effective pitcher for the Brewers over the past two years. Fans apparently have his postseason performance seared into their collective memories, though, which allows three starts to overshadow his ability to anchor the Brewers’ rotation when they dealt with injuries and ineffectiveness in both 2011 and 2012.

Does that mean I advocate bringing back Marcum for the 2013 season?

No. And I’ve been rather clear about that since last season. Despite his solid production in a Brewers’ uniform, his injury concerns and repertoire suggest his production could drop in a hurry at a moment’s notice.

One other big concern has been his velocity since returning from a “minor” elbow injury this summer. He has been throwing the baseball noticeably slower, which places even more pressure on his deception and command — meaning his margin for error continues to erode. Take a look at his velocity chart from this season:

The grey lines represent 5 mph intervals, starting with the bottom line being 80 mph. Marcum has obviously seen a decrease in velocity. One has to wonder if that will continue next season, or if his lower velocity signals that he’s not completely over his elbow injury — which is obviously a much larger concern.

Shaun Marcum is a solid, number three starter. He very well may find success with a big league ballclub next season. The risks, however, are far too high for my liking, and I believe the Brewers have the resources and roster that would be better off targeting a true number two starter for 2013.

NL MVP RACE, UPDATED

Here is your updated leaderboard for the National League MVP race:

The important concept to glean from the above leaderboard is not that Ryan Braun is leading in WAR. The difference between the three is so minuscule that a simple number that revolves around single-season defensive numbers and positional adjustments cannot be taken as gospel. As Dave Cameron often says over at FanGraphs. WAR is not absolute. There is almost no difference between a four-win player and a 4.5-win player in a single season.

What is obvious, though, is that Ryan Braun leads almost every offensive category. A rather large gap exists in wOBA and wRC+, as well as ISO and the extra-base hit numbers. Braun has developed into at least an average defender in left field. The only reason Braun isn’t statistically head-and-shoulders ahead of Posey and McCutchen is the positional bumps that the two get for playing catcher and center field, respectively.

Whether you’re in the Braun or Posey camp, there is no incorrect answer. I happen to favor production at the plate over positional importance in a single-season MVP voting (though I highly value positional importance for roster construction), but you may not. That’s okay. The MVP voting criteria do not explicitly state how one should measure “value,” which is why numerous opinions will abound.

GO-GO HAS VALUE

How about this little tidbit to get the “WTF” ions flowing this morning?

 

Carlos Gomez has been one of the most intriguing stories of the second half. He remains within shouting distance of a 20 HR, 40 SB season. He also owns the 7th-highest WAR amongst center fielders in the National League, which is rather significant for someone who did not even see 500 plate appearances this year.

Also, consider this:

1st Half (2012):  .233/.280/.423
2nd Half (2012):  .278/.320/.492

He has seemingly turned a corner in his development over the course of the second half. Some adjustments at the plate sparked improvement over the summer, but Brewers fans are seeing something more in September. In last night’s game against the Padres, Gomez connected with his second opposite-field home run of the season — and both came this month. That speaks volumes about his improved approach at the plate.

We’re talking about three month’s worth of production, so it’s important to not anoint Gomez the next great center fielder in the National League and award him a long-term extension. What it does mean, however, is that the 26-year-old Gomez is showing legitimate signs that he’s beginning to figure it out at the plate and beginning to tap into the enormous potential that saw him reach the big leagues with the Mets at only 21 years old.

NOBODY LIKES TO SWING AT YOVANI

One of my favorite tidbits surrounding Yovani Gallardo is that opposing batters rarely swing at his offerings. This season, amongst pitchers who threw at least 100 innings, Gallardo induces the lowest swing percentage in all of baseball.

Pitcher Swing%
Yovani Gallardo 39.3%
Vance Worley 40.5%
Edinson Volquez 41.1%
C.J. Wilson 41.1%
Carlos Zambrano 41.3%

Opposing hitters simply never get comfortable against Gallardo. He hides the baseball well and has a penchant for walking batters, so his opponents simply step into the batter’s box and have largely determined that it’s better to simply wait him out on the mound and raise his pitch counts. After all, he only throws 39.3% of his pitches in the zone.

It’s actually quite impressive that Gallardo has walked only 3.57 batters per nine innings, considering those plate discipline statistics.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Nicholas Zettel says: October 2, 2012

    Nice arguments on Marcum, J.P. I was unaware of Marcum’s velocity dip. I find that strange, given that he is throwing his fastball so much this year.

    Gallardo reminds me of the pitching version of Rickie Weeks. Where Weeks seems hellbent on stepping in and not swinging at anything that isn’t HIS pitch, Gallardo seems hellbent on getting batters out on HIS pitch. He is the exact opposite of a “throw it at ‘em and make ‘em hit it” kind of pitcher.

    • Beep says: October 2, 2012

      It is interesting regarding Marcum’s velocity dip. Since he’s a changeup pitcher, that means he has to slow down the changeup to keep it an effective pitch.

    • josh says: October 2, 2012

      Of course Gallardo is the opposite of a “throw it at them make them hit it” pitcher. Hes a strikeout pitcher, not a Jeff Suppan.

  2. Zekiel says: October 2, 2012

    Marcum is done. He’s constantly sweaty which is fine for most people but in Marcum’s case: it is fatigue. This guy has nothing left in the tank and no one throws a better meatball down the plate. You can always tell when he’s going to throw one too. It starts by wiping his brow, he takes WAY to much time between pitches, and then you know that meatball is on it’s way.

    Regarding MVP,

    Ryan Braun should be a LOCK. His numbers are ridiculous.
    Posey is great, don’t get me wrong but this is the MVP we are talking about, not most improved.
    The key word in MVP is VALUE.

    So, shouldn’t the VALUE be in the numbers??
    Braun leads in almost every offensive catagory.

    Ultimately, ask yourself: Who could help your team more: Braun or Posey?
    Braun offers FAR more production.

    • BOB says: October 3, 2012

      Agree on ALL your points! Sad but the good old boys (writers) have said they will not vote for the guy who leads the NL in HR,RBI, and top five in average?? Braun has had one of the most CONSISTENT years in history!! Half the year had a guy on vacation (ram) hitting behind him… One more starter and relief is what we need!

  3. BOB says: October 3, 2012

    IMO there was 3 factors why this was a lost season! #1. We had the WORST bullpen. Lost count but it was something like 41 blown leads after the seventh inning. SAD SAD showing! #2. You can’t have your third baseman batting cleanup take the first three months off! This guy has to find a way to get it going ALL SEASON. #3. RR IS NOT SCIOSCIA!!! The main reason he was hired was because of who he was a assistant for. He makes way way too many stupid mistakes!!! We led the league in steals but we also led in runners thrown out on the base paths! You can blame the base coaches but i put it on RR. It’s his job to have a guy with brains and baseball knowledge telling runners when and not to go! He can’t handle a bull pen to save his life and sticks with struggling hitters and pitchers too long!! It’s like he’s afraid to hurt a guy’s feelings even though he’s making MILLIONS to play a game? And we will still hear people saying (HE DON’T HIT, THROW, PITCH??) WAKE UP! Neither do the managers that win world series!! NOW it’s time to see if Doug is worth his weight!! It’s been said the crew will have 35 to 40 mil to spend? If you can’t find arms to hold a lead with that much cash you should be booted!
    GO PACK GO…

    • Nicholas Zettel says: October 3, 2012

      It’s completely false to say Ramirez was “off” for three months; Ramirez hit .274 and slugged better than .480 in May, for instance, and had his overall season average up to .260 by mid-June, which is pretty impressive given his April.

      Also, I’m not sure how you’re counting the Brewers getting thrown out on the basepaths; counting their caught stealing, outs advancing, and pick offs, the Brewers did a pretty good job of not making extra outs on the bases.

      Think of it this way; the Brewers stole approximately 50 more bases than the NL, advanced an average number of bases, and were decent at moving from 1st to 3rd on singles, 1st to home on doubles, and 2nd to home on singles. For all those factors, they were caught stealing or advancing 14 times more than the average NL team.

      That’s a rather reasonable number, given their overall performance.

    • Zekiel says: October 4, 2012

      @BOB-
      Excellent breakdown there. Agree with everything you said.
      RR was soft on Weeks for how long? True, Rickie turned his season around but he was given way too many chances to do so. RR coddles these guys way to much.
      I’ve often thought myself: Why is RR so soft on a guy who can cuddle with millions of dollars each night? These are GROWN MEN and need to be told to sit, stay, etc. Why? Because they are being paid very well to do so.
      Rickie should have been on the bench with Nyjer instead of on the field.
      Again, I’m happy he started to hit the ball, but it was way too little, way too late.

      @Nicholas,
      Sorry, man but I have to agree with Bob about Ramirez. He may have been hitting .274 or whatever but none of that was in the way of a timely hit. He wasn’t scoring a ton of guys from what I remember early in the season and she wasn’t hitting home runs like he was doing at the end.
      That’s a LOT of lost production in the early part of the season as a batting average only tells one side of the story.

      • Eric says: October 5, 2012

        Who else did we have ready to play at 2nd base? And, yeah, Rickie got hot at the end and ended up putting up a pretty darn good season for a 2nd baseman. Blaming Ramirez and Weeks when both were above average at their position is simply stupid. The biggest culprits are a poor bullpen and Lucroy/every SS getting injured.

        • BOB says: October 5, 2012

          Green, minors,,,,, We will never know because RR stuck with a guy who had a 9 month slump! Worst pen for sure!! But why do you have bench players if your just going to stick with people under performing… HE’S NOT A VERY GOOD MANAGER…

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