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Control and Cliff Lee and Daniel Cabrera?


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An article in Baseball Prospectus today by Eric Seidman about the pitchers over history who have improved their control by a significant amount and actually maintained their newfound control had some interesting nuggets in it.

It's part of a series of articles regarding Cliff Lee's 2008 season and how it happened:

While revisiting the 2008 dominance of Cliff Lee last week, we investigated how pitchers with similarly large spikes in ground-ball rates have fared in subsequent seasons. The results weren't pretty, and showed that massive rate increases in this area have been few and far between since 1954, and a very low percentage of these pitchers have been able to sustain these higher rates.

Last week was about GB%, this week was about Lee's huge gains in control. Good stuff overall, but check this out:

Between 1954 and 2008, only 10 pitchers have reduced their walk rate and increased their ground-ball rate to such an extent in the same season.
Player             Years   GB1  GB2  UBB1  UBB2Ray Lamb          1971-72  .49  .61  3.52  2.01Mike Norris       1979-80  .48  .56  5.23  2.56John Denny        1982-83  .66  .74  4.48  1.78Al Leiter         1997-98  .40  .49  5.17  3.22Dwight Gooden     1999-00  .35  .47  5.01  3.51Steve Sparks      1999-00  .43  .52  5.00  2.51Kevin Appier      2000-01  .43  .52  4.24  2.61[b][i][u]Daniel Cabrera    2006-07  .41  .49  6.26  4.49[/u][/i][/b]Cliff Lee         2007-08  .36  .45  3.24  1.33Carlos Villanueva 2007-08  .37  .48  3.94  2.41
Only Daniel Cabrera and John Denny fell within the +0.30 maximum UBB/9 increase, and only Cabrera and Steve Sparks produced similar ground-ball rates. Cabrera is the only other qualifying pitcher we have on record who had these changes and sustained them in consecutive years.

While we spent years getting on Cabrera for his lack of control and this and that and the pitchforks really started coming out after last season, I don't think many acknowledged or even realized what exactly Cabrera accomplished.

Obviously, it wasn't enough, as his stuff, strikeouts, power allowed and hits allowed went so far backward that his gains in control and GB% couldn't cover, but nonetheless I found this interesting.

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LOL. The only reason D'Cab is on that list is because he was such a horrible pitcher to begin with... he set the bar sooo unbelievably low that up was the only way he could go... getting positively recognized for a 4.49 BB/9....smart man...


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It makes sense to me because he started throwing less hard with a 2 seamer rather than a 4 seamer. So since he threw softer he had better control and since it was a 2 seamer, it sunk meaning that the hitters would then hit the ball on the ground......

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