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Something about Britton that bothers me


Frobby

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One thing that bothers me a bit about Britton is that he always allows a ton of unearned runs.

2007 -- 7 unearned runs in 63.2 IP (0.99 runs/9 IP)

2008 -- 17 unearned runs in 147.1 IP (1.04 runs/9 IP)

2009 -- 22 unearned runs in 140 IP (1.41 runs/9 IP)

2010 -- 14 unearned runs in 142.1 IP (0.88 runs/9 IP)

I used to think that this was just a product of the fact that he's a ground ball pitcher and the fielders behind him aren't that great. But now I'm wondering if there is something more at work -- whether he's one of these guys who tends to get rattled when things go wrong behind him. The issue has persisted no matter what level he's played at. Case in point, last night, 1 earned run, 3 unearned runs allowed. An error started the 2nd inning, a two-run homer and a single ensued, then a couple of 2-out singles allowed another unearned run to score. So, 2 of 3 runs were unearned, but the damage could have been avoided.

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One thing that bothers me a bit about Britton is that he always allows a ton of unearned runs.

2007 -- 7 unearned runs in 63.2 IP (0.99 runs/game)

2008 -- 17 unearned runs in 147.1 IP (1.04 runs/game)

2009 -- 22 unearned runs in 140 IP (1.41 runs/game)

2010 -- 14 unearned runs in 142.1 IP (0.88 runs/game)

I used to think that this was just a product of the fact that he's a ground ball pitcher and the fielders behind him aren't that great. But now I'm wondering if there is something more at work -- whether he's one of these guys who tends to get rattled when things go wrong behind him. The issue has persisted no matter what level he's played at. Case in point, last night, 1 earned run, 3 unearned runs allowed. An error started the 2nd inning, a two-run homer and a single ensued, then a couple of 2-out singles allowed another unearned run to score. So, 2 of 3 runs were unearned, but the damage could have been avoided.

You make an interesting argument.

I don't like the way you represent it as UR/G though, because you are assuming the game is nine innings as opposed to how many games Britton actually pitched during that season, so your statistics are identified improperly.

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You make an interesting argument.

I don't like the way you represent it as UR/G though, because you are assuming the game is nine innings as opposed to how many games Britton actually pitched during that season, so your statistics are identified improperly.

OK, I've gone back and changed it to read "runs/9 IP." I wasn't intending to mislead anyone, just expressing this in the same way one expresses ERA.

I used to think that if you put a major league defense behind Britton, he's allow even fewer earned runs in the majors than he did in the minors, but now I am not so sure.

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OK, I've gone back and changed it to read "runs/9 IP." I wasn't intending to mislead anyone, just expressing this in the same way one expresses ERA.

I used to think that if you put a major league defense behind Britton, he's allow even fewer earned runs in the majors than he did in the minors, but now I am not so sure.

Some numbers to think of when considering that are the Bowie INF has 77 errors this year with another 14 by the catchers and 16 passed balls. Last year in FRD you can raise that to 121 total, as well as 22 passed balls. That's just awful.

But the ERA already accounts for the unearned runs, so you shouldn't worry about what it would be without all those, because they aren't his fault (for the most part).

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I can see what you are saying, but we have also heard a lot about Britton's mound presence, and nothing we have ever heard about it is bad. IMO it is more of a product of giving MiL fielders more chances to make errors. Fly balls are less likely to be errors.

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Some numbers to think of when considering that are the Bowie INF has 77 errors this year with another 14 by the catchers and 16 passed balls. Last year in FRD you can raise that to 121 total, as well as 22 passed balls. That's just awful.

But the ERA already accounts for the unearned runs, so you shouldn't worry about what it would be without all those, because they aren't his fault (for the most part).

You're not understanding Frobby's point. He's saying what if the unearned runs are his fault. A 1-base error to lead off an inning that comes around to score really isn't all that unearned.

Drungo lots of times talks about just eliminating errors and unearned runs. If that was the case, Britton might not even be a good prospect, at least from simply looking at the overall stats.

The errors behind him should dissipate substantially when he reaches the majors. That's not what Frobby is speculating on. He's concerned that what if Britton is one of those pitchers that gets really rattled after a mistake and can't buckle down and pick his defense up. Even if the errors are fewer in between, that type of mentality and lack of focus would still be a major red flag.

Obviously this is a question that can't be answered with numbers. Only people who have seen him pitch a lot and seen his reactions when the guys behind him make mistakes and he's got to get out of jams he should have already been out of can answer or even attempt to address this concern.

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You're not understanding Frobby's point. He's saying what if the unearned runs are his fault. A 1-base error to lead off an inning that comes around to score really isn't all that unearned.

Drungo lots of times talks about just eliminating errors and unearned runs. If that was the case, Britton might not even be a good prospect, at least from simply looking at the overall stats.

The errors behind him should dissipate substantially when he reaches the majors. That's not what Frobby is speculating on. He's concerned that what if Britton is one of those pitchers that gets really rattled after a mistake and can't buckle down and pick his defense up. Even if the errors are fewer in between, that type of mentality and lack of focus would still be a major red flag.

Obviously this is a question that can't be answered with numbers. Only people who have seen him pitch a lot and seen his reactions when the guys behind him make mistakes and he's got to get out of jams he should have already been out of can answer or even attempt to address this concern.

If the runs scores with 2 outs it is. I don't think we have ever heard any problems with his mental approach to pitching.

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If the runs scores with 2 outs it is. I don't think we have ever heard any problems with his mental approach to pitching.
A leadoff error that the pitcher allows to score is still on the pitcher, at least to a high degree.

Its like if a reliever comes in with a guy on 1st and no outs. If he lets that guy score, he did a poor job.

Not all unearned runs are created equal. Most of them are at least somewhat the pitchers fault, and many of them are mostly the pitcher's fault.

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A leadoff error that the pitcher allows to score is still on the pitcher, at least to a high degree.

Its like if a reliever comes in with a guy on 1st and no outs. If he lets that guy score, he did a poor job.

Not all unearned runs are created equal. Most of them are at least somewhat the pitchers fault, and many of them are mostly the pitcher's fault.

I don't know how you could say that. The reliever is a totally different scenario.

If the guy gets on from a lead off error and then he gets two more outs before that run scores, the inning should have been over. You are asking him to get 4 outs in an inning. The reliever is brought on and told to only get 2 outs, not 4.

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A leadoff error that the pitcher allows to score is still on the pitcher, at least to a high degree.

Its like if a reliever comes in with a guy on 1st and no outs. If he lets that guy score, he did a poor job.

Not all unearned runs are created equal. Most of them are at least somewhat the pitchers fault, and many of them are mostly the pitcher's fault.

How much would scoring increase if the offense was allowed four outs per inning instead of three?

I have no desire to try and hunt up the exact numbers but I am sure that a team has a lot higher chance of scoring in an inning if the inning starts off with a baserunner on first instead of an out.

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I'm going to post out the Norfolk recap for his unearned runs there:

Aug. 30 (4 R, 1 ER)

2nd

Error, homer (2R, 1ER), single, sac bunt, fly out, line drive single, ground ball single (3R, 1ER), ground out.

5th

Double, Error by Andino run scores (1R, 0ER), K, GIDP

Aug. 1

Single, Walk, Single, Fly Out, BG Force Out at Second (1 R, 1 ER), With Brandon Moss batting, Alex Presley picked off and caught stealing 2nd base, Brian Friday scores. Alex Presley advances to 3rd, on throwing error by shortstop Robert Andino, assist to pitcher Zachary Britton to first baseman Michael Aubrey (2R, 1 ER). Moss homers on next at bat. (4 R, 2ER)

July 22

1st

Single, Force Out, Error, GB Single CF (1R, 1ER), Single, Double (2R, 1ER, Walk, Error Andino (3R, 1ER), Strike Out, Force Out.

This is an example of Andino causing a run and Brittong doing his job. There is no choking or evidence of not handling the event. He retired the next two hitters after the second error of the inning. I'm also uncertain why this isn't 3R, 2ER.

July 6th

5th

Strike Out, Fly Out, Double, Walk, Throwing Error (1 R, 0ER), Pitching change.

I think it's fair to say only looking at the numbers and not the events skews the view of your initial argument. At the very least it's clear that the latter two events were caused with two outs and errors by the player that were not a result of an error and then Britton allowing a hit. If you were going to show that he's cracking under the pressure you have to show he's allowing hits to give up his ER. This happened with Moss, but at least in Norfolk seems to be a lot more of an isolated incident than your initial post seems to imply.

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The concept of runs being earned/unearned has always struck me as specious. Pitchers are supposed to keep runners from scoring, no matter how the runners got on base. And the rule that every run which follows a putative third out somehow shouldn't count against a pitcher's record is artificial. With two outs, a SS throws the ball away. Pitcher then walks the next two hitters, gives up a single and then a home run, and none of those five runs is charged against his record?

Runs are runs. Pitchers who have bad defenses behind them will give up more runs, but that's true even if you're just looking at earned runs.

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The concept of runs being earned/unearned has always struck me as specious. Pitchers are supposed to keep runners from scoring, no matter how the runners got on base. And the rule that every run which follows a putative third out somehow shouldn't count against a pitcher's record is artificial.

Runs are runs. Pitchers who have bad defenses behind them will give up more runs, but that's true even if you're just looking at earned runs.

Its also more about fault. A pitcher shouldn't be penalized because someone messed up a routine play. It's a good way to even the playing field to compare pitchers.

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Its also more about fault. A pitcher shouldn't be penalized because someone messed up a routine play. It's a good way to even the playing field to compare pitchers.

ERA is an outdated artifact. It isn't robust enough to really compare pitchers. It levels the field in a crude way, but it doesn't really correct for the effects of bad defense, and it doesn't account for the pitcher who comes unraveled when things start to fall apart around him. (I don't know whether Britton is that kind of pitcher, but Frobby's point is worth considering).

The gross total of runs/9 is probably as accurate as ERA, but FIP is much better than both.

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ERA is an outdated artifact. It isn't robust enough to really compare pitchers. It levels the field in a crude way, but it doesn't really correct for the effects of bad defense, and it doesn't account for the pitcher who comes unraveled when things start to fall apart around him. (I don't know whether Britton is that kind of pitcher, but Frobby's point is worth considering).

The gross total of runs/9 is probably as accurate as ERA, but FIP is much better than both.

Well then, how do you go about finding out if that is the case?

What type of statistic would you use?

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