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Looking at Padilla, Seo gets married

Mike SteffanosMonday, December 26, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

The Christmas holiday is over, and we start to get back in the groove with a few items of interest:

Hardball Times: Juan Padilla
I had a link a few days ago to an article I found in the Hardball Times about Heath Bell. It was written by a man named David Appelman who is the creator of the FanGraphs website. In the article, Mr. Appelman used statistics to prove that Heath Bell was somewhat unlucky last year and could reasonably be expected to do better in 2006. The primary reason that Appelman felt that Bell was unlucky was that his Batting Average on balls put into play (BABIP) was the ninth worst in the league.

In his latest look at a Mets reliever, Mr. Appelman uses stats, including BABIP and Left on base percentage (LOB%), to show that Juan Padilla pitched in some good luck in 2005, and that it might not be reasonable to expect results as good in 2006:

Starting off with ERA, his first trip around the majors was pretty awful. In 2004 he had an insanely high ERA of 7.71, which plummeted to an incredibly low ERA of 1.49 in 2005. With such a steep decline, I'd expect some sort of drastic change in his strikeouts or walks. This was not the case.

In 2005 his strikeout to walk ratio (K/BB) was slightly worse than it was in 2004. His strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9) was a poor 4.21 and his walks per 9 innings (BB/9) was a pretty average 3.22 bringing his K/BB to a poor 1.31. His minor league numbers definitely deviated from his major league numbers where he managed a pretty healthy K/9 of 8.22 the past two seasons in AAA.

Moving on to the part which made him the "luckiest" pitcher in all of baseball, he gave up zero home runs last season. I don't care who you are, things like that generally don't happen more than once. To go with his zero home runs, he had an extremely low BABIP of .219 and a pretty high LOB% of 81%. Combine all three of these and he had the best single season "Luck Factor" in the past four years! Pitchers with a K/9 under 7 that have displayed similar luck have seen, on average, a 2 point rise in ERA the following year.

Not really good news to those of us who are hoping that Padilla can indeed be the pitcher he was last year for a bullpen that desperately needs it. I'm fairly new to statistics, growing up in an era when on-base percentage was fairly cutting edge. For some time I really mistrusted the use of statistics to predict performance in baseball. I've come around quite a bit, and believe that statistical analysis can be quite useful when combined with traditional evaluation methods.

I did get the feeling Padilla was somewhat lucky watching him pitch last year. He just walked too many guys for a pitcher that didn't strike out all that many batters. I think Juan Padilla can succeed as a reliever if he cuts the walks way down. With his stuff, I can't see him matching the low hit total he gave up this year, only 24 hits in 36.1 innings. I don't think he has the pitches to increase his strikeout rate much higher. If he's to succeed, in my mind it will be by improving his control. At 29 going into next season, the potential for improvement with Padilla will be in the mental aspects of his game rather than the physical.

Chosun.com: Another one bites the dust
Found this about Jae Seo getting married on a Korean web site. I liked the "mock punishment of standing and sitting 10 times carrying his bride in his arms". Learning how to bear up under suffering is the key to adjusting to married life. (Just kidding, Lisa) Cute picture of the happy couple, too.

Mets.com: A look back at 2005
Marty Noble offers a month-by-month look back at the year that (almost) was, from the signing of Beltran in January to the signing of Julio Franco earlier this month.

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