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Random Numbers: Jeff Niemann's Stretch, Carl Crawford's Eye, B.J. Upton's Plague

Jeff Niemann struggles when runners are on.

Well, that's an understatement. Originally I figured too much was made of this, perhaps just an assortment of memories from a few bad games. After all, when Niemann is at his absolute worst, he's walking guys and having the hits pour in. Much to my chagrin, perception is reality. Take a look at these splits relative to league average:

Men On: .348/.483/.609 (OPS is 78% higher than league average in this scenario)

RISP: .273/.400/.515 (34% above league average)

Nobody on: .227/.329/.318 ( 22% better than league average)

The BABIPs in those situations are .333, .259, and .264 respectively, meaning there's not a glaring amount of bad luck or random variation occurring. Something else bizarre: his OPS against righties is about .300 points higher than his OPS against lefties, and it's primarily driven by the slugging differential. Without turning to PitchFx data, I can envision the fastballs and hanging curves as catalysts.

This isn't much of a problem, as long as Niemann can go 5-6 perfect innings per start, otherwise, yes, it's probably concerning that opposing batters turn into Evan Longoria once someone gets on base.

Carl Crawford's plate discipline quantified.

Pitches per plate appearances

Career: 3.45

2008: 3.41

2009: 4.01


Career: 29.3%

2008: 31.5%

2009: 25.9%

Pitches seen

2008: 1,642 (482 PA)

2009: 546 (136 PA)

2009 Prorated to 482 PA: 1,928

So, 300 pitches extra, and if the 55% zone figure holds up, about 135 more balls and 165 strikes.


We've talked about how ISO and fastballs seen have an inverse relationship. Well, pitchers are feeding B.J. Upton about 70% fastballs. That's up from 61.5% last year and 57.7% in 2007. Until he proves he can hit them, and hit them fair and for power, pitchers are going to continue to attempt and overpower him.