Saturday, 30 August 2014

Kyle Ryan's AAA Outings

Kyle Ryan has spent all of the month pitching at the AAA level, and today he makes the jump to the big leagues. What can those minor-league outings tell us about what we could expect to see against the White Sox?

I like to use QMAX, a system developed in the days of the Big Bad baseball Annual, itself a lineal descendant of Bill James' old abstracts. QMAX is helpfully thought of as a means of distinguishing the varying quality of quality and non-quality starts. I have always found it especially useful in helping to understand minor-league outings, even though it was designed with Major-League statistics. It looks at two components of pitching, the ability to miss bats (stuff) and the ability to pitch in the zone (command). Outings are categorised by where they fall on a matrix, such as 'the Success Square', 'the Hit Hard region' and some don't fit into any category at all. The 'Power Precipice' is a zone where pitchers who successfully overpower hitters still find themselves teetering on the brink of a fall because they walk too many. For young players, that's a hopeful sign, because improved command will supplement good stuff. By contrast, the Elite Square reflects the stingiest of pitchers in allowing chances for the opposition, and suggest a pitcher who is ready to try the next level. Here's a list of Kyle Ryan's performances at the AAA level.

2 August Elite Square
 8 August Elite Square
14 August Uncategorised
20 August Elite Square
25 August Success Square/Power Precipice

Now what we know about minor-league baseball is that for pitchers, a lack of command at AAA will mean problems walking batters in the big leagues. We also know that AAA fielders aren't quite as good as major-league ones, so pitchers will suffer a few more hits than they might. In terms of hits given up, the Toledo Mud Hens look to be around league average.

The AAA outings suggest that Ryan is ready to have a cup of coffee at the major-league level, as he has shown some ability at mastering AAA hitters. He is very good at keeping the ball in the strike zone, although it may be his success depends on being a little too crafty for major-league hitters (which is to say that they are harder to fool than minor-leaguers). His k/9s indicate he is a pitch-to-contact type, and his numbers at Erie (AA) might give a clearer idea of what we might expect in the hitter's park that the White Sox play in. There he gave up almost twice as many hits as he did at Toledo, and had an HR/9 of 1.1.
I suspect we'll see something on the order of 5 IP, 5 R, 6 H, 1 HR, 2 BB and 2 K. I'd settle for that.

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