Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Beware of box score pitching stats

The GCL Mets lost yesterday to the GCL Cardinals, 6-4, but starter Cole Abbott, the Mets 25th round draft pick in 2007 who decided to sign with the Mets instead of playing baseball for BYU, wasn't responsible for the loss. In fact, if you look at his stat line in the game's box score, it looks as if he had an easy time.


In two innings he gave up just one hit and a walk, and no batters crossed the plate. But those stats are deceptive. They hide what really happened.

In the first inning, the GCL Cards lead-off batter reached first on an error by the Mets third baseman. Can't blame Abbott for that. The second batter struck out swinging. After a fly out, the last batter also struck out swinging. No runs, no hits, one error.

For the first, here's how Abbott stats would look in a box score's stat line (I didn't recalculate his ERA):


Aside from the fielding error, the above stat line reflects his first-inning performance.

In the second inning, the first batter grounded out. It's always good to keep the first hitter off base, especially since the second batter, Reid Gorecki, a Queens, NY native, walked. Abbott struck out the third batter, but couldn't prevent Gorecki from stealing second. Abbott then hit the next batter. First and second, two outs. The fifth batter lined a single to center. Usually, that loads the bases.

As I didn't watch the game, I don't know if the Mets center fielder was playing shallow or if the line drive went straight to him or if Gorecki thought it would be caught so delayed leaving second base or if the Mets center fielder, Carlos Guzman, has a gun for an arm. Whatever, Guzman threw Gorecki out at third. Inning over. No runs, one hit, one walk, one hit-by-pitch.

Abbott got out of the inning unscored upon, but not by his pitching skill. So his stat line for the two innings he pitched could easily mislead you into thinking he had pitched better than he actually had during his two innings.

Before joining the Mets, Abbott played his high school ball in Utah. During his senior year, his fast ball peaked at 92 mph. He's tall and lean: There's little fat on his 6'2" frame. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, he has only "4 percent body fat." Whether his lack of fat makes him a better pitcher, I've no idea. However, if he stays lean, it could make him a healthier pitcher and lengthen his career.

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