I am basing this on a question I saw Dex ask in the OT last night. Basically, I am wondering the same thing. Which is our true bullpen? The one we saw last year dominate, or the one we are seeing this year flounder? I am guessing somewhere in the middle, but I decided to look at some numbers to see if there is a statistical trend somewhere in there.
Notes: 1.I pulled some info from baseballprospectus.com, and I am not going to repost that much info. I will give you the gist of what I see. 2. I am not looking for excuses for our bullpen, they haven't been performing. I am just interested if there is an underlying trend, or this is all a fluke and will normalize at some point.
Let's start with one of the guys that seems to be doing ok (minus a meltdown in Houston). So far, his Hits/9 are up (way up), his BB/9 and K/9 are both down from last year, and his HR/9 are about the same. His LD% (21.6%) is up a little high, his GB% is way down (33.3% compared to 58.8% last year). Over his career his GB% has been about 50%. His BABIP is sitting at .294, which is pretty average, compared to .258 last season. His BABIP splits are pretty ugly though. Righties: .367, Lefties:.190. Last Year, Righties:.231, Lefties:.288. His home and away aren't much better. It seems to me that he is (either intentionally or not) pitching to contact more than last year, and more of those balls put into play are falling for hits. I would guess we are going to see things regress to the mean a bit, and we will see something between this year and last.
Now to one of the guys that is struggling. So far, his H/9 is actually down a bit, but his K/9 is way down (3.8 vs. 7.4). His walk rate is about the same though. His LD% is very high (26.7%), and his GB% is down (33.3%). his BABIP is up a bit (.333 vs .318). The BABIP splits are similar to last year, but exaggerated a bit. He seems to be having similar problems to Bell. Guys are making more contact than last year, and the balls are falling in for hits at an above average rate. If it is a mechanical problem , a mental problem or just plain luck is way beyond this simple analysis.
Right off the bat we can see that Cla's numbers are a little out of whack. His GB% is sitting at 59%, which is really low for him. As a result his LD% is up at 20.5%, and his IF/F is down to 12.5%. His K/9 are down a bit, but his walk rate is the same. Cla's BABIP history is interesting. 2006 it was .199, ridiculously low, and he had the results to show for it. Last year it bumped way up to .344, an extreme overcorrection. I think that was pretty apparent last year too, he was unlucky. This year it seems to have leveled at .256. Oddly enough, Cla doesn't seem to benefit from pitching in Petco all that much (when it comes to BABIP at least). In 2006, he had a .182 BABIP at home compared to .210 on the road. In 2007 it was .295 vs. .385 (ouch), and this year it is .320 (ouch) vs. .143. I guess when you are a groundball pitcher, the park doesn't matter as much. His batter splits are odd too. His righty splits were .123, .375 and this year .231. His lefty splits were .309, .304 and this year .308. While he seems to be consistent against lefties, his numbers are all over the board for everything else. He was extremely lucky in 06, extremely unlucky in 07, and I think what we are seeing now is closer to the true Cla.
Another guy who is struggling. Same story, his BB/G are up, his K/G are down. His LD% is astronomical at 32.6%, and his GB% is down at 41.9%. His BABIP is also astronomical at .419! compared to .197 last year. An extreme overcorrection, to something much worse? The splits there are just as ugly. I don't know what to make of his situation. I would have to guess he will level out a bit, and fall somewhere between last year and this year.
His H/9 are up, his BB/9 are up and his K/9 are up. His LD% is up, and his GB% is down. His BABIP is up, and way out of whack. Even though it is a very small sample (9 Batters I think), lefties have a .500 BABIP against him! Notice a trend here? He did buck the LD% trend though, and is sitting extremely low at 7.1%. Except for his walk rate being up, Trevor's peripheral numbers don't look too bad.
I am not going to do Ledezma and Rusch right now. Maybe later. So far all of our pitchers are showing a similar trend. K down and BB up, or both K and BB down, LD% up, GB% down, BABIP out of whack. What does this mean? It seems that they are all pitching to more contact, intentionally or not. An above average number of balls falling into play. Could it simply be bad luck, and all of them are going wrong at the same time? Could it be some change in team philosophy gone horribly wrong? Are they concentrating too much on the runners and suffering for it? Maybe the umps took some kind of offense to the talk of how great the Padres bullpen was, and decided to call things tougher for them. Or maybe it is even more sinister, and they are paying us back for Wells and Bradley. I hope that is not the case. Whatever it is, there are some weird statistical trends going on, and it might be worth digging deeper. Maybe just like the hitters going sour all at the same time, they are all going wrong too. Maybe good clubhouse chemistry is a stupid goal. Maybe the Padres should go get Bonds to stir things up and piss people off. San Diego fans want us to win, and what better way to improve than getting a superstar LF. You get your slugger and big name all at once. Regardless, I say that this bullpen will right itself at some point. Will it be as good as last year, probably not. It will certainly be better than what we are seeing now.