Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My thoughts on Hembree, BABIP usage in Minors

This was a comment in response to a statement a while back about Hembree's BABIP "regressing to the mean" since it was higher than .300

ogc thoughts

The problem with using BABIP for minor league pitchers is that not all pitchers figure out the skill of hewing to the BABIP mean of .300 in the majors.  This gets especially iffy then for relievers where it is all SSS and BABIP isn't all that accurate.   So Hembree bad BABIP does not necessarily mean that there will be a regression to the mean.

There is a great interview with Mike Fast of the Astros where he talked about learning this while working inside (he was a well known sabermetrician prior to joining the Astros, for those who didn't know).   He noted that DIPS don't quite apply in the minors, that there are pitchers who don't learn the fine art of keeping BABIP to the mean .300 that most MLB pitchers do learn.  Search for interview with Mike Fast of Astros and that should get you the right link.

Not that Hembree hasn't learned, just that you can't just quote a high BABIP and make that assumption.   Checking out his numbers (reminder, this was written a while back), his career BABIP is roughly .327, so perhaps he hasn't learned.  And subtracting his poor numbers this season, his career BABIP previously was still .316, so perhaps this is an issue with Hembree.

Again, SSS, but the Giants must have a reason for keeping him down, I was amazed this off-season that Law got all the love from the Giants FO while Hembree barely got any mention, even though he had a stellar performance for them in his 2013 call-up, I thought he would be at least penciled in for a spot in 2014 opening day, since Sabean said that they needed to improve their bullpen.   But even Dunning got more mention for the bullpen than Hembree, it seemed to me.

And looking at his numbers, as closer, he should not be that messed up by poor relief with his inherited runners, and yet his ERA in AAA has never been all that good.  Yes, it's an offensive league, but there are plenty of pitchers who are better, he was 76th in the league.   And if DIPS don't work in the minors, ERA is all we got.  

He does have great K/BB ratios, and that will probably get him his chance, but if he can't figure out the BABIP issue, his chances to be a major leaguer, let alone a closer, is pretty iffy.   The good thing for him is that he has pretty good command and control, so he can minimize walks, but hits is what hurts, especially for a reliever, particularly for the closer expected to come in sometimes with runners on.  Giving up hits is fine if he's strictly closing when starting the 9th with no outs and no runners, but not so good when coming in a truer save situation. 

He must be grooving in pitches in order to avoid walks, so it seems to me that he needs to learn that walks aren't all that bad to give up if it means that you are giving the hitter good pitches to hit for base hits.   He has a very high K/9, he can afford to walk a few more if that means less hits given up, better to give up one more walk than one more hit, the vast majority of the time.

That said, I agreed with what was said about him.  He's probably coming up by season's end and getting some 7/8th inning action.  He's probably up for the closer role in 2015, but I wouldn't bet on it given the above.  Plus Casilla appears to be the man right now, though if Machi ever rights his ship, he could be considered given his experience closing in Venezuela.   And Affeldt could easily slip into the closer role, I think.  

In any case, Hembree should be out of options by next season, so he's most probably making the 25-man roster next season barring any implosion on his part in the spring 2015.   But even that's not a given, even if Romo leaves (doubtful he stays unless willing to accept reliever money like Affeldt and not closer money like Wilson), I expect Kontos to take a spot in the bullpen after his great comeback this season.  So Hembree's probably battling Kontos, Machi, Gutierrez for three spots in the bullpen, with Casilla, Affeldt, Lopez, and Petit in the other four bullpen spots (that's assuming Petit doesn't take Vogelsong's spot in the rotation, but then maybe Kickham takes that long reliever spot, right now).  And given Romo's difficulties now and ties to the Giants, he might accept an set-up reliever contract like Affeldt, Casilla, Lopez have gotten and be retained, making it only two spots open among the four.

And push come to shove, if it's three spots, probably its him against Gutierrez for the final spot, though I've noticed the Giants have been pushing their relievers to go beyond 1 inning, so Hembree could take the long relief spot by being able to pitch 2 innings to bridge to the middle relievers, who could also go 2 innings as necessary.

2 comments:

  1. And Hembree promptly gives up a grand slam to Joc Peterson. Urgh.

    This deadline should be a fun one. I have a feeling Hembree might be a throw in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a good observation! Yeah, he would have enough cache to another team as a top ten prospect to bundle to get someone better.

      With Adrianzas injury and probable DL, Uggla will get a week or so to show enough to Giants that they do not need to trade for 2B. Meanwhile, SP might be needed if Petit does not deliver much in next starts, I like Kickham, but I do not think he is ready yet, especially in pennant race. Then there is matter of bullpen, do we get another set up guy or former closer? Yes, should be fun and interesting.

      Delete

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