Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Another Lesson In Small Sample Size Reactions

After his 7 inning, 1 run, 4 hit, 7 strikeout, 1 walk performance against the Orioles tonight, Javier Vazquez has a ~2.90 ERA in his last 5 appearances (4 starts). A small sample. However it's almost exactly as small as the sample in April when he was getting lit and skipped in the rotation and people were going nuts. The reality is he is neither as bad as he was then or as good as he's been recently (for the record, he got rocked by both good and bad teams and has not pitched well against both good and bad teams).

We're all guilty of it, and it gets largely driven by the media, but you just can't get overly excited either way about a month in this sport, whether it's the first month, the last month, or somewhere inbetween. To give another example, Phil Hughes is unlikely to be this good every single start all season long. He's probably going to have a few more rocky outings like we already saw a few weeks ago. Now, you might tell me Vazquez still has a 6.06 ERA, and you'd be right. But the reality is he had a 9.78 a month ago. He's 4-5 through two months and despite three absolute disastrous games is on pace to win 12 games, maybe a few more if he can be just plain old bad when he's not on, not completely terrible. You could do a lot worse than 12-14 wins with solid innings from the back of the rotation. Not fantastic production by any means, but beneficial production. We'll see what ends up happening. Certainly positive signs recently, and I think all Yankees fans would settle for something right between the near 10 he was pitching to in April and the sub 3 he's been pitching to recently, say 4.50.

Nick Swisher stinks. .317/.397/.563/.960 with 9 homers, 28 RBI, and 34 runs scored. Too bad we sold the farm to get him and are paying him one of the highest salaries in all of baseball. Oh, wait...

A.J. Burnett has also been terrible. A .633 winning percentage and a 3.75 ERA across ~1.5 seasons. Woops...

Oh yeah, and that whole World Series thing that both of these players were involved in. My bad...

Curtis Granderson should bat 2nd every night, no matter if its a righty or a lefty. Since returning to the lineup (4 starts) he has 3 doubles and a homer off of lefties in like 7 total at bats against lefties. He just strikes me as the type of guy that will thrive with the more responsibility he is given. Plus, pitchers basically have to throw fastballs to that part of the Yankees' order, which will make it much easier to hit lefties. It's nice to have a somewhat consistent lineup night to night, and I like what Granderson's versatility brings to that spot in the order. Plus, I like Swisher in more of an RBI spot, and batting him 2nd against lefties takes some of that away from him I think.

Good win tonight with Vazquez on the mound. Hopefully Hughes continues to pitch well and C.C. can bounce back, netting another series win or maybe even more for this club.


Anonymous said...


I'm looking at Vazquez's last five outings and I don't know if they are really all that indicative of him turning the corner. I'm not saying he hasn't turned the corner, I'm just saying that his last five appearances aren't necessarily the strongest indicator that he has.

First, one of those outings was a one batter affair against the Red Sox. So just take those four pitches right out. You can't tell anything by that. Outside of that, he has four starts. Two against good teams/good offenses, and two against bad teams/national league teams, with bad to mediocre offenses/pitchers hitting.

Against the Tigers he pitched well. Against the Twins he got lit up. So in the two starts against good teams he gave up seven earned runs in 13.2 innings. That's a 4.77 ERA. Which is ok I guess. He was very good against the Mets on the road (which shouldn't surprise anyone because he's a National League guy and has had success there and because the Mets really aren't a great offensive team) and very good against the Orioles. Of course, the Orioles have the worst offense in the AL and second worst in the Majors. So, Vazquez may be on his way to a 12 win season, but I don't know that these last five outings suggest that he is.

Lastly, if all the Yankees are worrying about is Javier Vazquez, then they are well on their way to a 100 win season.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...


I believe this is what Pat looks like when he's searching furiously for a silver lining. It's not quite the same level of me praising Coco Crisp's .333 batting average this year (2/6 in two games in between DL stints), but coming from the same direction. It's fair to justify Pat's love affair not only if Vazquez does what Pat wants him to do (being just plain bad instead of abysmal) and being better than (in your words) "ok I guess."

I'd like to hear FTB's commentary on how Pat treats Brett Gardner during a short cold streak in order to balance out this indictment of small sample sizes.

For what it's worth, I agree about Granderson.

PF said...

Tough crowd today, as almost always. I tried to make very clear that this was not about vazquez turning the corner. I noted that he isn't likey to be as good as he's been recently. I'm just saying he also isn't as bad as he was early. In his absolute worst season in the AL he never pitched above a high 4, so did people really think he was going to pitch to a near 10 era all season? Because they were acting like it. And that is the one and only thing I'm getting at here. Not turning a corner. Not being really good. Not any of that. Just that he isn't as bad as he was in april when people were approaching a few bad starts as if the guy shouldn't get the ball anymore. Even if we accept as truth that he can only pitch well against bad/nl teams, isn't there value in that from the back of the rotation, as opposed to having someone who can't pitch well against most anyone? Even that is evidence of a guy not being horrible, which is what people were trying to make him out to be after 5 starts (starts that if they happened in july would be largely ignored). If making a point so obvious is having a love affair with someone even mentioned in the same sentence as dv with coco crisp, I find that interesting.

PF said...

I also have to challenge (although it is meaningless) the idea that the one batter against boston should get thrown out. Because the batter happened to be a guy an entire comments section was spent drooling over last week, and he struck him out swinging in a 1st and 3rd 2 out situation, holding the game at 2 runs and allowing the yankees to win it. It was a big out, but usually I'd make it about nothing more than that (putting me in agreement with you). However you just know if youkilis gets a hit there everyone is going wild saying he can't handle the pressure. So therefore it isn't fair to say it's nothing when he does as well as he can do there. You can call me the enforcer of fairness in this post and comments section, because that's all I'm looking for. Fair treatment. And as I mentioned I'd say the same thing in the other direction, as with my phil hughes example. It just so happens vazquez is the only one being shown little patience.

Anonymous said...


I wasn't trying to bust your chops. I was just pointing out the teams that Vazquez pitched against. Believe me, if he comes out and shuts down the Sox and Rays in the coming weeks I'll be first guy to say that I was wrong about him or that he's more valuable than I gave him credit for.

--the Gunn

Anonymous said...


It would seem like you are running out of space to operate. Apparently you can't be critical even after qualifying your remarks (see Brett Gardner discussion a week or so ago), nor can you be complimentary of someone (again, you qualified what you said).

Everything that you say from now on should be completely vague, neutral, and lukewarm.

Went to the Yankees game last saturday with rkap as he mentioned. Good time, nice park. Surreal and unsettling to see that many dark blue Yankees t shirts all in one place.

As a Sox fan watching a Yankees game against the Indians in late may, I could not have asked for anything more regarding the result of the game.

First you have A-Rod hitting the pitching in the face with a drive up the middle and then pretending to be concerned(nice try a rod). Then you have Gardner getting picked off first. Then you have the Yankees going through 4 pitchers and imploding in the 7th, concluded by Joba giving up the lead. Just tremendous to watch all around.