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Should Yoshi Hirano take over Archie Bradley’s high leverage role?

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Utilizing Quality of Batters Faced to inform the discussion

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

As we know by now the team intentionally tries to give Archie Bradley the toughest assignments. I’ve written about this before, and while it’s true that he most often pitches in 8th, it’s also true that he often tends to come in to face the top or middle of the order whenever the Torey can set it up that way. However he hasn’t faced the toughest Quality of Opponents on the team, as measured by OPS of opposing hitters.

The below table shows the OPS of opposing hitters, which is available at Baseball Prospectus. It then shows the OPS against that the reliever gave up. I also show and order by an OPS+ against. This OPS+ against is different than the one you find at BB-REF, as that is measuring against league average, whereas I am measuring against the average of the hitters actually faced.

(OPS against/ OPP OPS) * 100

Quality of Batters Faced

Pitcher IP PA OPPOPS OPS Against OPS+ PTN %
Pitcher IP PA OPPOPS OPS Against OPS+ PTN %
Bracho 17.7 69 .701 .467 67 59%
Chafin 44.3 182 .745 .564 76 51%
Bradley 63.0 255 .742 .629 85 58%
Hirano 57.0 224 .707 .603 85 61%
McFarland 69.3 279 .709 .633 89 34%
Boxberger 47.0 198 .754 .680 90 58%
Diekman 46.3 209 .743 .677 91 33%
Ziegler 62.7 258 .718 .723 101 58%
Andriese 72.7 305 .736 .749 102 58%
  • Note that reliever sample sizes are already so small that I didn’t find it informative to list the newly acquired pitchers by their DBacks stats, so I am using year to date for those 3.
  • Boxberger has faced the highest OPP OPS, but among DBacks relievers also has the highest OPS+ against.
  • Yoshi and Bradley have the same OPS+. Archie has faced tougher hitters, but also has the higher OPS against. When measured against strength of competition, performance has been about the same.
  • Chafin has best OPS+ against by a pretty wide margin, (other than Bracho in small sample size). Hey....it’s just the way it shakes out. Don’t shoot the messenger. ;)
  • I also show the PTN%, which is percent of time the pitcher had the platoon advantage. Opposing managers have brought in a lefty to face Box and Archie a little bit more than Yoshi.

The purpose of this post and the table are to give further context to the discussion of whether or not Hirano should take over for Archie in the high leverage, meat of order role late in games.

The table above is just to give us a different look, a different angle in evaluating the pitcher’s performances. Since Torey has talked about giving Archie the toughest assignments, I have to assume the team looks at something similar to above. So hopefully this is a useful view for folks.

In the past I somewhat overlooked Archies issues with the curve in evaluating him. But at the same time when I look at the data, it seems the issue is maybe a little overblown. Looking at Brooks Baseball Usage Percentage his overall CB usage is down 4% points, from 21% to 17% It’s not like he stopped throwing the curve. If you use the tabs on the left side of the page in that link you can look month to month, game to game, etc. His lowest % month of curve usage was 15% in June, and it was 19% in August.

If you look at things like Whiff %, it’s only down 1% point. His GB/FB rate is the same. His BA and Slug% on the Curve are up, but slug% is up against on the FB too. (Perhaps a relation there of course) . His Slug against on the curve was over .600 in May and June, but in the low .200’s for July and August.

I think due to the early season nail story, and also due to a few high profile at bats where he threw nothing but fastballs, the issue has been somewhat overblown. I’m not saying there is no issue there, I’ve watched every at bat he’s thrown too. But the way it’s talked about, it’s presented as either he doesn’t throw any curves, or has zero success with the pitch when he does. Neither of those thoughts are true or at the least are exaggerations.

So whats the answer here ? Well asking this question on this morning, the answer from most people is going to be get him out of high leverage, 8th inning situations. Most would prefer to turn to Yoshi in the role that Archie now has, and cobble together the pre 8th inning situations by match ups.

I am not against shaking things up for a while to see how the other guys handle it. But I am not at all convinced that doing so will bring any better results. You are now armed with a little more information from the table above to help you make YOUR determination.