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Setting the Starting Pitcher Bar High, Barry Zito is a Stud and A Fantastic Picture

Posted in Uncategorized by Flavor on April 6, 2013

“We Score We Win” has never been accurate than when discussing the four Giant starting pitchers in 2013. Four starters, 26 innings pitched, zero earned runs allowed. I can’t imagine what Voggy will do if he gives up an earned run today. The dude already takes the hill gnashing his teeth into broken pieces, if if becomes the first starter to give up a run he might execute himself.

Yesterday it was Barry’s Zito’s turn and he was magnificent. I discussed his different approach to pitching last year when I noticed how many fewer fastballs he was throwing. I incorrectly cited an increase in sliders thrown (I misread a chart at fangraphs) but it was actually an increase in cutters thrown. Here is his career chart (and I’m using a different one than last year because it’s easier to read):


Combine the FA% and FT% and you will get the percentage of 2-seam and 4-seam fastballs thrown. FC% is the % he throws his cutter. And while a cutter is a type of fastball, it’s not counted in the FA or FT% in the chart above. For reference, a cutter is usually described as a pitch that is somewhere between a fastball and a slider. Clearly, Zito decided to finally stop throwing his shitty fastball so often because he wasn’t able to get anyone out with it. Throwing more cutters has balanced out his pitch type enough to keep the hitters off balance and guessing. He obviously needs to locate all of his pitches to be effective. But from the chart it is clear that the difference in his pitching is less fastballs and more cutters. He seems to be throwing the curve and the change up about as often as he always has during his Giants career.

If you’re wondering about the differences between a 4-seam/2-seam/slider/cutter, you are not alone. Here is a chart that shows where a pitch typically ends up if it was thrown by a right handed pitcher (the view is from the catcher position). For a left handed pitcher, it would be reversed.


By the way, this is the chart I used last year.


I’ll admit to still not understanding this chart as it appears to assign a 32.5% of his pitches to the slider. I’m assuming this chart lumps in slider/cutter together, but I don’t know. Regardless, the first chart listed is the one that shows how much more often he threw his cutter in 2012 (and in his first start of 2013).

I still wouldn’t ever add Zito to a fantasy team. He doesn’t strike out enough hitters and he still throws in disaster starts that I now am attributing to poor location of his pitches. Of course, you could use that excuse for most pitchers. But he has become a reliable starting pitcher, something you can’t say about Tim Lincecum. And we’ve won 15 of his starts in a row. Some will point to run support as the reason. Well, he got 1 yesterday, so I guess they’d be right. He did get *some* run support. Enough to win, anyway. “We Score We Win.” We haven’t lost a Barry Freaking Zito start since last August 2nd. His comeback has been remarkable. I will forever honor him as a great Giant.

Here’s a pic one of my friends took yesterday:


47 Responses

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  1. dirtnrocksnomo said, on April 6, 2013 at 7:16 am

    Great post. Admittedly I don’t understand those graphs but whatever. I’ve never been a Zito hater and have admired his demeanor through thick and thin. When our group did our season ticket draw I unknowingly got Zito bobble-head day. He’ll have a prominent place at my desk at work which is slowly become a shrine to the world champs.

  2. twinfan1 said, on April 6, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Since Craig made clear that facts are out when it comes evaluating to the performance of this Great Giant, I won’t burden with any of those pesky things unless he persists in making irrelevant arguments and painting those who disagree with him as haters who only “say” they love the team…
    So, moving on to a better topic, the spectacular defense of the left side of our infield. Crawford has been as expected, Gold Glove caliber again. But people forget or ignore what a remarkable athlete Sandoval is, in 2011 he lost out ( most say unfairly) to Polanco as the GG winner. Last year he had some difficulties- but it was mostly his throwing, not “fatty” issues. It’s early but he’s been spectacular, undoubtedly saving runs yesterday with several highlight plays demonstrating his agility.

  3. Macdog said, on April 6, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Yes, it’s only one start, and the defense was superb. But it was a strange feeling watching Zito pitch yesterday, one that’s gone from faint hope he’ll avoid the inevitable meltdown to one of seeing a pitcher who knows what he’s doing and has the ways and means to execute it. As Loo said yesterday, Zito “looks like a confident veteran major league pitcher.” Now, as Flav mentioned, I still wouldn’t put him on my fantasy team. But any more starts like yesterday’s and I may be tempted to pull the trigger, just for the fun of it.

  4. willedav said, on April 6, 2013 at 8:32 am

    I listened to Tolbert and Byrnes compare Zito numbers from last year to 2010 when he was unceremoniously left off roster as SF won it all. Dunno how he is doing it, but post season last year/yesterday he held the other teams down until SF got enough runs to win.
    Tho Lincecum was hardly stellar vs. LA, he managed to escape the crooked number innings that seemed to happen last year when he got into trouble. I think that is a hopeful sign; last year he just couldn’t get the last out/last strike by someone to keep runs off the scoreboard. The walks are certainly troubling, esp because of how he holds runners on they are likely to get into scoring position quickly, but keeping them off the scoreboard is always ultimate goal. Last year he couldn’t do that.
    Sanchez gave up only 6 hits, but included were 3 doubles and an HR. Obviously he threw good strikes and bad ones, and it appears put a few pitches into the batters happy zones and they didn’t miss them. Maybe he is starting to find his way back toward the successful (and there were a couple of them) years he had with SF.

  5. willedav said, on April 6, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Couple quick book reviews: Hank greenwald’s “This copyrighted broadcast” from 1999 that I read for first time. He attended Syracuse during Jim brown era, and went back and forth with SF, Warriors, Yankees and did a lot of college broadcasting. I enjoy his sense of humor and non-pc takes on those he doesn’t care for in sports and media industries…these include Larry Baer and bill dwyer, George Steinbrenner and Barry Bonds among others. He’s also had drama with a special needs child, traveled the Far East and Australia and chases down historical stuff on Gen. MacArthur. Interesting read, including “First egg in last two minutes”, something he actually didn’t say (but was said to him as it occurred). Wonder how he would feel about today’s Giants.

    John Feinstein’s “One on One”. Feinstein sets up his career (starting with Wash Post days) and how he came to write his major books on big topics and smaller ones–Wimbledon tennis, golf’s majors, bobby Knight, army-navy rivalry, ACC of valvano d smith and coach K, also the smaller college patriot league b-ball. Not a lot of baseball in it (bobby cox last season), but most moving stuff concerns the less famous. He does get close access (major issue with him) to big names including McEnroe, Nicklaus, Woods, Knight and others and isn’t afraid to give warts and all takes. If you can get past the self-promo stuff (and he does admit to making big mistakes and saying things he shouldn’t) it’s a good read on a lot of different topics.

  6. twinfan1 said, on April 6, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Zito was superb yesterday, which is of course totally irrelevant to any argument about 2012. Lincecum was less effective, obviously, but hopefully some of you saw a chart that actually was relevant to his performance, and that was the many strikes that Hector gave away- resulting in a lower part of the SZ that essentially didn’t exist. We’ll have to see going forward but Bochy indicated that Sanchez was only starting because of Belt’s illness. Hector is a liabilty behind the plate, so much so that his offensive abilities aren’t enough to compensate. As to Dirrrrty’s effort, which I watched, the velocity drop from 93 to 88/89 was troubling and some dumb hitting by the Bums helped him, but after last year and June and after of 2011, it has to be considered a positive step forward.

  7. twinfan1 said, on April 6, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Thank you, I’ll take any further comments off the air.

  8. James said, on April 6, 2013 at 10:00 am

    It’s time for some one to revive the knuckle curve.

  9. Flavor said, on April 6, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Also, some good quotes from the article in the Merc the other day:
    “He’s a different pitcher now,” said Marco Scutaro, who played three seasons behind Zito in Oakland. “He used to be all about the fastball and the big curveball, but he mixes pitches better now, and he’s added that cutter.”
    “Pitching is about deception, and he’s got a lot of deception,” Pence said. “He’s really smart out there and doesn’t give you good pitches to hit. Even his strikes are tough to hit. You think you’re seeing a cutter out of his hand and it’s really the fastball down the middle. And if you protect too much against the cutter, he’ll go back outside.”

  10. dirtnrocksnomo said, on April 6, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Twin, agree with you on Sanchez. Watching Lincecum’s start earlier in the week I was sitting there thinks Sanchez is terrible behind the dish. He’s not calm back there and it’s stab, stab, stab at the ball. What is the 3rd catcher? Quiroz? I haven’t seen him much. Is he a better receiver?

    If Posey keeps feeling good and Arias handling 1b well I wonder if they send Sanchez down work with Decker? Doubtful but just a thought.

    Regarding Zito. I saw something about his 15 straight team wins tying a Giants club record. Its a meaningless metric but I think it is pretty cool that for all the controversy and being left of the PS roster in 2010 that Zito can end up with his name in the club records.

    • salty said, on April 6, 2013 at 10:11 am

      Dirt ..Hubbell has the record with 16.

      • dirtnrocksnomo said, on April 6, 2013 at 10:18 am

        Hubbell? So this guy was a Giants pitcher and built telescopes that peer deep into the cosmos? Talk about a renaissance man.

        I hope Zito gets there with the next start. I know we can’t get in their heads and only judge from TV appearance but I am a big believer in mindset and confidence at the pro level. Zito just looks so confident last year and now compared to previous years.

      • salty said, on April 6, 2013 at 10:25 am

        Ha..yeah he was multitalented

  11. salty said, on April 6, 2013 at 10:17 am

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb article for another slant on Zito’s recent surge.

    • salty said, on April 6, 2013 at 10:24 am

      Sorry on my phone.. have to scroll around click on eye on baseball to find the piece

  12. James said, on April 6, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Zito was undervalued when his luck was bad, and is being overvalued now that things are evening out. At least that’s what I’ll believe until he puts together a whole season with better stats. His 4.15 ERA last year was not the result of a few bad starts – look at the game logs. He’s been very consistent from year to year, with the exception of 2008, when he was awful.

  13. Alleykat said, on April 6, 2013 at 10:36 am

    The one thing I truly admire about Barry Zito is his even keel personality. When fans wanted his head on a chopping block,he just blocked out all the negative waves and came prepared to pitch every 5th day.
    Media,Fans, everyone ripped his contract as the worse sigining ever in baseball history, which I never agreed with thought that was totally BS.
    Barry Zito is a durable pitcher(the one ankle sprain excluded) who gives you innings good or bad every 5 days. You want a “Stiff” that’s the worse contract ever,look at Mike Hampton who bent over Colorado for zillions of dollars,and had to release him.,
    Barry has proved his worth in gold,especially how he saved our season in the playoffs last year,we don’t win another title without his remarkable performances down the stretch.

    • dirtnrocksnomo said, on April 6, 2013 at 10:54 am

      I was listening to Tolbert the other day and he said something like if upon signing the big deal someone told you the Giants would win 2 WS of the course of the deal would you be happy? Obviously Zito isn’t the only reason for the champioships but I think the answer is yes.

      I don’t get too hung up on contracts. These deals are pie in the sky money. Is Zito worth it? Yep, because someone was willing to give it to him.

  14. Flavor said, on April 6, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I read the cbs piece. I didn’t understand the graph he used. I also had questions about his pitching chart. It appears they lumped all three different fastballs into one category (saying he threw the FB 64% of the time in the second half of the season. Lumping all three together doesn’t seem like the best way to evaluate three different pitches, in my opinion.

    • salty said, on April 6, 2013 at 10:53 am

      Hmmm…that might be a different article….the only graph in the one I read is on the break in his curveball

    • salty said, on April 6, 2013 at 11:33 am

      Btw fla, wasn’t dismissing your take..which I found interesting.

  15. Flavor said, on April 6, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Zito is not consistent at all when you look at PQS Dom/Dis rates. His Dis rate (% of disaster starts) was 28% last year. Bum’s was 13%. Cain’s was 0%, Timmy’s was 24% and Voggy’s was 13%. Of course, whether it counts as a DIS-start or not doesn’t have anything to do with earned runs given up. It looks at his base skills measuring the following:
    1) did he go 6 innings?
    2) did he allow no more than an equal number of hits to innings pitched? (this measures hit prevention)
    3) were his strikeouts fewer than 2 less than his innings pitched? (this measures dominance)
    4) Did he strike out at least twice as many batters as he walks (this measures control)
    5) did he allow 1 HR or less? (this measures his ability to keep the ball in the ball park).
    If he fails to go at least 5 innings the pitcher is given a *Dis* for his start no matter what he does with the other 4 metrics

    • James said, on April 6, 2013 at 11:34 am

      Well, if he can string together a few 4 plus ERA years and isolate his poor performances to a handful games, I’ll salute him for it. He will be a pretty special guy. If Barry has turned it up a notch or two, it will show up in his WHIP and/or ERA for the season.

  16. Alleykat said, on April 6, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Boy does that Championship flag bring a extra glow to my face.Just awesome blowing in the wind!!
    Great picture!!!

  17. Irish Kevin said, on April 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    This is what I like about this team, they have power in the 3-5, and good speed every where else. Nice RBI Pablo thanks to Pagan.

  18. Flavor said, on April 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Jeez Belt can’t buy a hit.

    • James said, on April 6, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      4 line drives in 6 ABs w/ no hits . . . hard to do.

  19. zumiee said, on April 6, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    One of the impressive things about Zito yesterday was the last inning he pitched. He still had good stuff in that last inning. His cutter was still jamming righthanded hitters, and his curve still had excellent snap. He got removed because of pitch count, but he was looking sharp at the end.

  20. zumiee said, on April 6, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Ain’t looking like our day today. We need someone to jack a game-changing HR.

  21. Flavor said, on April 6, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Really looking forward to tomorrow’s ring ceremony. The pic of Timmy sporting the 2010 ring is my favorite thing at the blog. Yes, even more than a new BBOTD. 🙂

  22. twinfan1 said, on April 6, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Well, the Zitser came in a solid second the first time around the rotation
    Not having looked at the other comments today, (I was out rounding up puppies for childless couples) , did anyone mention that Barry is now riding a three game hitting streak ? I’m not sure, but that could be a team high.Wondering if it’s legal for the LFer to sit in the ball dude’s chair? That may be the only way to get him out.

  23. Macdog said, on April 6, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Thrilling moment for Frandsen, who just cleared the bases with a 2-out pinch double in the bottom of the 9th to give Philly a 4-3 win.

  24. Flavor said, on April 6, 2013 at 9:20 pm


    • DJLoo said, on April 6, 2013 at 9:26 pm


      • Flavor said, on April 6, 2013 at 9:29 pm


      • Flavor said, on April 6, 2013 at 9:39 pm


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