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May 1, 2007
  
The Curious Case of John Maine

John Maine has simply been sensational in the first month of the season, posting a miniscule 1.35 ERA in 33.1 innings over his first five starts. Maine has also gone at least seven innings in four of those starts, an improvement on last season when he averaged less than six innings per start. Basically, despite very good starts from veterans Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez, Maine has been the Mets’ ace so far this season.

Including what he did for the Mets last season, John Maine is now 10-5 with a 2.99 ERA in 20 starts and one relief appearance. Considering that Maine will turn 26 years old on May 8TH, I should be very optimistic about his future as a frontline starter for the Mets. Yet despite the fact that Maine has done nothing but pitch well for the Mets, I continue to worry that he is about to be exposed.

John Maine has good stuff. He has an above average fastball that is usually in the 91-93 MPH range and a solid repertoire of off-speed and breaking stuff. Now, many pitchers have had great careers with stuff no better than what Maine brings to the mound. I’m not surprised that Maine has had success. It’s just the way that he is doing it that makes me concerned about his future.

Most pitchers with good but not overwhelming stuff who are able to be successful at the big league level do so even though they allow their fair share of hits because they limit the number of walks they give up. Maine doesn’t pitch that way. As a Met he has walked 10.0 percent of the batters he has faced. For comparison’s sake, Victor Zambrano walked 10.4% of the batters he faced. Maine also allows his fair share of home runs although the cold weather has helped him so far this season in that particular area.

Maine has struck batters out at a more than respectable rate as a Met, whiffing 20.3% of the batters he has faced (Javier Vazquez has struck out 20.5% in his career) and that has helped him be successful. That said, the number one reason why has thrived as a Met so far is because he has been very, very difficult to hit. In fact, Maine has only allowed hits to 17.5% of the batters he has faced as a Met. That simply is an incredible mark when you consider the fact that Nolan Ryan, a guy with phenomenal stuff who tried to throw a no-hitter every time he made a start, allowed hits to 17.4 percent of the batters he faced in his career.

Maine’s amazingly low hit rate can possibly be attributed to quite a bit of luck. Maine’s BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is a ridiculously low .213 as a Met. I don’t think there’s anyway it’s going to stay that low. That being said, I think the time has come to ask how much of Maine’s BABIP is luck and how much of it is performance.

Met fans are blessed to have two really intelligent former players, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez, call their games, and I found it interesting that they compared Maine to former Met Sid Fernandez. Like Maine, Fernandez was also a very tough guy to hit despite lacking overwhelming stuff, and many people, including Darling and Hernandez, have attributed Fernandez’s stinginess to his odd pitching motion.

I’m not going to pretend that I know enough about mechanics to talk about Maine’s motion, but during more than one telecast, I have heard analysts say that Maine’s gangly arms and the late movement on his fastball make him more difficult to hit. It certainly seems possible that Maine’s motion and stuff make it hard for opponents to make solid contact and that’s the real reason why he is so hard to hit.

Although I don’t know enough to dissect Maine’s mechanics, I do know enough to look at Maine’s previous performance to see if this ability is something he has shown in the past. After being drafted by the Orioles in the 6th round of the 2002 amateur draft, Maine rocketed through Baltimore’s system as he completely dominated the lower levels of the minor leagues. Here are the numbers that Maine put up in the low minors at 4 different levels:

218.0 IP, 2.11 ERA, 11.52 K/9, 5.37 K/BB, 134 hits.

Now, it’s hard to find data regarding BABIP in the minor leagues but a rough estimate would be about .260. I wouldn’t put too much weight into those numbers because Maine was simply more talented than the vast majority of the players he was facing. After his domination of the lower minor league levels, Maine wasn’t that great in AAA where he spent most of 2004-2006.

304.2 IP, 4.11 ERA, 7.62 K/9, 2.32 K/BB, 306 hits.

While Maine’s numbers weren’t awful, they indicated that John’s upside wasn’t quite as high his performance in the lower minors suggested. More important to this particular discussion, Maine’s BABIP was about .300 which is right around the Major League average.

Maine’s BABIP in his short time at the big league level as an Oriole was .264, which while low, is certainly not exceedingly so especially when you consider that Maine threw fewer than 45 innings as an Oriole.

Looking at his previous performance in the minor leagues (both as an Oriole and Met farmhand), Maine has basically never shown the ability to post an abnormally low BABIP.

I’m not a guy who lives and dies with stats when it comes to baseball and I’m more than willing to admit that some guys are special cases and that numbers can’t capture everything. That being said, I need a lot of evidence to believe that a guy has bucked a trend that baseball analysts have shown to be true in most cases.

Prior to this season, I was willing to say that Maine’s BABIP was a fluke and that’s why all I was expecting from him was a 4.25-4.50 ERA. There was nothing in Maine’s history that suggested that he was atypical in this regard. Now, I wonder if there’s something about Maine’s pitching that makes it more difficult for hitters to make good contact against him. That’s not to say that I expect his BABIP to remain in the low .200 range. There’s no question in my mind that it will rise as the season progresses. The question is how high that number will reach, because the answer to that question may tell us a lot about what type of pitcher we can expect Maine to become and how far the Mets will go this season.


32 Responses to “The Curious Case of John Maine”

  1. Comment posted by Eli on May 1, 2007 at 4:59 am (#320387)

    Thanks Russian, that was a really interesting piece. It was food for thought, but I am still optimstic about Maine. His high minors stats were quite pedestrian at best. Does anyone know whether he made any adjustments such that he now has more late movement on his pitches now than he did a couple of years ago? I also seemed to remember (perhaps incorrectly) that he would max out at 95 mph. That’s not bad, especially with late movement. My impression, without looking at any real stats, is that he is exceptionally hard to hit for 4-5 innings, and then what changes it is that his pitches begin to rise in the strike zone. From the little I have read, it seems that he might be learning how to “pace” himself. In his last game, I think that Willie should have pulled him early in the seventh inning when he began to get wild. He got threw the inning, but may have been a bit lucky to do so. Many of his pitches were up. I am certainly not expecting a 1.3 ERA by Sept, but I did predict before the season began that he would win about 14-15 games with a 3.5 ERA and he has done nothing so far to make me feel I have over-estimated him.

  2. Comment posted by john on May 1, 2007 at 6:11 am (#320388)

    Alot of times a pitchers BABIP will regress to league average (.300), however some has shown the ability to post consistently low BABIPs and I think Maine might be one of those pitchers. It doesnt mean he will keep it as low as it is right now, but even if he keeps it in the .250-.265 range he will be ok. It also helps he plays in Shea. Being a flyball pitcher, he gives up alota home runs….playing at shea helps that a bit. He does walk alot of batters, but it neutralizes by the fact he dont give up many hits.

    I guess the story with him is whether his BABIP will remain low or not. With 123 innings under his belt as a met im inclined to say yes.

  3. Comment posted by john on May 1, 2007 at 6:40 am (#320390)

    Futhermore the walks will go down,

    BB/9 Career 4.15
    BB/9 Last Yr 3.30
    BB/9 This Yr 4.59

    As long as he gets the walks to last years rate or around there he’ll be fine.

    Last year 90 innings 33 walks, this year an amazing 17 in only 33. So he’ll be fine

  4. Comment posted by Mike on May 1, 2007 at 6:49 am (#320392)

    Interesting piece.

    All I know is he’s walking too many guys, and when the weather heats up that’s gonna mean too many 3 run homers.

    I like Maine a lot, and I think he’ll be quite good, but obviously he’s been very lucky in terms of hits allowed. I think an ERA in the 3.50 range is what you need to expect this year.

  5. Comment posted by Danny on May 1, 2007 at 8:11 am (#320400)

    Maine is a different pitcher this year than last year. Last year he was trying to throw high fastballs by guys and occasionally mixing in his offspeed stuff. This year he is working both corners at the knees with the fastball, throwing his offspeed stuff early in the count a lot more often, and only going to the high fastball to punch guys out.

    Now, will he keep this BABIP up? Of course not. Will he pitch to a sub-3 ERA? Probably not, but maybe. But an ERA of 3.50 is front of the rotation stuff in today’s game. He’s very, very good and will be quite an asset for the Mets. He will go through a rough patch, but I like his competitive zeal and I think he will pull through it just fine.

    And to john’s point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Maine is the kind of guy that has a low BABIP for his entire career. The best great pitch to have as a pitcher is a fastball, because you can control the tempo of a game with it, and if Maine truly has this fastball with just that little bit of late life that bothers hitters, then I don’t really see how you adjust to that as a hitter. It will be interesting to see if that is something that stays with him, and if it continues to confound hitters who are sure they are squaring up on the ball as they start their swing, yet they are missing or popping it up instead, much to their dismay.

  6. Comment posted by john on May 1, 2007 at 9:14 am (#320433)

    Now, will he keep this BABIP up? Of course not. Will he pitch to a sub-3 ERA? Probably not, but maybe. But an ERA of 3.50 is front of the rotation stuff in today’s game. He’s very, very good and will be quite an asset for the Mets. He will go through a rough patch, but I like his competitive zeal and I think he will pull through it just fine.

    Exactly.

    You know there is something tho to this BABIP. His first year was .359…very high. But look at what he’s done since

    2005 40 Innings BABIP .259
    2006 90 Innings BABIP .228
    2007 33 Innings BABIP .200

    After 163 Innings you have to begin to wonder maybe his BABIP WILL STAY where it is. If he posts a BABIP in the .225-.235 range, we have a very special pitcher in our hands.

    His sucess isnt just the BABIP tho this year…..its the fact his LOB% is 93.2%……now thats just not going to hold up the rest of the season.

    I honestly believe tho that Maine is going to consistenly post low BABIP’s.

    So much for DIPS theory lol.

  7. Comment posted by penna met fan on May 1, 2007 at 9:24 am (#320442)

    As a Met fan living here in Lahaska, PA I work part-time running poker tournaments in taverns and I always wear my Met hat while at these bars. Of course these Philadelphia yahoo’s give me a very hard time. Last night I made a bet($100) with one of the few patrons I would actually trust to pay off that John Maine would reach twenty wins for this season. Imagine my surprise to see this post today.

    BABIP seems like a stat that indicates a pitcher’s luckiness but all I know is that I am more confident when Mr. Maine is pitching than at any other time. Despite having only seen two of the games he has pitched in I get the feeling that the whole roster thinks the same way. They are scoring runs and playing good defense behind
    him.

    I did not receive odds for this bet(it was really just a friendly wager) but I would like to know what you guys think of his chances to reach twenty wins this year.

  8. Comment posted by sweetlew on May 1, 2007 at 9:40 am (#320468)

    After 163 Innings you have to begin to wonder maybe his BABIP WILL STAY where it is. If he posts a BABIP in the .225-.235 range, we have a very special pitcher in our hands.

    Ding, ding, ding…..I agree 100%. There becomes a time when something is no longer a “fluke” and is becoming a trend…..this is nearly a full season’s worth of IP….it is hard to maintain a “fluke” over a full season.

    I don’t see Maine with a 1.50 ERA, but I woul dbe disappointed if he gets above 3.50.

    Before we question his AAA and Orioles numbers, remember, they rushed him pretty badly at the end….he was promoted to the ML despite having mediocre AAA numbers….not to mention what that organization used to do to pitchers….

    I think Maine can turn into a legitimate 15 game winner year after year.

  9. Comment posted by cp on May 1, 2007 at 10:08 am (#320491)

    You should have asked for 100-1 odds. I love John Maine but there have only been 7 twenty game winners over the past 3 seasons. Anything is possible but the last Met to win twenty was Frank Viola in 1990 - prior to that was Doc in 1985, I supposed you could argue we’re due! Hope you win the bet ’cause if you do it’s good for the Mets.

    Recent 20 game winners
    2006 - 0
    2005 - 4 (Willis, Colon, Carpenter, Oswalt)
    2004 - 3 (Schilling, Santana, Oswalt)

    Considering no major league pitcher in either league notched 20 wins in 2006

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  11. Comment posted by TheKooz on May 1, 2007 at 10:10 am (#320493)

    I did not receive odds for this bet(it was really just a friendly wager) but I would like to know what you guys think of his chances to reach twenty wins this year.

    I could be wrong, but I’m almost certain that not one major league pitcher had 20 wins last season. Therefore, I think you are more than likely going to lose this bet. That said, if he can keep this going, who knows! You probably would have been better off going with 15 wins though…

  12. Comment posted by Michael on May 1, 2007 at 10:23 am (#320513)

    I like this website even if at times it functions as a poster child–along with the also estimable Baseball Prospectus–for the limits of statistical analysis. There is, sometimes, a willful effort to deny what your eyes are showing you.

    Maine is a case in point. Homeboy has been up a while now, and gets better seemingly with every start. His fastball has terrific tailing movement–a la El Sid–and he has command of two other pitches. Baseball is a simple game; command of three pitches can make you a Golden Boy.

    Add this: Like Sid, he induces a LOT of flyballs (another sign of impending doom according to the Prospectus crowd) and many of those are pop-ups and high flies. Those are easy to catch.

    Beyond that, in Baltimore he became a a yo-yo in an organization rotting from the inside. He was up, he was down, and that arguably upset his rthmym at both the major and minor league level. (A danger, incidentally, that the Mets may run with Pelfrey. He well may need to spend a concentrated amount of time at Triple A to get his legs under him and to restore his confidence). In very limited and not so great starts in 2005, Maine still gave up less than a hit an inning in the majors; the big difference between then and now is that his strikeouts per nine have soared.

    I suspect that John Maine is not the second coming of Bob Gibson. But he might be a Jon Matlack quality starter. Trust your eyes.

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  14. Comment posted by JK47 on May 1, 2007 at 10:26 am (#320517)

    There are two simple reasons Maine generates a low BABIP:

    1. He allows lots of HRs, which don’t count as hits when calculating BABIP. It’s Batting Average on Balls in Play. Maine allows very high HR/F and HR/9 rates. Last year the National League leader with the worst HR/G rate was Jason Marquis at 1.56. Maine did not “qualify” for this title, but his HR/G rate was even worse, 1.60.

    2. All the popups. Maine lives up in the zone; if you hit it, you can hit it out of the park, but if you don’t get all of it, you’re hitting a weak fly ball or an infield popup. Maine allows a very low LD%, which is a significant reason why his BABIP is so low. His LD% was 15.4% last year, which would have led the National League.

    So, the low BABIP is not smoke and mirrors in my opinion. If you’ve seen Maine pitch much, you know this is true. It’s not like he has garbage stuff and the fielders are bailing him out a lot. He gets a solid amount of K’s and keeps line drives to a minimum. He probably won’t be able to sustain a .220 BABIP or whatever he has going now, but I think he’ll be able to stay in the .250-.260 range. He reminds me most of Catfish Hunter, actually, if any of you are old enough to remember Catfish.

  15. Comment posted by Them Mets on May 1, 2007 at 10:32 am (#320529)

    Two reasons I’m fairly confident:

    1) I don’t see any reason to believe he can’t also decrease his walk rate as the season goes on and his control of his secondary pitches continues to improve (as it has this season over last). If he can decrease his walk rate, that would at least partially offset an increase in BABIP.

    2) As John posted above, Maine’s BABIP has actually *decreased* over the past three seasons as he’s become a better pitcher. The current rate is probably too low to be sustainable, but it’s quite possible that it won’t rise to league average.

    Maine gets an obscene number of swings-and-misses at his fastball at the top of the strike zone — it’s not 100% unhittable, just very difficult to judge. So it makes sense that when guys do make contact with it, it’s not always solid contact. He gets some long fly outs, but he also gets a whole lot of infield flies — and those neither become home runs in warmer weather, nor do they tend to find holes through the infield the way grounders often do.

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  17. Comment posted by JK47 on May 1, 2007 at 10:39 am (#320540)

    Also, it appears that HRs per game are down across baseball. Maybe this is just due to the cold, but at any rate, it’s to Maine’s advantage if HR rates stay down. Maine has only allowed 2 HR so far in 33 innings, far below his 2006 rate.

  18. Comment posted by SJK on May 1, 2007 at 10:55 am (#320562)

    Sometimes, it’s not in the stats. Maine has repeatedly said that the instruction and focus in the organization has taught him so much on how to pitch. That probably has something to do with that.

  19. Comment posted by penna met fan on May 1, 2007 at 11:17 am (#320602)

    considering making a new wager with the same guy: a parley bet for Reyes getting 200+ runs to Maine 20+ wins.

    gonna ask for 2,000,000/1 on fifty cents.

    i always wanted to be a millionaire.

  20. Comment posted by renzdog on May 1, 2007 at 12:19 pm (#320703)

    Ding, ding, ding…..I agree 100%. There becomes a time when something is no longer a “fluke” and is becoming a trend…..this is nearly a full season’s worth of IP….it is hard to maintain a “fluke” over a full season.

    Al Leiter, his last year as a Met …

    There are many more “fluke” very low babip seasons than there are pitchers with the ability to consistently have very low babip.

  21. Comment posted by john on May 1, 2007 at 1:06 pm (#320755)

    Al Leiter, his last year as a Met …

    There are many more “fluke” very low babip seasons than there are pitchers with the ability to consistently have very low babip.

    His last year with mets was .247……compared to his other years that is kinda flukey.

    Maine is at .228 and .200 the past two years so far. He 72 points ahead of average in 2006 and 100 points this year.

    He is so far ahead of average and thats why I think he’s got an ability to post low BABIP’s consistently.

    When regressing players……the more a player has shown he has a skill, the less u regress. So the more and more maine posts low BABIP’s, the more likely he’s closer to his true BABIP rate. Now im not sayings thats .200 or .228 but those numbers are so low to believe that his rate isnt the league average of .300 but somewhere must lower then that.

    Its weird….he gives up alot of home runs. Its odd to me because usually when a player makes contact, they dont make good contact, hence the low BABIP. I guess with Maine its most times they dont make good contact but boy when they do its usually a home run. Its like its all or nothing.

  22. Comment posted by john on May 1, 2007 at 1:08 pm (#320757)

    I think its also worth bringing up that the mets lead the league this season in DER and was second last year i believe…..so most mets pitchers should have posted BABIP lower then league average these two years.

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  24. Comment posted by Woodman on May 1, 2007 at 2:18 pm (#320863)

    The flaw in the argument is you are willing to take the weather into account when talking about the other teams hitting but you dont take it into account when talking about Maine’s walks.

  25. Comment posted by john on May 1, 2007 at 2:22 pm (#320869)

    The flaw in the argument is you are willing to take the weather into account when talking about the other teams hitting but you dont take it into account when talking about Maine’s walks.

    Thats a good point.

    And really he’s started 5 games. 2 games he’s only walked 2
    1 game he walked 3
    1 game he walked 4
    1 game he walked 6

    The game he walked 6……that was also the series ollie had problems walking people as well. The cold weather has definitely affect his walk rate……not only that but the entire pitching staffs walk rate as well.

  26. Comment posted by Mark on May 1, 2007 at 4:09 pm (#321051)

    One thing I don’t see anywhere here is Maine’s ability to generate swings and misses, especially with a fastball that doesn’t ever seem to break 94 mph. I think that’s a huge part of his success.

    I also don’t take BABIP as a function of luck for pitchers as much as for hitters since it is a pitchers job to generate bad contact at times. And its less likely that bad contact will wind up a hit than good contact will wind up an out, which is why BABIP does have a degree of luck to it with hitting. A low BABIP for a guy like Maine, who does generate a lot of swings and misses, simply means hitters can’t square his stuff up, not that he’s lucky.

    Also, many attribute Maine’s high fastball to his elevated HR rates, when in reality, he’s gotten hurt via the longball most frequently on hanging changeups. His fastball is just difficult to square up. But when he hangs something offspeed, which he’s still prone to as his offspeed stuff are works in progress, it speeds up the bats of the hitters, and his “sneaky” mechanics don’t add any deception to a pitch like that.

  27. Comment posted by Tim in LA on May 1, 2007 at 4:46 pm (#321102)

    I was reading the comments on a link to this on MetsBlog — kinda funny, all the anger. You guys should check it out if you haven’t. BABIP pushes some buttons.

    Not being a real sabermetric stat-head, I started out being very skeptical of the BABIP = luck argument. It doesn’t make a lot of sense…but ultimately that’s what makes it so interesting.

    But eventually it does make sense — a kind of sense that’s hard to rap your head around unless you’re thinking about it the right way. It reminds me of evolution — it’s easy to look at a paramecium under a microscope and say “No way we came from that!” because it’s impossible for us to wrap our heads around how long a billion years really is. Like a billion dollars, that’s just a number…but really it’s a huge huge number…a stack of $100 bills worth one billion would reach the top of Mt. Everest.

    What BABIP exposes isn’t luck, so much as a concept I remember most saliently from Bull Durham — that the difference between being a propect hitting .330 and a career minor-leaguer hitting .260 is one bloop a week. When you remove all of the strongest forcing variables (HR, K, BB), you’re not left with much that can effect things. You’re stripping the numbers down to their hardest to influence core, where the dinks and dunks that fall in effect the most. So of course that’s where you’re going to see luck play out most clearly. It’s such a fine line between stardom and retirement, and BABIP shines a light on that.

  28. Comment posted by Tim in LA on May 1, 2007 at 4:53 pm (#321111)

    If I can expand on all the animosity on MetsBlog and elsewhere, I think it’s because we’re so conditioned within our culture to believe that there’s no such thing as luck. “If you work hard enough, you can achieve the American Dream, too.” Acknowledging the strong influence of luck in this universe is an assualt on our moral core.

    This happens all the time in the publishing industry. 8 out of 10 books that any publishing house does in a year lose money. No one knows which 2 are going to succeed — they’re all good books — but some catch the magic, and some don’t. So many great writers go unnoticed, but then you have Dan Brown and Mitch Albom on Oprah. Similarly, great baseball talents can hit a bad stretch and tank their career. Our underperform for years until joining the Mets bullpen. It sucks, but it’s how the world works. Many people are just unwilling to admit it.

  29. Comment posted by mgfunk on May 1, 2007 at 5:38 pm (#321182)

    his line drive % is very, very good. this tends to show that there aren’t many hard-hit balls against maine - meaning that the balls hit off him aren’t just “finding gloves.” if his line drive % was high, there’d be a real reason to think his BABIP would go up, as it’d seem as though a lot of balls would be hitting gloves.

    conversely, that’s why delgado is probably going to snap out of his “funk” soon. his line drive % is around his career average, while his BABIP is very low. as anybody who has watched the games can attest, delgado has hit some smashes that have found gloves.

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  31. Comment posted by Matt Himelfarb on May 1, 2007 at 5:40 pm (#321185)

    Yesterday, I wrote a similar article at flushinguniversity.com; http://www.flushinguniversity.com/moxie/columns/matt-original.shtml

    If anybody can help me out with a question I recently sent to the hardball times, I would appreciate it:

    since it has been mostly proven that a pitcher has no control over a defenses impact and on batted balls, than why doesn’t this same theory apply to hitters? Sure, we judge hitters by their plate discipline, and he definitely has an affect on their .OBP and batting average, but just how accurate can statistics such as doubles and the two mentioned above be?

    For instance, if K/BB ratio is indeed, the best measure of what a hitter has accomplished, than does Ian Stewart’s decline last year really mean that much considering his K/BB ratio stayed pretty much the same?

    The intresting thing is, a hitter’s BABIP, from what i hear, is actually pretty consistent. why? I have no idea.

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  33. Comment posted by jpwf on May 1, 2007 at 6:02 pm (#321206)

    After 163 Innings you have to begin to wonder maybe his BABIP WILL STAY where it is. If he posts a BABIP in the .225-.235 range, we have a very special pitcher in our hands.

    The problem is that NO ONE sustains a BABIP that low. NO ONE.
    The poster boy for defying DIPS is Tom Glavine, his BABIP (career) is .284

    Al leiter was .289 (.244 his last year as a Met)
    Gooden was .291 (.262 the year he was godlike)

    Al leiter’s .244 may just about be the lowest you will ever find for a 162+ inning season. (The lowest Glavine ver had fro a full season was .251)

  34. Comment posted by robert griffin on May 1, 2007 at 6:05 pm (#321209)

    The one thing Maine has going for him is confidence? Really, how bad is it to be compared to Sid Fernandez, who at many times dominated teams!!! I always thought he was out best pitcher back in the mid to late 80’s. Gooden has his dominating two year span, but Sid on any night could throw up one hitters, not to many people can say that including Gooden. The one thing Sid never got though was a lot of run support, I can’t remember how many times he threw 1 hitters, 2 hitters, and 3 hitters and still lose! I remember the day he struck out what 16 Braves, got no run support and lost that game.

    When a pitcher allows only 17 percent of the hitters he faces to reach base then its more then LUCK!!! At the age of John Maine, I remember Glavine throwing from 91 -92 on a regular basis, and even though Glavine has allowed almost 1 hit per inning in his career he is on the cusp of winning 300 games.

    I think we need to just sit back and enjoy the season that John Maine is weaving for us.

    I like John Maine a hell of a lot, and i think most of his skills of getting people out is that late movement on his fast ball. Pelfrey has the same movement on his four seamer, but as of right now falls behind way to many hits and not enough strikeouts.

    Oh yeah, How in the hell did they charge Chan “Jumps Ho in the” Park for all those runs. Reyes deserved an error on a play he should of let Beltran have, and the ball that hit the 2nd baseman dead in the middle of the glove was called a hit? That play changed the entire game. Instead of 3 outs, the inning blows up on us.

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  36. Comment posted by jpwf on May 1, 2007 at 6:11 pm (#321223)

    The intresting thing is, a hitter’s BABIP, from what i hear, is actually pretty consistent. why? I have no idea.

    LIne Drive Rate, some guys are line drive hitters, soem are flyball hitters, some are ground ball hitters. Line Drive hitters are going to have high BABIPs whether they are fast or slow runners.
    Groundball hitters’ BABIP depend a lot on their footspeed.
    Flyball hitters, well they better hope they have power…

    Of course no one is a pure LD or pure flyball hitter. Most batters facing Brandon Webb for instance turn into groundball hitters, but batters seem to have more influence on where the ball goes (up/down) than the pitcher- but teh pitcher does have some influence.

    The “new” theory is that all (or at least most) hitters will regress to a certain singles rate- a certain percentage of balls in play will tend to fall for singles- batters who have too few singles are either unlucky (or really really slow and not beating anything out) batters with too many are either lucky or really really fast. Under this theory extra base hits are skill, singles are not (excluding speed based variations*).

    *Juan Pierre is going to get infield hits, Bengie Molina is not- that’s not luck.

  37. Comment posted by Dan in Gettysburg on May 1, 2007 at 11:24 pm (#322174)

    Maine’s BABIP will probably be below the league average for a few reasons:

    1. Flyball pitchers get slightly lower BABIPs than average.
    2. Good defenders behind him, particularly with guys like Endy and Beltran getting OF innings.
    3. He doesn’t have to face the league’s best offense at all; it’s on the field when he’s pitching.

    I dunno, Maine could very well post a BABIP of .260-.270 under these conditions. If he’s one of those guys who does have a measure of control over BIP… that could explain the reason why it’s SO low, coupled with these other factors. But I’d guess it’s random, thus far.

    Anyway, I don’t think 20 wins or a sub-3 ERA is what you’re going to get. But if Maine stays healthy and gives you 200 good innings, you’re getting great value and something that this team needs a lot. :)

  38. Comment posted by Michael on May 2, 2007 at 1:02 pm (#322660)

    What animosity?

    I don’t sense that on this board. Statheads, who have contributed a lot to the way we think about the game, also tend to be thin-skinned. What quite a few posters on this board are noting is the obvious: Maine throws high in zone with movement, leading to lots of high fly balls. No surprise. Anyone who has spent time around a good high school team, much less at a higher level, can recognize that.

    The cold air/hot air debate is intriguing, but it seems as likely that it’s a matter of splitting the difference. Balls travel farther, but he has more control over off-speed pitches.

    No one here seems to be arguing that he’s a pale, alt-rock version of Juan Marichal or Bob Gibson. But could he turn into another Matlack? Another El Sid, with greater staying power as he doesn’t lug arounnd a lunch bucket in his gut? Seems to me that’s a decent possibility.

  39. Comment posted by Michael on May 3, 2007 at 10:27 am (#324204)

    Oh, and one final thought

    Maine, of course, CANNOT maintain his present pace. He is not young Pedro. He could add another run and half on his era and still have a great year

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