FanPost

Unclutch! Billingsley with RISP

We begin this post with a foreward by Bill Plaschke*, sort of, but then I use numbers below the jump to avoid getting banned from True Blue.  So without further adieu, the Poet Laureate of the LA Times:

Call it the devil collecting his due for 2006, to be historical.

Call it bad luck to be positive. 

Call it a mental collapse, to be negative.

I call it a glaring hole in his game.

Chad Billingsley should have been an ace, but when the going got tough, he was a joker.

A wild card.

New for us, and new for him.

Well, sort of.

This is a chart of Chad Billingsley's splits with Runners in Scoring Position with 2 outs.

Year

BA

OBP

SLG

BABIP

K%

BB%

HR%

XBH%

2006

.196

.359

.333

.214

12.5%

20.3%

1.6%

6.3%

2007

.211

.348

.316

.268

21.7%

14.5%

1.4%

5.8%

2008

.226

.356

.321

.288

22.8%

12.9%

2.0%

4.0%

2009

.299

.443

.429

.350

15.5%

19.6%

2.1%

6.2%

If you remember anything about Billingsley's 2006 season, you remember that he always seemed to get himself into a lot of trouble before bailing himself out.  He was just absurdly lucky with RISP, but after doing it for a while, you began to wonder if it wasn't just luck.  Maybe he was just really clutch.

In 2007 and 2008, Billingsley pitched about the same with RISP and 2 outs as he did in other situations, except for a much higher walk rate (but that's understandable).  His BABIP was still a bit lower than average, but not as ridiculous and drastic as it was in 2006.

The story for 2009 seems to be that with RISP and 2 outs, Billingsley has had a tough time with that third out.  Now, the absurd BABIP says one thing - not only is it well above his career average overall, but it's hugely more than his career average for this situation.  Perhaps more bizarrely, his control suffered greatly, reverting him back to 2006 levels where he nearly flipped his walk rate and strikeout rate. 

There is not much reason to think that Billingsley is doomed to repeat this performance.  For one thing, the absurd BABIP will probably normalize over time to that .270-.280ish level, which would drop the opponent's average by at least .040 (a drop in BABIP in 2009 to .288 would have yielded a .260 opponent's avg).  The K-Rate is worrying, but there's no reason to believe he has started a new trend, and I'm guessing he'll be fine come 2010.  Billingsley struck out 380 batters over the past two seasons, so it's definitely a skill he has.  He'll also be entering his age 25 season (really; we trust his birth certificate to be more authentic than Rafael Furcal's), so he's not exactly over the hill. 

But seriously, a .350 opponent's BABIP?    Don't expect that to continue unless he's facing Ichiro every time he takes the hill.  But when Plaschke suggests trading Billingsley for Roy Halladay, or Jeff Suppan, do not lose the urge to slap him in the face with a giant fish.

 

* - The fact that fake Plaschke is so easy to write really makes me wonder why he's still a columnist for the Times.  If newspapers don't get smarter, they could go out of business....

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