Tuesday, August 14, 2012

BABIP-ity Deduno

San Deduno on Monday walked five and struck out six.
He also won. Again.
Sam Deduno has made seven starts for the Twins. He has a 4-0 won-loss record with a 3.38 ERA, and the Twins have won six of his seven starts.

That's the good stuff. On the other hand, he's averaging less than six innings a start (40 innings) and he's walked more men (30) than he's struck out (28). You have to go a long ways back into baseball history to find effective pitchers with that kind of BB/K ratio.

He's gotten away with it because he's not giving up a lot of hits. On Monday, he yielded five hits in seven innings; he has yet to allow more than six in any of his starts.

His BABIP — Batting Average on Balls In Play — is .252, which is absurdly low. It has become a basic tenant of sabermetrics that pitchers have relatively little control over BABIP, that over time, pretty much every pitcher's BABIP will be around .300. (Randy Johnson, to pick on a hard-to-hit pitcher, had a career batting average allowed of .221, but a BABIP of .295.)

What pitchers can control: Walks, Strikeouts, Home Runs. Deduno is weak on the first, mediocre on the second, acceptable on the third. All of which suggests that his success will be short-lived.

If we're looking for reasons to believe, however, I'll offer this thought: Knuckleball pitchers tend to be an exception to the BABIP principle. (Tim Wakefield's career BABIP was .276, Charlie Hough's .253. These are guys with long enough careers that those numbers are no flukes.)

Deduno doesn't throw a knuckleball, but by all accounts his fastball acts like one — it moves in different directions and he doesn't know which way it's going when he throws it. As with a knuckleballer, his catchers are setting up in the middle of the plate and trying to react to the movement.

The Twins are desperate enough for starters that they will certainly keep giving Deduno chances to fail. Even if his success is sustainable — and that's hardly proven — he'll need to work deeper into games to be more than a rotation filler.


  1. The knuckleballer analogy is a good one. It at least offers a glimmer of hope. He certainly is fun to watch.

  2. I find it interesting that all the bloggers are foaming at the mouth, touting all these modern statistics, telling us that Deduno is bound to fail. These "experts" continue to be confounded by this pitchers' success. As long as hitters cannot hit his (Deduno's) pitches, he will succeed. Simple. Minimal hits, minimal runs. Wins. Like the old-timers say, the only stat that counts is a "W"!!!

    1. Nobody's "foaming at the mouth," except perhaps certain commenters. Grow up. The next ill-mannered post from you will be deleted.

  3. His WHIP is high enough to know the low run count is unsustainable...

    We all take the W's but we're being reasonable about whether the Twins can count this guy as a solid slot for next year and to do so, would be foolish. But you take the W's while you can.


  4. ill mannered? Grow up? Really? Read the Star Tribune if you want to read ill mannered.

    1. I am judge, jury and executioner here. If I ran the ST blogs, there would be a LOT of deletions. That's their business. This is mine.