Obviously, 2010 saw much more success for the team than 2011 so I expected to see significant declines in all offensive metrics for players who were on both teams. Just discussing the fact that these players "regressed" hard and fast isn't enough though, I'm going to attempt to find reasons for the bad season we just endured.
When reading these breakdowns, please refer to this spreadsheet for all my numbers. I'll link each stat the first time it is mentioned to a page describing it, for those of you who may not fully understand everything.
Be you warned, since this is college baseball we're talking about the sample sizes will be smaller than we'd prefer and the translation of stats from MLB to this level might not be satisfactory (minus FIP in my next post, which I specially tailored to the Pac-12). However, they can still tell us interesting things and we should all be open to what they have to say.
After the jump, a breakdown of each player and some commentary on what might have been at play this season. Let's go!
- In 2010, Derek Jones was the team leader in HR, RBI, and SLG. This past season Jones cooled off a bit, dropping to second on the team in all three categories. I say cooled off a bit because it was just that, a bit. His slight dip in offensive production and the arrival of slugger Taylor Ard are what combined to drop Jones in the team stats rankings.
- Now the stats on Jones tell an interesting story, despite a higher BABIP this season than last (.326 compared to .315) would indicate he got luckier at the plate. Being at a .326 level would indicate Jones was due for some heavy regression (that never happened) and that his AVG was higher than his true talent level would produce. In 2010 an inflated BABIP of .315 produced a batting average of .309, but in 2011 a heavily inflated BABIP of .326 produced a batting average of .275.
- Jones only had two more at-bats this year than last, so the sample sizes are virtually the exact same. So what would lead to this weird situation? I honestly can not say for sure. It would be easy to speculate and blame the poor production on the new bats, or the colder than average weather in Pullman this season, but that would not explain why his numbers decreased while his luck was increasing.
- Conclusion: Jones regressed negatively in nearly every category, despite coming down to earth somewhat he still managed to be productive for the team, with a .370 OBP. His ability to draw more walks than last year was negated however by his large increase in strikeouts. Jones is a junior and should be back next season, we'll see if he can eliminate those free-swinging tendencies that plagued the whole lineup this season and maybe get a little bit of pop back in his bat.
- So, it occurred to me after I posted this that I had completely left Bartlett out of the "players who played on both teams" list. I'm sorry, Cody. Honestly Cody was my favorite player all year to interview, so I'm surprised I left him off the original post.
- Here we have almost no decline in BABIP (only .001) but a fairly large decline in production overall. This is what would lead me to believe the offenses decline was part regression, part adjusting to the new deadened bats. The players insisted the bats played no differently than the old ones, but looking at the stats and simply watching the games would tell you that's definitely not the truth.
- Bartlett went from seven home runs to only one over nearly the exact same number of at-bats. It doesn't make up for the lack in power, but Bartlett was able to draw nine more walks than last season, helping keep his OBP at a pretty respectable .354.
- Conclusion: Bartlett was a very streaky hitter this season, turning off and on at the plate almost weekly. The disappearance of his power is concerning, but then again not too much since he's graduating, so maybe the better word would have been interesting.
- Ah, Argy. In my opinion the one bright spot amongst the returners at the plate this season. With 29 fewer at bats this year than last (195, 166) Argy improved in AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, PECOTA ISO, ISO, and wOBA. That's impressive, also unfortunate because it happened a year too late; this team isn't going anywhere and it would have been nice to have had this production last season.
- First thing you're going to notice is his inflated BABIP, it's bigger than a bloated orca whale. This is probably driving his stats past the point of his true talent level.
- I'm going to use this space to describe why I like PECOTA ISO better than standard ISO. In ISO you are assigning a triple more weight than a double, creating the assumption that a triple requires more "power" than a double. What PECOTA assumes, and I agree with, is that a triple is more a product of a batters speed, not power off the bat. So, that being said, I recommend you pay more attention to PECOTA but I'll continue to post standard ISO as well, just so you can see the differences.
- Conclusion: If we're looking for reasons the offense just couldn't get it going this year Argy is no to blame. Given 29 more at-bats Argy most likely would have continued to post improved numbers and be one of the few bright spots in the Cougar lineup. Move on folks, no one to blame here.
- Ponciano saw much decreased playing time this season, and therefore his sample size is much lower than I'd like. The emergence of Collin Slaybaugh as a (very) fast, contact hitting catcher pushed Ponciano into a shared role.
- To be honest, it's hard to say anything statistically about Ponciano due to his only 81 at-bats. From what I saw with my eye though, Jay was on pace for a season pretty much just like his 2010. So, yeah...
- Conclusion: Uh... Not much to see here.
- Jacobs hit .340 a year ago with a BABIP of .390. Let's just say Jacobs learned the hard way this year that regression is a cruel bitch. Settling around a slightly below average BABIP of .266 this year Jacobs showed his true talent level, unfortunately that talent levels leads to a .244 average and .075 ISO. Ouch.
- Jacobs has equally sized sample sizes across years (156, 160). The one thing he added to his game this season was the long ball, going deep twice after going without a dinger for all of 2010. This, however couldn't at all make up for his singles dropping from 44 to 31. Even walking 14 times in 2011, more than twice the free passes he drew in 2010, wouldn't make up for the lack on contact, dropping his OBP from .391 to .324.
- Conclusion: If you need proof regression is real, please look no further than Brett Jacobs. Being 5th on the team in at-bats, this kind of poor performance was one of the biggest reasons the lineup went from scoring 397 runs in 2010 to scoring 284 runs this year.
- Going from a backup role with 30 at-bats in 2010, Richards got significant playing time this year with 129 at-bats. Any significant decline in stats from year to year for Richards is most likely just his numbers smoothing out over a larger sample size. That being said, it's easiest to just discuss his numbers from this year.
- With a fairly average BABIP of .287 Richards put up .256 average with two home runs. It's safe to say he wasn't a huge force at the plate, but he also wasn't a big letdown either. The 19 strikeouts was also a pretty interesting number, Richards did a good job of avoiding the K in the middle of a lineup of free-swingers.
- Conclusion: Richards should see a good amount of playing time next year as well, but don't expect anything more than what we got this season.
- There were two other returning players, but neither had a significant amount of at-bats either year to really garner any analysis. That being said, we're skipping to Claussen, who had 85 at-bats in 2010 and 92 this year. Both numbers are kind of low, but since they're similarly low and around 100 I'll talk a little bit about the kids production.
- I'm sure by now you've recognized a pattern: BABIP goes down, most offensive stats should go down with it. You also may have recognized pattern number two: most every WSU batters BABIP declined from 2010 to 2011. In fact, as a team, WSUs team BABIP fell from .342 to .322. The same can be said for Claussen, who's BABIP dipped .030 between years, dragging his wOBA down from .423 to .399. The only thing that kept his OBP relatively close to last seasons was the three more walks he drew this year.
- Conclusion: Claussen fell victim to the same thing that bit most of the WSU lineup this year: average luck exposing true talents levels.
It may have been the new bats. it may have been the colder than usual weather in Pullman, but most likely it was regression. No matter what the reason was the unfortunate fact remains, the WSU offense could not produce this year at nearly the same level as last.
We could be losing Derek Jones and Taylor Ard to the draft next week, which would be huge blow to this lineup. If Ard does not return I simply don't see where on this roster we get offense from, what with our only other real threat this year in Argy graduating.
Next up I will put together a similar post on the WSU pitching staff and compare pitchers who saw action on both teams. I hope this post was informative, if there are any questions at all let me know in the comments.