OBG08: Cla Meredith

Cla MeredithI’m a sucker for freak stats, so I love the fact that Cla Meredith recorded more groundball outs in 2007 than did Chris Young despite pitching less than half as many innings. Meredith gave up a lot more hits last year than he did in his rookie campaign, but despite the high batting average, the overall line against him was .296/.334/.387 — that’s sort of like Willie McGee, Luis Polonia, Lance Johnson, or any number of other “slap-and-go” hitters from the ’80s and ’90s; Mickey Rivers if you want to go old-school, Mark Grudzielanek if you want to update it. In other words, it’s a pretty empty .300

One strange aspect of Meredith’s ’07 season involved his performance at home and on the road. Those who believe that all humans interact with their environment in exactly the same way assure us that every pitcher benefits from Petco Park. Still, we wouldn’t necessarily expect an extreme groundball pitcher to be aided by a park that is most known for killing fly balls. And yet, there it is, undeniable:

  • Home: .238/.268/.320 (think ex-Padres Dave Campbell and Andy Sheets with better batting average)
  • Road: .345/.388/.444 (sort of a cross between Ichiro! and John Kruk — which I would pay good money to see, BTW)

I can’t explain this. On a more general level regarding Meredith, my personal suspicion is that people had unreasonably high expectations for him based on his ridiculous ’06 season. Without those expectations, last year’s performance looks pretty darned good. Seems to me he should be able to more or less duplicate that effort, and possibly improve on it a little: 70 IP, 3.23 ERA.

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

37 Responses »

  1. 78IP 2.89ERA

  2. Several times last year, he would come into the game and get a ground ball.

    Unfortunately, the ground ball would squirt between the infielders for a base hit.

  3. re: Home vs Road … perhaps Petco doesn’t help Cla as much as road ballparks hurt him?

    OT … I’m not promoting ebay nor this specific sale … but I heard Xavix mentioned during a tech radio show yesterday … I’ve never heard of it … have you? Any of you played this?


  4. #3

    I bought something like that for my cousins in MN in 2000. I bought it at a Target. The system plugged into the television. In 2-player mode one used the ball to pitch and the other used the bat to hit. I think there was a light-sensor (or something along those lines) in a mock home plate that the batter swung over to time the hitting. I think I paid around $30 for the game. My cousins played the hell out of it for several months, and I think it crapped out from heavy use after about 9 months. My uncle told me he had a lot of fun playing with it, too. I always meant to, but never did, get one for myself.

  5. All we saw last year was Cla’s hit rate normalizing for the lucky version he employed in 06….I’ll take something more down the middle, but I think the infield defense is improved from last season.

    2.63ERA 70IP

  6. 75 IP 3.20 ERA

  7. I think Cla got the ball up to hitters in 2007 a bit more than he did in 2006. They were hitting groundballs but hitting them a lot harder wich made it tougher plays for the defense. It seemed like in 2006 Cla was getting little dribbler back to him for nearly every out. I think he keep the ball down more in ’08. 75 IP 2.40 ERA

  8. 5,7: This is why the term “luck” drives me crazy. Cla was indeed awesome in 06 and gave up more hits last year but I strongly object to “luck” in this context. After analyzing many of Cla’s appearances it was clear to me that he has a very small margin of error. Basically, if he can keep the ball around the knees at the corners he gets a lot of weak grounders with odd spin on the ball. Just an inch higher and he gets more solid grounders that go for hits. Another inch or two higher and he gives up solid hits. Cla had a lot of trouble with his location last year and that caused the increase in hits allowed. I also suspect his pitches flatten out when above the knees, making them even easier to hit.

    Anyway, my contention is that location is a skill and in Cla’s case (much like Trevor), it’s absolutely critical that his location is perfect. Of course there’s luck involved but overall the skill is much more of a factor.

    65 IP, 3.25 ERA. He’ll get a little more consistent location and the home/road splits will even out a bit.

  9. My favorite Cla Meredith stat from last year is his lefty-righty platoon split:
    .303/.333/.362 by righties based on a .397 BABIP
    .286/.336/.421 by lefties based on a .340 BABIP

    I think the righties’ BABIP comes back down significantly and he dominates them next year. The line by lefties against him looks about right. Buddy Black spots Meredith in the best situations to face mostly right handers, using him in tandem with Thatcher nicely.

    75 2/3 IP, 2.73 ERA, 53 K’s.

  10. 4: Hi Ranger31, where have you been? That sounds like a fun game.
    Of course, now that the WII is out, the baseball game on that is wickedly fun, and the pro version is hard.

    8: Thanks for the reminder. I read your analysis that was great. And he did get better toward the later of the last season.

    I’m thinking 70 IP, 3.41 ERA, 6 GiDP when brought in with runners on 1B.

  11. Anthony, good points, but I personally don’t think you can eliminate “luck” from the equation. Perhaps luck isn’t the best term for it … maybe something like random variation is better. Take the flipping a coin example. In 20 flips you get 15 heads (with a fair coin). Is that skill? Most likely not … the more you keep tossing it, the more likely it’ll end up at its true level, or like 50%. The more innings Meredith pitches, the closer he’ll be to his true talent level. He certainly isn’t as good as he was in 06 and he’s probably better than his 07 campaign. Put them together, and you’re probably getting closer.

    Now, I understand the idea of not just casting things off as luck, and I completely agree with it. Maybe things like the PITCHf/x data will let people analyze things like this closer, if they haven’t already. But the simple fact that players with great seasons almost always regress toward the mean (or toward their own mean) in the next season, is to me is a good indicator that there’s a lot of luck, or whatever you want to call it, in the game.

    With that said, I’ll go 70 innings, 3.31 era.

  12. Changing the subject but Baseball Prospectus has their Team Health Report out for the Padres today. They use green, yellow, red for injury risks. The Reds are the expected suspects: Giles, Edmonds, Wolf and Prior. The Greens are AGon, Iguchi, Peavy, and Maddux. All the rest of the starters are yellow although Kouz’s is probably unwarranted (the back injury seems to be in the past) and they aren’t too worried about Greene either. However, I do have one major problem with the article, this comment about Josh Bard (yellow):

    “There’s not much to say here, other than pointing out that he’s a catcher who wore down under the workload of regular playing time.”

    It’s statements like this that really annoy me. Can’t the writer, in this case Will Carroll, take the two seconds to look up Bard’s stats? If he did, he’d realize that Bard was bad in the beginning of the season and finished up strongly (his worst month was May, his best was September). Is it that hard to look up his split stats on baseball-reference? I wouldn’t think so.

  13. I think they’re going to take better care of the bullpen next year. 60 IP, 2.45 ERA, 40 K, and the usual 65% groundball rate.

  14. I think they picked up Clark because they didn’t get Sweeney as a pinch-hitter, and he’ll give A-Gon 15 games rest.

  15. With 10 precincts reporting: 71 IP, 2.95 ERA.

  16. Well said, Schlom

  17. 14. I think the preference was always Clark over Sweeney and I don’t think this will cut into Adrian’s plate appearances much at all.

  18. For Meredith: 75IP, 2.85 ERA. I think he was a little unlucky with his BIP average last season and it will go down a bit this season. He was also awful last season when the batter swung at the first pitch 389/382/463 and I think he’ll adjust a bit there also.

    Dayn Perry on FoxSports.com has a list of the Top 10 free agents still out there. Number 1 on the list is Bonds but #2 is Corey Patterson who I think might be a good fit for the Padres. I don’t think he should be the everyday starter but he’d be a good defensive replacement in CF and LF and could also start when Chris Young pitches.

  19. The roster seems pretty set. If they go with 12 pitchers, there seems to be only one open roster spot for the hitters if they keep Rule V draftee Callix Crabbe. The bench would be Barrett, Clark, Headley, Crabbe and one (or hopefully two) other. The pitching staff is a mess. I’d guess that Germano will be 5th starter opening the season while 4 bullpen spots seem to be locked up (Trevor, Bell, Cla and Thatcher). So they would go with 3 (again hopefully two) of the following: Hampson, Kevin Cameron, Rule V draftee Carlos Guevara, Wil Ledezma, and Enrique Gonzalez. Prior and Hensley will both start the season on the DL so they can wait for awhile before they make a choice for the permanent 5th starter.

  20. 2: Crap, another Marshall? Now I’m confused. Okay, you stay ‘Marshall’ and I’ll stay ‘Marsh’. Just to be sure, you don’t have a brother named ‘Clayton’ that posts here, do you?

  21. I’m still not sold on Headley making the opening roster. I think Gerut has a great shot to make it as Hairston’s platoon partner.

    The big problem is, who is the backup SS?

  22. Out of the returning relievers (Hoffman, Bell, Thatcher, K. Cameron, Hampson, Cla Meredith appeared to be the least effective. Opponents hit .298 against him and he gave up a bunch of game-winning hits. However, he was much more effective the last 3 1/2 months of the season (June 15th -Sep 30), posting a 3-1 record with a 2.92 ERA.

    While it would be tough to ever approach his ’06 numbers again (5-1, 1.07 ERA), I believe he is capable of dropping his ERA under 3.00 and solidifying the 7th inning role, along with Joe Thatcher.

    6-3, 2.74, 85 IP

  23. Patterson is an interesting idea, but I think the Padres will go cheap/smart (take your pick :-) ) and just stick with DaVanon. He’s probably not much worse than Patterson, he doesn’t have Boras as his agent, and he’ll cost about 25% of what Patterson will likely make.

    I really hope the team comes up with something for CF, but I just have this bad feeling they won’t and we’re going to have to suck it up with Edmonds and a bunch of other guys who aren’t any good either. :-(

  24. I like the idea of giving either Davanon or Gerut a shot but I just don’t think either of them can handle CF defensively. In fact, if Edmonds bombs (which is entirely) possible, they might not have a CF on the roster. That could spell trouble. However, Crabbe played CF last season in the minors, maybe he can handle the position?

  25. 12 … WC makes this interesting comment in his Padre THR today …

    It’s more than just the dimensions that are pitcher-friendly in San Diego.

    … by which I think he’s refering to Bud Black and Darren Balsley (they “have had solid success making mild mechanical alterations to their charges, such as the one made to Jake Peavy’s delivery before last season. “) … and he’s saying it in the context of postive expectations for Wolf and Prior.

  26. 11: There wasn’t really any Pitchf/x data for 06 but I suspect a lot of Cla’s success was due to it simply being his first time in the league and hitters hadn’t learned what they could handle and what they couldn’t. Cla could get away with being a little sloppy then; now that they know what to lay off it’s forced Cla to make adjustments of his own.

    And count me in as a big fan of the Tony Clark signing. It’s worth it just so he won’t be killing CY anymore. And Adrian really needs the time off. I have no problem giving him 10-20 starts either; it gives Adrian a rest and we’ll have a killer LH pinch hitter for high leverage situations.

  27. Well since Patterson/Davanon is a toss up about who is a more valuable player…not sure why they’d bother spending the money. I’d rather sign a couple more 16 year old Dominican kids for the 2M.

    Patterson’s a better defensive player, but that OBP means he hasn’t even been replacement level offensively in about 3 years.

    Davanon could be a nice offensive addition, but at his age with his injuries he’s a big time stretch in Cf defensively.

    We all need to hope Edmonds is both healthy and productive and neither is a given at this point

  28. 17: I don’t think Clark should cut into A-Gon’s time, but A-Gon should get to rest instead of playing 159 games or whatever it was.

  29. Meredith, 70 IP, 3.20 ERA, 55 K

  30. “Clark will give the Padres a bat with some pop off the bench and someone who can spell Adrian Gonzalez at first base on occasion. And Clark might even see time in the outfield as he’s been taking fly balls during the offseason”. ~ MLB.COM

  31. Interesting how Petco’s gone from a tough place to play OF to a place where basically anyone is expected to be able to handle it. Even non-outfielders.

  32. #31: Shhh, don’t tell Russell Branyan. ;-)

  33. 31, 32: Or Klesko. Ryno was a good athlete who had several hundred games of experience in LF and he found it hard.

    Clark would play LF like an Ent.

  34. 33: Ha…an Ent. I like LoTR…

  35. 33 … wow, one never knows what one will learn at DS …


    … thanks, TW … you are an Ent among us :-)

    (and wikipedia never ceases to amaze me … i didn’t know what LoTR was … but they did … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotr)

  36. Meridith: 66 IPs, 3.33 ERA, He’ll have a lot of challengers for that 7th inning role and I think he may end up relinquishing it to Guevara or Meridith, leaving him in a more appropriate role of righty specialist, particularly for double play opportunities

  37. whoops, RE 36, not Meridith, I meant Cameron