The Year Jake Peavy Turned Hitters into Matt Walbeck

Jake PeavyI recently picked up the Bill James Gold Mine 2008. There’s tons of great stuff in here, as you’d expect, but two items in particular have captured my imagination (so far): the “record of opposing batters” James presents for certain pitchers, and the “comps” he offers of team batting records to individual career batting records (e.g., the Padres hit like Bobby Bonilla in wins last season and like Norm Sherry in losses).

Hey, why not mash ‘em up and see what happens? Well, that’s just what I’ve done. I examined Jake Peavy‘s year-by-year “record of opposing batters” along with the names of some hitters who had similar career lines. In each case, I searched for hitters who:

  • were active between 1961 and 2007;
  • had at least 3000 plate appearances (2000 for the ’05 season, because otherwise we’d have no comps);
  • had both OBP and SLG within .010 of Peavy’s.

I then ordered each resulting set a) by batting average and b) by OPS+. The goal was to come up with a similar looking traditional line that also translated reasonably well when adjusted for era, parks, etc. Sometimes I had to make concessions (i.e., choose greater accuracy in terms of BA/OBP/SLG or in terms of OPS+). In those cases, I went with my gut because an exercise like this doesn’t demand precision.

What we’re really going for is, “In 2002, Peavy made opponents look kind of like Steve Finley, while in 2007 he made them look kind of like Matt Walbeck.” We’re trying to get a general feel for the type of hitter Peavy turned guys into for each season.

Jake Peavy, Record of Opposing Batters
Year PA BA OBP SLG OPS+ Batting Comps
Statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
2002 430 .274 .334 .432 104 Rich Aurilia, Bret Boone, Steve Finley
2003 827 .238 .318 .422 96 Scott Brosius, Mike Macfarlane
2004 694 .236 .305 .359 75 Joe Girardi, Tom Pagnozzi
2005 812 .217 .271 .363 69 Ken Reitz, John Shelby
2006 846 .242 .303 .412 85 Corey Patterson, Gerald Williams
2007 898 .208 .272 .312 55 Dave McKay, Matt Walbeck
Career 4507 .232 .297 .379 n/a Kevin Elster, Ron Karkovice

Karkovice falls just short of our 3000 PA threshold, but whatever. The point, again, is to get a general sense of things. Oh yeah, and to have fun. :-)

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My Padres season preview is up at Hardball Times. No surprises if you’ve been following along here for any amount of time.
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Padres and Royals tonight on Channel 4SD. First pitch at 7:05 p.m. PT; we’ll have the IGD running about an hour before then.

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42 Responses »

  1. Slightly OT but Scott Brosius is the head coach at Linfield College in McMinville Oregon not very far from where I’m at.

  2. Great preview, GY. Not as optimistic as I’d hoped, but still good.

    Wolf and Rusch looked phenomenal yesterday. K-Cam is obviously still hurt. Lets hope our fourth and fifth starters can carry this success into the regular season. If they do, we should be fine.

  3. The problem with saying that Jake Peavy turned hitters into Matt Walbeck is that I have no idea who he is/was … but I guess that’s the point … and I like the article I read recently where Bud Black was quoted as saying he thinks Jake can/will get better still! He’s got some growing to do … in more ways than one … it’ll be fun to watch!

  4. Proof that 1998 scarred me forever: Scott Brosius and Mike McFarlane don’t seem like the same hitter.

  5. #3: Yep, exactly. Also, Walbeck was with the Padres very briefly in 2002. He’s even mentioned on page 178 of the 2008 Annual! :-)