The goal of pitching is to keep the other team from scoring. The best way to keep the other team from scoring is to keep them off base. In other words, if a successful offense has a high On Base Percentage, then a successful pitching staff should have a low On Base Percentage Allowed.
Someone somewhere is probably tracking OBP Allowed, but it would be somewhat of a wasted effort. We already have a stat that is basically the pitching equivalent of OBP: WHIP. Walks plus Hits divided by Innings Pitched. WHIP isn’t purely about the pitcher – a good defense can take away some hits from the other team and lower the pitcher’s WHIP as a result, for example (also true for many hits that a batter adds to his OBP) – but for a quick rule of thumb style stat, it does a pretty decent job at telling us what pitchers are doing a good job simply keeping base runners off the base paths.
And since it is Monday, you probably know right were this is going. Wrack your brains everyone, because I’m looking for the six minor league starters (minimum five starts) who had a WHIP under 1.200 prior to the start of yesterday’s games.
First clue: ignore Iowa. Ryan Williams has the best starter WHIP for the I-Cubs, and his is a (still respectable) 1.260.
Second clue: strikeouts are one way to get outs, but not the only way. It is possible to keep runners off base without piling up a lot of strikeouts.
Third clue: We’re probably looking at a bit of a league effect in this one. Four of the pitchers are on the same team.
Answers are at the very end of today’s column, and if you can get all six without looking them up I will be very seriously impressed. Had I tried to answer this, I think I would missed at least two of them.
Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Round Rock 10, Iowa 7
A usually solid bullpen had some trouble in this one.
- Gerardo Concepcion: 0.2 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 2 BB
- Carl Edwards Jr: 1 IP, 3 R, 2 H
- John Andreoli: 2 for 3, 2 BB, HR. Andreoli has seven homers.
- Willson Contreras: 1 for 4, 3B, BB. The hitting streak is 18 games.
- Mark Zagunis: 2 for 4, BB
- Dan Vogelbach: 3 for 4, BB, HR. Vogelbach hit his tenth, and you can watch it below.
- Matt Murton: 1 for 5, 2B
- Jeimer Candelario: 1 for 4, 2B, BB
- Paul Blackburn: 7 IP, 3 R, 6 H, 1 BB, 6 K
- Juan Paniagua: 2 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 1 BB
- Jacob Hannemann: 1 for 4, 2B
- Victor Caratini: 3 for 4, 3B
- Kelly Dugan: 1 for 2, 2B, BB
- David Bote: 2 for 4
- Daniel Lockhart: 2 for 4, 2B
- Trevor Clifton: 5 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 3 BB, 6 K
- Daury Torrez: 1.2 IP, 2 H
- Daniel Lewis: 0.2 IP, and a line of zeroes.
- Gioskar Amaya: 2 for 3, 2 HR. Amaya was the offense as he raised his season HR total to four.
- Carson Sands: 2 IP, 3 R, 3 H, 3 BB, 2 K
- Greyfer Eregua: 4 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K
- P.J. Higgins: 2 for 4
- In addition to pitching a pretty good game, Blackburn also picked off two separate runners at second. We don’t usually talk too much about a particular pitcher’s pick off moves while they are in the minors, and two pick offs in one game doesn’t mean he has a great one, but that is something to keep an eye on. Two different runners at second is unusual enough to catch my attention.
- The Cubs signed IF/OF Josh Silver out of the Frontier League, and he’s joined the South Bend Cubs. The 26-year-old was hitting .455/.506/.701 through 20 games for the independent River City Rascals.
- The answers to today’s question are not total surprises, but I suspect there will be a name or two that leaves you saying “Huh, I didn’t think he’d be that high on the list”. In order, with their team and WHIP at the start of yesterday, we have:
Zach Hedges, Myrtle Beach, 1.044
Paul Blackburn, Tennessee, 1.093
Erick Leal, Myrtle Beach, 1.152
Jake Stinnett, Myrtle Beach, 1.186
Trevor Clifton, Myrtle Beach, 1.192
Adbert Alzolay, South Bend, 1.193
- I think I would have missed on Leal, and I know I would have missed on Alzolay. And, if I’m being honest, I’m a little surprised Stinnett’s WHIP isn’t a bit higher. Still, this is yet another bit of evidence that we probably shouldn’t ignore what Hedges is doing. [Brett: I missed on Leal, Stinnett, and Alzolay.]
- Vogelbach’s tenth homer for your viewing pleasure: