MLB Regression Report: Dodgers' Gonsolin, Giants' Wood

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

June 28, 2022 08:53 PM
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Most MLB teams are about a week away from completing half of their games for the 2022 season. A lot of people believe it takes about 40 games for teams to settle into the rigors of the campaign, so that kind of timeline would mean that we’ve pretty much got what we’re going to get by this point. 

There are a few teams that are building the portfolio of an underachiever or an overachiever. Both New York teams are outperforming their expected paces by five games, according to BaseRuns, as well as noteworthy differences between 3rd Order Win%, a concept I wrote about in the May 25 edition of Point Spread Weekly. Some notable underachievers based on the alternate standings include the Mariners, Braves, Phillies and Cubs. 

While those are teams that you should watch, there are some other teams and pitchers that require a spot in this week’s Regression Report, so let’s key in on those. 

Pitchers

Tony Gonsolin, Dodgers (negative)

Gonsolin is a guy who seemingly came out of nowhere to be one of the contenders for the NL Cy Young Award, but some things are happening that are allowing him to overperform relative to his true talent level. He has a .188 BABIP against and a 90.3% LOB%. The lowest BABIP among qualified starters last season was .247 and the highest LOB% was 90.1%, but the next closest was 84.3%. 

Furthermore, out of 53 batters faced with a runner in scoring position, the opposition has only four hits. He owns a .085/.170/.128 slash and a .146 wOBA against with RISP. That is the lowest in baseball and he is one of six qualified pitchers with a wOBA under .200. The others are Luis Garcia, Shohei Ohtani, Max Fried, Shane McClanahan and Jameson Taillon. 

Alex Wood, Giants (positive)

Sticking with that theme, we’ll stay in the NL West where Wood has gotten unlucky in his high-leverage plate appearances. Out of 78 qualified pitchers, Wood’s K% with runners in scoring position ranks 21st, but he has the second-highest BABIP against at .422. Wood has allowed a .344/.377/.475 slash in that split with a .361 wOBA. 

With the bases empty, however, Wood has allowed a .252/.305/.387 slash with a .306 wOBA. One primary way for a good pitcher to post bad numbers is to struggle with RISP, and that’s been the case for Wood, who is much better than his 5.05 ERA. A 4.02 xERA and a 3.61 FIP are two good indicators of positive regression as well. 

Teams

St. Louis Cardinals offense (negative)

I often look at stats for signs of regression, but sometimes the schedule is a big part of the equation. That is the case for the Cardinals over the next few weeks. This is a lineup that has spent most of the season beating up lefties, but their next four series feature the Phillies, Braves, Phillies again and then Dodgers. They’ll be facing some good starting pitching, a lot of quality right-handed starters, as well as lefty Max Fried, who is one of the game’s top southpaws. 

The Cardinals rank ninth in wOBA for June, even though Paul Goldschmidt has gone nuclear and Nolan Arenado is having a huge month as well. St. Louis remains a top-10 offense against lefties but ranks 12th in wOBA against righties and has a just a .400 SLG in that split. The next 14 games after facing Sandy Alcantara of the Marlins on Wednesday are going to be tough. 

Arizona Diamondbacks pitching (positive)

The Diamondbacks pitching staff is not full of big names or guys with impressive track records, but first-year pitching coach Brent Strom has done an excellent job. Arizona ranks seventh in Hard Hit% against and 10th in Barrel% against. However, even with the sixth-ranked defense by FanGraphs’ all-encompassing Def metric and the fifth-best by Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric, the Diamondbacks are 16th in BABIP against at .291, 23rd in ERA at 4.32 and 24th in FIP at 4.31. 

Arizona’s low strikeout numbers have a lot to do with the FIP ranking, but the ERA speaks to some bad luck with the 21st-ranked LOB% at 70.3% and 23rd-ranked wOBA with RISP at .337. The Diamondbacks don’t score a lot of runs, so their misfortunes on the pitching side really stand out, even though they are on pace to go well over their season win total.

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