Who is really the best baseball team in the majors? I honestly don't know but I try to figure that out by using basic and advanced statistics. I live for talking about baseball, it's my biggest drive in my life and I will jump on the opportunity to talk baseball with anyone, even with people who I don't really like. For me, Baseball is a piece of art that sits in my mind all day, ready to be painted on at any point of the day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Trevor Cahill's extension

By Mike Moritz

It was announced a few days ago that The Oakland Athletics and Trevor Cahill came to an agreement on an extension but it was not until I was in the middle of writing my post on Clay Buchholz's extension that the specific details came out. Cahill, 23-years old, had a break out year last year. Too bad this post and subject is almost identical to Clay Buchholz and his new contract. Like Buchholz, Cahill is a huge regression candidate for 2011. Although, I really like the contract for the long term because Cahill has a good amount of upside. His minor league strike out numbers (9.9 K/9) are something that has failed to translate into major league stats (5.17 K/9) but they do suggest that there is potential. So for this year, this contract is not very good but for Cahill's future, this is a good contract for Oakland. The deal is worth $30.5 million over five years with two team options worth $13 million and $13.5 million so the deal could come to about $57 million, or the same amount as Buchholz's contract with both options exercised.

His true talent was completely masked by a lot of luck in 2010, just like Buchholz. A 4.19 FIP and 3.99 xFIP turned into a 2.97 ERA and 18 wins thanks to a .236 BABIP and a 76.5% LOB. On top of that, even though his strike out rates rose from a mere 4.53 K/9 in 2009 to 5.40 K/9 in 2010, his SwStr% (swinging strike%) dropped from 7.4% in 2009 to 5.9% last year, which suggests that he is getting more hitter to strike out looking and that maybe his pitches are more effective.

I am convinced that that is what happend. When looking at Cahill's pitch type values, I found that all of his pitches improved signifigantly from '09 to '10. And that is probably why his FIP dropped from an ugly 5.33 in 2009 to 4.19 and his xFIP in 2009 dropped from 4.86 to 3.99. Accoringly, his K/9 rose from 4.53 in 2009 to a still bad 5.40. His walk rate also benefited from his improvement: 3.63 BB/9 down to 2.88. And although a small difference, his swing% went from 42.5% in 2009 to 40.8% last year. Again, that is a small improvement but it still backs up my reasoning as to why it seems like he got hitters to strike out looking more often.

But how did he get his opossing hitters to get sent down looking? And why?

First, I'll answer the "why" part.

To put as simply as posible, Cahill just got better. He improved his all around game, from velocity to effectiveness. His fastball jumped almost a whole tick. But rather, lets look at his improved pitch values that I mentioned before:


Again, as you can see by just looking, all his pitches signifigantly improved. Espessialy his fastball and curveball.

Because his curve was much improved, he then decided to use it much more in 2010. Cahill used his curve just 2.7% of the time in 2009. In 2010, he used it 13.1% of the time. Let's take a look at how his pitches have been able to break from 2009 to 2010:



Just as expressed in the pitch values that you just saw, his curve ball (purple) added a lot of break to it. Hitters then strike out more and they go down looking, as my belief goes. 

I love this contract. Cahill is a pitcher with a lot of upside. I haven't even mentioned that his ground ball rate is super human. In 2009, it was a great 47.8% and it moved up to 56% last year. And with a fantastic Athletics infield, that is great for Cahill. 

Cahill has a lot of upside and the Athletics have him to a very team friendly contract. Overall, a great contract. Even if Cahill falters for five years, the A's can just opt out of his contract. One thing that I would have liked to see is to see GM Billy Beane do the same that Theo Epstein should have also done: wait until after the season to see Cahill's regression and sign him to a cheaper extension. 

No comments:

Post a Comment