By Mike Moritz
In a post that I wrote back in March, I explained why I thought Francisco Liriano could do even better than his fantastic 2010 season. To be honest, I thought I was somewhat right. As we know now, Liriano's season has made me look like a complete and utter idiot. But if some baseball fan out there believed that was right and then also believed that "I got unlucky because no one could have guessed that Liriano would get off to such bad start" and then knew that my hypothesis would eventually come true, then I thank you for putting trust in me. But as much as I would love for someone to believe that in March, I would be right, I am sorry but you just should not keep your trust in me for Liriano.
Liriano's much heard of no-hitter last night made his season look so much better than it actually is. Honestly, there were so many things that Liriano was just bad at last night. Coming into his start, he's been disgustingly terrible, as we all know. A casual fan of baseball would say "Hey, Dad! Look, Fransico Liriablahblah threw a no-hitter!" and saber-metric nerds would say "Jesus, he got more BABIP'd than anybody could have ever gotten BABIP'd".
Well the Luck Dragons decided to give Liriano a break from being his terrible, 2011 version of himself.
There is NOBODY in the major leagues with a true talent level of .000 BABIP. ESPECIALLY the 2011 version of Liriano.
Ok, so a maybe "a no-hitter is a no-hitter" after all. But seriously? 6 walks and just 2 punch outs?
Those numbers brought his season K/BB ratio to .83, which is way below the 2.14 league average. He is now averaging just 5.51 K/9 and 6.61 BB/9. And this guy threw a no-hitter?
Liriano's O-Swing% dropped from 34.4% in 2010 to a mere 22.6% mark this year. Hitters are overall, being more patient, swinging at just 41.7% of Liriano's pitches, which is a career low. His opponent Contact% has reached a career high at 61.4%.
Looking at Liriano's pitch type values, his fastball is his only pitch that is negative, and since pitch type values do not take into consideration how much a player relies on one specific pitches, that is why his fastball value is only -.46 instead of lower.
Because of that, we can't use statistics to see exactly why hitters are laying off his pitches.
Rather, we use our eyes.
And we then come up with the conclusion that Liriano is a pitcher that relies on his fastball and works his other pitches off of the heater. But now that Liriano's fastball has lost 2 mph, hitters can tell much more easily whether to take it or swing. And they are keeping the bats on the shoulders to no end thus creating Liriano's walk rate that is higher than his what's-supposed-to-be-high strike out rate.
So basically this no-hitter says what kind of state the White Sox offense is in. And it probably contributed as much, if not more, to Liriano's no-hitter than Liriano's actual skill.
And the worst part? He's on my fantasy team...and I benched him.
(Statistics in courtesy of: fangraphs.com)