Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ross Seaton Pitching Profile

First off, let's get a couple of things out of the way first. I'm using some simple metrics here, like Game Score and some more complex methods, like Pitching Runs Created. Both definitions to the methodology behind how I came up with these stats can be found at the links above. This way, I won't have to spend the rest of this post explaining what the stats themselves mean.

Before I get into the profile, here's some background on Seaton. Ross is a 19-year old right-handed pitcher from Second Baptist High School in Houston was selected in the supplemental portion of the third round in 2008. At 6-foot-4 and 190 lbs., the Sugar Land native has definitely got the frame to be a power pitcher. Plus, I just like rooting for players from my home town.

I dug up some video of him from's 2008 Draft coverage here. His arm slot is definitely overhand and from what I could tell, it didn't look like his elbow was flying forward before his hand (one sign of potential injury problems). The scouting report on him mentioned three good pitches, with the possibility of his changeup becoming an average pitch. It also mentioned that he's an intelligent kid, which he would have to be to get into a school like Tulane.

When I started out looking at this pitching profile, I didn't exactly know what I was going to put into it. I knew I wanted to start out simply, by scoring all of his starts and getting an average Game Score. His four starts got scores of 55, 66, 62 and 70 in chronological order, so his average Game Score turned out to be 63 for the month of April (I'm assuming he's not starting tomorrow's game).

Seaton has been above average in all of his starts this season and in two of them, pretty spectacular. That 70 score came from his last start, when he only struck out three but threw seven innings of shutout ball. Still, how impressive has he really been? His G/F ratio is still too high on the fly ball end, though that has been trending downward lately. He still doesn't get as many strikeouts as you'd like to see, but he's been able to get consistent outs. Still, I wanted to dig a little deeper into his numbers.

Not having pitch counts to work with, I had to look at what was available in the box score. My next task was to isolate how good the defense has been when he's on the mound and what percentage of line drives and men left on base he has. I used another stat from the Hardball Times that I've worked into my rotation for my fielding metrics, the Defense Efficiency Rate. It basically looks at just the batted ball plays and creates a ratio of successful plays by the defense. Lexington, overall, has a DER of .679, but Seaton has been very lucky in his four starts. His defense has a DER of .815, which explains his luck on balls in play. He also has avoided giving up too many line drives, having just 19.6 percent over the four starts. His high mark there was the five he gave up in seven innings on Tuesday. In both the starts before that, he only gave up one line drive total.

As for number of men he's stranded on base, that number is up to 93.8%, which is pretty incredible. Seaton has shown a knack for getting timely ground balls and for inducing double plays, as he has gotten one double play in all but one of his starts. Part of my profile meant I had to chart his games by lefty/righty matchups, essentially creating a score card of his time on the mound. Besides providing me with a wealth of information on his splits (.175 vs. lefties, .167 vs. rightys), it also gave me a chance to see just where in the field they were hitting the ball when they made contact. Seaton is a righty, so you'd expect him to be tougher on righty batters and for guys to try and pull the ball. From all the data I saw, no one really got around to pulling the ball at all on Seaton and most batters were hitting the ball either up the middle or the opposite way, which suggests he's got very good raw stuff. Probably a good to excellent fastball and some offspeed pitch like a slider to keep the hitters' timing off.

All that was a precursor to my analysis of his Pitching Runs Created. As the above article stated, this is basically a stat to show and easily compare pitchers to batters. Seaton has a RA of 1.52 this season and his PRC is 7.42. That's a little lower than it could have been, but he fell into the meaty part of the curve for the adjustment based on K/9 inn. He's just at 5.70 right now, and I'm okay with that, because at his stage of development, strikeouts are fascist. Groundballs are more democratic. Seriously, though, I'd rather him learn how to pitch, learn how to get out of jams by throwing double play balls than to try and strike everyone out. The ball's an egg, handle it with care!

So, how does his PRC compare to some of the Lexington hitters? Only one or two positional players had Runs Created over 10 and they've played in a heck of a lot more games than Seaton's four. He's been very, very good right now and one of the main reasons that Lexington isn't in the basement of the South Atlantic League, considering its offense has been so horrendous. His team has scored 6, 0, 4 and 4 runs for him in his three starts. His second best start of the season? Yeah, that's when Lexington got shut out. Just for comparison's sake, that's 3.5 runs per game of support for Seaton. The league average of runs scored per game is 4.07. Half a run can really add up over the course of a season.

So, what did we learn? Seaton is a very promising young pitcher who has great stuff. He may not miss many bats right now, but he's throwing hitters off-balance when they do make contact. He doesn't give up much hard contact, is starting to throw more ground balls and needs more run support. Not too bad for a kid who was in high school last year.

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