It’s time to forget about Cliff Lee, about RISP, about 13:1 K/BB ratios, about a 2-1 series deficit, about Cliff Lee, about a Game 7 started by Cliff Lee, about the 9th inning bullpen implosion, about the Yankees’ starter this evening and about, of course, Cliff Lee. Let’s focus on Tommy Hunter. There are a few things about him that you’re gonna want to know.
1. There were 71 pitchers in the American League in 2010 who threw more than 100 innings. Of those pitchers, Tommy Hunter had the 9th highest FIP. This is bad. FIP is an acronym for Fielding Independent Pitching. It examines the pitcher’s strikeouts, walks and home runs and tells you how well a pitcher pitched regardless of his fielding. While there’s legitimate dispute about whether a pitcher can control his home run rate, FIP cuts down on a lot of the noise present in ERA due to fluctuations in BABIP and defense. What I’m trying to tell you is that Tommy Hunter does a poor job at controlling the things he’s supposed to control.
2. Of the 71 AL pitchers with 100 innings in 2010, Tommy Hunter’s strikeout rate is eleventh worst. He was beat out in the race to the bottom by such luminaries as Nick Blackburn, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Joe Saunders. Maybe next year, Tommy.
3. This is a real-life picture of Tommy Hunter when he was pitching for the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate, the Frisco Roughriders:
4. Tommy Hunter had the 2nd highest strand rate of the 71 AL pitchers with 100 innings or more. The first highest was Brian Duensing. Hunter’s strand rate was 10% higher than the average of 71%. It’s probably safe to bet that he won’t replicate these results in the future.
5. Tommy Hunter’s nickname is “Canada’s Country Gentleman”. Oops, wrong Tommy Hunter. I was thinking of the 73 year old Canadian country music performer, best known for hit singles such as “Bill Jones General Store”, “Born to be a Gypsy” and “Walk with Your Neighbour” (note the Canadian spelling). There was another Tommy Hunter from North Carolina known for his fiddlin’, but sadly he passed away in 1993. According to Wikipedia, this Tommy Hunter doesn’t have a cool nickname like Canada’s Country Gentleman. However, Wikipedia does provide this lovely picture of him:
6. When I said that Wikipedia doesn’t list a cool nickname for Hunter, I didn’t mean that he doesn’t have one at all. He has one but Wikipedia, and presumably the world, doesn’t know it yet. If you check out his Baseball Reference page you find that it’s sponsored by two individuals known as “Joe and Dan”. Unfortunately, Joe and Dan didn’t link to any website, so I’m left to assume that they’re just two dudes with a love for high FIP pitchers. Regardless, they say his nickname is “Big Game”. Big Game Tommy Hunter. Tommy Big Game Hunter. Either one just rolls right off the tongue.
7. Tommy Hunter had the 2nd lowest ERA-FIP discrepancy and the third lowest BABIP. So if you happen to wander into a 7-Eleven at the same time as Tommy Hunter be sure to ask him to buy you a lotto ticket before his good luck train runs out of fuel, careens off the tracks and explodes and melts in the white hot flames of statistical regression.
8. Per Aaron Gleeman, Hunter gave up 21 home runs in 128 innings. Gleeman notes how bad this is: “Among all the AL pitchers who threw at least 120 innings this season only Javier Vazquez and Brian Bannister had a higher home run rate. And he’ll be facing a Yankees lineup that was one of just three MLB teams to smack 200 or more homers this season.” Yes, yes he will.
9. Tommy Hunter is worse against left-handed batters than righties. In fact, he’s somewhat terrible against lefties. Maybe it’s his sub-par arsenal, maybe it’s his inexperience, but lefties make Canada’s Country Gentleman sing the blues. Here’s Gleeman again:
“During his 250-inning career left-handed batters have hit .285 with an .832 OPS against Hunter, compared to .241 with a .678 OPS by right-handed batters. Not surprisingly in two previous starts against the Yankees he’s 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA, allowing seven runs on 14 hits in 9.1 innings. He also lasted just four innings against the Rays in Game 4 of the ALDS, taking the loss.”
Lovely. My best guess for tonight’s lineup is Jeter-Swisher-Teixeira-Rodriguez-Cano-Posada-Berkman-Granderson-Gardner. That’s Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and seven lefties. If they’re going to pound a starter in the playoffs, tonight’s the night to do it.
10. AJ Burnett has a better FIP, xFIP, strikeout rate, ground ball rate, tERA and SIERA than Tommy Hunter. He also doesn’t have a fluky BABIP or strand rate. It’s not much, but I’ll take it.