Big Ten Conference Recap: Northwestern PitchingPosted: September 17, 2010
The team pitching recaps from the 2010 season are all linked to under the 2010 Season Recap tab. This is the seventh installment, focusing on the Northwestern Wildcats.
The 2010 Northwestern Wildcats didn’t pitch terribly, though they did finish in the bottom half of the league in runs allowed. I’ve estimated they should’ve allowed around 312 runs which would have put them fifth in the conference. Let’s take a look at the raw stats for their pitchers last season:
K% – Strikeout Percentage (K/total batters faced)
BB% – Walks and Hit Batter Percentage (BB+HBP/TBF)
K-BB% – Difference between K% and BB%
BABIP – Batting Average on Balls In Play
Pitches – An estimated pitch count total from Boyd’s World
TBF – Total Batters Faced
I’ve included each players class in 2010. An asterisk denotes that the player was a redshirt player.
Northwestern relied on senior Joe Muraski (14 starts), sophomore Francis Brooke (13 starts), and junior Eric Jokisch (13 starts) for their weekend rotation.
Unfortunately, Eric Jokisch, the Chicago Cubs 11th round pick signed with the Cubbies and means the Wildcats will have to replace the lefty.
The raw stats, adjusted to league averages in 2010:
- Joe Mursaki went undrafted after finishing his career with the Wildcats. Muraski, on the surface, pitched poorly on route to a 7.01 ERA in 69.1 innings, but digging deeper he should’ve seen better results. He struck out 19.4% of batters faced and walked just 9% — both numbers being better than the league rate by over 20% each. The main culprit for his high ERA: a .409 batting average on balls in play. The league average in the Big Ten for pitchers was .345 — that’s over 60 points worth of balls dropping in the ground rather than leather while he was on the mound.
- Francis Brooke, on the other hand, sported a .308 BABIP which helped support a 4.33 ERA. While he was below average in strikeouts (just 12.6%), Brooke allowed almost no unnecessary baserunners. The sophomore walked just 7 hitters and beaned just 3 more out of the 382 he faced on the season. That is absurd. If we isolate pitchers in the Big Ten last year that faced at least 200 hitters, Brooke’s BB% was almost half of the second best mark — Purdue’s Matt Bischoff. Really astounding statistic.
- The third of the starters (judged alphabetically in a tie) was the aforementioned Eric Jokisch. He paced the club with two complete games and 92.2 innings on the season. Lefties are hot commodities given the fact that there are fewer of them. Jokisch K’d 15.1% of hitters (just below-average) and walked just 10.5% of hitters (slightly-better than average). His non-conference portion of the season was rocky. He got bounced after a couple innings against George Mason and then was shut down temporarily with an injury. He righted the ship and helped guide the Wildcats to the mediocre pitching numbers they accrued.
- I could’ve thrown Zach Morton into the starters section as he picked up 5 starts and 12 overall appearances, but decided to put him here just because. The sophomore struck out 43 of the 206 batters faced (20.6%) while walking 11.7% of them. A higher-than-league-average BABIP mark of .375 steered him to a 7.53 ERA, but the underlying numbers suggest some good things to come potentially.
- David Jensen faced 221 hitters for the Wildcats over 16 outings (4 starts). The Senior struck out just 12.1% of them and walked 10.3% of them.
- Michael Jahns really struggled. He walked more than he struck out (14.5% BB, 8.9% K) and also was stricken with a .412 BABIP in his 22 appearances (2 starts). While he got no help when the ball was put into play, he didn’t help his cause by loading up bases with unnecessary baserunners either. Barring dramatic improvements, the Wildcats would be smarter to try to limit his high-leverage innings.
- Paul Snieder picked up 12 saves in 25 appearances, with a 1.80 ERA. His underlying numbers are nearly as good as the ERA. He K’d 22% of batters (141 K+) and walked just 10.1% of hitters (112 BB+) and just completed his sophomore season. Northwestern should have a good bullpen ace next year, though his ERA is partially resting on an absurdly low .221 BABIP.
I’m neglecting to mention Luke Farrell and Matt Gailey who faced 100 and 90 batters each respectively, but neither are overly inspiring. Gailey K’d guys at a better-than-average rate and Farrell sported a BB% higher than his K%. Both will be back next year and should get some bigger roles in the bullpen.
Northwestern didn’t have a great pitching but there were some few gems. They definitely lie in the middle of the pack and I’m not sure if the BABIP’s are due to a poor defense behind them or just some bad baseball ‘luck’ (for the lack of a better term) but some better BABIP numbers would go a long way in bettering their collective ERA’s.