Big Ten Conference Recap: Penn State Pitching

The team pitching recaps from the 2010 season are all linked to under the 2010 Season Recap tab. This is the ninth installment, focusing on the Penn State Nittany Lions.

The Penn State Nittany Lions really struggled. They finished 9-15 in the Big Ten and 22-30 overall. As a team, they allowed the 3rd most runs and scored the 4th least — that’s not an ideal combination. They also didn’t have a pitcher drafted in the June draft (only two players total). Even trying to neutralize doesn’t do anything but hurt Penn State even more. They missed very few bats and couldn’t stop walking guys. You don’t need adjusted statistics to know that if you don’t strike batters out and you give up too many free passes, you’re pitching staff will struggle.

Ladies and Gents, your 2010 Penn State pitching staff’s raw numbers:

Name CL K% BB% K-BB% BABIP Pitches TBF
Alfreno, Jesse JR 0.092 0.211 -0.119 0.304 385 109
DeBernardis, Joey SO 0.167 0.056 0.111 0.538 62 18
Franklin, Mike SO 0.167 0.400 -0.233 0.615 128 30
Grumley, Calvin JR 0.093 0.236 -0.143 0.385 497 140
Herring, Neal FR 0.055 0.123 -0.068 0.342 759 236
Hill, Steven FR 0.130 0.070 0.061 0.401 1073 330
Ignas, Ryan SO 0.104 0.116 -0.012 0.342 832 250
Irsfeld, Drew SO* 0.108 0.189 -0.081 0.408 259 74
Johnson, Heath JR 0.179 0.179 0.000 0.341 247 67
Lutz, David SR* 0.166 0.080 0.086 0.316 996 301
Pierce, Mike JR 0.110 0.110 0.000 0.429 293 91
Rumberger, Erik FR 0.000 0.292 -0.292 0.267 88 24
Snyder, Steve FR 0.400 0.400 0.000 0.000 28 5
Walter, John FR 0.126 0.140 -0.014 0.365 730 214
Wanamaker, Mike SR* 0.144 0.097 0.047 0.379 1058 319

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.

Well, at least they’re good in football.

Here are those numbers adjusted against the league average for the Big Ten:

Name CL K+ BB+ K-BB+ BABIP+
Alfreno, Jesse JR 59 17 -284 112
DeBernardis, Joey SO 107 152 265 44
Franklin, Mike SO 107 -148 -556 22
Grumley, Calvin JR 60 -5 -340 89
Herring, Neal FR 35 93 -161 101
Hill, Steven FR 84 139 144 84
Ignas, Ryan SO 67 99 -29 101
Irsfeld, Drew SO* 69 35 -193 82
Johnson, Heath JR 115 44 0 101
Lutz, David SR* 106 131 206 108
Pierce, Mike JR 70 104 0 76
Rumberger, Erik FR 0 -54 -694 123
Snyder, Steve FR 256 -148 0 200
Walter, John FR 81 78 -33 94
Wanamaker, Mike SR* 92 115 112 90

Penn State used a bunch of guys to try to piece together the starting rotation and it really didn’t work out. Here’s a look at the top four.

The Starters

  • Redshirt senior Mike Wanamaker led the team with 11 starts and was third in innings. He was, how you say “not good” for PSU. Well, that’s not entirely true; he did strike out 14.4% of hitters, which is a below-average but not egregiously so and walked 9.7%, which was better than league average. Once you adjust his .378 average on balls in play to league-average, his numbers all grade out as basically league-average. Unfortunately, they’ll be replacing him for the 2011 season with, probably, a lot of nothing.
  • True sophomore Ryan Ignas picked up 9 starts which was second most on the squad. Ignas was well below average in strikeouts (67 K+) and essentially league average in BB/HBP’s (99 BB+). Adjusted for BABIP, he grades out as below-average, but not as much as his unadjusted numbers and probably was the second best starter not named Mike Wanamaker.
  • Neal Herring picked up 8 starts as a true freshman last year, and really, really struggled. Striking out just 13 of the 236 batters faced (5.5%; 35 K+) and walked or plunked 23 of them. Once you adjust his numbers he grades out as possibly the worst pitcher statistically on Penn State to see significant time.
  • Also grabbing 8 starts was fellow true frosh Steven Hill. Hill was second on the team with 68 innings and he faced 330 batters. His 13% K-rate was acceptable given his age and other options on the roster and he was above-average in keeping people off bases with walks or HBP’s. Adjusting his numbers for BABIP, he grades out about even with Wanamaker, making him the best starter and the second or third best pitcher on the entire staff. My guess is that Hill will take over an expanded role in the rotation in 2011.

The Relievers

  • Well it really starts and ends with David Lutz. He led the team with 71 innings and appeared in 36 games — picking up two starts, going the distance in one of them. Striking out 16.9% of batters and walking just 8.1%, Lutz is the only pitcher on the entire roster to get significant time and be above-average in both K’s and BB’s. If you read the Unadjusted Runs Above Average, Lutz ranked fifth out of all of the Big Ten pitchers in the metric at +23 Runs Above Average. That is amazing for a reliever and helps show how crucial a dominant reliever is if you don’t have one of the top ten starters in the league. Once you adjusted his numbers for BABIP, however, he did drop to just 11 RAA which was good for 9th best among pitchers. Lutz is a huge loss for PSU and one could make the case that there was no more valuable player to his team than David Lutz.

I could’ve continued with the rest of the pitchers that pitched out of both the bullpen and the starting rotation, but there really isn’t much to say that hasn’t been said already: a lack of K’s, too many free passes, and once adjusted for BABIP, very low RAA totals. Penn State could use a big impact arm for the rotation or the bullpen or both. I’d say they’re in the most dire need for arms in the conference.

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One Comment on “Big Ten Conference Recap: Penn State Pitching”

  1. […] Big Ten Conference Recap: Penn State Pitching […]


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