Gil Meche, What is His Problem?

Gil Meche is not off to the start that any of us expect nor wanted.  I will see if I can find out why he is doing so bad.   I will start at my home away from Royals Review, Fangraphs and look at a few of his stats:

 

Season Team IP ERA FIP xFIP BABIP LOB% K/9 BB/9 HR/9 HR/FB LD% GB% FB%
2007 Royals 216 3.67 4.02 4.21 0.302 73.40% 6.5 2.58 0.92 9.20% 17.8% 46.8% 35.4%
2008 Royals 210.1 3.98 3.61 3.99 0.311 71.50% 7.83 3.12 0.81 7.90% 22.0% 39.2% 38.8%
2009 Royals 129 5.09 4.76 4.56 0.321 68.40% 6.63 4.05 1.19 11.90% 16.8% 48.8% 34.4%
2010 Royals 12.2 11.37 6.81 6.37 0.372 53.20% 4.97 8.53 1.42 13.30% 20.4% 49.0% 30.6%

 

First, this is just three starts and 12.2 IP so all the data we are dealing with is a small sample size. Gil's ERA is through the roof at 11.37, but his FIPs (6.81) and xFIPs (6.37) are about half of that level. The reason for the high ERA is that Gil is allowing a high BABIP that is 50 points higher than any previous season with the Royals. With the higher BABIP, the the LOB% is much lower, about 105 less than any of the past 3 seasons.

 

Gils extremely high ERA can be explained away, but a FIPS around 6.81 is in the Jose Lima range. Gils K/9 innings is down from 6.63 last season to 4.97 this season. Also his base on balls per 9 innings has gone from 4.05 to 8.53. Gil's walk rate has increase each year he has be with the Royals. Finally, his home runs are up a 1.19 HR/9 and 13.3 HR/FB. Homeruns are not the problem here, giving up more than 2.5 extra walks compared to strikeouts is the key.

 

Finally looking at his batted ball data, the number of pretty similar from previous seasons except that Gil is giving up a few more linedrives vice fly balls. The increase in line drives would explain the some of the reason for the increase in BABIP shown earlier.

 

 

After getting done with the basic stats, I will now see if any of his pitches are causing any issues.

Here is how often Gil is throwing his various pitches and results:

 

Season Team FB SL CB CH wFB/C wSL/C wCB/C wCH/C Swing Strike %
2007 Royals 48.4% (92.2) 15.8% (87.5) 22.2% (77.3) 13.6% (83.0) -0.37 0.17 1.17 2.52 8.00%
2008 Royals 54.5% (92.3) 16.6% (88.3) 17.8% (78.6) 11.1% (83.7) 0.64 0.62 0.06 0.73 9.50%
2009 Royals 53.1% (92.4) 18.6% (87.0) 19.2% (77.1) 9.1% (83.7) -0.38 -1.46 0.1 -3.5 7.20%
2010 Royals 50.0% (92.4) 18.6% (86.7) 18.6% (77.3) 12.8% (83.7) -6.19 -2.92 1.04 6.82 4.30%

The percentages thrown are the same this year as in previous years, but his results on his fastball have been horrible. The value of -6 means that for ever 100 fast balls he throws, he averages 6 worse (more) runs than the league average.

 

I added one other value here and that is the swinging strike percentage. I have a feeling this is going to reference more and more show how good a pitcher is at missing the bat.  As you can see, Gil's values are less than half they were just 2 years ago.

 

Finally a look at Gils individual pitches speeds and movement:

Season FA-Vel FA-X FA-Z CU-Vel CU-X CU-Z CH-Vel CH-X CH-Z SL-Vel SL-X SL-Z
2007 92.1 -4.7 11 77.3 4.5 -8.1 82.8 -8 8.1 87.2 2 4.9
2008 92.3 -4.1 11.8 78.7 4.3 -6.6 83.6 -6.6 8.5 87.8 2.4 5.8
2009 92.3 -5.5 10.7 77 3.5 -9.1 83.8 -6.2 7.8 86.6 1.5 3.8
2010 92.3 -5 10.9 77.2 3.5 -8.8 83.6 -5 7.4 86.2 2.2 2.9

 

Gill is getting the exact same speed and close to the same movement on all is pitches. He seems to be physically throwing the same. Now I will head over to TexasLeaguers.com and get some pitch placements. Not looking good for Gil here:

 

Strikezonegil_medium

 

He doesn't seem to be getting too hosed over by the umpire, he is just not putting it across the plate.

 

Conclusions

 

Here are the main points to takeout of the preceding about Gil:

  • He is walking many more batters because he is not putting the ball across the plate
  • He is striking out less batters because he is not putting the ball across the plate

Tom Tango a few months ago did a great piece on predicting runs allowed by only using walk and strikeout rate. He found that there was a 75 correlation between strikeout rate minus walk rate and runs allowed. In my humble opinion there seem to be nothing wrong with Gil expect is inability to put the ball over home plate.

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