Is Jonny Venters merely a victim of ‘poor luck’?

I see the value of statistical analysis, even though I choose not to understand much of it.

Take, for example, xFIP, which, according to Capitol Avenue Club, shows that Venters “has not changed much at all as a pitcher, but this year he is just receiving all of the poor luck that he didn’t receive in the two season’s previous.”

No offense to CAC — which obviously puts a lot of work into their analysis and has a much larger audience than this blog — but I put zero credence in xFIP if it suggests JV is merely a victim of bad luck.

Batters are hitting .327 against Venters this year as opposed to .176 in 2011. Are we to believe much of that is due to circumstance? Opponents have a slugging percentage of .505 against him in 2012, more than double last year’s figure.

JV has been horrible, not unlucky. And you don’t need a stat to see that.

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25 Comments on Is Jonny Venters merely a victim of ‘poor luck’?

  1. No offense to Rowland’s Office (I’m a big fan of this blog and CAC), but is this supposed to qualify as a counterpoint?

  2. BravesFan // June 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm //

    If balls are dropping that didn’t drop last year because of lucky placement, then yes, the average against him will rise. Not sure how this is a counterpoint either…

  3. Michael // June 15, 2012 at 1:51 pm //

    LOL… was thinking the same thing. Whether or not you agree with the analysis of Venters @ CAC is of no consequence if you can’t come up with your own reasoning other that “he’s been horrible.” You’re basically just stealing a well thought out and analyzed blog post and using it as your own.

  4. the real big cat // June 15, 2012 at 2:13 pm //

    Isn’t the point of Sabremetrics to show that there really isn’t any luck in baseball? Seems kind of ridiculous to crunch all these numbers and then just shrug your shoulders and say, “Oh well, dude’s been unlucky this year.” It makes just as much sense to credit the good years to good luck and suggest that JV’s now getting exactly what he’s always deserved. Neither point has much basis in statistical analysis.

  5. @the real big cat:

    No, the point of sabermetrics is most certainly not to show that there really isn’t any luck in baseball. Of course there is. It would be more accurate to say that the point of sabermetrics is to control for luck to more accurately quantify skill and predict future performance.

  6. @Michael

    How am I “stealing” a blog post and using it as my own when I’m disagreeing with it? I think the .505 slugging percentage by batters facing Venters suggests more than just balls dropping that didn’t drop last year. A lot of those balls are dropping over the fence. Just bad luck, I guess.

  7. Michael // June 15, 2012 at 2:49 pm //

    @atlmalcontent
    Because even though you disagree, you are not give a valid counterpoint. You are simply saying “he’s been horrible.” If you disagree with the analysis, then what is your analysis as to why he’s not the same Jonny we’ve seen the last couple years.

    You are basically just piggy-backing on his article.

  8. the real big cat // June 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm //

    @Evan: CAC is still taking an objective statistic and looking at it subjectively — choosing to believe that the good years are JV’s norm and this year is due to bad luck. If you’re a Braves fan, and I am one, you want to believe that. But maybe the opposite is true — JV’s career doesn’t really provide enough of a sample to know. Until it does, it’s just a bunch of sabre-rattling.

  9. I know they’re pedestrian stats, but I provided opponents BA and slugging percentage that certainly suggest “horrible.” Is that not evidence?

    My larger point, that any stat which concludes Venters circa 2012 is the same pitcher as a year ago must be bogus, has been ignored.

  10. I’m a big fan of both blogs. But I’ve gotta ask the question:

    Statistically, what’s the difference between a hard line drive hit directly at someone and a slow roller?

    That’s why some people choose to dig deeper.

  11. Bravos4evr // June 15, 2012 at 3:27 pm //

    did you really try to counter xFIP with batting avg against? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    I bet if JJ had a 6 ERA and was 11-1 you’d think he was a great pitcher too eh?

  12. Michael // June 15, 2012 at 3:29 pm //

    @atlmal
    You’re missing the point. I’m asking WHY do you think that. What is it about Venters that is causing the higher BA against and slugging against. Saying he’s horrible isn’t a reason. That’s a result. Is velocity down? Is his sinker not sinking? Is he just missing his spot?

    That is the idea behind this. You disagree, but you’re not providing the reasoning behind your disagreement. CAC’s reasoning is that it’s simply attributed to bad luck. You disagree… why?

  13. @Bravos4ever

    I hope you’re being sarcastic.

    @Michael

    I don’t pretend to know what’s wrong w/ Venters. it would be arrogant of me to suggest otherwise. I suspect it’s something mechanical, but I know it’s not bad luck.

  14. charlesad // June 15, 2012 at 3:59 pm //

    In 30 appearances this season, Venters has given up 18 line drives. In his first 30 games last season, he gave up 3 line drives, according to Baseball Reference. Jonny’s allowed four homers this season, one more than he allowed in 2010 and 2011 combined. Now, I don’t offer this as the final word in this little debate, but seems to me line drives and home runs are not the result of luck. He’s getting hit harder. Plus he’s hit four batters, one fewer than he hit all of last season. I know I’m a caveman, but just watching him pitch — hahhahaha — he certainly does not appear to have the same control he had the past couple seasons.

  15. charlesad // June 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm //

    And I don’t mean he’s walking more batters. I realize he’s not. He just does not appear to be hitting his spots nearly as well.

  16. @charlesad – Exactly. Now we’re making some progress. ;)

  17. There are some people who say this is a quality blog; I disagree I think it’s horrible and I give no reason or evidence to back it up.

  18. I’m not sure why you call it bogus when you say, in the first line of your post, that you choose not to understand much of it.

  19. roadrunner // June 15, 2012 at 4:58 pm //

    I agree. He doesn’t have the same command. He’s not the same pitcher this year. He might be having bad luck as well, but that’s not the main problem.

    I like CAC and have been reading it for years. Something happened with the blog when it got a spike in viewers. The discussions became unreadable. That section turned into the AJC. The posts now seem geared to generate attention, like what a graduate student would do with a paper (of course, in a real discipline like economics, a concept as addled as FIP wouldn’t make it past a seminar). CAC finally jumped the shark when it pushed the idea that Lowe was as good as Hudson. The Venters piece is just more of the same.

  20. PepeFreeUs // June 15, 2012 at 5:16 pm //

    CD and roadrunner both mention the key for JV this season, that his control is off. Right now he reminds me of Jeff Parrett. His pitches are moving but they never appear headed for the zone so batters lay off and wait for him to throw a fastball.

    That Lowe piece last year was a howler.

  21. 1. It’s interesting that you say you don’t have any interest in statistical analysis, but then go on to discuss batting average as if it isn’t a stat.

    2. Venters has only pitched about 25 innings this year. It is not absurd whatsoever that his batting average allowed is not consistent with his career average, even by 0.150 pts or so.

    3. Not believing in xFIP because it doesn’t support your argument is a bad reason to not believe in xFIP.

  22. PepeFreeUs // June 15, 2012 at 11:10 pm //

    It isn’t consistent with his career numbers but to simply progress from that to a bland assumption that it’s just a matter of time until it snaps back doesn’t seem like analysis as much as it does dogma.

  23. Wow people this is what happens when stat heads wrestle with old school guys. I for one am in Rowlands corner on this one. You cannot possible look at (as in actually watch him in a game) Venters in a game this year versus last year and actually think that this year he has just been unlucky. JV himself has actually said that he has battling mechanical issues. I am not saying he sucks, and I don’t think that Rowland was saying that either (not that I mean to speak for him), but he is most definitely not as effective as last year, and its not just bad luck.

  24. Carlos Collazo // June 16, 2012 at 10:23 am //

    I think the key here is the last little bit Mike wrote: “its not just bad luck.” Its perfectly possible that JV is mechanically off, AND getting unlucky. The tricky part is obviously figuring out how much is bad luck and how much is just bad pitching. As for the whole “blog war” that’s going on, I will stay out of it.

  25. I agree with Mike Jolly. You just need to watch Venters pitch to know he’s not as effective as last year. No “bad luck” explanation is necessary. He’s missing his spots with this fastball and his slider isn’t biting like it was last year. It’s either mechanical or psychological. Just as the sun rises in the morning, until Venters gets fixed, he’s going to keep getting hit hard. As a Braves fan I’d love to be wrong, but until I see differently I can’t attribute his continued failures to bad luck.

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