Tanner Scheppers And Perceived Value


Yu Darvish supplied 7 strong innings, the Ranger offense was dry, and the White Sox mustered a 9th inning walk-off hit against Tanner Scheppers to sink Texas on Saturday night.

Aside successive at-bats in the top-half of the 6th — a patented A.J. Pierzynski bloop single to right-center followed by Alex Rios‘s 1st home run in a Ranger uniform — the offense was held scoreless on 4 hits (and 3 walks). White Sox starter Hector Santiago managed to string together an effective 6.1 innings before handing the game off to one of baseball’s best bullpens, who shut Texas down to the tune of 1 base runner in the remaining 2.2 frames.

Yu Darvish did his typical Yu Darvish thing, striking out 11 White Sox hitters in 7.0 innings. I suppose it’s also appropriate that his lineup couldn’t score ample runs such that he would figure into the decision. But whatever. Surrendering 2 runs in 7 innings is going to be good enough for the club to win more often than not, even if Darvish’s 12-5 record isn’t entirely reflective of that.

There’s a damn good reason I generally don’t mention pitcher Win-Loss records, and it’s because of nights like tonight, and, well, it’s kind of like this all the time. The Rangers have two of the best pitchers in baseball — Darvish and Derek Holland — and combined they’ve generated a mere 21-11 W-L record. With favorable luck, they would each have 15 or 16 wins by now. If the universe was fair, both would be in the discussion with Max Scherzer and Felix Hernandez for the AL Cy Young Award. But so it is.

In other news, Tanner Scheppers continues to show us why ERA is a poor measurement of true talent. Due to his extremely pedestrian strikeout rate in 2013 (6.40/9 IP), he has relied immensely on an unsustainable BABIP;

Based on Earned Run Average, Scheppers was one of baseball’s elite relief pitchers in the first half, posting a 1.84 ERA in 44.0 IP. However, looking deeper at the numbers, such as his strikeout rate (5.43 K/9), his walk rate (3.48 BB/9), and ridiculously low batting average of balls in play (.223), it didn’t take a rocket scientist to be able to predict his ERA had virtually no chance of holding true.

That’s why it should come as no surprise that, even with Tanner improving his strikeout and walk rates in the 2nd half (7.90 K/9 and 3.29 BB/9, respectively), his BABIP has taken a significant turn for the worst (.357), which is why his 2nd half ERA is 3.29.

This is not to say Tanner Scheppers is a flaming bundle of crap; he is still a highly serviceable back-of-the-bullpen reliever, albeit overrated. His first half of 2013 was a mirage, and the 2nd half is a more accurate depiction of what we should expect moving forward.

A lot of the time in baseball we are left balancing perceived value with actual value. And since relief pitchers are typically only throwing an inning at a time, it’s difficult to gauge just how much of the success is luck, and how much is real. Tanner Scheppers has been a ticking time bomb this entire season, a pitcher with an elite two-seam fastball, a plus-plus slider that falls off the table when he can control it. He has the type of stuff where you would expect his peripherals to be a lot better than they actually play in reality.

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