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Posts Tagged ‘Jared Ray’

ElViento: I briefly touched on Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) as a predictive tool in a previous post about Conference USA baseball. As a quick review, the concept behind using BABIP is that a pitcher can only truly control certain things: how often he strikes batters out, how many batters he walks, and how many home runs he allows, for example. But once the batter puts the ball in play, it’s mostly up to chance, and chances are that the pitcher will be somewhere near the league average at opposing hitters’ BABIP. So if a pitcher is victimized by an extremely high BABIP, chances are it’ll regress towards the mean the next year, and his ERA will fall. And on the other hand, if he has a luckily low BABIP, he may not be so lucky the next year, and will probably see his numbers get worse.

Now we already looked at the BABIP of certain entire teams, but as previously mentioned, the big X-factor in BABIP is team defense. Better defenders will have better range, get to more balls, and thus lower their pitchers’ BABIP. So instead of comparing one team’s BABIP to another, perhaps a more worthwhile exercise would be looking at individual pitchers. If one pitcher has a high (or low) BABIP as compared to his teammates in a season, maybe that will predict how well he will fare if he returns for the next season.

Before blindly applying the formula, I decided to run a test case using past results. My test case was the Houston Cougars from 2001 to present. I excluded the 2002 team, as opposing at bats were not available online for that team, making a calculation of BABIP impossible. I considered all pitchers who pitched at least 30 innings in two consecutive seasons, to try and eliminate some small sample size bias.

That left me with 25 data points. I eliminated the four examples in which a pitcher’s BABIP differed from his team’s by less than 10 points, giving me 21 significant examples. Of those 21 pitchers, fourteen improved upon their ERA from one year to the next, while seven worsened.

Of the fourteen who improved, in eleven cases the improvement was predicted by an unlucky BABIP the year before.

Of the seven who worsened, in six cases it was predicted by a lucky BABIP the year before.

To look at it another way, when BABIP predicted a pitcher would improve, he did so eleven out of twelve times. Out of the nine times when BABIP predicted a pitcher would get worse, it was correct six times.

In other words, a statistically significantly lucky or unlucky BABIP was 81% accurate in predicting how the pitcher would fare the next year. Are you impressed? I’m impressed.

Before I continue, keep the following in mind in regard to BABIP: it’s not perfect, and it’s not the be-all, end-all of anything. For example, when Cougar Brad Lincoln improved from decent (4.76 ERA) in 2005 to unhittable (1.69) in 2006, it wasn’t just because his BABIP improved. Lincoln got a lot better at the things he could control. His K/9 rate improved from 9.4 to 10.7. He gave up 4 fewer home runs in 25.2 more innings pitched. And yes, his BABIP improved, and yes, that did help. BABIP is a tool, nobody is claiming that it’s the tool.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s go ahead and apply the BABIP formula to some current examples around the conference.

Rice: If you can believe it, despite his team-leading 2.17 ERA a year ago, Mike Ojala was significantly unlucky (BABIP .031 higher than the team average). Too bad for the Owls he’ll miss the start of the season with injury. Did you know that Ojala struck out 6 more hitters than ’09 Owls ace and Baltimore Orioles-draftee Ryan Berry in 15.1 fewer innings pitched? It’s true.

East Carolina: If the numbers are to be believed, Brad Mincey is the real deal, Seth Manness’ back-sliding from ’08 to ’09 is at least partly due to bad luck, and sophomore Kevin Brandt is in for a falling off this year.

Southern Miss: Both returning ace Todd McInnins and closer Collin Cargill were pretty lucky in 2009. There’s not tons of returning pitching talent, so it’s important to the Golden Eagles that the two don’t backslide.

Tulane: As with USM, there isn’t tons of pitching talent returning. The good news is that starters Conrad Flynn and Matt Petiton pretty nearly nailed the team BABIP, while closer Nick Pepitone (3.26 ERA, 9 sv) was actually unlucky, despite his impressive campaign. It will be interesting to see if he can improve even further.

Alabama-Birmingham: If you like the Blazers as a dark horse in C-USA like I do, the good news is that the numbers suggest that returning starters Shay Crawford and Beau Pender are in for an improvement. If Georgia transfer Ryan Woolley is as good as advertised, the weekend rotation could be pretty solid, to go with lots of returning talent in the lineup. The bad news is that the two key returning cogs from an already questionable bullpen (Nick Graffeo and Blake Huddleston) are due for a regression.

Marshall: If losing Nate Lape and Adam Yeager out of the lineup weren’t bad enough, the Thundering Herd’s two best returning pitchers (Austin Coan and Shane Farrell) seem to have gotten lucky a year ago.

Memphis: The two key returning starters in Brach Davis and Brennon Martin seem to have gotten lucky in 2009. But you can expect improvement on the mound from two-way player Heith Hatfield.

Central Florida: The Knights will be relying almost entirely on an impressive incoming recruiting class. The only halfway-decent returning pitcher is two-way player D.J. Hicks, who will miss the beginning of the season with injury. And he hit his team’s BABIP almost perfectly, so this exercise was pretty pointless as far as UCF goes.

And finally, some bad news for the good guys. Using BABIP, Michael Goodnight and Mo Wiley were right where they belonged, while guys like Chase Dempsay, Jared Ray and Ty Stuckey all actually got lucky, despite their unimpressive numbers. But don’t lose faith. As I said, numbers only tell you so much. Wiley was not 100% in 2009 after an injury towards the end of his high school career. A full season of health should cause his numbers to improve. Same goes for Dempsay and (hopefully) being able to spend an entire season focusing solely on pitching, and not hitting. Ray will be out to begin the season with an injury, but we all already know that he hasn’t yet tapped into his potential. I never really suspected that he had been unlucky, he’s just not pitching as well as he’s capable of. The questions for the Cougars remain the same – will the pitching staff show improvement, and will somebody in the lineup flash some power? The answers to these questions will determine whether or not Houston returns to the NCAA post-season in 2010.

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ElViento: With all of the excitement around the Cougar football team, it may be hard to think about the upcoming seasons of other Cougar sports, but let’s take a minute to do just that. The Cougar baseball and women’s basketball teams recently released their full schedules, so let’s take a look.

The Cougar lady hoopsters return their top four scorers of a year ago, and 87% of the team’s total scoring is back. Newcomers include Ohio State transfer Lesslee Mason (the #4 power forward in the country coming out of high school), and a trio of freshman in guard Macy Morton (sister of Cougar junior guard Megan Morton), center Zalika Dyson, and guard Megan Workman. For all of their experience, the Cougar roster still features just two seniors, and the top six returning scorers are non-seniors.

Houston opens with a scrimmage against the Houston Jaguars on November 9th, and begins the season with six of its first seven games on the road. Still, the non-conference slate features home matchups again Oregon State, North Texas, Princeton, Kansas and TCU. Top non-conference road opponents include LSU and Miami. Conference-USA play begins on January 8th at Tulane, and concludes with three straight home games to end the regular season, culminating with a game against Rice at Hofheinz Pavilion on March 4th.

Despite a disappointing 27-31 campaign in 2009, the Houston Cougar baseball team did not shy away from a tough schedule for the upcoming season. In fact, the non-conference slate looks noticeably more difficult than last year’s.

UH will open the season inside the Houston city limits for the seventh consecutive year with a weekend series against Texas State, starting off a streak of ten straight games in Houston to open the season. That run of games includes a weekend series against Santa Clara, a Tuesday game at Rice, and games against Missouri, UT-Austin and Texas Tech at the Houston College Classic, in Minute Maid Park. After that, however, the Cougars hit the West Coast for a brutal eight-game stretch. It starts in San Luis Obispo, California against a Cal Poly team that won 37 games a year ago, posted a 24-7 mark at home, and beat Houston two of three at Cougar Field. The Cougars have back-to-back midweek games against San Francisco and California, before a three-game tilt in Tempe, Arizona against Arizona State. The Sun Devils have been a top-8 seed in the NCAA baseball tournament each of the last three years, making it to Omaha twice in that span.

Other highlights of the schedule include a weekend home series against TCU, and an 8-game home stretch from May 7th to May 18th that includes two C-USA weekend series (Tulane and Marshall) and Tuesday games against Texas A&M and Rice.

Houston ends the regular season at East Carolina. Having met some ECU baseball fans last year, I say thank God we don’t have to host the Pirates this year. The Cougars do host the C-USA tournament, from May 26th to May 30th.

Cougar Fans won’t have to travel far for the Conference tournament

With a daunting schedule ahead of them, the good news is that the Cougars have a lot of talent returning from last year’s squad. Houston returns 98.9% of its hits from a team that batted .282 as a squad. Where the Cougars need to show improvement is earning the extra-base hits. UH slugged just .388 as a team last year, earning 18 fewer XBH than their opponents. Cougar baserunning decisions need to improve as well, because while small ball can work, it doesn’t work when the other team steals 18 more bases than you in just 12 more tries. In addition to all the returning talent (and hopefully increased health for guys like Matt Murphy and David Murphy), there are a plethora of newcomers on the offensive side. San Jacinto JC transfer Ryan Still should contribute on the infield, and freshmen M.P. Cokinos and Alex Anastas have the talent to see the field right away. LSU-Eunice transfer Matt Creel could also see some action.

The Cougars need to see the most improvement out of their pitching staff. Houston got off to a very slow start in that department last year, but the arms slowly improved, and as they did, so did Houston’s record – the Cougars started the season 3-14, but finished 24-17, including a 13-11 mark in C-USA play. The pitching staff will be without Donnie Joseph and Wes Musick, both of whom were drafted and signed after their junior seasons in 2009. Joseph was utterly dominant out of the bullpen last year, ending the season with a 2.16 ERA, a 3-1 record, and 75 K in 50 IP. Joseph – one of the classiest athletes ever to pass through UH – was drafted in the third round by the Cincinnati Reds. Musick struggled again in 2009, and never seemed to have “it” back after a stellar freshman campaign in 2007. Best of luck to both Cougar pitchers in the pros.

The Cougar pitchers who will be back include sophomore Michael Goodnight (4.43, 5-5), junior Jared Ray (5.34, 4-4), sophomore Mo Wiley (6.55, 2-4) and junior Chase Dempsay (5.00, 4-0; also a .275 hitter). For all four, the talent is unquestioned. All have shown flashes – Dempsay was a freshman all-American relief pitcher in 2008 – but need to prove that they can put everything together for an entire season in 2010. If Goodnight, Ray, Wiley and Dempsay can pitch to their potential, and Noble & co. can find some serviceable newcomers to use around them, 2010 could be a very successful year for the Cougars.

Looking around the college football world on Houston’s off-week…

The big news of the weekend is Washington upsetting #3 USC. But is Southern Cal’s annual choke job against a weak Pac-10 opponent really still news? I mean, I guess so. But barely.

UT-Austin got by Texas Tech, 34-24. What we learned about Tech, in a nutshell: their defense is pretty good, their passing game is very good, their running game stinks. So, everything we already suspected was just kind of proven.

Looking around C-USA, it wasn’t a real successful weekend. It took a late rally for Southern Miss to scrape by hapless Virginia. ECU showed that last year’s world-beating tendencies haven’t returned, as they looked overmatched against North Carolina. Tulsa got slaughtered by Oklahoma, to the tune of 45-0. UAB fell to previously winless Troy. SMU choked away the game against the country’s worst BCS-conference team, Washington State.

Doing an adequate job were Rice (lost by “just” 17 to Oklahoma State) and Memphis (took care of business against Tennessee-Martin).

Outperforming expectations were Marshall, who defeated Bowling Green for its second win of the season; Central Florida, who earned C-USA revenge against Buffalo; and UTEP, who thoroughly dominated New Mexico State, for the first win of the season for the Miners.

Aside from the UH-Texas Tech game this coming weekend, I’ll be keeping an eye on the following games:

  • Southern Miss @ Kansas…The Golden Eagles, the trendy pre-season pick out of the east, have looked uninspiring in getting off to a 3-0 start. Playing at a ranked Kansas team will be their first true test of the season.
  • UCF @ East Carolina…This one looked like a laugher before the season started, but it suddenly looks like it’ll be competitive. And every game matters in a lousy C-USA East division.
  • UTEP @ Texas…Can the Miners make this one respectable?
  • UAB @ Texas A&M…A battle of two freakishly athletic QBs (Joe Webb and Jerrod Johnson) on otherwise sorry teams. The Ags are 2-0, but 8-point victories over the Utah States of the world don’t make it look like aTm is a whole lot better than last year’s 4-8 squad.
  • Vanderbilt @ Rice…The Owls haven’t really been in a game yet, but they can take some moral victories away from this weekend. They actually outgained Oklahoma State, for example. Expect a low-scoring affair against Vandy. Rice might have a chance in this one if they can keep it close and make some big plays late.

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SarCoog: Recently, former Cougar pitchers like Donnie Joseph and Wes Musick have made their professional debuts. But let’s not forget that there are guys on the current roster who will be back next year that are seeing summer action.

On the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, Blake Kelso is still the every day starter at 2nd base and is batting .304 (3rd on team) with 6 RBI and team-highs in walks (9) and stolen bases (8). This past week Kelso had 2 hits against Orleans (6/26) and Falmouth (6/28 game 2), while driving in 2 runs with a triple against Brewster (6/27). Jared Ray leads all Y-D starting pitchers with his 1.20 ERA in 3 appearances (3 starts) and 15.0 innings pitched (2nd on team). Most recently Ray threw 6.0 innings against Orleans (6/26) in which he gave up no earned runs (1 unearned) and struck out 5. On the season Ray has struck out 14, only walked 5 and has thrown no wild pitches (a big issue for Cougar pitchers in ’08). Michael Goodnight made his 2nd appearance last Wednesday, coming in during the 1st inning and giving Y-D 5.1 innings of 1-run ball, in which he surrendered only 2 hits but walked 4. So far Goodnight has thrown 11.1 innings total, while walking 8 and striking out 9 in that time.

kelso at capeKelso squares away for the Y-D Red Sox (courtesy of Aaron Burns)

After a brutal start playing for the Bourne Braves, Chris Wallace has put his 1 for 10 slump in the rear view mirror. In the past week Wallace has gone a combined 9 for 16 and pulled his average up to .231 for the year. He also hit his first home run of the season: a 2-run bomb against Harwich (6/28), to help put Bourne on top in a 6-3 win.  One of the other highlights from the past week was a game-tying RBI single against Cotuit (6/29) in what would end up being a 2-1 Bourne win. Hopefully ‘Wally’ has put the slump of the previous couple weeks behind him for good.

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SarCoog: I know there isn’t much to talk about at this time of the year when it comes to University of Houston sports. But we at Scott & Holman will be keeping a weekly update on the activity of the four Cougars playing in the prestigious wood-bat Cape Cod League.

blake kelsoBlake Kelso

Although his original status is that of a “temporary” player, I have little doubt that Cougar  junior shortstop Blake Kelso will be sticking around for a while with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. Currently, Kelso is tied for 2nd on his team with a .345 average while leading Y-D in stolen bases (4) and walks (6). He’s seen action in all 8 games, while starting 6 at 2nd base and the remaining 2 at shortstop. Arguably his best so far was a 3-3, 2 BB and 2 RBI showing against Harwich (June 16).  On the mound, junior RHP Jared Ray has turned in two sterling peformances, including his most recent start against Wareham (June 19) where he threw 4.0 innings of shutout, 1-hit ball and didn’t issue a single walk. Ray currently has a 2.00 ERA and no record, while striking out 9 and walking 3 in 9.0 innings total (2 starts). The other Cougar hurler on the Y-D roster, sophomore RHP Michael Goodnight,threw 6.0 innings in his first appearance vs. Harwich (June 16), allowing no earned runs (3 unearned), only 3 hits and striking out 6.

On the Bourne Braves, senior catcher Chris Wallace has struggled early on and has a .100 average, with only 1 hit in his 10 at-bats so far. To Wally’s credit I’m sure it’s much more difficult to the ‘Cape adjust when you’re not only handling the duties of a catcher, but having to also hit with a wood bat. So far Wallace has seen action in 5 of Bourne’s 6 games.

One final note: look for updates on the professional debut and subsequent performance of former Cougar lefty and S&H favorite Donnie Joseph as he’s joined the Billings Mustangs (the Cincinnati Reds’ Rookie Ball affiliate). The Mustangs will begin their season tomorrow night against the Great Falls Voyagers. Go DJ!

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SarCoog: Although we (mainly Bobb-O) at S&H broke the story of University of Houston junior pitcher Jared Ray pitching in the prestigious summer Cape Cod League, it was made official on the team rosters today.

Ray, along with sophomore pitcher Michael Goodnight and junior shortstop Blake Kelso will be playing this summer for the Yarmouth-Dennis (YD) Red Sox. Currenly on the YD Roster Ray and Goodnight are classified as LOC (committed players) and Kelso is a TMP (temporary player). Although I believe the Cougars’ spark-plug shortstop has enough talent to stay with and contribute to YD. The YD Sox have won the Cape Cod League championship in 2004, 2006 and 2007 with notable recent alums such as Jason Castro (Stanford/Houston Astros) and Buster Posey (Florida State/San Francisco Giants). Here’s how these Cougars have faired in the first few games:

Kelso currently has a .333 average with 4 hits and a walk in 12 at-bats, along with 2 RBI and has played in 3 games (2 at SS, 1 at 2B). Ray has started 1 game and in 5.0 innings gave up on 2 earned runs on 4 hits while walking 3 and striking out 6. Goodnight has not seen any action up to this point.

bourne braves

Also, on the Bourne Braves’ roster is the Cougars’ senior catcher: Chris Wallace. I’ll be interested to see how ‘Wally’ keeps progressing after the horrific facial injury he suffered at the beginning of this past baseball season. Granted, he did play a good number of games last season, but I’d imagine his hitting and general play will improve as he recovers more from the injury. Currently he is hitting .167 with 1 hit and a walk in 6 at-bats, along with 1 run scored.

Keep reading S&H for weekly updates on how Ray, Kelso, Goodnight and Wallace are doing at the Cape!

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Bobb-O: Through a little bird today I have heard that Cougar pitcher Jared Ray is going to Cape Cod for the summer. Ray is not eligible to go pro until after next season. He will be back next spring, hopefully leading a great Cougar baseball team. The Cape Cod league can be a good place to showcase skills and catch the eyes of professional teams. It is a wood bat league that gives college prospects a taste of the minor league lifestyle.

jared ray

Jared Ray

Former Cougar Jimmy Cesario used the Cape Cod league to jump-start his professional career last year and ended up leading the league in batting average. Ray hopes to make a big impact on scouts in the hopes they will come out in the spring to watch him pitch. A big performance in the Cape Cod league and a good spring will do wonders for a prospect. Ray will have to improve on an ERA of 5.34 if he hopes to make a career of pitching. I like the fact he will be working out all summer with the best of the best. We here at S&H wish him the best this summer and can’t wait to see him on the field next spring.

We’ll have more info when it’s announced what team he is on and some games are played.

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