Found May 08, 2013 on Obstructed View OLD:
On Bleacher Nation, Brett had some very kind words to say about Travis Wood: "I’m not sure I’d say he’s even the best starter on the Cubs at this point, but Wood’s ridiculous start to the year can’t be ignored. And, as I pointed out previously in the Bullets, it isn’t just the start of this season: Wood has been outstanding since he began his tenure with the Cubs." and he follows it up with the necessary caveat: "In fairness, any conversation of how good Travis Wood has been this year needs to include a conversation of what the advanced stats say. In short, they say he’s been far more lucky than good. A .198 BABIP against and an 80.7% LOB make him the polar opposite of Edwin Jackson, which is to say fortune may be smiling on Wood (his xFIP is just 4.19, even though his ERA is 2.33). In total, I believe Wood remains a very nice 3/4/5 type, and probably more of a 4/5 on a good team. Best starter in baseball? Nah. But that’s not an insult." I'm not trying to misinterpret Mr. Taylor; he knows that Travis Wood is not dominance given flesh. The assumption that Travis has been anything more than average, though, is really interesting to me. I can't remember ever thinking "man, I'm glad we've got Travis Wood on our team" last year, and he's been tremendously lucky this year. Still, it bears looking at. How good has Travis Wood been this year (and for the Cubs)? First, let's look at his regular stats. As a Cub, has pitched 202.1 innings for the Cubs in 33 starts, so basically exactly a full season. In that season, he's allowed 86 earned runs (93 total) off of 29 HR, and he's struck out 153 while walking 68. That's good for a 3.83 ERA and a 1.137 WHIP. Those numbers are good for a 106 ERA+, which is indicative of a slightly above-average pitcher (and his 2012 ERA+ was 96).  Last year, his ERA was 4.27; however, his FIP was 4.84 and his xFIP was 4.62. His tERA (which is derived from batted ball rates) was 5.58, primarily due to his huge HR number (an inordinate amount of flyballs from Travis were home runs last year). Essentially all advanced stats had Wood as a below-average to well below-average player last year.  What's changed from 2012 to 2013? For starters, his line drives allowed have been much less; they've all become groundballs. I'm not sure how sustainable a 5% drop in LD and an associated 6% increase in GB is, but I'm willing to believe it's extremely unlikely. I will say that Bosio has done some sort of magic to increase the GB rate across the board on our team. Suffice to say, the more GB (as opposed to LD), the better. Wood has also been "luckier" in his HR/FB rate. Last year, it was 12.7%, which is atypical for him. In the previous years, it was around 6.5%, and it's returned somewhat to normalcy. These two changes have brought his tERA to 3.62 from 5.58, which is more in line with an average pitcher.  It's hard to understate how lucky Wood has been this year, though. The average strand rate in baseball this year is 73.3%; Wood's is 80.7%. That's 28th in the league right now. His BABIP of .198 is 5th. BABIP normalizes around .280-.320 for pitchers (who can control it, perhaps, but only minutely) so that's going to go up.  Something else to note is that Wood's opponent's contact rate is way, way down this year. Normally, it's right at 84.5%. This year, it's 81.5%. That doesn't seem like a big deal, but is. The swing rate in baseball is around 45%. That means that opponents will swing, on average, at about 45-50 offerings Wood throws each game. The difference of 3% in contact on those is an extra swing-and-miss or two a game. Depending on where those misses come, that could mean either a strikeout or just a worse count for your opponent (keeping in mind that a swing and miss isn't a foul ball and thus always changes the game state). If Wood keeps that up, it's a huge bonus; one of Wood's biggest obstacles is the fact that opponents have always made contact against him (the league average hovers around 77%, so this gain is not incredibly difficult to continue realizing). So, we've established that batters are hitting grounders more, have a lower BABIP (which is some indication of poor contact), and missing bats more often (all great things). Why can this be this year?  It's probably explainable with the pitches he's throwing. Wood has been using his cutter more often than in previous years. This is a good thing, because it's also moving a bit more (over 2 inches of vertical movement extra). Thus far, that's yielded a higher number of ground balls and a lower number of line drives.  The tale is similar with his normal fastball. It's dropping 11.2 inches now as opposed to 9.8 on average and 8.8 last year. A fairly flat fastball (which he had last year) going to a fairly active fastball (which he has this year) is going to do wonders to a player's confidence. Curiously enough, he's still had bad luck with the long ball in his fastball offerings; however, he's cut his walks with the pitch in half (possibly an artifact of not throwing it later in counts), maintaing a lower BABIP (and his slash line with the fastball is .190/.244/.381), and inducing a TON more grounders (39.3%, 28.4% career average). All told, his fastball has gone from a mediocre pitch to an average to above-average one.  I'd expect that as long as Wood has the extra downward movement on his two primary offerings, he's going to have some success going forward. Pitchers that can induce groundballs are going to have some success barring really bad pitch placement or bad luck. As Wood's balls starting falling in for hits, his numbers are going to look quite a bit worse. I'd imagine he'll settle into the 3.50-3.75 range when it's all said and done, but with a distinct possibility of a low-3 average should he maintain his newfound movement and swing/miss action. His K% and BB% are essentially identical to his career numbers, so the gains are going to have to come this way. Travis Wood might not be "outstanding," but he has been genuinely good.     The post Is Travis Wood “outstanding?” appeared first on Obstructed View.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

JOT: Cubs Minor League Recap 5-8-13

This will be brief. Iowa Cubs 8 @ Colorado Springs Sky Sox 6 Barret Loux had a typical Barret Loux start. He threw 4 innings, allowed 8 hits and 4 runs while walking 3 and striking out 4. Esmailin Caridad picked up the win and threw 2 hitless innings. He allowed a walk and struck a batter out. Hisanori Takahashi gave up 3 hits and 2 runs 1.2 innings. Blake Parker walked and struck...

Travis Wood is gonna win the Cy Young! And other exercises in hyperbole

So yay, the Cubs won!  Woohoo!  And just as in every other sport, performances in one game, whether it’s in a 16-game, 82-game or 162-game season, is enough to make broad sweeping statements about players.  Take this, for example:   Sveum called Wood the best pitcher in baseball which stunned Wood to hear — Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) May 8, 2013   Wow!  That is some epic...

JOT: Cubs Minor League Recap 5-7-13

Also known as *************** 2013! Iowa Cubs 0 @ Colorado Springs 5 This was bad. Dave Sappelt went 1-3 with a strikeout. It was the best offensive performance on the team. Interestingly, Logan Watkins played SS. He got on via FC (0-4) and stole a base. Only Luis Flores, Nick Struck, and Edwin Maysonet reached base otherwise; everyone else went 0-fer. As a team, the Iowa Cubs...

Cubs 2, Cardinals 1

Travis Wood pitched impressively into the seventh inning to outduel Lance Lynn, Nate Schierholtz hit a two-run homer and the Chicago Cubs snapped the St. Louis Cardinals' six-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory Tuesday night. The Cardinals' streak was their longest since an eight-game run July 11-21, 2010. Wood (2-3) allowed one run and five hits while striking out eight...

Chicago Cubs Release Pitcher Cory Wade

Right-handed pitcher struggled in 2013 with the Chicago Cubs which is why the organization felt compelled to give the 29-year-old his walking papers Monday. Cory Wade struggled over 10 games with their minor league Triple-A Iowa affiliate with an earned run average just below 8.00, it was time to part ways. Wade hops to spark some interest on the open market. The post Chicago Cubs...

2013 MLB Draft: Could the Cubs Force the Astros to Pass on Appel?

Kiley McDaniel has posted his first mock for the 2013 MLB Draft and passes along some potentially interesting machinations from behind the scenes. Dmick has previously addressed the possibility that the Astros could once again pass on Mark Appel, but McDaniel doesn't think it will happen: Last year, there was a large top group of talent with varying price tags that allowed...

Report: Fan chokes on hot dog, dies

Maureen Oleskiewicz, 28, a teacher and huge Chicago sports fan, died after choking on a hot dog on Sunday at Wrigley Field. The Chicago Sun-Times reports Oleskiewicz and her brother were eating before the game when she suddenly fell. "They're sitting there eating lunch before the game, looking at the field and the next thing she's on the floor," Maureen's...

Cubs rumors: Scott Feldman likely trade candidate

With the summer trade deadline on the horizon, one arm to keep an eye on is Chicago Cubs right-handed starting pitcher Scott Feldman, according to Buster Olney of ESPN. With the Cubs clearly still rebuilding, Feldman is likely to become a trade chip if his impressive start continues. The Cubs signed several veteran arms -- including Feldman, Edwin Jackson and Scott Baker -...

So Cicero wants da Cubs

Yesterday Mr. Boylan was kind enough to give us an account of Tom Ricketts’ lunch with the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, where he discussed the Wrigley renovation stuff for the bazillionth time since he took over as owner of the Cubs.  Given the fat packet application and the signs of impending construction that Anno has observed while walking around Wrigley, it seems very apparent...

Rockies Arms Keep Cub Bats Quiet at Talking Stick

Matthew Carasiti threw five shutout innings and combined with three relievers to throw a four-hitter, and Raimel Tapia and Dillon Thomas drilled RBI singles, as the Rockies edged the Cubs 2-1 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort, east of Scottsdale, AZ.  Jeffrey Baez belted a solo HR to account...

Tom Ricketts Goes to Lunch

Cubs fan and friend of WSD Anthony Boylan wrote a press release for the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce today and wanted to share it with us so we could share it with you: Tom Ricketts laid out his vision for the Cubs Tuesday saying the plan aims to rack up wins for the team and the fans, as well as for the city and the neighborhood. “Wrigley is a beautiful park, but it comes with...

Cubs are learning to walk

John Andreoli, pictured, led the Florida State League in walks last year and is near the top of FSL leader board in on-base percentage this season. And while the Chicago Cubs continue to struggle in those two categories at Wrigley, progress is being made at the minor league level.

More Night Games Soon

Serena Dai published an article this evening about the Cubs inching closer to getting more night games. The gist of the article is that Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced an amendment to allow the Cubs to schedule more night games. Here are some of the important snippets of the article. Emanuel’s ordinance allows for 35 scheduled night games and five more in case of MLB asks. Any additional...

Teacher Dies after Choking on Hot Dog at Wrigley Field

You always hate to hear about things like this and WOTG’s thoughts and prayers are with Maureen Oleskiewicz’s family. A 28-year-old teacher has died after choking on a hot dog while attending a Chicago Cubs game Sunday. Officials tell WLS-TV in Chicago that Maureen Oleskiewicz of Orland Park was sitting in the bleachers Sunday around 12:55 p.m. when [...]

CM Punk Attends A Cubs Game, Maria Photoshoot, Ziggler

– CM Punk is still attending professional sporting events during his time off from WWE. His most recent was the Chicago Cubs game against the Texas Rangers last night. Punk tweeted a photo from the game which you can find here. – Maria Kanellis posted the following link, which is a preview of a new photo shoot. You can check that out here. – Dolph Ziggler posted the following...
Cubs News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.