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Scott Downs is in The Best Shape of His Life

Jan 8, 2014, 7:24 AM EDT

Downs_Scott

New White Sox reliever Scott Downs may be getting up there in years, but Chicago has a great physical specimen to work with. Here’s Downs, talking to MLB.com:

“I’m in the best shape of my life the last couple of years, and if my arm holds up, I still feel like I can go out and compete and get outs. I still feel like I can pitch for another four or five years. I want to pitch until they take the uniform off of my back.”

Appeals to physical fitness or not, I think claiming you’re in the Best Shape of Your Life over the winter is way better for an aging pitcher than having to claim that you’re working on a new pitch or that you’re changing your arm slot or something. A BSOHL claim is much stronger. Those other ones have the whiff of desperation to them.

  1. jarathen - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:33 AM

    I like the minor caveat that as long as the one part of his body that makes his money holds up all will be well.

    So long as he’s used as a LOOGY, yeah, he’ll have stats like he’s in the BSOHL.

    • proudlycanadian - Jan 8, 2014 at 8:47 AM

      Last season, Downs had an ERA of 2.57 against left handed batters (21 innings). His ERA against right handed batters was 2.42 (22.1 innings). He has never been a specialist against left handed hitters. He is an equal opportunity 8th inning shut down pitcher.

      • dlf9 - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:10 AM

        How can you have an ERA against RHB or LHB? There are vanishingly few innings when a pitcher faces only one sided batters. Let’s say Downs comes in to start an inning. He gets two Ks, one from a righty and one from a lefty. Then he allows a double to a RHB and a run scoring double to a LHB followed by another out from a lefty. What is his ERA versus LHB and versus northpaws?

        I think you’d want to look at BA / OBP / SLG or component stats versus each side instead of trying to cram it into ERA.

      • proudlycanadian - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:45 AM

        Ask MLB.com your ERA question. They provided the stat.

      • jarathen - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:34 AM

        Downs’ 2013 splits favor using him against lefties. It’s not a jaw-dropping difference, but it’s worth .127 of OPS.

        Which is better than his lifetime swing of .157, but still fairly in line.

      • proudlycanadian - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:23 PM

        Downs was a starter in his early years. He became a full time relief pitcher in 2006. In 2007, he became a dominate relief pitcher and set up guy. There was a distinct improvement in his results in 2007 that carried on through to, and including 2013.

      • jonnypedantic - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        Here are Downs’s splits with better measures of performance than ERA. The bottom line is that he’s clearly better against lefthanded batters, but he’s also not inept against righthanded batters.

        Career wOBA:
        LHB – .262
        RHB – .318

        Career K%:
        LHB – 23.1%
        RHB – 16.2%

        Career BB%:
        LHB – 7.5%
        RHB – 8.9%

        Career HR/FB:
        LHB – 9.6%
        RHB – 13.0%

        Career BABIP:
        LHB – .270
        RHB – .292

        Career strike %:
        LHB – 63.2%
        RHB – 59.4%

        Looking at 2013 alone is problematic, but here it is anyway.

        2013 wOBA:
        LHB – .289
        RHB – .333

        2013 K%:
        LHB – 25.6%
        RHB – 14.1%

        2013 BB%:
        LHB – 8.9%
        RHB – 11.1%

        2013 HR/FB:
        LHB – 0.0%
        RHB – 10.0%

        2013 BABIP:
        LHB – .362
        RHB – .319

        2013 strike %:
        LHB – 62.9%
        RHB – 56.6%

      • proudlycanadian - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:18 PM

        Agreed1 He is not merely a lefty specialist.

  2. proudlycanadian - Jan 8, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    Notice that he said “the last couple of years”, so the BSOHL claim probably should have been used in 2013.

  3. Dabo Singkep - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    It was really nice

  4. ramrene - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    > Scott Downs is in The Best Shape of His Life

    Oh, so you’re saying the dude is now on PED’s?

  5. crnvic847 - Jan 8, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    @dlf9

    I never really thought about ERA’s like that. You make a very good point sir.

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