MLB Roundup: Jackson, Kotchman

February, 5, 2012
2/05/12
11:15
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Tony Gutierrez-Pool/Getty Images
Edwin Jackson will try to help the Nationals reach the postseason in 2012.
ESPN Stats & Information continues its weekly stat-based roundup of notable moves from the past week.

Washington Nationals Sign Edwin Jackson
Last season Jackson posted an ERA of 3.79 despite ranking seventh in MLB in hits allowed. How unusual was that combination of run prevention and baserunners? He was the only qualifying pitcher in the majors with an ERA below 4.00 that also gave up at least 10 hits per nine innings pitched.

Jackson managed that feat by allowing an OPS of .869 with the bases empty and a .665 mark with runners on. That was the largest difference among all qualifying pitchers that had a higher OPS with the bases empty versus with runners on.

A 120-point spread in his BABIP allowed with nobody on base compared to all other plate appearances may explain part of that difference.

However, opponents didn't seem to hit the ball much harder versus Jackson in either situation.

According to video review by Inside Edge, batters hit the same percentage of "well-hit" balls (24%) against Jackson regardless of whether there were men on base or not.

So what can Nationals expect out of Jackson in 2012? Only four other pitchers since 2000 finished with an ERA under 4.00 while also giving up 10-plus hits per nine innings.

The good news is that one of those pitchers was Andy Pettitte in 2001, who went on to post a 3.27 ERA the following season and a 3.78 ERA over the final nine seasons of his career.

The bad news is that the other three pitchers were Carlos Silva (2005), Josh Towers (2005) and Aaron Cook (2008) – who combined for zero sub-4.00 ERA seasons following their unusual low-ERA/high-hit total year.
-- Katie Sharp

Cleveland Indians Sign Casey Kotchman
Kotchman, at least last season, fared better than what the Indians had at first base in 2011.

Casey Kotchman
Kotchman
Kotchman upped his on-base percentage from .280 in 2010 to .378 in 2011, with a batting average on balls in play that improved from .229 to .335 and a walk rate that improved slightly.

Kotchman's BABIP went up because his number of ground ball hits nearly doubled, going from 30 to 58, though his ground balls hit only increased by 41 from the previous season.

Kotchman and Texas Rangers catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli led the majors with the largest on-base percentage jump (98 points) in the majors, among the nearly 150 players who had at least 400 plate appearances in each season.

Indians first basemen had an on-base percentage of .302 and .319 over the last two seasons, the latter ranking 23rd among the 30 major-league teams in 2011.

Defensively, the Indians two primary first basemen, Matt LaPorta and Carlos Santana combined for 69 Good Fielding Plays and 41 Defensive Misplays & Errors in 1,367 innings.

That's based on video review from Baseball Info Solutions, which watches and tags plays into more than 80 categories of good/bad. A good play for a first baseman might be something like scooping a throw out of the dirt. A misplay may be for something such as dropping a return throw from a teammate on a double-play attempt.

Kotchman had fewer Good Fielding Plays (55), but had less than half as many Defensive Misplays & Errors (20) in a similar number of innings (1,222).

Kotchman’s average of one Defensive Misplay & Error per 61 innings was third-best among major-league first basemen who played at least 900 innings (approximately 100 games) at first base.
-- Mark Simon

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