Stats & Info: Carlos Silva

Since starting the season 7-0, Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Silva has hit the wall in July. Silva is 1-2 with an 8.44 ERA in July and opposing hitters are hammering his fastball to a .438 BA (14-32).

After an up-and-down May and June, Chicago White Sox pitcher John Danks 3-1 with a 2.51 ERA in July. The lefty has been especially tough on right-handed batters, holding them to a .127 BA (9-71) this month.

Monday starter Joel Pineiro lost to Boston earlier this season (May 5), with a David Ortiz home run proving to be the game-winning RBI. In his career, Ortiz has hit .440 (11-25) off Piñeiro, with three homers (only Manny Ramirez has more). Both hits in the earlier game came on 1-1 counts, which has proven to be Papi's favorite count this season (.474; 2-0 is next at .417).

The Angels are last in the majors at hitting split-finger fastballs (.067, 3-for-45), and their OPS on the pitch (.144) is less than half that of the 29th-place Tigers. That doesn't bode well against Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, who holds opponents to a lower-than-average .176 against splitters, and has gotten them to chase half the ones he throws outside the strike zone.

In 2010, with two strikes opponents are hitting .224 (15-67) and are slugging .403 (27 TB) against Javier Vazquez's curveball and slider. In 2009, with two strikes opponents hit .158 (29-184) and slugged .207 (38 TB) against his breaking balls.

This season his miss percentage with two strikes against his curveball and slider is 19.4 percent (98 swings, 19 misses, 34 fouls) In 2009, Vazquez's miss percentage with two strikes against his breaking balls was 33.8 percent (237 swings, 80 misses, 67 fouls).

Jake Westbrook faces the Yankees for the first time since the 2007 ALDS. In that game the Yankees only had one swing and miss versus the 79 pitches that Westbrook threw and the Bronx Bombers went 7-16 against his fastball.

1st Pitch: Diving into 1st-pitch trends

July, 6, 2010
Quick Hits: The importance of a first-pitch strike can be summed up rather simply. After a 1-0 count, the league average is .275 with a .827 OPS. But after a count goes to 0-1, those numbers plummet to .229 BA and .619 OPS. Let’s take a look at some notable trends on the first pitch:
  • Among starting pitchers, only Carlos Silva (70.0) throws a higher percentage of first-pitch strikes than Cliff Lee (69.0). So it should be little surprise that batters come out swinging. Opponents swing at 39.2 percent of Lee’s first pitches. The last starter with a higher rate? Johan Santana’s 39.7 in 2005.
  • Somehow Scott Downs has put together a solid season in the Toronto bullpen despite a 45.0 first-pitch strike percentage. After a 1-0 count, opponents are hitting just .217 against Downs.
  • James Shields has given up 34 hits on the first pitch, and is on pace to allow the most for the second straight year. Opponents are hitting .540 against him on the first pitch (league average is .339).
  • Shields has also allowed seven first-pitch home runs. The entire Yankees’ pitching staff has allowed just four.
  • Chris Carpenter has hit four batters with the first pitch. That is more than seven teams have all season.
  • As a team, no one swings at the first pitch more than the Blue Jays (33.2 percent) or less than the Red Sox (19.1). Not surprisingly, the Blue Jays have the fourth-worst batting average on the first pitch (.310), while the Red Sox are fourth-best (.371).
  • Of Geovany Soto’s eight home runs, five came on the first pitch. He has the highest first-pitch OPS (2.115) of any player with at least 20 plate appearances ending on the first pitch.
  • Pablo Sandoval has grounded into nine double plays on the first pitch this season. That’s more than six teams and almost twice as many as the Mets (5).
  • Brett Gardner has only swung at the first pitch 18 times all season and has the second lowest percentage of swings in the majors behind Franklin Gutierrez. Gardner has made those swings count, having gone 5-for-8 on the first pitch.
Today’s Trivia: Orel Hershiser retired 10 years ago today. Who is the winningest Dodgers pitcher since July 6, 2000?

Today’s Leaderboard: Given that no one swings at a higher percentage of first pitches, it should be no surprise that Vladimir Guerrero leads the majors with 22 RBI on the first pitch. Delmon Young is next with 21. In his career, Guerrero has 382 RBI coming on the first pitch. That’s 78 more than the next active player (Manny Ramirez).

Key Matchups: Zack Greinke is a perfect 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA in his career against the Mariners. Consider that the second, fourth and fifth hitters in the Mariners lineup are a combined 3-for-51 (.059), and it’s easy to see why. Chone Figgins is 0-for-16 against Greinke and hasn’t even walked. Meanwhile, Jose Lopez (1-for-17) and Franklin Gutierrez (2-for-18) have not fared much better.

Vernon Wells’ overall numbers (19 HR, .872 OPS) may have warranted his All-Star selection, but much of that is courtesy of an electric April. Over his last 25 games, Wells is hitting just .191 with a .651 OPS. Could Tuesday be the start of a turnaround? Wells is 8-for-20 with four home runs in his career against Carl Pavano. No other player has more than three long balls against the Twins hurler. Wells is hitting .600 with three home runs in his last 10 at-bats against Pavano.

Trivia Answer: Since the day of Orel Hershiser’s retirement, Derek Lowe’s 54 wins are the most in a Dodger uniform. Chad Billingsley could tie that total in his next start. Only the Pirates have fewer wins from their wins leader over that span. For comparison, Hershiser won 135 games over 13 seasons with the Dodgers.

1st Pitch: Chasing history before the break

June, 25, 2010
Quick Hits: With less than a week before All-Star voting closes, let’s take a look at some players having historic first halves to the season. Can they keep up the pace going into the break?
  • Arthur Rhodes’ 0.24 ERA would be the second lowest going into the break (min. 30 IP) over the last 50 years. In 1989, Bill Landrum took a 0.23 ERA into the break for the Pirates (but was not an NL All-Star), before finishing the season at 1.69.
  • Likely to make three more starts before the break, Ubaldo Jimenez (13-1) has a shot at being the first pitcher with 16 wins before the break since Wilbur Wood (16-11) in 1974 for the White Sox. However, Wood did it in 27 starts, whereas Jimenez will have only made 18. The last pitcher to win 15 before the break was David Wells in 2000.
  • Jaime Garcia’s 1.79 ERA would be the lowest at the break for a qualifying rookie since Mark Fidrych’s 1.78 in 1976. He started the All-Star Game for the AL that season.
  • If he gets enough plate appearances to qualify, Brennan Boesch’s .346 batting average would be the highest for a rookie at the break in the last 50 years. In 2001, Ichiro Suzuki found himself at .345 going into the All-Star Game.
  • Cliff Lee has issued just four walks in 86.2 innings, a rate of 0.42 per nine innings. Only one starter has had a lower rate going into the break over the last 50 years. In 2005, Carlos Silva walked only five in 114.2 innings, a rate of 0.39 per nine.
  • Kenshin Kawakami (0-9) draws another start on Saturday. In 2007, Anthony Reyes went into the break at 0-10. The worst winless pre-break start over the last 50 years belongs to Anthony Young, who was 0-12 in 1993 for the Mets.
  • The Orioles’ .278 winning percentage would be the fourth lowest at the break over the last 50 years, and the lowest since the 2003 Tigers (.272). The 1979 A’s hold the low-water mark over that span, having entered the break at 25-69 (.266).
Today’s Trivia: Over the last three seasons combined, who has the most home runs before the All-Star break?

Today’s Leaderboard: Roy Halladay takes the hill against the Blue Jays for the first time in his career today. Among players that started their career in the last 50 years, Halladay has the second best winning percentage before the All-Star break. Only Pedro Martinez has been more dominant. Halladay is 101-44 (.697) before the break, and just 55-38 (.591) after.

Key Matchups: Aaron Rowand has only started four of the Giants’ last 11 games, but you can bet that he will be penciled in on Friday. Quite simply, no one mashes Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball like Rowand, who is 11-for-17 with four home runs and eight RBI in his career against the veteran. That’s the highest average for anyone who has faced Wakefield at least 15 times. This would be their first regular season meeting since 2006.

In four of the first five games that he faced CC Sabathia, Manny Ramirez hit a home run. He’s homerless in two meetings since, but has a .571 career average against the big lefty. Only Jermaine Dye and Alfonso Soriano have more career homers against Sabathia, but among those with 15 plate appearances, no one tops Manny’s 1.894 OPS.

Trivia Answer: Since 2008, Adam Dunn’s 66 home runs before the All-Star break are the most in the majors. He has one more than Albert Pujols and two more than Ryan Howard.

1st pitch: Crazy ratios after three weeks

April, 26, 2010
Today’s Trivia: On Sunday, Joakim Soria became the all-time saves leader among pitchers born in Mexico? Whose record did Soria break?

Quick Hits: Let’s take a look at some of the more stunning ratios as we hit the three-week point of the young season.

* Brian McCann has 16 walks and only four strikeouts. Rather amazing for a player who has never had more walks than strikeouts, and had only 49 walks compared to 83 strikeouts last season.

* David Eckstein only has fanned once in 63 plate appearances. No qualifying player last decade had a PA per K greater than 30.0. In fact, the last to do so was Tony Gwynn in 1995.

* A ridiculous 79 percent of Kelly Johnson’s hits have been for extra bases. His career high is just 46 percent. Meanwhile, all 16 of Juan Pierre’s hits have been singles.

* According to, 33 percent of the fly balls hit by Travis Snider have been infield flies.

* With a 4.33 groundout to air out ratio, Derek Jeter is on track to lead the majors in that category for the second straight year.

* Ryan Rowland-Smith has allowed more home runs (six) than he has strikeouts (five), and has the worst strikeout percentage in the majors.

* Of all the fly balls to the outfield against Cole Hamels, 20.6 percent have been home runs, easily the highest percentage in the majors.

* Carlos Silva has a 0.63 WHIP. Last season, he allowed 0.73 extra-base hits per inning pitched.

* Carl Pavano has a 17-to-1 K-BB ratio. Last season, he had three walks in his first recorded inning of work.

* The Astros pitching staff surprisingly leads the majors with a 2.62 K-BB ratio.

* The Giants, Padres, and White Sox have more strikeouts than hits allowed.

* Of the hits allowed by the Pirates, 45 percent have gone for extra bases. Meanwhile, it’s just 25 percent for the Tigers, according to

Today’s Leaderboard: The Indians have struck out only 90 batters in 18 games, but have walked 77. That is just 1.17 strikeouts for every walk. Over the last 20 years, the worst K-BB ratio belonged to the 1995 Brewers at 1.16. Last decade, only the 2000 Angels (1.27) had a K-BB ratio below 1.3.

Key Matchups: One way to know if Vernon Wells is really back? If he hits Josh Beckett like it is 2006. That was the last year Wells made an All-Star team, and that honor was largely courtesy of Josh Beckett and the Red Sox. In his first 10 games of 2006 against Boston, Wells hit eight home runs. Four of those came off Beckett. However, Wells is just 3-for-18 off of the right-hander since.

Zach Duke is 0-5 with a 7.38 ERA at Miller Park, as the Pirates have lost 21 straight there. That’s the longest road losing streak against a single opponent in Pirates history. Duke’s head-to-head matchups with Corey Hart are the complete opposite of what you’d expect. Hart is a .444 career hitter in Pittsburgh against Duke, but just .150 at home.

Trivia Answer: Aurelio Lopez had 93 saves over an 11-year career that ended in 1987. Considering there have been 68 Mexico-born pitchers in MLB history, Soria’s total is rather small for a “save king.” Countries that can boast a pitcher born there with more saves: Germany (Craig Lefferts, 101), Vietnam (Danny Graves, 182), and Japan (Kazuhiro Sasaki, 129).

1st pitch: The most without…

April, 23, 2010
Today’s Trivia: Justin Smoak, a South Carolina native, is expected to make his MLB debut on Friday. Who has the most career home runs for a player born in South Carolina?

Quick Hits: Reggie Willits appeared in his 300th game on Thursday, and a career-long trend continued. He went 0-for-3, and still does not have a home run in his career. The active position player with the next most career games without a homer is Jose Morales with 55. In fact, Willits has more career plate appearances without a home run (819) than any pitcher. Ryan Dempster is next at 518. So with that in mind, and the help of STATS, here are some notable “most withouts” among active players:

* Angel Pagan has the most plate appearances (881) without being hit by a pitch.

* Chase Utley has 83 stolen bases, but has never even tried to steal third.

* Alex Rios has the most stolen bases (120) for a player that has never been picked off.

* Ryan Garko has been on base more times (602) than any other player without a stolen base.

* John McDonald has nearly twice as many plate appearances (1,889) as the next player who has never been intentionally walked.

* Ramon Castro has the most plate appearances (1,400) without a triple.

* Edinson Volquez has the most plate appearances (77) without a walk. Tommy Manzella (45) has the most for a position player.

* Ryan Perry has the most appearances (60) and innings (69 2/3) without a win.

* Cla Meredith has the most relief appearances (270) without a save.

* Scott Olsen and Claudio Vargas have the most starts (114) without a complete game.

* Andrew Bailey has pitched the most innings (88 1/3) without hitting a batter.

* Jon Garland has pitched the most innings (1,851 1/3) without a balk.

* Carlos Silva has the most innings (1,147 2/3) without a pickoff. Interestingly, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are next.

* George Sherrill has the most innings (256) without allowing a triple.

* Brad Ziegler has the most innings (142) without a wild pitch.

Today’s Leaderboard: In the spirit of today’s theme, CC Sabathia’s 292 starts are the most for an active pitcher without a relief appearance. He’s followed by Ben Sheets (225) and Jake Peavy (219). Carlos Zambrano has 21 relief appearances to his name, but none since 2002. His streak of 241 straight appearances as a starter is likely to be broken this weekend. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Zambrano’s streak is the fifth longest among active pitchers. Livan Hernandez’s last 415 appearances have been as a starter.

Key Matchups: The top five hitters that the Royals used yesterday are 41-94 lifetime against Carl Pavano. That’s a .436 batting average. It’s no wonder that Pavano is just 4-5 with a 7.84 ERA in his career against Kansas City.

Adrian Beltre is just 1-for-18 in his career against Jeremy Guthrie. That .056 batting average is his worst against any pitcher he has at least 20 plate appearances against.

Whenever Albert Pujols meets Tim Lincecum, it warrants mentioning. Pujols is 3-for-8 in his career against Lincecum, but has just one hit in their last seven meetings at the plate.

Trivia Answer: Jim Rice’s 382 home runs are the most for a player born in South Carolina. He’s followed by Reggie Sanders (305). The active leader? Orlando Hudson with 78.

FanGraphs: Carlos Silva's "change of scenery"

March, 19, 2010
In the land of spring training cliches, the change of scenery card is often played. "Player A is with a new team, and he's having a blast! His struggles last year were because of his unhappiness with his old team. Watch out for Player A in the upcoming season!" The Chicago Cubs are sure hoping a new environment will do wonders for Carlos Silva, who they acquired from the Mariners for Milton Bradley. Frankly, it’s hard to be worse than Silva was in Seattle (6.81 ERA the past two years), and if recent history is any indication, a change of address won’t be enough to help his pitching.

For starters, Silva should be quite familiar with the plight of Ian Snell, his former Seattle teammate. Snell, was so unhappy with the Pittsburgh Pirates that he actually demanded a demotion. The Pirates obliged and then traded Snell to the Mariners last July. Snell responded by smiling and pitching worse with the M’s than he had with the Pirates – his FIP was 4.61 in Pittsburgh and 5.23 in Seattle.

Dontrelle Willis seemed poised for a breakout upon leaving the last place and frugal Florida Marlins for the contending Detroit Tigers prior to the 2008 season. Willis’ 5.13 FIP with the Marlins soon looked much better in comparison to the 8.30 and 6.22 FIPs Willis has posted with Detroit during two injury-hampered seasons.

Area code magic doesn’t always work on positional players either. Former top prospect Delmon Young was seen as a victim of a poor organization when Tampa Bay traded him to the Minnesota Twins prior to the 2008 season. Young did hit better with the Twins, going from a .315 wOBA to a .324 wOBA, but posted a career low .312 wOBA in 2009, and his defense has been a nightmare.

The Kansas City Royals hoped the tales of the lethargic and apathetic Yuniesky Betancourt were false when they took him on from Seattle last year. To Betancourt’s credit, he upped his wOBA by four points while wearing blue, but also saw his defense get worse, as he posted a -28.6 UZR/150 with the Royals, a steep decline from his already horrid -18.5 UZR/150 with the Mariners.

Three of the four projections listed for Silva at FanGraphs have him posting an ERA over 5.00 next season. Is there any reason to be more optimistic than that? We know Silva is not going to strike people out (3.0 K/9 for his career), so he'll have to rely on his defense. On the plus side, he is leaving the DH league for the non-DH league. However, he is also leaving what is widely considered to be the best defense in baseball. And remember, while pitching in front of that defense last year, his ERA was 8.60.

In reality, the Cubs didn't really want Silva, they simply needed to eat his awful contract (two years, $25 million remaining) in order to convince Seattle to take Milton Bradley off their hands, and the Mariners even threw $9 million into the deal. But if the Cubs think a change of address will reverse Silva's fortunes, they're going to be sorely disappointed.

R.J. Anderson is an author of FanGraphs