Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Millwood’

Apparently not to content with sweeping the 1999 Atlanta Braves in the World Series, the Yankees have belatedly gone about signing their best players. In addition to the hot pursuit of Andruw Jones, the Yankees are now rumored to be interested in Kevin Millwood. Who knows, maybe Tom Glavine or Greg Maddux are interested in making a comeback?

Millwood wipes his brow during game 2 of the 1999 World Series. The righty yielded five runs and eight hits in only two innings against the Yankees (Photo: SI).

At this point in his career, Millwood’s greatest asset is his ability to take the mound every fifth day. Otherwise, it’s hard to see a silver lining in the Yankees’ pursuit of the veteran right hander. Since his last statistically impressive season with the Indians in 2005, Millwood has mostly been below average. His ERA+ has been below 90 in three of the last four seasons, including a career low of 83 in 2010, and most of his peripheral numbers have followed a similar trend. In particular, Millwood has grown increasingly vulnerable to lefthanders, which isn’t exactly ideal when pitching at Yankee Stadium.

In Millwood’s defense, his struggles in 2010 may have been fueled by his home park. Although Camden Yards’ reputation as a hitters park is widely overstated, it does favor right handed power hitters. And, sure enough, Millwood surrendered twice as many homeruns at home than on the road (20 versus 10). Using the handy database at hitrackeronline.com, we can take a look at all 20 of those homers, and what becomes evident is that Camden Yards did have an impact. According to the data, seven of the 13 homeruns hit between left and center (10 by righties and 3 by lefties) were classified as either “just enough” or “lucky”, and on average, all of the long balls would have only been out of 17 other ballparks.

Date Player Team Code Distance # of Parks
4/11/2010 Alex Gonzalez TOR ND 420 30
4/11/2010 Jose Bautista TOR PL 372 29
4/11/2010 Alex Gonzalez TOR JE 353 27
5/2/2010 J.D. Drew BOS JE/L 397 2
5/13/2010 Mike Sweeney SEA PL 411 18
6/8/2010 Nick Swisher NYY JE 412 18
6/13/2010 David Wright NYM PL 404 23
6/13/2010 Jason Bay NYM JE/L 407 1
7/22/2010 Michael Cuddyer MIN ND 437 30
8/7/2010 Carlos Quentin CWS JE 408 4
8/22/2010 Josh Hamilton TEX JE 395 2
8/22/2010 Vladimir Guerrero TEX JE/L 367 11
9/17/2010 Alex Rodriguez NYY PL 401 30

Note: ND = No Doubt; PL = Plenty; JE= Just Enough; L = Lucky
Source: hittrackeronline.com

Unfortunately, the veteran right hander wasn’t much better on the road. In fact, he wound up yielding the same number of total bases away from home in only 14 more plate appearances faced. If one wanted to be completely optimistic, his road BABIP of .357 could be partly to blame, but it should be noted that it has been around that figure in three of the last four seasons.  

Kevin Millwood’s xFIP Split: 2002-2010

Source: fangraphs.com

Kevin Millwood’s HR Rate Split: 2002-2010

Source: fangraphs.com

Since 2006, Millwood has become much more vulnerable to left handed hitters. At the same time, he has also gradually become less effective against right handers. Although he could very well benefit from Yankee Stadium’s spacious left center fielder (which probably would have held a good portion of the homers he allowed to righties in Camden Yards), the short porch in right could only exacerbate his struggles against lefties.

An aging right hander who has been giving up more homeruns, particularly to lefties, doesn’t seem like a great fit for a team that plays in Yankee Stadium, not to mention in a division with a lefty-laden lineup like Boston’s. Although Millwood would definitely provide innings, the Yankees would be better off looking elsewhere. After all, if they really need innings that badly, the Yankees could wind up getting a lot of bad innings.

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