KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) Sabermetrics was very good to Dallas Keuchel last season, recognizing him as baseball's best groundball pitcher and playing a part in his selection as the AL's Gold Glove pitcher.
"They have all different advanced stats now, like ground covered from the mound," Keuchel said Monday after pitching three innings for the Houston Astros in a 2-2 exhibition tie with an Atlanta Braves' split squad. "I actually talked to a few of the Sabermetrics guys at the awards ceremony in New York, and they were telling me all these stats that I had no idea about, and they said I was by far the top guy in that metric."
Three of the advanced statistics are now incorporated into the voting formula for Gold Gloves. Keuchel, a left-hander who went 12-9, a 2.93 ERA and a 3.63 groundball-flyball ratio, became the first Astros pitcher to win the defensive award.
"I was definitely surprised, but I think the new advanced Sabermetrics kind of pushed me over the top," he said. "It was my first good year, and I really didn't consider myself to be in Buehrle's category."
Mark Buerhle, Mike Mussina, Kenny Rogers and Mark Langston have won 20 of the last 24 AL pitcher awards.
"Based on what I saw last year, he was the best fielding pitcher," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "He does everything he needs to do to help himself win. That was a big part of his game."
Keuchel got five of his nine outs on grounders Monday but gave up a home run to John Buck, the first of three hits in a two-run inning.
"I really didn't make that key pitch with runners on," Keuchel said. "I thought I took a step back in command, but maybe next time it'll be a couple steps forward. Thankfully it's spring. I just have to fix a few minor issues.
Jose Altuve and L.J. Hoes had two hits each and scored Houston's runs.
Eury Perez had two doubles for the Braves and scored on Freddie Freeman's two-out single off Keuchel.
Braves: OF Nick Markakis, recovering from neck surgery, has been hitting but no target date has been set for him to get into a game. "There's still plenty of time to get him as many at bats as he wants," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Astros: LHP Brett Oberholtzer missed Sunday's start with a mild lat strain. The date of his next start will be determined no earlier than Wednesday.
Braves: Alex Wood gave up two runs and three hits while striking out four in four innings.
Astros: In his third spring training start, Keuchel gave up two runs on three hits with no strikeouts.
NO ADVICE NECESSARY
Craig Biggio, arguably Houston's best second baseman and now a special assistant to the GM, was asked what advice he would give to current second baseman Jose Altuve. "You've got a batting title; you don't need much advice," Biggio said.
Braves: RHP Shelby Miller is to get his third start, against the Red Sox in Fort Myers.
Astros: RHP Roberto Hernandez will face the Pirates at Bradenton in his Astros debut. Dan Straily also is scheduled to pitch three innings.