Don't Bring In The Lefty

A Baseball Weblog

Sunday, November 20, 2011

O'Connor PITCHf/x

The Yankees recently picked up southpaw Mike O'Connor on a minor league deal.  O'Connor, who is now 31, has pitched in 35 major league games; he made appearances for the Nationals in 2006 and 2008 and spent some time with the Mets last year.  Only one of his major league games since 2006 has been a start; the Yankees will look at him strictly as a reliever with Damaso Marte and Pedro Feliciano going down with injuries.

We have 14 games and 14 2/3 innings' worth of PITCHf/x data on O'Connor.  As little as overall performance metrics mean with this kind of sample, individual pitch type metrics mean even less, so I won't spend too much time on that stuff.

#     Whiff%  Ball%   GB%     
256     22%     46%     33%

Pitch   #      mph      pfx_x   pfx_z
   FF    162     87      +7.6    +9.8
   SL    35      81      +0.5    +3.0
   CU    32      74      -5.1    -6.0
   CH    27      77      +9.0    +9.4    

  • O'Connor's arsenal consists of a tailing fastball, a tight/cutter-ish slider, a curve, and a change that looks similar to his fastball but is 10 mph slower.
  • He's been fastball/slider recently.  He didn't throw any changeups this year, despite facing righties in 14 of his 29 plate appearances.  He only threw two curves.
  • He looks like an extreme flyball pitcher.  His groundball rate in 105 2006 innings (BIS data) was 36%.  
Soft-tosser, lots of walks, lots of flyballs.  

Friday, September 23, 2011

PITCHf/x data for Brackman and Betances

Finally, Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances got to make their major league debuts.  They both pitched in Thursday’s 15-8 Yankees loss, with varying levels of success.  Brackman pitched an inning and a third scoreless with a few hits and a walk, while Betances walked four and hit a batter in just two thirds of an inning.  After plenty of hype, we can look at some PITCHf/x data for these guys.

(charts are for horizontal/vertical movement and horizontal movement/velocity)

mph # LHB  RHB Ball Called Whiff Foul
Cutter 91.5 24 11 13 7 4 3 4 6
Curveball 75.6 7 3 4 5 1 0 1 0
Slider 84.6 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0

Brackman was definitely throwing a fastball with cutting action (both horizontal movement in on lefties and sink, a la Rivera).  This might be his cutter grip, but it's hard to tell on that photo.  There is photo evidence of a two-seam fastball as well, though he didn't throw one yesterday (also, that's an old pic).


mph # LHB RHB Ball Called Whiff Foul X
Fastball 93.3 22 13 9 16 2 0 2 2
Curveball 83.3 4 3 1 3 0 0 1 0

As you can see by the pitch distribution, Betances had no control.  Of his 26 pitches, 19 were balls.  He showed a straight four-seam fastball (grip) and a hard curveball that he throws with a knuckle grip.  In terms of velocity and movement, it's similar to A.J. Burnett's.  

I'll try to find some game photos from Thursday (doesn't look to be anything available at the time of this writing), particularly to see what Brackman's doing with his fastball. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Moore pitch grips (with video!)

After yesterday's double-clinching celebration, the Yankees get to face one baseball's best prospects on the mound today, Matt Moore.  This will be Moore's first start; the 22 year old got two big league relief appearances under his belt last week.  I wrote about Moore at Fangraphs the other day, and since he hasn't pitched since then, everything there is still relevant today.  As something of an addendum to that, I've linked in this post to pitch grips of Moore's four-seam fastball, circle changeup, and spike curveball, courtesy of Four-Seam Images (taken during minor league games from this year).  When analyzing and researching pitchers, it's always good to get a look at how the pitch is actually held, so hopefully this is informative.  For future posts on specific pitchers, I'll include pitch grips whenever possible. 

**EDIT**: Mike Fast just sent me this video of Moore (from 2010) discussing his pitch grips and mechanics.  It's very interesting! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A blip on the radar

We’ve grown accustomed to seeing David Robertson in the 93-94 mph range this year, more than 2 mph faster than he where he was at when he first came up in 2008.  In the 8th inning of yesterday’s game, he didn’t bring his velocity with him, averaging under 91 mph for the first time all year:

In Saturday’s one-run game, Joe Girardi opted to use Rafael Soriano in the 8th instead of Robertson, a technique he has not employed much this summer.  Is Robertson fatigued?  Injured?  Was Friday just an anomaly?  We’ll see.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What to make of Harden? Updated

In July, before Rich Harden's last start against the Yankees, I briefly examined his 2011 whiff rates compared to his previous seasons.  After a terrible 2010, his fastball was back to its normal excellence, but his changeup remained at/slightly under the league average after being one of the best bat-missers in the league in 2008 and 2009.  The same chart is shown below, updated:

It looks like he's on the right track, as the changeup has climbed to just under 40% - not quite his peak, but that kind of rate is still more than 20% better than league average.  As it was earlier in the season, his fastball is looking great.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Athletics vs Yankees, game one: Brandon McCarthy

Taking the mound for the Athletics tonight against the Yankees is righty Brandon McCarthy.  You might remember him as a top prospect with the White Sox about seven or eight years ago or so.  Back then he was a power pitcher with a four-seam/curveball combination, but he's completely made himself as a sinker/cutter groundball guy with much better control (career low 3.7% walks per plate appearance, fourth best among pitchers with 100+ innings pitched).  Dave Allen had a good look at McCarthy a few weeks ago, so I'll make this brief.  The charts and metrics that you often see on this site are applied below to McCarthy's pitches.




*non-swing called rate; called strikes divided by called strikes plus balls
The four-seamers are rare, and some may be misclassifications.  The ones I identified were often thrown in two-strike counts.

Strikes with everything but the changeup.  McCarthy's not a bat-misser, but that's just fine.  His sinker looks like a pretty good groundball pitch, as does the curve.  

The next graphs show plate locations split up into 5 by 5 quadrants (OZ = out of zone, IZ = in zone).

The sinker, cutter, and curve stay low, while the four-seamer is elevated.  The cutter stays in on lefties and away from righties, while he's shown a propensity to keep the sinker away from both lefties and righties.  

This post wouldn't be complete without a mention of McCarthy's Twitter feed.  He seems like a really nice and thoughtful guy (with a sense of humor).  He's been kind enough to respond to my questions/comments when they've come up, so I certainly appreciate that.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hit graphs

This is presented without much explanation.  Below is a chart of the Yankees' starting lineup (and some prominent part-time players) in hit graph form.

Derek Jeter's obviously the king, as he reached 3,000 hits earlier this year. At 2,762 for his career, Alex Rodriguez looks like he's got a handle on entering the 3K club as well. Two guys who have really leveled are Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones, who were on the fast track before being hit by injuries/general ineffectiveness. Robinson Cano is a hit-machine, though he he's not quite at Jeter's pace through his age 28 season. Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson are similar in their hit profiles and aren't on any sort of special pace.  Jorge Posada is notable here as a good player who's been able to cut it for a long time (notice the slight bump at 2007, when he got a career best 171 hits).  I put Eduardo Nunez on the graph since he's played a lot this year, but he's no more than a blip on the radar here as a second-year role player.