A Baseball Weblog

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Braves' new closer

With the likely departure of Type A free agents Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano, the Braves needed to make a move to solidify their bullpen. Yesterday, they announced the signing of Billy Wagner to a one year contract with a club option for 2011. I think that it's a great move for the Braves, who will have their closer position set for at least a season. Although Wagner is 38 (turning 39 next July), it seems as if he has a lot left in the tank. The sample size from last year is extremely small (15 2/3 innings over 17 games), but I do think it shows something. Here's some PITCHf/x data from Wagner's 2009 stint with the Mets and Red Sox.

Billy Wagner Pitch Data and Results

Average Speed (mph)Max Speedpfx_xpfx_zspin_dir

PitchPitch#Pitch%Swing%Whiff%Wide Zone%Chase%Watch%SLGCONRSvRSv/100xRSvxRSv/100


Of course it's only 274 pitches, but it's extremely encouraging for someone who was one year removed from Tommy John surgery. The fastball velocity and extraordinary whiff rate show that he was still able to get it by hitters last year, and it's reasonable to assume that he will continue to gain arm strength as he recovers from the surgery. Of course, players at the age of 38 are always a risk, but I still think that paying $7 million for a pitcher that can be that dominant is a good deal.

Gameday PITCHf/x data is from MLB Advanced Media; it can be easily accessed via
this tool.

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