Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rookie Stuff

So, my buddy Weino tells me all the time that he prefers shorter, quick-hit posts to long, rambling posts about six dozen ballplayers, their agents, and hyperbole. Personally, I like to have something to say before I start the posting process, and before I know it, I have too many things to mention.

Tonight, we'll try something different. I just got back from dinner at Otto*, and I have a lot I'd like to touch on including: Andre Dawson, Mark McGwire, Ben Sheets, Johnny Damon, "24", Kiko Calero, Rocco Baldelli, Willis Jackson, Randy Wells, Tony Reagins, Felipe Lopez, and Joe Mauer. Even though I would like to attempt at least one pithy comment for each individual above, I'm going to keep this short & sweet.

*It was decent, but I don't recommend it.

Instead, I'm going to piggy-back on something interesting I read in this Hardball Times article by Harry Pavlidis that examines the Pitch F/X data of last season's rookie pitchers. For all you remedial readers out there, the point of this post is to highlight some potential sleeper arms for 2010. The following charts are from Harry's post...
Best average fastball (mph), 2009 debuts - relievers
1Henry Rodriguez100.1
2Daniel Bard98.4
3Waldis Joaquin97.0
4Neftali Feliz96.8
5Daniel Runzler96.7
Regular readers of this space should know that we admired Henry Rodriguez, Daniel Bard, and Neftali Feliz from afar last season. In fact, the three of them were significant contributors to our fantasy team, Good Friends.

What shocked me is that I have never heard of Waldis Joaguin or Daniel Runzler. Shame on me. Waldis, by name alone, should be a fan favorite. Here is the line from the HT article that got me excited about Daniel Runzler...
The second Giant on the list [Runzler] makes it with his two-seamer. Again, as sample sizes grow, Runzler's four-seamer (95.3) should float to the top of the speed list.
Moving on to making hitters miss...
Highest whiff rate (misses/swings), 2009 debuts

1Esmerling VasquezChange-up.491
2Alfredo FigaroSlider.487
3Luke GregersonSlider.468
4Kris MedlenChange-up.446
5Samuel GervacioSlider.432
We vultured a Win with Esmerling Vazquez last August, but I've never heard of Samuel Gervacio. Why didn't Osh ever mention him? Surely, he must've noticed an Astro reliever missing bats on 43.2% of his pitches.

There are some really exciting notes to go along with the following chart, which we will include in this snipet:
Highest fastball whiff rate (misses/swings), 2009 debuts

1Gervacio.394
2Andrew Bailey.343
3Bard.296
4Brad Kilby.283
5Jhoulys Chacin.280

I wasn't kidding about Gervacio being impressive. To miss that many bats with a fastball is just nuts, small sample and everything. Bailey, who threw 703 four-seamers (compared to Gervacio's 80 for this list) is even more impressive. And he did win Rookie of the Year, natch. Bard makes the list with his four-seamer—his two-seamer (which ranked on the fastball list) had a whiff rate below .08 as he threw that to contact. Nice bag of tricks, Mr. Bard. Kilby's rate, while impressive, continues our march away from the stratosphere occupied by Gervacio and Bailey. Kilby made his debut for Oakland as a lefty swingman, and he was successful in the limited work. Jhoulys (not Gustavo) Chacin edged out the Cubs'
Esmailin Caridad for the last spot on this list. Chacin looked a little rough in his first outings for the Rockies, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's given a good hard look this Spring.
How about that?! The Cubs have an exciting young arm in the bullpen. Alright! I can't wait to build the bandwagon for Esmailin Caridad.

There is a lot more to read in the original Hardball Times post, including a few graphs not shared here that cover high ground ball rates, popup rates, and the ability to throw strikes. If you check it out, you'll see good numbers from Carlos Carrasco, Ricky Romero, Fu Te-Ni, Clay Zavada, and (again) Pedro Feliz.


1 comment:

  1. Gervacio definitely pitched well when he came up in mid-August, but the sample size is still pretty small. Regardless, he's looking like a good middle reliever in 2010 for us. Along with Alberto Arias (who I am more impressed with than Gervacio), the middle of the pen could be good this year...which is important, because the starting rotation is going to need a lot of help.

    Of course, none of this is nearly as exciting as Tommy Manzella (Tulane's own) getting the starting nod at SS! Get ready for Adam Everett, Part II.

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