Doubleday couldn't have timed the release of The Yankee Years any better. With parts of the Verducci/Torre "collaboration" dedicated to baseball's PED issue, and, separately, A-Rod's foibles, it serves as a nice backdrop to one of the bigger off-season stories.
Make no mistake, this book is by Tom Verducci. Not in a ghost written sense, it is plainly his work. Joe Torre is front-and-center and provided a tremendous amount of candid insight. The narrative, however, is exclusively the domain of Verducci.
That is not a problem. It's a smooth and fun read, with David Cone sharing his time with the Yankees in a manner as candid as Torre's.
The declining health of The Boss, the strange and strained relationship between Torre and his GM, Brian Cashman, aren't breaking stories, but the inside look is fascinating. It covers Torre's time with the Yankees from being hired to the uncomfortable break-up, and it's quite an arc to follow. Win, or else.
My real interest, though, came from the timeliness of the A-Rod and steroid threads. They do not intersect, as this was written before Verducci's SI colleagues got the tip. Even if you've had enough of the PED story, reading about squashed efforts by players to address the problem is worthwhile. And if you've had enough A-Rod, well, skip those parts.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Doubleday couldn't have timed the release of The Yankee Years any better. With parts of the Verducci/Torre "collaboration" dedicated to baseball's PED issue, and, separately, A-Rod's foibles, it serves as a nice backdrop to one of the bigger off-season stories.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Kosuke Fukudome went from holding the keys to Chicago to the All Star Game to the bench to the dog house. After all that, Lou plans on hitting him second and playing centerfield in a platoon with Reed Johnson.
First, the good news. Kosuke took seven walks during the WBC, pushing his tourney OBP to .407. Only three hitters took more free passes (Adam Dunn led with nine). I think we're done with the good news now. Fukudome's batting average and slugging were both .200 - four hits, four singles, 20 at bats.
Fukuduome led all WBC hitters* in whiff rate (.467, tourney average was .206, second place was 50 points back, third place another 50 back from there). Plus, only six hitters had a lower swing rate - not necessarily a bad thing, but not good in Kosuke's case. Looking at Fukudome's numbers by pitch type may show what's going on.
50 40 pitch minimum in PITCHf/x data - only covers games in MLB parks, there is missing data (innings 1-3 of the final, for example)
What's He Swinging At?
Kosuke saw a variety of pitches during tournament play. Mostly, he saw four-seam fastballs (22) and sliders (21), but he also got a couple splitters, change-ups, three curveballs and eight sinkers. I'll start with the two main pitches, and then start rolling in the rest. I'm not splitting by pitcher hand, maybe later....
Pitch Fukudome Swing/Whiff Tourney Swing/Whiff
Four-seam fastball .227/.400** .425/.155
Slider .333/.571** .422/.317
**About those whiff rates. That's five swings, two whiffs on the fastballs. Seven and four on the sliders. Not a meaningful sample. But it is what happened.
Fukudome was almost twice as likely to take a fastball than the average hitter. He took more sliders than the average, which is good. He still managed to swing at more sliders than fastballs.
If I start rolling Fukudome's pitches together, I can bump up some sample sizes without losing too much. Splitters lumped with change-ups, sliders lumped with curveballs, two- and four-seam fastballs go together and we're closer. With just four "changes" total now, let's just go with fastballs (four- and two-seam) and off-speed pitches (changes + splitters + curves + sliders) as our two groups.
With most of the weight being provided, still, by four-seamers and sliders, not much changes. I'm not providing tourney #'s for comparison here - that will be in a future article.
group # Swing Whiff
Off-speed 28 0.393 0.536
Fastballs 34 0.294 0.435
All 62 0.339 0.476
Is he swinging at bad pitches?
Across the tourney, all pitch types included, the average hitter swung at 24.3% of balls out of the zone, but watched 39.2% of strikes. Fukudome's "Chase" and "Watch" rates were .129 (or 12.9%) and .452, respectively. Great, he went fishing far less than most (12 players had lower Chase rates during the WBC out of 54 qualifying hitters). He took more pitches in the zone than most, too (14th). At first blush, that isn't too alarming, but it's a little confusing the way I just described it, so let me try another way.
Watch rate is just the inverse of "swing rate in the zone". You want a higher swing rate in the zone than out of the zone. Across the WBC players, the average ratio of swing rate in the zone to swing rate out of the zone was 2.4999 - in other words, hitters were 2.5x more likely to swing at a strike than a ball. Fukudome is actually 4.3x more likely - which is great! But, how does one explain the whiff rates when he's swinging at strikes?!?
Fukudome took a lot of pitches and whiffed on a lot of pitches during the WBC. His whiff rate on fastballs (on an even smaller amount of swings than the already limited sample), is frightfully high. Oddly, Fukudome offered at more off-speed and breaking pitches than he did fastballs. He did not chase bad pitches, but this did not seem to help him make any more contact.
- Fukudome was very patient at the plate
- Fukudome rarely swung at pitches out of the zone
- Fukudome swung at more breaking and off-speed pitches than fastballs
- No one whiffed at a higher rate than Fukudome in the WBC
- Not only was Fukudome unable to hit breaking pitches, he appears as an extreme outlier in fastball whiff rates over a small sample
I think that's a fair description of Fukudome's WBC experience. But what does it mean? The sample, and the context, limit the utility of the findings. They do fit into a larger context and may provide value there.
Next week, in this space, I'll compare Fukudome's WBC performance to his 2008 plate discipline and pitch selection. You can find plenty of that here and here and here - but not broken out by pitch type.
Monday, March 23, 2009
The decision that was announced this week seemed to be a foregone conclusion.
The Cubs' pitching is falling into place, with Sean Marshall being named the fifth starter on Thursday and Aaron Heilman moving into the bullpen.
Heilman seems content with the bullpen role - his version of a hometown discount is no grousing, right?
What becomes of the Shark?
Earlier Thursday, Piniella had called Jeff Samardzija into his office to let the right-hander know he's still got a chance to make the Opening Day roster as a reliever
A chance. Right now, Samardzija is best suited for relief. His secondary pitches just don't cut it. If his future is as a starter, he should go to Iowa. Then again, Earl Weaver would groom starters in the bullpen, but that was a different era.
The goal with the 5th Starter f/x "series" was to follow along with the battle for the job. Well, after part 2, there was very little question left about the battle. I do have some more stuff on Sean Marshall ready to go.
You might want to refresh yourself:
- Introducing the Candidates was a review of earlier work I've done - you get the basics on their stuff and a little extra
- Slices and Layers got into some aspects of pitch location
What I teased in the Slices and Layers post were scatter plots, by count, by pitch type for each pitcher. We already know I lied about the "each pitcher" part - and here's another, um, correction.
Instead of count, here's Marshall by situation.
And there are lefty/right splits (to make up for broken promises). + for righties o for lefties.
All charts are in feet, catcher's view. Click to zoom. Presented without commentary - hopefully the pictures are sufficient for your own exploration.
Clockwise from top-left these are :
- change-ups (blue)
- curveballs (coral)
- two-seam fastballs (dark red)
- sliders (light turquoise or whtvr Excel calls it)
- cutters (green) a
- four-seam fastballs (light yellow)
Saturday, March 21, 2009
In case you missed it, here are the 8 preceding posts on Cubs WAR, and some references.
Let's roll-up those infield and outfield numbers, and add in the catchers to get some bests/worsts/totals. No pitchers in Sean's WAR site yet, but I think he'll get us there - and maybe pre-1955, too.
|Good Outfields||WAR||Good Infields||WAR||Good Teams*||WAR|
|Bad Outfields||WAR||Bad Infields||WAR||Bad Teams*||WAR|
Wow, 1981 was bad. Jody Davis and his 0.9 WAR was more than the rest of the offense/defense leaders put together, by 2 wins.
Breaking down each position - remember, the WAR is for the player who led the team in time at that position. So it's not exact or precise contribution-at-that-position. I'll remind you 100 more times below.
Best Season for each Position (WAR may include games played at other positions)
Worst Season for each Position (WAR may include games played at other positions)
|C||Harry Chiti||1955||- 1.0|
|1B||Bill Buckner||1977||- 0.9|
|2B||Vic Harris||1974||- 2.2|
|3B||Todd Zeile||1995||- 1.6|
|SS||Ronny Cedeno||2006||- 1.7|
|LF||Jerry Morales||1974||- 1.3|
|CF||Corey Patterson||2005||- 1.4|
|RF||Keith Moreland||1986||- 1.2|
Total WAR since 1955 by Position (inlcudes the playing time leaders' WAR only, WAR may include games played at other positions; the overall contribution of catching is the most understated)
Player with Highest Total WAR since 1955 by Position (each player's WAR may include games played at other positions, but not during seasons where they didn't lead the primary position in playing time, i.e. Billy's RF seasons don't count for his LF total, but his RF PAs in those LF seasons do count.)
Ace has solicited a bunch of Cub bloggers to vote in a monthly ranking of Cubs prospects. The pre-season results have been posted.
My ballot -
1 Vitters a rarity - a genuine Cubs hitting prospect
2 Samardzija bullpen or Iowa
3 Cashner A bit away, but could be a set-up man sooner than later
4 Jackson Rising fast, no longer a dark horse
5 Stevens From Cleveland to Chicago
6 Hart Has such a nice breaking pitch, can he get it back together?
7 Castillo Blocked by Soto, but could be insurance
8 Flaherty Could be the real deal at short, or so I'm told
9 Colvin Sinking
10 Caridad Rising - keep throwing strikes and throwing 95….
11 Lee Shortstop of the future?
12 Rhee Probably should be higher, but I just don't know that much about him yet
13 Hoffpauir He can hit, that's for sure
14 Barney Could be a serviceable utility man soon
15 Maestri Back to bullpen fulltime, adding a splitter - impressive WBC work - my dark horse
Center field wraps up the positions players. Since Sean hasn't published WAR for pitchers, the next post will the last of the series, and will wrap it all up - best seasons, worst infields etc.
Lots of ups-and-downs. McRae, Monday, and Phillips had good runs.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Moving over to right, here are your year by year playing time leaders at position 9, going back to 1955
Billy had himself one heck of a year in right. The Cubs had a good thing going from Hawk to Sammy, but not much since.
Moving on to the outfield, starting over by Waveland.
Billy was moved around (see the RF post tonight), but the Cubs have had no one like him since. Soriano has been no great shakes, yet. Barely better than Murton one year, and lots of guys have had one good season in left for the Cubs.
The catchers and infielders can be found here:
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
You get two today, since I skipped yesterday. Tomorrow night I'll wrap-up the infield.
Click to enlarge
Ryno was pretty awesome. Since he re-retired, and if you put aside Neifi and Mickey Year 2, the Cubs have done a decent job of plugging in guys for a year or two.
Before Sandberg it was rough, going back to Beckerts prime. 72-82 were such bad years, Trillo's last couple seasons must have looked brilliant. Mike Tyson wisely gave boxing a shot after two abysmal years and now sports a weird tattoo and a felony record. Same guy, right?
With third basemen, The dark periods began not after Santo, but after Madlock. Ramirez has taken the Cubs out of the dark.
With shortstops, the Cubs have been in a dark period since Ernie left the position. Click to enlarge.
Sorry Theriot fans, Dance Fever is the second coming of Ricky Gutierrez. Or, Gutierrez Two, Electric Boogaloo, to keep the theme.
Baseball Reference (positional playing time leaders)
Baseball Projection (WAR)
Monday, March 16, 2009
Thanks to baseballprojection.com, we have WAR back to 1955. That gives us a pre-Santo onward look at the men who have manned third for the Cubs.
Each season's third baseman is simply the player with the most starts (and, as it happens, innings) according to baseball-reference.com. Only time in a Cubs uniform counts (i.e. Aramis '03) but, in the end, the WAR data covers any position played that year for the Cubs.
I suggest clicking this image for the full-size version
Between Madlock and Ramirez, there wasn't a whole lot. Also note the cameos by HOF members Ernie Banks and Ryne Sandberg.
Cubs vs Brewers today, and we're over the hump and heading straight towards April 6. The Cubs play a total of 37 in the Cactus League and 2 exhibition games to open Yankee Stadium.
Jeff Samardzija gets the ball today, and he'll be backed-up by Esmalin Caridad, Chad Fox, Carlos Marmol, Mike Stanton and Luis Vizcaino. The Brewers will open with Dave Bush on the bump.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Not even close. Mark Grace owns Derrek Lee (source: baseballprojection.com)
Exhibit A - Best to Worst
Exhibit B - Chronological Order
Exhibit C - Best to Worst - First 12 Seasons (Lee's full career)
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Ted Lilly used his cutter/slutter/slider, fastball and curveball in Team USA's game against Venezuela. I wrote a lot over the past year about Lilly's disappearing curveball, but not seeing any change-ups was a little surprising.
Lilly's change is hammered into my consciousness for two reasons
- It can be tough to pick it out if you're not careful with his early innings - Lilly adds velocity as games go on
- It is well known for being used aggressively
For some reason, I feel like Lilly may not use the change-up much in Spring Training, but I can't find/recall anything specific on it. Anyway, here's a psuedo-3D of the curves Ted threw against the victorious Venezuelans.
Barring injury, rain out and Lou's whim (source):
Rothschild, the Cubs' pitching coach, and Piniella went over the rotation. Zambrano will be followed by Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden. Because the Cubs will skip the fifth starter in the first turn, Lilly will be the starter for the home opener April 13 against Colorado.
Here's my "guess" at the rotation through the first Cardinals games.
4/6 @HOU Zambrano
4/7 @HOU Dempster
4/8 @HOU Lilly
4/10 @MIL Harden
4/11 @MIL Zambrano
4/12 @MIL Dempster
4/13 COL Lilly
4/15 COL Marshall
4/16 COL Harden
4/17 STL Zambrano
4/18 STL Dempster
4/19 STL Lilly
Lou can do something different for the 2nd and 3rd games against Colorado, but slipping Marshall in front of Harden gives everyone an extra day of rest.
3/12/2009 01:03:00 PM
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
No TV, no radio, no Gameday. Just an exciting live boxscore.
Rich Harden vs. Garret Olson. Teammates on paper for a few days. Harden is backed by Aaron Heilman, who was traded for Olson, and Ryan Dempster. Press Pass also lists Jose Ascanio and Mike Stanton as scheduled to pitch.
Something like this, perhaps?
Ascanio/Stanton 9 and as needed
Vince Perkins started Canada's second, and last, game of the 2009 World Baseball Classic. It wasn't a strong outing for the journeyman. The BC native was pulled in the third inning after yielding a lead-off double to Italy's Chris Denorfia.
Perkins' line for 2+ innings of work included 3 hits, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts and 3 runs (2 earned). It took him 52 pitches to get through 14 batters, which isn't awful, and the only bright sign was the 3:1 GO:AO ratio, and the other two hits were singles.
Perkins throws a two-seam fastball and a slider, with the occasional four-seamer and change-up. I'll include the latter two pitches in his totals and some graphs, but the focus will be on the two pitches he threw the most.
Perkins' velocity wasn't bad, but it declined during the game. First two graphs show pitch speed by pitch, and then just for the sinker (with a trend line).
As Perkins worked through the short outing, his sinker gradually lost speed. He also started using it less, but that might not mean anything.
Overall, Italy's hitters kept their bats on the shoulders. Mostly this was due to the low frequency of pitches in the strike zone (IWZ uses a two foot wide plate). Perkins only got three swings on his slider, but two of those were whiffs.
Let's look more at those plate locations. Scatter plot first, and then layers and slices.
Sliders up and away, sinkers up and in. I'm not sure that's a great combination.
Here are your old standards, spin movement and flight paths
And, to round it out, pitch selections (not much to see, except when he'll actually pull out the slider).
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Alessandro Maestri would be a relatively unknown prospect, if not for one thing. He's from Italy. The Cubs made him the first Italian native to join an American organization when they signed him as a free agent in 2006.
Maestri might be a top 25 prospect in the Cubs system, top 50 for sure, but certainly isn't a blue chip. Thanks to the World Baseball Classic, we suddenly have more information on him than most pitchers who have never played above AA. In Saturday's opening round play against Venezuela, Maestri came in with one out in the disastrous fifth inning, and completed the sixth frame for Italy.
The Italians were drubbed by Venezuela. It was a 0-0 game until the fifth, which is when the bullpen got the ball. It started with Jason Grilli, who did manage to get one out. Lenny DiNardo gave up two hits and a walk before giving way to Maestri. Alessandro managed to strand both of his inherited runners (Melvin Mora, retired on a force at third, and Bobby Abreu). Still, Venezuela had scored four times and would go on to win 7-0.
Maestri had to face two hitters to escape the jam in the fifth. They were none other than Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez. A grounder to third and a called third strike later, Maestri walked back to the dugout.
Facing five more major leaguers, Maestri walked two (Jose Lopez and Ramon Hernandez) and got three outs on the ground (Carlos Guillen, Cesar Izturis and Endy Chavez). Not a bad day. This will likely get the attention of the folks down in Arizona, who should expect Alessandro to be back with the Cubs in a few days. Italy faces an elimination game against Canada on Monday night. If they get through that, they'll have to beat the loser of the USA/Venezuela game.
Alessandro mostly threw fastballs, along with a few curveballs. He had at least one pitch fly out of his hand (XX) and maybe two (SL).
Here's where they ended up.
I'm sticking with the curve and the heat for the rest of these graphs.
Is the curveball a slurve?
The knock on Maestri was location - he didn't throw too many strikes. Slicing and layering the pitches by horizontal and vertical location shows he tended to stay down and away. Not a bad idea against some of those Venezuelan hitters. The first three will all return as starters for the Tigers, BTW.
Wide, Tight, Low and High are all out of the zone. The Up/Middle/Down are even thirds of the zone. For the slices, Fat is 10 inches in the middle, and the other two in-the-zone slices are 7 inches each. Batter hand is normalized for the slices, and each hitter's strike zone (top/bottom) is used for the layers. Those tops/bottoms are based on their average for all pitches in the database, not necessarily the value set by the operator in this case. Who reads this stuff when the italics go this far?
Maestri may not have thrown a lot of strikes, but he has interesting stuff. And he got Magglio looking on his best fastball of the night.
I'm not sure of the WBC rules, but Maestri may have exceeded the pitch count/days-off limits and could be ineligible for Italy's next game. We could see him in camp, and maybe we'll get lucky and have some more data from, say, the Yankee Stadium exhibition games in April.
For the layers, the approach was pretty simple. Balls out of the zone are "Low", in the lower third of the zone are "Down", and then you have "High" and "Up" for above the zone and in the top third of the zone. "Middle" should be self explanatory at this point.
Taking the layer approach, I broke the slices into five - "Wide" and "Tight" are balls, while "Out", "Fat" and "In" are strikes, much like the layers. However, the slices of the zone aren't thirds. The Fat is the middle 10 inches of a two foot strike zone. Out and In are the last 3.5 inches of the plate plus the 3.5 inches off the plate that hitters and umpires treat as in the zone. That's 7/10/7 - so there's more Out and In combined than Fat, but more Fat than either alone.
We know Jeff Samardzija is a power pitcher with a pretty good splitter, but in need of a third pitch. In his last Spring outing, Samardzija threw some weak looking sliders. His outing showed just how far he has to go with his breaking ball. Unless he progress rapidly this Spring, Jeff should end up fronting the Iowa rotation in April.
The new acquisition, Aaron Heilman, is a three-pitch pitcher, no matter what the Mets believed. Relying on a sinker and a top notch change, Heilman can't match Samardzija's power, but has a legitimate slider. I don't believe he threw more than one slider last time out, but the change-up was impressive. His fastball velocity varied quite a bit - 88 to 96 according to WGN's gun.
The front-runner is still Sean Marshall. Marshall's curveball is Grade A and is just one of six pitches he'll use. His repertoire is the deepest of the group, and his approach appears to be the most balanced - in terms of locations.
Into the PITCHf/x
Instead of scatter plots, I'm going to use bar and column graphs to show plate locations. If you've seen my slice graphs before, the layers should be intuitive - same idea, but vertical. For this piece, though, I am doing something a little different - see the "tech notes" for more information.
What you're about to see, broken down by pitch type, boils down like this:
Samardzija lives up with his fastball, may be missing belt-high with his splitter, and may not know where the slider is going.
Heilman stays down and away, but not as down as super-sinkers, like Derek Lowe.
Marshall has a very balanced approach. Some pitches are evenly distributed, he's not afraid to throw strikes, and he can work in and out. His curveball stays middle down.
So, either the slider sails wide, or is fat. Not working the pitcher's part of the zone very much.
Up and away. This is a two-seam fastball.
Not using the pitcher's part of the plate - Out + In should be > Fat
I'm not sure if this is a truly good pattern or not. It is so far away from his fastball, you can imagine hitters laying of low stuff figuring if it's low, it's going to be really low.
Heilman's slider isn't exactly down in the zone.
And neither is his sinker. He gets good movement in the zone. He'll give up his share of hits, though.
That's pretty impressive, especially when contrasted with the fastball.
First example of good balance - Fat > Out+In, but not by a lot.
The two-seam is kept more away and down.
The slider and cutter (next) are very similar.
And here's their complement, the change-up away and down.
Not a lot of "hanging" curveballs, and he throws strikes.
Next time out, I'll revert to scatter plots and how the count impacts location and pitch selection for each. Right now, we've got a project, a crafty veteran and a young lefty who looks to be the real deal.
Monday, March 2, 2009
This is great (from CBS):
Here's the Reds' proposal: Field a team for 2009 with an emphasis on speed and defense. Swear off those big, strapping, lumbering sluggers. Hello Willy Taveras -- beep, beep! -- goodbye Adam Dunn.
"We've had eight years of losing the other way," Baker said. "It's time to do something different, don't you think?"
Fine. Great. Terrific idea.
Except, the Reds' bandbox at home, Great American Ballpark, was the most homer-friendly park in the National League last season with an average of 2.64 homers per game. And it ranked second in the majors to the Chicago White Sox's U.S. Cellular Field (2.76).
I'll be there for about the first half, joined by some of the BtB regulars and a few guests from other blogs. More info here, which is also the link for the chat - starts Tuesday, March 3 at 1pm Central.
Beyond the Boxscore - NL Central Chat
3/02/2009 11:58:00 AM
Sunday, March 1, 2009
This is the first in a multi-part series looking at the candidates for the last rotation spot
The Cubs are leaning towards Sean Marshall taking the last spot in the 2009 rotation. Jeff Samardzija is also getting a look, which should surprise no one. They're both in the mix, along with hot stove acquisition Aaron Heilman.
With Marshall the favorite for the 5th spot (or 4th, depending on where you slot Harden) in Chicago and Samardzija the 1st spot in Iowa, Heilman is emerging as the wild card who could mess up the pretty picture.
The New Guy
Not exactly a fan favorite in New York, the conventional wisdom in Flushing was Heilman didn't have the pitches to move back to the rotation. Heilman wanted to start, seemingly unwilling to take the grief from the fans while not getting a chance to complete in important situations. Being back home makes Heilman more likely to accept a bullpen roll - he's a Hoosier who lives in town during the off-season - but still wants a chance to start.
Heilman's stove has been hotter than most players' this Winter. Aaron left the Mets happily in trade #1 and showed up in Seattle for their fan convention. He was looking forward to working his way into the Mariners rotation, an opportunity that seemed virtually guarenteed. Before he could even begin looking for a place to live, Heilman was shipped to the Cubs for Ronny Cedeno and Garret Olson (who used O'Hare as a stop-over on his way from Baltimore).
The Homegrown Kids
Sean Marshall has shown an ability to adapt to the many assignments Lou and Larry have handed him. This could be to his own detriment, but Lou likes forcing the opponent's hand by starting left-handed pitchers. In any case, Marshall isn't assured of a spot in the rotation, despite the fine work he provided as a spot starter in 2008.
No one doubts Jeff Samardzija's athleticism or ability to step into the bright lights and perform. For one, I doubt his ability to focus when the lights aren't shining (something he admits to, so look out I-Cub fans) and his ability to command his secondary pitches. Either give him the ball to start or in a high leverage situation if you want the Shark's best.
What Do They Throw?
I've covered all three pitchers in the past in this space. Here's a quick recap. Follow the links for pictures/details.
I'll spend some extra time on Heilman, since I figure he's, by far, the least familiar to most readers of this blog.
In this introduction to Heilman, I took a look at his slider, change-up and fastball. Heilman has a funky delivery, what I'm pretty sure is a two-seam fastball and a three finger change. He's got a straight change that comes in about 10 mph under his 94 mph fastball. Don't expect the same velocity when he's starting, however.
In a second look at Heilman, his pitch mix was reviewed*. What I found was the Mets were wrong - Heilman was using his slider more against lefties in 2008, and to good effect. He also was throwing it to righties, something he hadn't done in 2007. I think I can understand why Heilman wanted out of New York.
*In that second post on Heilman, I also checked out some projections on all three subjects of this post
Full set of pitches, including a world class curveball. Sean throws two fastballs, a cutter and a slider to round it out. Here's a look at a nice start from September. This look at a bigger data set, but without a correct split/ID of the fastballs, will give you an idea of when he throws pitches and a few other details on outcomes. At that time, Sean was struggling and falling behind to a lot of hitters.
Samardzija throws a two-seam fastball and not much else worth talking about. Well, that's not fair. He throws that heat close to 96 with a lot of movement. Hitters still seem to be able to make some form of contact with the fastball, but it really sets-up his under-developed array of secondary pitches (slider, splitter, change-up). This review from August covers not only that dynamic, but also an interesting pattern of release points.
Part 2 will start the look at pitching styles - what the three have in common, and how they're different from each other. For now, click the labels below for much much more on Samardzija and Marshall.