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Since the Detroit Tigers landed big slugging 1B/DH Prince Fielder and signed him to a massive nine-year $214 million dollar contract I have heard (and read) from a lot of Blue Jays fans – and the general consensus is they are fed up, frustrated and upset.  They heard the rumblings that the Jays were going to be potential players on this year’s free agent market, that the team had permission to spend, not as much as the New York Yankees but at least to the level of the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels.

Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t make many mistakes and hasn’t taken much in the way of criticism since he took over the reins from J.P. Ricciardi but this offseason he has done a poor job at one thing, controlling the expectations of an impatient fan base.  The Jays were allegedly interested in Yu Darvish and might have (or not) placed on a bid for the Japanese star pitcher and “Jays Nation” ate this story up and ran with it.

There were numerous reports stating the Jays were at first interested, and then really interested, then super-duper hardcore interested.  With only a few days left until the posting deadline expired the Jays were even called the hands on favourites to win the bidding.  The Jays policy has been a strict one, and up to this point a sound one, they do not comment on rumours or alleged reports on available players.

In this day and age with twitter, facebook and other various media outlets hammering home a variety of hot stories and rumours it is probably best to just leave it to them and not make an official ‘statement’ one way or another.  But in this instance I would have toned down the rhetoric (we have money to spend) and tried to “turn down the temperature” for any big off season plans the Jays had.

In what is shaping up to be a hotly contested and heavily debated AL MVP race I thought I would share a few thoughts as we head down the stretch.  The popular candidates at this point seem to be the New York Yankees CF Curtis Granderson the Boston Red Sox CF Jacoby Ellsbury, 2B Dustin Pedroia and 1B Adrian Gonzalez as well as the Toronto Blue Jays RF/3B Jose Bautista.

Statistically this is a one-horse race as Joey Bats is far and away the best player in baseball, ok, you need proof?  Damn you!

2011 AVG OBP SLG woBA wRC+ WAR HR RBI R
J.Bautista 314 454 649 459 196 7.7 37 82 92
C.Granderson 277 374 585 410 160 6.0 35 98 115
J.Ellsbury 315 372 521 393 147 6.8 23 81 93
D.Pedroia 307 396 469 382 139 7.0 16 69 80
A.Gonzalez 347 409 554 410 159 5.5 21 99 87

 I included a few counting stats that are often used to measure the value of potential candidates (HR, RBI, R) but before you look at RBIs and runs please first look at the average runs scored by each the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, 5.4 runs per game.  The Blue Jays on the other hand with the inferior overall line-up score 4.7 runs per game, a solid mark actually (fourth overall in MLB!) but I don’t think I am going  out on a limb when I say Bautista doesn’t have the surrounding talent (for now) that the other candidates enjoy.

With that out of the way why is there even any debate?  Bautista has the best stats in baseball by a wide margin and is producing a near historic season, apparently it’s because the Blue Jays are only a fourth place team in the AL East.  I think that has been a ridiculous argument over the years and even more so in this instance.

Imagine the Blue Jays played in the horrendous AL Central, they would likely be leading that division by a few games (and would’ve likely added a few pieces at the deadline) as there Pyth W-L record this season is an impressive 67-22 (4.7 RF, 4.5 RA) while the division “leading” Detroit Tigers sports a Pyth W-L of 65-64 (4.5 RF, 4.5 RA).

The Blue Jays haven’t had much luck this season when considering just there run differential (which is what Pythagorean win-loss theory is based on) let alone when we consider the division they currently reside in.  The AL East is an absolute beast and for my money the hardest division in sports.  The Jays would beat up on the AL Central, no question about it in my mind.

To my point, are we now saying that if the Blue Jays were in fact playing in the weak AL Central division (and likely leading it handily) that suddenly Jose Bautista is a legit MVP candidate but because they are in the hardest division in sports, holding their own but only fourth place, he isn’t?  Put the Blue Jays in almost any other division and they are suddenly looking more like contenders than “just a fourth place team” while also making Jose Bautista’s MVP candidacy more legit for the “needs to play on a winner” crowd.

As it stands right now Jose Bautista is the most valuable player in baseball, no matter how you view it.

Former Blue Jays GM JP Ricciardi has taken his share of criticism since departing from the team but the franchise does owe him a bit of gratitude for leaving behind two of the best players on the roster, Jose Bautista and newly minted “boss” starter Ricky Romero.  I wanted to focus on the latter today considering you must have been on Mars for the past 18 months if you aren’t familiar with the exploits of one Jose Bautista.

Ricardo Romero was born November 6th, 1984 in East Los Angeles, California and was drafted 6th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2005 MLB amateur draft.  The 2005 draft year in MLB is akin to the 2003 NBA draft that produced Lebron James and Dwayne Wade, among a few other stars.  Taken ahead of Romero that year was Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Jeff Clement (ouch, the Detroit Pistons of this draft) Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Braun.

It doesn’t stop there check some of the names taken after Mr. Romero: Troy Tulowitzki, Mike Pelfrey, Cameron Maybin, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Chris Volstad, Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Garza,  Blue Jays CF Colby Rasmus, Clay Buchholz and Jed Lowrie.  Ok, forget comparing it to the 2003 NBA draft, or any draft, that is a who’s who of young baseball talent and even a few franchise players.

Considering his home park and division Ricky Romero has been one of the best left handed starters in baseball the past two seasons.  Brandon Morrow has the best stuff on the staff but Ricky Romero is our best pitcher.  Let’s do a quick comparison against another top lefty who most assume is a Cy Young contender annually, let’s see if you can guess his identity based on current stats.

2011 ERA xFIP K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 BAA GB% WAR
Romero 2.73 3.63 7.5 3.2 2.3 0.87 .242 55.1 2.7
Player B 3.22 3.43 8.7 3.2 2.7 0.97 .231 50.6 2.7

Pretty even across the board although it is clear that Player B is more of a strikeout pitcher while we all know Ricky Romero likes to induce groundball outs when he can.  Player B is Boston Red Sox lefty Jon Lester who is having another very solid season in another tough ball park and tough AL East.  Lester is often among a handful of candidates when discussing best pitcher in the game while it is very rare that Romero will get the same type of praise.

Market and city has a lot to do with the difference in perceived value but Romero is 11 months younger than Lester and performing at a very similar clip over the past two seasons.  Lester was quite a bit better last year overall (5.6 WAR) but Romero held his own throwing 200+ IPs for the first time in his career (4.0 WAR).

His intense demeanour during his starts is a testament to a desire to win and his light hearted banter with teammates on off days make him an ideal leader and role model in the clubhouse for some of the future Blue Jays arms that are being stockpiled in the minor leagues.  Maybe Tyler Beede was too intimidated to sign with the Jays after one glimpse of Romero’s scowl walking off the mound?

Don’t take this as campaigning for a Cy Young and I wouldn’t even call this a breakout season for Romero as most of his peripherals are identical year over year but it is just as nice to see him settling into a dependable workhorse starter for the Blue Jays.  Maybe Blue Jays fans were spoiled all those years watching the legend that is Roy Halladay apply his craft that we don’t appreciate the fact Rick Romero is developing into a true number one starter.

Bonus: Most Valuable MLB Players From 2001-2010

If you haven’t already heard the Toronto Blue Jays were unable to sign their top pick from the 2011 MLB Amateur draft Tyler Beede. The right handed starting pitcher will honour his committment and attend Vanderbilt in the fall. Alex Anthopoulos discussed that and other issues in the video below, I could listen to him all night, what a great baseball mind.

Alex Anthopoulos continues to mystify and impress the Toronto Blue Jays fan base and I think his latest acquisition of prized outfielder Colby Rasmus helps remind us all that we have one of the best minds in baseball at the helm.  I am almost starting to worry that other GMs will simply stop dealing with Alex and the Jays with the worry they may be getting fleeced. 

Kind of strange that Zach Stewart has never set foot in AAA to play for Las Vegas in the ultimate offensive environment isn’t it?  Stewart at 25 is a dinosaur (in prospect years) and probably one of the oldest players in that league and putting up very pedestrian numbers to boot.  Anthopoulos and the Jays knew if he played the whole season in Vegas his stats would likely look terrible and either kill his waning confidence even more or worse, destroy any remaining trade value he might have had.

Keith Law is an excellent talent evaluator and a great baseball writer but I have never understood his fascination with Stewart, whom he still claims is a great prospect in the Jays organization.  I disagreed vehemently via twitter with the rationale he was an aged, overrated and underwhelming talent likely destined for the bullpen at some point and let’s just say he didn’t agree, at all. 

 
@keithlaw keithlaw
@tdotsports1 It is hard to get such a large quantity of wrong into a single tweet. Well done
 

Not to beat a dead horse but seriously 25 years old, still in AA and not even dominating much younger competition?  He flashed a 90 MPH fastball in his brief MLB cameo and through 94 IPs in AA has a 7.06 K/9, .283 BAA, 1.41 WHIP and a 3.35 FIP.  Not horrific but nothing that jumps out at you screaming ‘stud’ and certainly nobody considered untouchable if a Colby Rasmus could be acquired.

Colby Rasmus is a 24-year old CF with a boatload of potential and has a pretty impressive MLB resume already as well.  He was ranked the 41st most valuable trade asset in baseball by Fangraphs (yeah, a pretty reliable source) and was ahead of such names as Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Wieters.

So to recap we traded a bullpen arm in Jason Frasor, a 25-year old pitching “prospect” in Zach Stewart and a good young lefty (but a reliever currently) in Mark Rzepczynski and we received a top 50 MLB asset in CF Colby Rasmus?  Right, next you are going to tell me somebody took Vernon Wells’ and Alex Rios entire contracts, gave us Yunel Escobar for Alex Gonzalez and we were able to sign the best hitter in baseball to a below-market contract that saved us around $100 million total dollars.

That’s not say Rasmus is not without warts given his long time ‘feud’ with the guru Tony LaRussa and relative step back stats wise in 2011 he still has a lot to prove.  He is currently slashing 246/332/420 with 11 HRs – good for a .332 wOBA.  He has maintained his great patience (11.7 BB%) and cut down his strikeouts dramatically (19.9 K%) and still has a decent .175 ISO (isolated slugging).

Defensively he won’t be confused with Austin Jackson in CF and UZR has never been a huge fan of his as witnessed by his -7.1 UZR rating in over 2800 IPs in centre.  His best tool is the bat and if he can continue to show good patience and an improving eye while maintaining (or adding) to his fairly impressive power stroke he could be a real boost to an already impressive Blue Jays line-up and a great left handed bat to go with the big righty Jose Bautista. 

He will likely man centre until prospect Anthony Gose proves he can hack it in the big league offensively, Gose is supposed to be a plus defender with great speed.  Colby Rasmus is young and was ranked as the 3rd best prospect in baseball in 2009 by Baseball America and will remain relatively cheap until 2014 though he is heading for arbitration at the end of this season and will see a decent raise.

As per Fangraphs here is how the massive three team trade worked out:

Blue Jays: Colby Rasmus, Mark Teahen, Brian Tallet, Trever Miller, P.J. Walters

Cardinals: Octavio Dotel, Mark Rzepczynski, Edwin Jackson, Cory Patterson

White Sox: Jason Frasor, Zach Stewart

The biggest minus to the trade is losing Mark Rzepczynski who has shown to be a more than capable relief pitcher while still having the potential to one day join the Blue Jays rotation.  My condolences go out to ‘Scrabbles’ biggest stalker fan Drew Fairservice at Ghostrunner on First

Sorry dude, but you have to give to get!

When I saw that Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick would be entering the Baseball Hall of Fame together it was pretty exciting to see two key members of the back-to-back World Series champion Toronto Blue Jays being recognized.  Naturally the first thing that came to my mind was “the trade” Pat Gillick pulled off and how much that seemingly turned the Jays from a strong team to a championship calibre squad.

On December 5th, 1990 the Toronto Blue Jays sent 1B Fred McGriff and SS Tony Fernandez to the San Diego Padres for 2B Roberto Alomar and 1B/LF Joe Carter.  Gillick and the Blue Jays are often lauded for the deal and it is considered by many Blue Jays fans as a steal for Toronto, I wanted to take a different look at that trade today. 

Although the Blue Jays obviously went on to become the first non-American franchise in baseball history to win not only one World Series title, but two in back-to-back variety (1992 & 1993), is that enough for you to consider the trade successful?  Most GMs in sports consider any trade that nets a championship a success, no matter the cost – flags fly forever right?

Without the titles was the trade as big of a success as people make it out to be, I wanted to take a quick look at that today.  Let’s start with what the Blue Jays received from both Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter.

Carter, the hero of the 1993 World Series with his series-winning walk-off homerun against the Philadelphia Phillies and the “Wild thing” Mitch Williams will always be considered a Blue Jays legend.  Carter played 7 seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays and gave the team 203 HRs and produced a 9.8 WAR (Wins above replacement level player).

Alomar, the only Blue Jays player to ever be enshrined in Cooperstown is one of the greatest second basemen to ever play the game (behind only Joe Morgan and Rogers Hornsby in my opinion) but played only 5 seasons for the Jays.  Alomar had 832 hits, 206 steals, 451 runs and produced a 22.3 WAR during his short but productive reign.

The Blue Jays let both Carter and Alomar walk as free agents and received nothing in return for either of them so there are no assets to also take into account, which hurts the overall value of the trade when we look at what we gave up.

Tony Fernandez is one of the franchise’s great all-time players and though he returned to the Jays on a few different occasions I just wanted to add up his total value since leaving the Jays originally in the Alomar/Carter trade. 

Fernandez went on to play 9 more MLB seasons with various teams and even returned to the Jays for two more years (1998 & 1999) and was still productive and as popular as ever.  In the 9 seasons since the trade he amassed 1134 hits, 108 SBs, 547 runs and produced a solid 17.7 WAR.  He wasn’t a superstar but played the game hard and will go down as a 1980s Blue Jays icon along with George Bell, Jesse Barfield, Lloyd Moseby and Dave Stieb (among others).

Fred McGriff had a surprisingly productive career and even jacked 30 HRs as early as 2002.  McGriff went on to hit 368 HRs and produced an impressive 39.9 WAR.  He finished his career with 493 HRs, 1550 RBIs and a .382 wOBA.  He was easily the most productive player in the trade and a guy the Jays likely regretted dealing all things considered.

Again this is not to say the trade shouldn’t have been made and I am not implying it wasn’t a successful deal.  Losing McGriff was the biggest loss but we did have a very successful 1B of our own pretty shortly after when Carlos Delgado took over and had some of the best offensive seasons in Jays history.  You can never take those two championship banners from Toronto and that is the bottom line here but to say the trade was a total steal is wrong.

We got 5 productive seasons from Alomar, 7 from Joe Carter,  and two rings but also gave up young stud first-basemen and one of the best Blue Jays middle infielders of all-time.  Maybe I am just too big of a Tony Fernandez fan!

As the All-star break draws near the baseball pundits are starting to announce, proclaim and reason as to who they feel are the most deserving “first half” award winners.  As I love to read about baseball I am always scouring the net for anything related to the game.  As I have read more and more pieces about who should be the AL MVP I am stunned to see that it is not the slam dunk answer it should be.

Here are the two most widely mentioned candidates:

  AVG OBP SLG OPS HR BB% K% wOBA WAR
A 348 405 583 989 16 8.1 18.4 .422 4.4
B 331 467 687 1154 28 19.8 18.1 .481 6.1

 

On what planet would anybody even give minor consideration that Player A (Red Sox Adrian Gonzalez) can even sniff the jock of Player B (Blue Jays Jose Bautista) let alone give the asinine opinion that Adrian Gonzalez is the more “valuable” player than the best hitter in baseball?  Don’t give me the helps his team win more games, or the Red Sox have the better record and Jose Bautista while a great hitter hasn’t helped the Jays more in the win-loss column.

Jose Bautista is so far superior to almost any hitter in baseball none of those things matter, for this season.  When there is a needed “tie-breaker” because the players are neck and neck in terms of statistical analysis than fine, I will begrudgingly accept the old and tired win-loss debate.  But for the first half of 2011 how can any knowledgeable baseball writer even think of not saying Jose Bautista is the game’s best?

To further illustrate my point let’s compare Adrian Gonzalez to another player:

  AVG OBP SLG OPS HR BB% K% wOBA WAR
Ad.Gonz 348 405 583 989 16 8.1 18.4 .422 4.4
B 275 395 569 964 17 16.0 22.0 .414

 

Player B has pretty solid stats right across the board and is neck and neck with Adrian Gonzalez in most categories.  Player B is the ZIPS rest of season projections (courtesy of Fangraphs) for Jose Bautista.  Now a caveat, when a player like Bautista who has scorched the baseball world in the first 79 games of the season the ZIPS projections will be that much more conservative for the rest of the season stats.  If I had to vote for MVP, of course I would give it to Adrian Gonzalez with this comparison yet it goes to show just how talented Jose Bautista is.

Maybe Jose Bautista has just been luckier, Adrian Gonzalez has a .389 BABIP while Jose Bautista has a .322.  Jose Bautista does have a higher HR/FB this year (26.7) but it isn’t that far off last seasons (21.7).  Jose Bautista has played RF and 3B and has the highest WAR in baseball as well as the MLB lead in HRs, BB%, ISO, OBP, SLG%, wOBA and in some cases by a wide margin.

To quote Anderson Cooper it is high time we started “Keeping them honest” when it comes to misinformed and highly impartial baseball writing and opinion.  This year (for one half of a baseball season) the race for the AL MVP is not even close, it is Jose Bautista, all day every day.

#Beastmode – follow me on twitter.

With the news that Toronto Blue Jays slugger and all-time leading (one time) All-Star vote getter Jose Bautista (that was a mouthful) will be entering the 2011 All-Star Game Home Run Derby I have heard more than a few people mention the possibility of the dreaded “jinx”.  I am not sure where this started and there isn’t a worse crowd than the baseball world to bring out mostly unfounded superstition.

But I was bored and I thought I would give a lazy effort to see if there was any merit at all to this theory that a player will magically fall off after hitting in the derby.  For this exercise I must caution it is very rudimentary and doesn’t include a few things I was either not in the mood to look up like HR/FB ratio in the second half and overall FB% which would have given us a much better overall indicator of any supposed drop off.

Second a lot of players are just going to simply tire down the stretch and their homerun numbers suffer.  Third some of the players on this list aren’t really just homerun hitters and possibly had big first half numbers (hence, making the all-star game) that were never sustainable over a full season and thus the inevitable second half decline to bring their overall numbers back into line.

I included the past five HR derby’s and used the two finalists from each as presumably the longer you go in this competition the worse it will supposedly “wreck” your swing.  The “1st half” numbers are in bold and the “2nd half” or post all-star game numbers aren’t.

2010 HR AB/HR HR AB/HR
D.Ortiz 18 14 14 19
H.Ramirez 13 25 8 27
2009 HR AB/HR HR AB/HR
P.Fielder 22 14 24 12
N.Cruz 22 13 11 15
2008 HR AB/HR HR AB/HR
J.Morneau 14 26 9 28
J.Hamilton 21 18 11 22
2007 HR AB/HR HR AB/HR
V.Guerrero 14 26 13 20
A.Rios 17 20 7 41
2006 HR AB/HR HR AB/HR
R.Howard 28 11 30 8.8!
D.Wright 20 17 6 40
2005 HR AB/HR HR AB/HR
B.Abreu 18 18 6 44
I.Rodriguez 6 49 8 25

Again with a very basic look at the past five homerun derby finalists we see that of the twelve players involved seven had worse overall performances when considering AB/HR.  While it isn’t a comprehensive study I don’t feel that anything conclusive could be shown with the data presented nor did I expect it to. 

Some guys have hot second half’s like the unreal 2006 season by Ryan Howard (seriously, what a season!) and some guys were always going to fall off in terms of overall power (like David Wright in 2006). 

So for anybody thinking this could potentially ruin the best hitter in the game, think again.  If Jose Bautista goes on to a worse second half it will have nothing to do with a serious version of batting practise.  For those curious here are Jose Bautista’s current HR numbers heading into the all-star game. 

Bautista – 27 HRs, one every 10 ABs.

Yesterday afternoon Toronto Blue Jays prized hitting 3B prospect Brett Lawrie continued his monumental start at the ‘AAA’ level going 2-4 with 2 homeruns, driving in 4 and walking once.  Lawrie, only 21 is one of the youngest players in the league and has shown he has all of the tools and talent to one day become an integral part of the Toronto Blue Jays line-up. 

Though some have called on the Jays to bring the youngster up as soon as humanly possible I feel general manager Alex Anthopoulos and company have handled the kid perfectly.  Through 43 games Lawrie has absolutely raked, slashing 346/403/633 with 15 2Bs, 11 HRs and even 9 SBs to boot.  What more could a team ask of its star prospect with an ISO approach .300?

 

“I’m very pleased with how he’s responded to us asking him to be a little more selective in his at bats,” said Anthopoulos. “I’m more excited about him today than I was in April when he was hitting .430.”

I feel the exact same as the Jays have felt, Lawrie has been impressive but if he thinks he will be able to walk all over AL East major league pitching on a nightly basis without a much more selective approach he is going to be sadly mistaken.  As it stands now Lawrie has a less than stellar 6.9 BB% and while his K-rate is only 19% what has me most excited is seeing the adjustments and progress he is making at the plate.

 “When I look at a game report for Lawrie the first thing I look at is the number of pitches seen per plate appearance,” said Anthopoulos. “When they’re not going to give him a lot to hit we need to see that he’s made the adjustment, and he’s starting to do that.”

Over his past ten games (and 40 ABs) the Jays top prospect has slashed 375/490/800 (including  7 extra-base hits) and though it is a small sample size the most impressive stat that stands out in my mind is the 9 BBs to go with only 7 Ks – a stellar 18+ BB%.  If Lawrie continues this trend and focuses on taking quality at-bat after quality at-bat we might have a true star in the making.

While I don’t think Brett Lawrie is destined to become the major league leader in the walk category given his natural ability to square the bat on the ball in a very consistent matter any added patience and increase plate discipline could see Lawrie go from good to great, especially at a valuable corner infield spot like third base. 

So when will we likely see Brett Lawrie on the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre?  When he is fully ready to take over on a full-time basis and not a second sooner, and if that also happens to save his pending “super two” status even better, but that would be purely coincidental of course (wink, wink).  Be patient Jays fans this invaluable seasoning and progress being shown by our star prospect could go a long, long way in helping Lawrie be the best player he can possibly be.

Prospect guru John Sickels took in a recent Las Vegas 51 game and wrote a glowing scouting report on Brett.

**UPDATE, Ken Rosenthal reports Brett Lawrie will be called up as soon as Friday June 3rd, 2011**

 
Ken Rosenthal

@Ken_Rosenthal Ken Rosenthal
All signs point to #BlueJays promoting Lawrie on Friday. Move not official yet. #MLB
 
**02Jun2011 UPDATE** The saga continues, Brett Lawrie was beaned by a pitch during a game 31May2011 and injured his hand.  Turns out it was only a bruise so hopefully nothing to worry about.

Well I always knew Kyle Drabek was going to be amazing and after his impressive 2011 season debut on Saturday, April 2nd, 2011 against the Minnesota Twins I think I have been proven correct.  Ok, so actually I was a bit rough on him in my Top Blue Jays prospects piece based on his so-so minor league resume and while one game doesn’t make a season and certainly doesn’t make a career his performance on Saturday was a step in the right direction.

The Minnesota Twins quite frankly looked lost against the relatively unknown major league commodity Kyle Drabek and Drabek took advantage carving up the Twins with a wide assortment of two and four seam fastballs and an effective cut fastball.  The cut fastball was especially effective on the outside corner of the plate against left-handed batters as Drabek caught a few Twins looking for strike three – though it appeared the strike zone at times was slightly favouring the pitcher. 

The Twins took feeble hacks most of the game during Drabek’s seven strong innings and his final line was pretty impressive – 7 IPs, 1 hit, 1 earned, 3 walks and 7 strikeouts.  It took him 101 pitches to get through seven innings and while his defense picked him up at times he was clearly in total command for most of the outing.

The seven strikeouts are extremely encouraging and although the league will adjust to Drabek as they learn his nuances a bit better an even better sign was the amount of worm burners he was inducing – 11 ground outs to only one fly out.  A look at the pitch f/x data will give us a more complete picture and I was especially curious to see how the cutter would look in terms of movement, velocity and placement. 

According to Brooks Baseball Drabek threw 14 cutters (9 for strikes, only 1 swinging) and the average horizontal break was 1.41 inches with an average speed of 90 MPH.  For comparison the wicked cutter of Mariano Rivera can move 2.5+ inches away from a righty, but that isn’t fair to any pitcher as he has made a living on one pitch and has obviously mastered it.

Here is another chart plotting horizontal movement with speed and pitch type.

Drabek changed speeds well, threw a variety of different fastballs to each side of the plate and flashed a pretty solid curveball at times as well.  Have a look at the vertical movement and horizontal movement of each pitch as well.

We have to temper our excitement and expectations given his age, lack of experience and in my mind still a suspect minor league track record but to not come away totally impressed with Kyle Drabek’s season debut is extremely imprudent.  Drabek’s next start should come Friday night (April 8th, 2011) against the L.A. Angels, I am sure a lot of eyes will be on that game to see just how he will follow up his stellar debut.

Let’s talk about Kyle Drabek and the Jays on TWITTER, follow me @tdotsports1

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