Posts Tagged ‘Ricky Romero’

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

Advertisements

I decided to embark on a new five part series in which we will debate and argue the merits of the top five Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays as well as the top five overall athletes in Toronto sports history and finally as a contrast we will do the top ten athletes currently residing in the ‘Big Smoke’.  Feel free to comment and please post your own opinion on any of the top five lists, I am sure there will be seriously differing opinions across the board and people definitely place a different emphasis on things like winning, personal stats and overall impact on the city.

Part I – Top 5 Maple Leafs of all time

Part II – Top 5 Raptors of all time

Part III – Top 5 Blue Jays of all time

Part IV – Top 5 Toronto Sports Athletes of all time

Part V – Top Ten Current Athletes in Toronto

This will be a quick breakdown of the top athletes currently residing in Toronto and it is a down and dirty look at the athlete’s ready to contribute on the Toronto sports scene.  This certainly won’t be referred to as the golden era in Toronto’s sports history, but I’d say the scene is definitely on the up-swing and improving almost daily.  The Jays are looking to be competitive in the next 1-2 seasons, the Leafs look to be in good hands with Brian Burke and the Raptors aren’t as bad as most think, though they are looking lottery bound in 2010/11 (not such a bad thing though?).  Well, here is my list for the top ten current Toronto athletes.

10) SP Brandon Morrow – Toronto Blue Jays

-A hugely talented arm with untapped potential, he might have the most upside of any of the current Blue Jays arms.  Putting together a great first season in Toronto, the future is bright and price to acquire him was right.

9) LW Kris Versteeg – Toronto Maple Leafs

-Coming over from the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks (thank you salary cap) in which he was a key third line member and a heart and soul type player described as having a wicked wrist shot.  Only 24 years old and coming off back to back 20 goal seasons, I think Toronto fans are going to really like this kid.

#8) SP Shaun Marcum – Toronto Blue Jays

-Looks to be completely back after undergoing TJ surgery and has been the Jays best pitcher this season with 151 IPs, 3.70 ERA, 3.83 FIP and an impressive 3.8 K/BB.  Marcum will look to score a longer term contract in the next year or so and will hopefully continue to put hitters away with that nasty changeup for many more seasons.

7) SG Demar Derozan – Toronto Raptors

-The 7th overall pick out of Compton, California and USC University, the sky is the limit for Derozan and the ‘Young Gunz’ (along with Sonny Weems and Amir Johnson), fans are hoping for a big breakout year for Demar to give them some (any) hope for a Toronto Raptors eventual resurgence.  The kid has all the talent and skills you could want and just needs seasoning and some refinements to certain aspects of the game (mid range jumper and handle) to really take that next step.

6) RF Jose Bautista – Toronto Blue Jays

-Bautista leads the majors in homeruns and has been a total beast for the Blue Jays this season (41 HRs, 607 SLG%, .416 wOBA – 4.9 WAR), he has been so good there is some talk the Jays might be best served dealing their top slugger while the getting is good and his value is at an all-time high.  The most debated/discussed Blue Jay player this season, mixed opinions on whether or not he should be around long term.

5) D Tomas Kaberle – Toronto Maple Leafs

-What would a Toronto article be without Kaberle, fact remains he is still one of the best defensemen to suit up for the Leafs and if he remains this season will be counted upon to contribute a huge season. 

4) PF Andrea Bargnani – Toronto Raptors

-The smooth, sharp shooting 7-footer was the 1st overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft and has shown steady improvement each season (in scoring) over the past three years scoring 10.2, 15.4 and 17.2 PPG.  He still needs to improve his overall game, with more focus on rebounding and weak side help defense, however a big man with the ability to drive and dish the rock who will likely average 20.0+ PPG, shoot around 48-49% from the field, 37-38% from 3-point land and hopefully average 7-8 rebounds and 1.5-2 blocks per game don’t exactly grow on trees.  Andrea doesn’t get enough credit for the player he has become, expect that opinion and sentiment to change with a huge 2010/11 season as the Raptors go to guy.

3) SP Ricky Romero – Toronto Blue Jays

-JP Ricciardi envisioned this type of success for his first pick (6th overall) in the 2005 MLB Amateur Draft but it took Ricky a few seasons in the minors to finally flourish and make it to the big leagues (too little, too late for our old buddy JP though) but flourish he has.  The Jays lefty recently signed a contract extension that will keep in Toronto for the next 5 seasons, hopefully his prime years are still to come.  In 2010, Romero has been great, in 172.2 IPS he has a 3.54 ERA, 3.59 FIP, solid ground ball rate and a pretty good 7.7 K/9.

2) D Dion Phaneuf – Toronto Maple Leafs

-When you are the new captain of the most popular team in town, you are going to get some attention and since entering the league Phaneuf has definitely drawn his fair share.  The top scoring defensemen since joining the league, the hard hitting Alberta native is being counted upon to lead the Brian Burke era in team history and fans are excited and anxious to see what a full season of a motivated Dion Phaneuf can bring to the team. 

1) RW Phil Kessel – Toronto Maple Leafs

-There haven’t been many better skilled Leafs than Phil the Thrill in the team’s long history and the slight forward will again be counted upon to lead the woeful Maple Leafs forward core to the hopeful goal of making the playoffs.  Playing with a relatively unknown (and rookie) centre in Tyler Bozak, Kessel still managed 30 goals in 70 games and fans are hoping he can take his game to the next level and become a 40-45 goal scorer with a full season to come in 2010/11.

Drafted in the first round (5th overall) in 2006, he has been called the ‘American’ Sydney Crosby with his unbelievable level of skill and shooting ability.  Kessel will only be 23 at the start of the season and though the trade and cost to acquire Kessel is hotly debated, the player we received certainly cannot be, Kessel is legit and one of the most skilled players in the game.

This concludes my five part series looking back at some of the greatest players to ever play for our beloved Toronto sports franchises and also a quick glimpse at who is currently leading the charge for hopeful future success. 

Hope you enjoyed it.

Although he doesn’t lead the Blue Jays starting staff in wins (Shaun Marcum with 10), ERA (Ricky Romero at 3.37) or K/BB (Shaun Marcum at 3.9) I think it’s safe to say the arm that Blue Jays fans are most excited about going forward is none other than ‘Mr.1-Hitter’ himself Brandon Morrow.  If you didn’t realize how good he was prior to yesterday afternoon’s start versus the Rays, you are probably starting to take another look.

My initial thought after learning we had acquired Morrow from the Mariners was the price was probably fairly steep, after reading it was Brandon League and a minor leaguer named Johermyn Chavez (ranked #10 on Marc Hulet’s Fangraphs Top 10 prospect list in Feb/2010) who is having a very huge season for the Class A Seattle Mariners minor league team (312/380/575 – 27 HRs), I was fairly surprised.

Still, you had to figure the Jays would give Morrow every opportunity to prove himself in a starter’s role making it likely he would be more valuable than any relief pitcher almost regardless of a hugely successful 2010 campaign, especially on a team with a deep bullpen like the Blue Jays.  The fact that Chavez is having a solid minor league campaign at least lessens the blow for Mariners fans – sort of.

Through 22 starts in 2010 Morrow has been a revelation and another young arm the Jays can hopefully build around to begin a hopeful meaningful ascension in the AL East starting as soon as next season.  Mind you Morrow hasn’t been a starter his entire career but let’s take a look at some key stats compared to his career levels.     

YEAR K/9 BB/9 FIP xFIP FB velo wSL/c* BABIP HR/FB ERA
2010 10.6 4.0 3.26 3.69 93.6 2.20 .340 7.4% 4.45
CAREER 9.8 5.1 4.05 4.32 94.6 0.49 .305 8.7% 4.15

*wSL/c – Fangraphs pitch value per 100 pitches thrown.

After racking up an impressive 17 K’s vs. the Rays on August 8th Morrow now has 151 strikeouts in only 127.1 innings and continues to lead the major leagues in K/9 at 10.6.  His control has been much improved compared to his career levels and the budding Morrow has even showcased improved control as the season has progressed (2.7, 3.5, 2.5 BB/9 over the past 3 months) giving Jays fans even more reason for optimism.  Quite simply I feel that Brandon Morrow has the most untapped potential of all the Jays current starting pitchers, including Kyle Drabek.

Morrow has been pounding his hard moving fastball (93.6 MPH) and has been putting them away with one of the better pitches in baseball in 2010, his nasty slider.  According to Fangraphs Pitch values per 100 pitches thrown Morrow’s slider has been the 8th best in the game this season at 2.20, currently tops is Scott Feldman with an insane 9.59, and Morrow is just behind Francisco Liriano who checks in at 2.66.

In one of the best performances of the 2010 season (that is saying a lot this year) Morrow threw 38 sliders in total with an average velocity of 85.8 MPH.  Of the 38 sliders he threw 71% were swung at and of the 71% that were swung on Morrow had an amazing 36.8% whiff rate, 31.6% were hit foul and only 2.6% were actually put into play.  To put it simply when he threw a slider, the hitter’s didn’t have a chance. 

Here is some Pitch F/X data from his August 8th start vs. Tampa Bay, look at the vertical drop in the 84-86 MPH range:

 For the day Morrow was getting some serious vertical drop on his slider as it was dropping over 3.0 inches according to the data, while moving only 1.08 inches horizontally.  Compare that to Zach Greinke’s past 17 sliders which moved only 1.75 inches vertically and 3.74 inches horizontally respectively.  Armed with a notoriously tight and nasty slider, Francisco Liriano’s past 75 sliders have been thrown harder (over 2 MPH harder than Morrow) but have moved less (hence “tight”) averaging only 0.64 inches vertically and 0.37 inches downward.  All three starters have been effective throwing their sliders and all throw it with distinctly differing movement.

The Blue Jays are getting a lot of value out of Brandon Morrow so far this year (3.0+ WAR) and it is quite possible we have not even seen the best that Morrow can offer.  Combining his heavy fastball with a nasty slider and improving overall control Morrow is definitely an arm people are again starting to pay attention to across the majors.