Hanson’s MLB Debut Pitch F/X
By PWHjort | June 8, 2009
Update 06/08/2009: Velocity Chart Changed: more aesthetically pleasing.
I just finished compiling all the pitch f/x data for Tommy Hanson’s MLB debut so I could make a velocity chart and analyze his outing. Hanson’s final like was 6.0 IP (18 outs recorded), 7 runs (6 earned), 6 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 1 double, 3 home runs, and 1 batter reached on an error on the infield.
And here is the velocity chart:
(The blue squares are fastballs, the yellow up-side down triangles are sliders, the orange diamonds are curveballs, and the maroon side-ways triangle is the change-up)
Tommy Hanson Velocity Chart
Now, for the raw data. Hanson threw 91 total pitches. He threw 55 fastballs, 16 curveballs, 19 sliders, and 1 change-up (a ball WAY outside to Prince Fielder). The average velocity of his fastball was 93.6 MPH. The average velocity of his curveball was 75.88 MPH. The average velocity of his slider was 88.0 MPH. And the change-up he threw clocked at 83 MPH. I’m wondering if that change-up was something that he wasn’t trying to do and the ball slipped out of his hand but it charted as a change-up. I don’t know, but it isn’t really important to the analysis.
There were 20 action pitches on Hanson’s fastball. 12 outs, 2 singles, 1 double, 3 home runs, 1 walk, and 1 batter reached on an error (J. J. Hardy courtesy of Yunel, though it was a tough play). Hitters posted a line of .316/.350/.842 off of his fastball. There were 3 action pitches on his curveball and they all resulted in outs. There were also 3 action pitches on his slider that also all resulted in outs. Of the 5 strikeouts he got, 3 were on his fastball. 2 of them were swinging and 1 was looking. The other 2 were swinging through his curveball.
So why was his fastball getting hit so hard? Well the velocity was certainly there with an average of 93.6 (that’s very fast). And just looking at the game you’ll see that the movement on his fastball was there. Not flat by any means.
3 of the times his fastball got hit were in 2 strike counts. A single was hit in a 1-2 count, the double was hit in a 2-2 count, and one of the homers was hit in an 0-2 count. I don’t know if this was the Management’s decision or David Ross’s decision or Tommy Hanson’s decision, but why throw a fastball 0-2 or 1-2? OK, it’s fine to throw a fastball 0-2 or 1-2, but probably not for a strike. David Ross kept calling for fastballs with 2 strikes on the hitter. I was thinking to myself, “0-2, go to the slider or 1-2, give ‘em the hook”, but the fastball kept on coming. Organizations frequently encourage young starters to throw more fastballs. Which I can’t really argue with. But after you’ve established your dominance with the fastball (in the words of Tim Lincecum ha.), there’s nothing wrong with throwing an 0-2 slider in the dirt or a 1-2 slider or curveball or whatever. You have pitches to waste. Anyway, after striking out Prince Fielder on a 95 MPH Fastball and Mat Gamel on a 96 MPH Fastball in the 2nd, it seemed like every time Hanson got 2 strikes he tended to favor the fastball. And it also seemed like he was over-throwing it, because it moved more. Into the right-handed hitters. And all 3 home runs were hit off right-handed hitters. The first home run was hit by Braun in a 1-0 count. And he’s Ryan Braun, every now and then he’ll hit one in a 1-0 count. One of the singles was hit in a 2-0 count. When you fall behind a hitter you frequently give up hits. At least it was only a single. And the final home-run was hit by Mike Cameron in an 0-1 count, again trying to over-throw the fastball when he’s ahead in the count. The batter that reached on an error was in a 1-2 count, but that’s an error and not very significant to my analysis.

The moral of the story is: don’t try to over-throw your fastball when you’re ahead in the count. And don’t throw an inside fastball to a right-handed hitter when you’re ahead in the count. I’d like to see Hanson go down and away with the fastball 0-1 more often and come back with a slider or curveball 0-2. He threw a lot of 0-1 curveballs today. Not that that’s bad, but you like to save your “out” pitches for “out” situations.
He did a fairly good job of mixing his pitches and keeping the hitters off balance. He threw a few too many fastballs, and that’s probably not his fault (may be, but probably Ross’s or Management’s/the Organization’s). One thing is for sure, he was impressive. Not super-effective, but very impressive. He got 18 outs on 91 pitches. If he does a little bit better job of mixing his pitches next outing he should be perfectly capable of going the distance.

Topics: Atlanta Braves, Pitching, Player Analysis, Velocity Chart | No Comments »
Chop-n-Change Seeks New Writer
By PWHjort | June 8, 2009
A fellow Braves blogger, Alex Remington of Chop-n-Change, is holding a writing contest in hopes or recruiting a new writer for his site. If you’re not familiar with it, Chop-n-Change is the Atlanta Braves Blog on the MVN Network and is a very well regarded blog both within the Braves blogging community and the blogging community as a whole. I personally greatly enjoy the work they do, one of my favorite articles of theirs is an interview with B. B. Abbott, the agent that represents Chipper Jones and Brian McCann among many others. This is a great opportunity to write for a fairly large audience and immediately make a name for yourself by joining a well respected blog. I got into writing, established my contacts, and caught a lot of breaks with a situation very similar to this one, so don’t let it pass you by. If you’re interested, please click here for more information about the contest and the position. And if you are interested, I encourage you to apply.
Here’s the link if you need to copy and paste it:
http://mvn.com/chopnchange/2009/06/contest-for-a-new-writer-at-chop-n-change.html
Topics: Atlanta Braves | No Comments »
Braves 2009 MLB Draft 1st Round Preview
By PWHjort | June 6, 2009
The Braves have a luxury they haven’t had in a long time. Due to last year’s poor performance, the Braves will select 7th in the 2009 MLB First Year Player (Rule 4) Draft. This is the highest that they have made a selection since 1991. They picked second that year. The year before they had selected Chipper Jones with the number 1 overall pick. And that has seemed to work out alright.
Anyway, selecting 7th is a unique opportunity to bring in a premium prospect. The Braves have made it known that they will select a pitcher with the 7th overall pick. And there are 4 legitimate possibilities. Stephen Strasburg, Dustin Ackley, Aaron Crow, and Tanner Scheppers will most probably be gone by pick 7, so of the 4 we are virtually guaranteed to be able to select one of them. So we’ll take a look at our 4 possibilities.
1) The Dream Pick: Tyler Matzek.
Matzek is a 6′3″ 185 LB Left-Handed Pitcher from Capistrano Valley H.S. in Mission Viejo, California. His best pitch is his fastball, which sits in the 90-93 range but can reach 95 on occasion. He throws a big curveball, a slider with a lot of break and tilt, and change-up. His delivery resembles that of Tim Hudson, a sort of drop-and-drive delivery with a 3/4 arm slot, as does his pitching style. He is the most polished of the high school pitchers in this years’ draft and really knows how to pitch. If he makes it 7 picks, which I’m far from certain he will, the Braves will not pass on him.
2) The Locical One: Zach Wheeler.
The Braves love to take high school pitchers from the southeast in the early rounds. So Wheeler makes more than a ton of sense. He’s from East Paulding H.S. in Dallas, GA. He’s a 6′4″ 170 LB right-hander with plenty of room for his frame to fill out. He’s the definition of a projectable arm. His fastball sits in the 92-94 range and can get up to 96. With a ton of life. He throws a sharp breaking slider as well. He hasn’t shown much feel for a change-up, and when it comes out it’s more like a BP fastball than a true off-speed offering, as it usually clocks at around 88 MPH. Not nearly as polished as Matzek, but a player that the Braves feel like it’d be appropriate to take a chance on. As a local high school arm, he figures to be very sign-able.
3) The Other Flamethrower: Shelby Miller.
I meant the other flamethrower, because the first flamethrower in the draft is obviously consensus number 1 pick, Stephen Strasburg. Miller is a 6′3″ 195 LB right-handed pitcher from Brownwood H.S. in Brownwood, TX. He throws a fastball that can reach 97 and a sharply breaking curveball. While he doesn’t throw a change-up, scouts believe his delivery and arm action would be very conducive to adding one. He profiles as a number 1 starter type, but like most H.S. arms, he needs a lot of polish. I don’t believe the Braves would select him if Matzek or Wheeler were available.
4) The College Arm: Alex White.
White is a 6′3″ 200 LB right-handed pitcher from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He’s a 3-pitch pitcher, with a fastball that sits 91-93 with great life on it and can hit 95. He throws a sharp slider that he primarily uses as a chase pitch. And he throws a split-fingered pitch. Being a UNC product, he’s very intelligent. He has good feel for the game. That being said, the tools aren’t there like they are for some of the H.S. arms, and I can’t see the Braves selecting White unless Matzek, Wheeler, and Miller have all been taken.
So there’s your preview. Everyone throw some salt over your right shoulder, cross your fingers, toes, arms, and legs, and hope Matzek makes it to number 7 on Tuesday.
Topics: Atlanta Braves, Draft, Pitching, Player Analysis, Prospects, Scouting | 5 Comments »
Stinginess Ranks
By PWHjort | June 6, 2009
I just finished up a little study that I’m calling “Stinginess Ranks”. I got the idea for this study from watching Braves games all season and getting angry when we do stupid things or just incompetent things in general that either a) cost our team outs on the offensive side of the ball or b) give the opposition free outs. Outs are the currency of baseball and recently teams have been shifting towards a philosophy of treating them with more respect than any other thing in the game. Using an out is bad, not using one is good. Making an out on defense is good, not making one is bad. Every out a hitter uses decreases the probability that his team will win (unless of course a run scores, but a non-out run increases the probability more, so in general this statement is true). Every out a defense converts increases the probability that their team will win. Giving them away for free is never a good thing. I wanted to see just how bad my Braves are at giving away free outs.
The formula for this isn’t too complex. It is 1 minus on-base percentage (percent of PA’s that result in outs), plus 1 minus defensive efficiency (percent of balls put in play that a defense fails to convert into outs), plus 1 minus another metric I created, baserunning stinginess. The formula for baserunning stinginess is (Runs plus Runners left on base) divided by (hits plus walks plus intentional walks plus hit batsmen) (the percent of baserunners that aren’t called out on the basepaths for double plays, caught stealing, or other stupid or incompetent errors). Add the 3 up and you have the opposite of stinginess rating. Rank them, subtract their ranks from 31, and you have a ranking of a team’s stinginess. Here’s how it came out:
1. Texas
2. Pittsburgh
3. Milwaukee
4. New York Yankees
5. Philadelphia
6. Tampa Bay
7. Los Angeles Dodgers
8. Minnesota Twins
9. Toronto
10. Cleveland
11. Detroit
12. Chicago Cubs
13. Washington
14. St. Louis
15. Florida
16. Oakland
17. Cincinnati
18. Los Angeles Angels
19. New York Mets
20. Boston
21. San Francisco
22. Colorado
23. San Diego
24. Baltimore
25. Houston
26. Atlanta
27. Chicago White Sox
28. Arizona
29. Kansas City
30. Seattle
I was not at all surprised to see the Braves were near the bottom of the list. We’ve been giving outs away like candy on both sides of the ball all season. Our defensive efficiency has improved greatly, but we’re still not awesome. I’m not surprised by any of the first 9. Boston I figured would be higher because they embody the stingy philosophy. But sometimes your philosophy and execution don’t coincide. Pittsburgh is near the top largely because of their much improved defense.
It is not necessary to be stingy with outs to win. But it is a lot harder. And I hope the Braves learn this. Soon.
Topics: Atlanta Braves, Research Studies, Statistical Analysis | 3 Comments »
Buddy Carlyle Diagnosed With Type 1 Diabetes
By PWHjort | June 5, 2009
According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Buddy Carlyle was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes yesterday:
By the way, Buddy Carlyle was just diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Found out yesterday. I was talking to him while ago about it, as he prepared to give himself his first insulin injection. He spent most of today in a Diabetes 101 program at Piedmont to learn all about what he’s going to have to do to treat and control the disease for the rest of his life.
This is absolutely awful news. Carlyle isn’t a super-star, he isn’t a shut-down reliever, and he isn’t an impact player. But he’s a role-player. He’ll get out there and give you innings when it isn’t glamorous to do so. He’ll pitch when you’re down, he’ll pitch when you’re up, he’ll pitch the 3rd inning or the 15th inning. He’s a team player and he means a lot to this team. He isn’t out there for the pride and glory or the pay check. He’s out there because he loves the game. And those people should be admired just as much as the guys winning Cy Youngs and MVP awards.
Most people don’t know this about me, but I’m a pre-med student and Diabetes is sort of “my disease” (not that I have it, but I’m a strong advocate for more funding towards diabetes research, etc. and I plan to dedicate a large portion of my professional career towards eradicating the world of this disease). I’ve had several people close to me be effected by the disease and it isn’t something I would wish upon my worst enemy. I will certainly keep the Carlyle family in my thoughts for the next few days. Horrible news.
Topics: Atlanta Braves, Injuries, Pitching | 2 Comments »
Three Reasons To Watch: Braves vs. Brewers
By PWHjort | June 5, 2009
We’ve got an exciting series on tap this weekend. Here are some reasons to watch.
1) Two Top Youngsters Face Off.
Tonight, Friday night, Yovani Gallardo will face Jair Jurrjens in a match-up of 2 of the game’s top young pitchers. Gallardo, 23, is currently sporting a 3.18 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP, 65 K’s and 24 BB’s in 65 IP over 10 starts. Oh yeah, he has also hit 2 HR, including the decisive one in a 1-0 win while he pitched 8 shut-out innings allowing 2 hits and 1 BB. Talk about doing it all. He’s compiled a 5-2 record. Having a 5-2 record and $1.75 will get you a one-way MARTA ticket. Jair Jurrjens, also 23, has compiled a 2.59 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP, 40 K’s and 23 BB’s in 66 IP over 11 starts. Jurrjens has been luckier than Gallardo, but has pitched very well, showing lots of poise on the mound contributing to a high strand rate. Jurrjens also has a 5-2 decision record. Having a 5-2 record and $3.50 will get you a round-trip MARTA ticket. So yeah, that’s going to be a good one.
2) Nate McLouth Makes His Braves Debut.
Due to a rain-out, Nate McLouth’s Braves debut has been pushed back 1 day, and he will debut for the Braves tonight. I already did a write-up of the trade and I’ll have more on his debut at some point after the game. He’ll be batting 3rd. A lot has been made as to where he will bat. People are saying lead-off, and I’m cool with him batting in any position in the order other than lead-off. If I were filling out the line-up card, it’d look like this:
KJ – L
McLouth – L
Chipper – S
McCann – L
Escobar – R
Kotchman – L
Garret/Diaz – L/R
Francoeur – R
3) Tommy Hanson Makes His MLB Debut.
The real reason to watch. Tommy Hanson, one of the game’s best pitching prospects, will make his MLB debut on Sunday. Hanson is a 22-year old right-hander with 3 above-average pitches that he can command and will throw in any count. A mid-upper 90’s fastball, a BIG curveball, and a devastating slider. His change-up can be average at times, but the fastball/curveball/slider combo is what he feeds off of. In AAA he had compiled a 1.50 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP, 90 K’s and 17 BB’s in 61 and 1/3 innings. Needless to say, I’m excited. He’s really really really REALLY good.
Should be an exciting series. At least from the Braves’ point of view. And you get the bonus of watching Javier Vazquez in the middle game, which is always fun.
That’s all I’ve got.
Topics: Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers | No Comments »
Bad PR Equals Good Results
By PWHjort | June 4, 2009
I’m pretty confident the worse case scenario Frank Wren envisioned when he was negotiating with Tom Glavine is a) Tom gets re-injured which b) pushes back his rehab a month and a half which c) causes his return date to coincide with the logical call-up date for top prospect, Tommy Hanson while d) the other four members of the rotation are preforming well and free of injuries leaving their no place for Glavine to pitch and he’s forced off the team without ever being able to make an appearance for the Braves in 2009. Or maybe he didn’t envision it, but Frank Wren probably looks at this situation in hindsight and says: “Wow, this is the worst possible scenario”. But alas, it is the scenario, and Frank Wren was forced to make one of two choices: a) look like a complete a**hole and release an Atlanta Braves legend or b) stay the course, waste the club’s money, and look like a complete idiot while costing the club wins. I’m not saying it is good to be an a**hole, but taking that approach rather than the one that will cost the club wins is usually correct. And I hate the way the organization handled the Tom Glavine situation, but Frank Wren was simply playing the hand that he was dealt. And I believe he played it the way he should have.
Tom Glavine was signed with the intent for him to man the 5th starter spot as a sort of “farewell tour” until Tommy Hanson could be called up with a reasonable degree of certainty that he won’t ever achieve “Super 2″ status. If you look at the details of the contract, it almost makes it too clear that the organization was trying to do just that. He gets a million dollar guarantee, a million dollar bonus when he’s placed on the active roster (which won’t happen), a 1.25 million dollar bonus if he’s on the active roster for 30 days (which won’t happen), and another 1.25 million dollar bonus if he’s on the active roster for 90 days (which won’t happen), and that’s it. That’s more or less the end of the contract. To me, this basically says, we want you around for somewhere between 30 and 90 days. Glavine’s target debut was in mid-April. And he would have made somewhere between 7-10 starts between mid-April and now had he been healthy and ready to go on his scheduled debut. Glavine injured his shoulder, the one he had off-season surgery on, in a minor league rehab game while swinging a bat on his road to a mid-April 2009 debut. He had worked out in Spring Training and seen live hitting, but even then it was very clear that he wasn’t ready to face major-leaguers. After injuring his shoulder, his rehab clock was basically pushed back a month and a half. The Braves led him through a series of rehab starts where he slightly improved, but the scouts all agreed that he would be incapable of getting major league hitters out. His velocity sat in the 80-82 range on his fastball in his most recent outing (I talked to a scout who was there, don’t believe the 86 MPH reports) and he was noticeably exhausted after throwing only 68 pitches. He simply wasn’t ready for the big leagues. Not in the least bit. And there’s not much evidence to suggest that he will ever be ready to face major league hitters again.
I’m very sorry it had to end this way. And it wasn’t the classiest move the Braves have ever made. But it was the right move. Making the right move over the classy move seems like a definite paradigm shift away from the loyalist view of running a club embodied by Schuerholz towards the new, performance based view. Glavine certainly wasn’t worth the additional 1 million dollars, not by my or the organization’s calculations. We all wanted him to be, but he wasn’t. Having spent a great deal of money this off-season, Frank Wren would be remiss to not do everything he can to help the club win right now. Since Wren is working with limited funds, activating Tom Glavine is probably the difference in adding an impact bat and not doing so. As sad as it is, and as disloyal this may seem, and as bad as it looks, not activating Tom Glavine was the correct decision.
Weather or not the Braves should have ever signed Tom Glavine in the first place is another issue for another day for another post. But I sincerely believe that Wren handled this situation correctly. I’m sorry that this is the correct way to handle it, but it is. And I don’t think Glavine will hold this against the organization for years to come. He’ll probably look back on this decision 3 or 4 years down the road and say, “It was the correct decision, if I were GM I’d have done the same thing”. I’m sure of it.