I noticed the extremely low swinging strike rate last year with Worley and predicted a big fall for him. So far he’s defied my predictions and belief. At some point, when you get a pitcher who breaks your prediction model you have to examine the assumptions behind the model and wonder why it doesn’t seem to apply to this particular man.
As a phillies fan, I certainly hope he’s broken the mould in some way which will seem obvious 5 years from now. Time will tell.
Too soon to call the model broken, but not too soon to notice it, as your article does. All models are wrong of course, and the question of how wrong can a model be and still be useful is tested in cases such as Vanimal.
There was an article recently on Philly.com and they asked him about the strike outs. He claimed that while in the minors, he was on a pitch count limit. He wanted to pitch late into games, so he would pitch to contact.
Not sure if that’s the truth, or a way of rewriting history.
Because I live near Philly I get to watch a lot of his starts on TV and I’d be willing to bet that at least 75% of his K’s vs left-handed batters are two-seemers taken looking that start on the hip and run back to the inside corner. He also gets a few right-handers with this (on the outside corner) as well, but it’s amazing how many lefties just take that pitch.
I am a Phillies fan and have watched quite a few of his starts..that “come backer” pitch is very similiar to Greg Maddux’s….they just watch it tail back to the outer corner of the plate. The TV guys keep saying the hitters don’t pick up his pitches but I can’t see that he does anything particularly deceptive in his motion…
I actually am better at talent evaluation than them.
Avila was in my top 25 while he was left off ENTIRELY on BA and BP’s top 100. FAIL SO HARD UNIVERSITY SON!
Tommy Milone was also in my top 25 while he was left off of BA and BP’s top 100 entirely. Again, FAIL SO HARD UNIVERSITY SON!
Sure, Milone doesn’t throw hard at all but he’s a lefty clone of Shaun Marcum with vastly superior mechanics (see: cleaner arm action and more efficient lower body drive). Milone has a very nice cutter and curve and a devastating plus-plus changeup. He also has phenomenal command and poise.
The fact that they missed on these two guys is a travesty, especially considering that they literally ranked dozens and dozens of guys who will do nothing at the Major League level (approximately 65-70% of top 100 prospects bust).
I mean it was so obvious. Avila tore up AA and the Majors (admittedly a small sample) 1 year out of college which is unprecedented. The guy showed excellent power for a catcher and terrific plate discipline. Also showed strong receiving skills and a strong accurate arm?
You’re Baseball America or Baseball Prospectus and YOU EVALUATE PROSPECTS FOR A LIVING! How on earth do you miss on such an elite talent? That’s a travesty!
The next guy they are bound to fail on is 21 year-old lefty Robbie Erlin. Lefty clone of Ian Kennedy. Average fastball but great changeup, curve, and off the charts command and pitchability.
Pitchers also have many more resources available to them at the MLB level to scout videotape of hitters. A smart starting pitcher can prepare for practically every single hitter he is going to face in a start at the MLB level. You have to believe that a few pitchers will see some improvement from that alone over the minors.
Comment by Phantom Stranger — May 5, 2012 @ 1:39 am
Phantom, your point is certainly a good one, and I am sure many pitchers use this available tool better than others. Whorley just happens to not be one of them, apparently. As a Phils fan getting more in local coverage of the team, it has become somewhat of a joke about just how minimally Whorley prepares for his starts.
The thing with prospects is that you’re going to be wrong. If you’re sure that you’re better, write about it and publish and explain your reasoning, then you’ll have a track record, which is what the people at BA and BP have done, which is why you’re reading them. From what I understand, Erlin is probably going to look better than he is because of his park, but that he’ll be decent. You think he’ll be better?
As I recall, studies show neither Chooch nor Schneider have more than average framing skill. By the naked eye it sometimes looks as if Chooch is downright bad at it, but I don’t trust my eyes that much.
I had him on my radar based on the early success, then took a look at just one of his games from late 2010 and I was sold. Identical story to Beachy, really. What you describe is very true. He is so effective against lefthanders that it makes him look dominant overall. And this is really what separates the wheat from the chaff. What talent evaluators missed was that Worley had the skill of repeating a strength with such focus and consistency that it covers up his weaknesses. Beachy does the same thing in different ways.
Then again, you also need to give credit to the Phillies. A lot of orgs have guys like Luke Hochevar trying to throw 6 different pitches instead of just riding the gravy train and focusing on what works (not that Luke Hochevar is good, but he would better as essentially a 1970’s sinker/slider guy with a change thrown in on occasion). But then again, a lot of times pitchers get bored or want to tinker with pitches just because they are cartoonish in a bullpen session – or they’re just not very bright (Hochevar). Worley is just a professional. And for whatever reason that descriptor does not appear to show up on scouting reports.
I’ll just quibble with the notion that he came completely out of nowhere. If you watch baseball and all you notice is how hard a pitcher throws or how “filthy” his stuff is, instead of how hitters react to a guy, you’re going to miss out on guys like Worley performing their craft. A few rookies who continued to be downgraded well into last year should not have been based simply on watching them. Worley, Beachy, Leubke are three. Folks finally caught on to McCarthy, but I would surmise that that was based off of his early years scouting reports as a flamethrower with a wicked curve.
In my opinion, the major benefit of statistical models is to identify outliers. Then you can go watch them and see for yourself. I have zero interest in watching a guy who the model says is supposed to be good but isn’t. Most of the time those guys are hard to watch because they throw a ton of worthless pitches (but with great velocity or bite). I would much rather have the model say Worley or Beachy are not as good as their numbers, then be surprised when I watch them that they are succeeding because they are so much better at the craft of pitching than guys with more talent.
To be fair, he gets a lot of calls against LHBs just off the outside black…but then so do a ton of other pitchers as Umps tend to expand the zone that way due to the way they stand behind the plate…Worley is not unique in that in any way…he just manages to take advantage of it with great location on that part of the plate.