A Different League

Brandon League has always looked the role of a shutdown reliever. He throws a high-powered fastball that smacks the mitt with authority and had thrown a slider to complement the pitch. This year, however, League flashed a curveball and a change-up.

League began throwing the latter pitch more and more after using it a little more than a tenth of the time in April. Per Baseball Info Solutions Data, that figure rose to nearly 30% in May and continued moving up the charts. 36% in June was followed by 46% in July before sliding back down to 39.7% in August. League threw 30% change-ups in September and October, causing his usage curve to look a bit like a bell curve. The numbers are a bit skewed because of the pitch totals varying in totals; however, the pitch was an accurate assassin throughout.

Take his 11 appearances in August during which League threw 234 pitches (44 change-ups, 34 curves, 128 four-seam fastballs, and 14 sliders). Batters swung and missed on 32 of those pitches for a rate of 13.7%. On individual pitches, League saw 27% whiffs on his change, 32% on his curve, 21% on his slider, and only 4% on his fastballs. This is only 21% of League’s total pitches on the season, so small sample size does apply. Still, League’s seasonal numbers bare out improvement in provoking contact-less swings, as his 71% contact rate was a career low by more than 10 percentage points.

Most of League’s issues with the run average metrics come from a high home run rate. His fastball has the tendency to stay flat and crushed into the seats on a handful of occasions per season. He still possesses the upside you desire. Toronto doesn’t seem likely to ditch League (entering his second year of arbitration as a super-two member) but if some team can yank him away, they could be getting more than anticipated.

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Perhaps Toronto could find a role for him as closer next season. I don’t think anyone took it and sailed off with it after B.J. Ryan lost it.


Frasor was pretty good.