ALCS Coverage: Jepsen’s Stuff (and Other Notes)

Wow. (Or as the young women of the Greater Los Angeles area might say: Wowskis.) That was a great baseball game.

One day after I wrote about the rather predictable nature of Game One, this happened:

20091017_Angels_Yankees_0_blog

Some facts you might like to know about the game in question:

* The average Leverage Index (aLI) was 2.07. That’s higher than the Game 163 I used last time as, like, the platonic ideal of excitement. (It occurs to me now — as it should’ve done already — that an extra inning game will almost by definition feature more high-leverage situations. So I ask myself: Are extra inning games better than nine inning ones? Not as a rule. I mean, I’ve definitely seen some dull extra inning games.)

* Alex Rodriguez recorded both the highest and lowest single WPA plays of the evening. His home run off Angels reliever Brian Fuentes in the bottom of the 11th inning was worth .429 WPA. In the very next inning, he recorded a -.165 WPA when he flew out to center off Ervin Santana with two out and the bases loaded.

* Mariano Rivera recorded the highest total WPA: a mark of .393 in 2.1 innings of excellent high-leverage work.

On Kevin Jepsen

I’ve been meaning to set aside some space for Jepsen in this Angels playoff coverage, but’ve failed to do so. Well, some of the things he did in last night’s game made it hard to ignore him any longer.

For example, you might remember that, after Jepsen’s first offering to Jeter in the eighth inning, he (i.e. Jeter) stepped back from the plate, eyes wide and smiling a bit, and said something along the lines of, “Wow.” That pitch was Jepsen’s cutter — his only one of the night, actually. But Jepsen has thrown it about 25% of the time this year and recorded a 1.48 wCT/C on it. It’s been his main complement to the four-seam fastball.

After the cutter, two such four-seamers followed. They were both balls, but both featured about 13.5 inches of upward movement, a little over four inches of horizontal movement (towards Jeter), and were thrown at 96.6 and 96.5 mph, respectively. Not bad.

The last two pitches were excellent. The first (and fourth of the PA) was a fastball very similar to the two that preceded it, except basically right over the plate. It had a little less vertical movement (12.5 inches) than the two before it, a little more tail (-5.2 inches), and came in at 98.5 mph. Jeter swung and missed.

Finally, with the count at 2-2, Jepsen threw a slider. A nasty one. And even though, like many sliders, this one registered what seems like little movement (2.1 inches of x-movement and 1.7 inches z-movement), it makes more sense to look at pitches like these in context, I think. In particular, it makes sense to look at the break of a pitch as compared to its pitcher’s fastball.

In this case, we know the break of the fastball Jepsen had just thrown (12.5 x-inches, -5.2 z-inches). If we take the absolute value of (slider x-movement minus fastball x-movement) and also the absolute value of (slider z-movement minus fastball z-movement), we get something we can call Total Movement Delta (TMD). In this case the TMD of Jepsen’s slider to Jeter as compared to the fastball that immediately preceded it was 18.2 inches — for a pitch that was recorded at 89.9 mph by GameDay. By comparison, among the pitchers who threw at least 50 IP this year and threw the slider at least 2% of the time, the highest average velocity of said pitch was 90.0 mph even, recorded by Angel Guzman. Next on the list is Brandon Lyon at 89.2 mph. So Jepsen’s was up there, is the point.

And the larger point is, of course, is that Jepsen threw a pitch that was both (a) real fast and (b) had a ton of movement. That Jeter swung and missed is hardly surprising.




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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.

18 Responses to “ALCS Coverage: Jepsen’s Stuff (and Other Notes)”

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  1. 27 this year says:

    I commend you saying you were wrong and bringing this up. So much better here than teh mainstream media. I love the different analysis on this site and it definitely is one of my main sources of info. Keep up the good work!

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    • joser says:

      Where did he say he was wrong? He said the previous game was boring (it was). He then contrasted it with the following game, which wasn’t. His opinion didn’t change, but the nature of the games did.

      It may be easier to argue when you don’t comprehend what you’re reading, but it doesn’t make the arguments better.

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  2. Marcus says:

    The most credible apologies are followed by an appropriate change of behavior.

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    • joser says:

      There was no apology here, nor was one necessary.

      Again: it may be easier to argue when you don’t comprehend what you’re reading, but it doesn’t make the arguments better.

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  3. Tom B says:

    as a yankee fan even i can admit that jepsen has absolutely filthy stuff.

    it’s a shame the umps are just so awful with the strikezone, they have basically made a mockery of it in the postseason so far. can you use your magical bag of tools to pull of charts that will show actual pitch location vs what they were called for the postseason?

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  4. Gary Geiger Counter says:

    I’ll grant you the Arod homer, but I didn’t find that game all that exciting or great. It was five hours long. Too, the conditions were horrible and the fielding was sloppy (probably a link there.)

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  5. Sean says:

    I want my Yankees Flap Hat!!

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  6. Sean says:

    BTW That game was classic, if you think thats boring go watch football.

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  7. Kevin S. says:

    When did he apologize? He mentioned that Game One was ‘boring,’ at least in a certain sense of the word. He then said Game Two was the opposite. He never said the series was ‘boring.’

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  8. What does Carson need to apologize for again? If you were personally offended by Carson’s opinion that game one was uninteresting, you should probably just stay off the Internet entirely.

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    • Gary Geiger Counter says:

      I think that Sean was talking to me. Maybe I have exciting confused with great, but that was played in football weather. It’s a matter of personal taste, I suppose, but I don’t care for players wearing Elmer Fudd hats.

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  9. Alireza says:

    Fuentes was so stupid with that AB. He got A-Rod 0-2 by pitching him in. Why the hell did he then throw a fastball up and away? You know, where probably 500 of his more than 600 regular and post-season homers have been hit off of. Why not throw a slider in the dirt? Why not another inside heater?

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  10. Jesse says:

    Carson, great piece here on Jepsen.

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  11. Zack says:

    Sorry, I don’t really understand the numbers that are being thrown around about Jepsen’s pitches. Are you saying that his fastball is rising over a foot? I don’t mean to sound trollish, but I don’t really believe that’s possible. I’d love to hear more about how these measurements are created, and if I’m totally missing the point I’d love to hear how. Thanks.

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  12. Patrick says:

    Zack,

    I’m sure it’s way to late for you to notice this, but…
    It’s falling a foot less than an idealized spinless pitch.

    It’s not rising from when it leaves the pitchers hand, but it’s falling LESS than expected. All of these numbers are relative to a theoretical spinless pitch – Ignoring air resistance on that pitch.

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  13. There are two ways one can know if they have bruxism, the first is after your partner complains about the constant grinding the second is you notice that following a night’s rest you get and have a terrible ache in your jaws and a throbbing, persistent headache. If this is you, get a checkup by a dental profesional.

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