Daily Notes, Ft. Jason Vargas’s Changeup, Mostly

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Daily Notes.

1. Table: League’s Top Changeups by Pitch-Type Runs, 2012
2. Action Footage: Three of Jason Vargas’s Changeups
3. SCOUT Leaderboards: Mexican Pacific League

Table: League’s Top Changeups by Pitch-Type Runs, 2012
As Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com was first to report on Wednesday, the Seattle Mariners have traded left-hander Jason Vargas (829.2 career IP, 5.9 WAR, 8.4 RA9-Wins) to the Angels for first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales (1762 career PA, 6.0 WAR). As Jeff Sullivan noted not long after that, the trade mostly benefits both teams. “The Angels,” writes Sullivan, “had too many bats and too few starting pitchers, so they traded a bat for a starting pitcher. The Mariners wanted a bat more than they wanted to keep one of their starting pitchers.”

Morales’s best tool is his power, represented most succinctly by his .210 career ISO. Vargas’s best tool is his changeup. Nor is Vargas’s changeup his best pitch, it’s also one of the best pitches in the league.

Consider, by way of illustration, the following table — of the league’s 10-best changeups in 2012 by linear-weight runs relative to average. Horizontal movement is represented (in inches, where a positive number represents a pitch breaking towards a right-handed batter) by X-Mov; vertical movement (in inches, where a positive number represents “rise” relative to a ball unaffected by drag) by Y-Mov. R/100 is runs above average per 100 thrown.


Name Team IP Use MPH X-Mov Y-Mov R/100 Tot R
Fernando Rodney Rays 74.2 36.2% 82.5 -8.1 2.0 5.1 20.0
Jason Vargas Mariners 217.1 27.0% 80.0 10.9 2.4 2.3 19.8
Kris Medlen Braves 138.0 20.0% 80.8 -8.6 5.4 4.5 16.9
Chris Capuano Dodgers 198.1 26.0% 77.8 8.3 4.1 1.9 14.4
Tommy Milone Athletics 190.0 25.4% 80.5 10.1 3.7 1.9 14.3
James Shields Rays 227.2 27.6% 85.1 -6.9 3.3 1.2 11.9
Alex Cobb Rays 136.1 31.3% 84.8 -5.9 1.1 1.7 11.7
Chris Sale White Sox 192.0 20.9% 83.6 11.6 1.0 1.9 11.6
Jarrod Parker Athletics 181.1 22.4% 81.0 -6.6 4.7 1.8 11.6
Cole Hamels Phillies 215.1 30.3% 83.9 8.5 6.7 1.0 10.4

What we discover here is that, had Fernando Rodney not entirely remade himself, Jason Vargas would have been King of the Changeups in 2012 — i.e. a title the author just invented right this second. What we also discover is that Vargas’s changeup is rather important to his survival as a major-league pitcher: since 2007, it’s the only pitch of his to have recorded a positive pitch-type run total relative to league average.

Action Footage: Three of Jason Vargas’s Changeups
“What does Jason Vargas’s changeup even look like?” someone has probably wondered somewhere at some point. Below is, in fact, what three of Vargas’s changeups (all swinging strikes) looked like this past May against the Red Sox — which team’s excellent center-field camera represents the best in front of which Vargas pitched this season.

Here’s a 1-0 pitch to Kelly Shoppach in the second inning:

Here’s a 1-2 pitch, for a strikeout, to Will Middlebrooks in the third:

And here’s another pitch to Middlebrooks, on an 0-1 counts in the fifth:

Credit to Brooks Baseball for pitch data.

SCOUT Leaderboards: Mexican Pacific League
Below are the current SCOUT leaderboards for the Mexican Pacific League. (Ages as of July 1st, 2012. Players listed with most recent team. Click here for more on what is SCOUT.)

SCOUT Leaderboard: Mexican Pacific League Hitters
Below is the current SCOUT batting leaderboard for the Mexican Pacific League. SCOUT+ is calculated using regressed home-run, walk, and strikeout rates, where 100 is average and above 100 is above average.


Player Team Age Pos PA xHR% xBB% xK% SCOUT+
Barbaro Canizares MEX 32 1B 239 5.6% 15.5% 12.1% 163
Jesse Gutierrez IND 34 1B 239 6.3% 6.7% 12.1% 144
Cory Aldridge MEX 33 OF 240 6.6% 16.7% 32.5% 137
Chris Colabello Twins 28 1B 220 6.1% 10.5% 20.5% 137
Jorge Cantu Angels 30 1B 181 5.5% 13.9% 23.2% 135
Saul Soto MEX 33 C 218 4.5% 16.5% 22.0% 132
Marlon Byrd N/A 34 CF 223 6.1% 10.3% 23.3% 131
Zelous Wheeler Orioles 25 3B 251 3.8% 12.7% 14.3% 129
Jose Amador MEX 32 2B 164 3.7% 12.2% 12.8% 128
Jason Botts MEX 31 OF 225 5.4% 11.1% 21.8% 128

SCOUT Leaderboard: Mexican Pacific League Pitchers
Below is the current SCOUT pitching leaderboard for the Mexican Pacific League. SCOUT- is calculated using regressed strikeout and walk rates where 100 is average and below 100 is above average.


Player Team Age G GS IP TBF xK% xBB% SCOUT-
Mike Benacka IND 29 29   35.0 141 37.7% 10.3% 49
Esmailin Caridad Cubs 28 33 1 37.0 156 28.2% 8.6% 70
Adrian C. Ramirez MEX 24 33   31.2 132 27.5% 8.7% 72
Oscar Villarreal Orioles 30 26   30.0 121 26.8% 8.7% 74
Rafael Diaz MEX 41 18 5 37.1 165 26.0% 8.8% 77
Mario Mendoza MEX 33 33   28.2 114 26.3% 9.2% 77
Edwin Salas MEX 20 11 4 31.0 121 24.1% 8.1% 80
Esteban Haro MEX 26 22   28.2 119 24.4% 8.9% 81
Francisco Rodriguez Angels 29 24   23.1 95 23.8% 9.1% 83
Ryan Brasier Angels 24 24   25.2 103 23.6% 9.0% 84

SCOUT Leaderboard: Mexican Pacific League Pitchers (Starters)
Here is the SCOUT pitching leaderboard for the Mexican Pacific League, but only populated with pitchers who’ve made at least half of their appearances as starts.


Player Team Age G GS IP TBF xK% xBB% SCOUT-
Marco Duarte Red Sox 25 12 11 56.2 253 23.4% 9.2% 85
Nick Additon Cardinals 24 10 10 53.0 229 21.4% 9.2% 90
Anthony Ferrara Cardinals 22 2 1 5.0 19 20.8% 9.3% 92
Javier Martinez MEX 29 11 11 62.0 273 20.9% 9.9% 94
Rolando Valdez MEX 26 12 12 60.2 271 18.8% 8.2% 94
Juan Delgadillo MEX 29 11 11 69.0 288 18.4% 8.0% 95
Amauri Sanit MEX 32 11 11 61.0 246 19.1% 8.8% 95
Dennys Reyes N/A 35 9 9 41.2 196 21.0% 10.7% 95
Edgar Osuna N/A 24 9 9 44.2 193 19.2% 9.1% 96
Irwin Delgado MEX 23 12 11 51.0 229 20.5% 10.5% 96




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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.

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