Scouting Dean Anna as a Pitcher

Saturday was not the best day for the Yankees. Ivan Nova was shaky throughout his first three starts. The Yankees really needed him to eat his share of innings in preparation for a Vidal Nuno-led bullpen day on Sunday. Instead, Nova got spanked. He lasted just four innings, allowed eight runs, four home runs, and partially tore his UCL. The latter item is the worst of an ugly list. Dellin Betances stretched out to 1.2 innings, burning him for Sunday. Matt Daley threw 1.1 innings and allowed six runs. Rather than burn another reliever, the Yankees turned to Dean Anna.

If you aren’t a close follower of Carson Cistulli’s love affairs, you might be asking yourself “Who is Dean Anna?” He is a 27-year-old former Padres farm hand who posted solid numbers in the minors despite a lack of exciting tools. He primarily splits his time between shortstop and second base. The injury to Mark Teixeira along with the frequent rest required by Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts have pressed Anna into pseudo-regular duty. He’s started five games in the last ten days.

The job of garbage inning pitcher often falls to backups – in this case Anna. Such outings inevitably produce excellent moments in sports history – the kind that should be recorded for posterity. Usually, GIFs are the best medium for such recordings. Shall we?

Let’s begin by examining Anna’s repertoire. Brooksbaseball calls his lone pitch a fastball. His velocity suggests that the term “fastball” is probably incorrectly applied. He ranged from about 56 to 74 mph with an average of 62.51 mph. So we’re actually looking at a four-seam slowball. What does that look like?

Anna Pitch 1

And with a whiff.

Anna Pitch 2

Ugly whiff by Loney there. Are we sure those are fastballs?

Anna 4 Seam Grip

We can plainly see a standard four-seam grip. Here’s another screenshot of his grip.

Anna 2 Seam Grip

I’m nearly positive that’s a two-seam grip. I can’t get a cleaner shot, but notice the MLB logo to the left of Anna’s fingers. An MLB baseball has two such logos (one says Rawlings) which bracket the area where a two-seamer is gripped. What I can say with unbending certainty – he isn’t throwing knuckleballs.

Now we know Anna threw more than one grip of fastball even though only one type was classified. Of course, anyone who knows anything about pitch movement can probably point out how hard it is to get movement on a “fastball” below 65 mph. One pitch did move quite a bit. Maybe he can replicate it in future outings.

Anna Horiz movement

All told, Anna threw 17 pitches, 14 of which were strikes. The pitches were scattered all over the place. I suspect Anna aimed at the center of the plate and hoped the pitch stayed in the strike zone. Some of his pitches while ahead in the count were decidedly hitter friendly.

Anna SZ plot

Given that he didn’t need to bother with pitch signals, he worked very quickly. I timed a random-ish selection of four pitches. The time it took from receiving the baseball to delivering it was about five seconds. Count with me. (Unfortunately, the Yankees broadcast is ADD, so the video options all sucked).

Anna time between pitches

What should Anna learn from this outing? Generally, pitchers who succeed with one pitch – like Sean Doolittle or Matt Thornton – have excellent velocity. Anna should either acquire excellent velocity of learn secondary pitches. Kidding aside, he did exactly what was asked of him – get through an inning as quickly and painlessly as possible. And he added a little extra entertainment to a game that had otherwise ceased being entertaining an hour earlier. Kudos.



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Brad is a former collegiate player who writes for FanGraphs, MLB Trade Rumors, The Hardball Times, RotoWorld, and The Fake Baseball. He's also the lead MLB editor for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter @BaseballATeam or email him here.


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Aaron Trammell
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Aaron Trammell
2 years 4 months ago

That’s about the same velocity range of an especially lazy intentional walk.

LHPSU
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LHPSU
2 years 4 months ago

Not quite the ace that Skip Schumaker is.

jim S.
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jim S.
2 years 4 months ago

That’s a slider grip.

Jon L.
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Jon L.
2 years 4 months ago

It looks like they told him, “Throw strikes, and don’t burn out your arm.” I’m sure they wanted to avoid a repeat of the Jose Canseco fiasco.

One of the Jose Canseco fiascos.

Jon L.
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Jon L.
2 years 4 months ago

I swear I swear I never typed those extra words.

Confucius Jackson
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Confucius Jackson
2 years 4 months ago

Somewhere out there, Doug Dascenzo is trying to remember what his agent’s telephone number is so he can try and mount a comeback.

SimonSays
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SimonSays
2 years 4 months ago

That first picture looks more like a change up than a 4-seamer to me. The ball is ridiculously deep in his hand and there’s plenty of room for a third finger on top, making it a classic 3-finger change. Or he could just throw a ball like that.

Also, his follow through is great.

Eric
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Eric
2 years 4 months ago

He’s no Chris Davis, that’s for sure.

Greg W
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Greg W
2 years 4 months ago

I asked Harry Pavlidis of Brooks about why pitch f/x was calling it a knuckleball, and he thought that by gripping it very deep in his hand, the pitch was dancing much more than a typical ‘fastball’ would.

pft
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pft
2 years 4 months ago

Pitch f/x was probably fooled by the velocity. Normally only knuckleballs are thrown that slow. The classification is also not very accurate for individual pitchers without a history. I suspect they adjust the algorithm for each pitcher based on past data.

Royals need help.
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Royals need help.
2 years 4 months ago

That is not a fastball grip. With the fingers tight together, it’s more like a curve grip, thrown without a bent wrist. If he lifts his index finger at all, it’s a slider. I think he was just having some fun.

Zen Madman
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2 years 4 months ago

I want to see a post about Jeff Francoeur retiring the 5-6-7 hitters of the Las Vegas 51s.

Underwood4000
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Underwood4000
2 years 4 months ago

Looks like he has a repeatable motion. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

Ruki Motomiya
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Ruki Motomiya
2 years 4 months ago

Just some more appearances and he can dual qualify as a hitter and pitcher! Behold as you get a base hit from your RP!

pft
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pft
2 years 4 months ago

He got squeezed by the umpire after getting 2 quick outs. His demise came from the stretch as a result of that walk.

Still did better than some pitchers the Yankees used.

He can throw harder but was warned not to since he could be injured

pft
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pft
2 years 4 months ago

Mixed up with a a game from another position player I think.

RaysDaddy
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RaysDaddy
2 years 4 months ago

Ichiro pitching {4th outfielder) would have made my dreams come true.

Spit Ball
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Spit Ball
2 years 4 months ago

Most definitely not a slider or curve. Not a fastball either. Yeah the seams are being gripped like 2 and 4 seamers but he has way more of his thumb on the ball than any fastball I’ve ever seen. He’s almost pushing the ball like a knuckler with an old school palm ball grip. Pushing the ball while holding it deep in the palm can stop enough spin to make the ball dance a bit. I think that was all we really saw. Cool nonetheless.

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