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  1. Worley is honing his cut fastball, which he’s learned from his Phils rotation mates. Keep this in mind as it could be a strong non-statistical reason for him improving his fundamentals this season.

    Comment by Rico — March 28, 2012 @ 8:56 am

  2. Cool article, glad I drafted Liriano.

    Also, it’s ZacK Greinke.

    Comment by Andrew — March 28, 2012 @ 9:01 am

  3. Mendoza could be one of the best stories of MLB this year if his recent performance carries over to the big leagues. That is, yes, his mechanics were altered. From

    Henry, a longtime reliever who ended his career with the Royals in 2001, remembered that Mendoza was deflated when he reported to Omaha in 2010. Even worse, his pitches were flatter than a pancake. The solution was to get Mendoza on the top of the ball and delivering downhill so that his pitches sank.

    “He tried it and didn’t like it and went back to his old stuff,” Henry recalled. “And then one day, to his credit, he came in and said, ‘I’m ready. Let’s do this for real.’ That was about midseason in 2010. He made the change and he’s been at it wholeheartedly since and he became the pitcher he is now. He’s given himself a chance to be successful in the big leagues. The ball’s sinking, it’s not flat over the zone anymore. He’s a big horse and he’s got the potential to have some fun up there this year.”

    Comment by touchstone033 — March 28, 2012 @ 9:53 am

  4. It should also be noted that, after changing his mechanics, Mendoza won the PCL ERA title at 2.18 over 144 innings. That’s doubly impressive, given the PCL is a notorious hitters’ league.

    That’s not to say he’s an MLB ace, but league-average production at the back of the KCR rotation would be a good story for the Royals, baseball, and Mendoza himself…

    Comment by touchstone033 — March 28, 2012 @ 9:57 am

  5. Sinking fastballs are nice, but generally that is not the pitch I would look for to support a massive K% increase. GB rate fine, and maybe that will allow him to be a better pitcher overall, but I am selling the K%.

    Comment by colin — March 28, 2012 @ 11:06 am

  6. Luke Hochevar… how you tempt me with your improving K%. Just can’t pull the trigger, but I’ll be watching closely when the season begins. Homer Bailey would be the first to go. Speaking of Homer Bailey, any word on the fifth starter role in Cincy this season?

    Comment by Pops — March 28, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

  7. Fair enough. I didn’t follow Mike’s link to see that the mechanics change was known. I am, as always, an idiot.

    That said, where did Matusz fit on this list?

    Comment by touchstone033 — March 28, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

  8. I seriously forget EVERY TIME i type his name!

    Comment by Mike Podhorzer — March 28, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

  9. Matusz’ spring K% is only about 22%, which is lower than I expected given the K/9. That’s because his BABIP is high, inflating the strikeout rate. So he wasn’t that close.

    Comment by Mike Podhorzer — March 28, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

  10. I own Bailey in all 3 of my leagues. With Madson done, I’d have to think they’d want Chapman back in the bullpen. And Francis sucks. Would be shocked if Bailey didn’t win the job.

    Comment by Mike Podhorzer — March 28, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

  11. Why use Marcel for the analysis and then switch to Steamer? I’m assuming there’s not much of a difference, but that could definitely introduce problems. Could you also post the same table for Marcel? Or, if past Steamer projections are available, redo the analysis with those.

    Comment by guesswork — March 28, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

  12. The Reds aren’t paying Chapman $30 million to pitch in middle relief. Maybe the roles are reversed an Bailey goes to the bullpen? I’ve got my eye on guys like Nicasio and Hochevar in the event that Bailey loses out on the fifth spot.

    Comment by Pops — March 28, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

  13. Very simple- historical Marcel projections were very easy to retrieve. I’m not sure that Steamer was, though I’m sure I could have found out. There’s no reason to do this analysis again using Marcel projections because the Steamer ones are better.

    Comment by Mike Podhorzer — March 28, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

  14. Agreed, but Bailey has never pitched in relief. Chapman has. So it would simply be easier for them to continue the roles the 2 pitchers have performed in recently. Chapman can then be the first guy in line to replace an injured starter.

    Comment by Mike Podhorzer — March 28, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

  15. speaking of Steamer…. doesn’t it strike you as odd that their ERA/WHIP projections are, in the aggregate, so much higher than any other projection system? Especially WHIP. Perhaps there’s a huge amount of regression built in, but they only project 4 pitchers to have a WHIP below 1.20 (Halladay, Lee, Strasburg, Greinke) with nobody doing better than 1.13.

    If you click on any player page and compare the Steamer projection to the other systems, they are almost guaranteed to be higher in ERA/WHIP. Perhaps they are projecting a much higher offensive environment overall or something?

    Comment by batpig — March 28, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

  16. Didn’t even notice that, but when checking out some guys with sub-1.20 WHIPs from ZiPS like Kershaw, Verlander and Josh Johnson, all of them were projected for much higher BABIPs by Steamer. All over .300, which made little sense given their history. I just emailed Jared Cross to ask him about it.

    Comment by Mike Podhorzer — March 28, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

  17. Any buyers of Samardija? Law said, basically, that a “light has gone on” with him. Further, he’s got unreal ratios so far, notwithstanding his outing last week.

    Comment by Big Oil — March 28, 2012 @ 11:13 pm

  18. Yuuuup. He throws hard too, another plus. He was drafted in my league last night and picked up in my home league recently, but still available in LABR mixed, because that draft was before spring training. I think his control is more important than his strikeout potential, which we know he has. Did the light go on for his control?

    Comment by Mike Podhorzer — March 29, 2012 @ 12:02 am

  19. Thanks for the reply, Mike. I’ve looked for stories around the internet about a changed approach, new pitch, mechanics, or something, but can’t find much. Pitch F/X data from his spring starts could help, and maybe I’ll look at his 2nd half from last year in comparison to 2010 to see if that shows anything up.

    Here it is from Law’s chat:

    Ralph (Johnsville)

    Have you seen the supposedly new and improved Jeff Samardzija this spring, Thoughts?
    (2:04 PM)

    Haven’t seen, hoping to catch his next outing if I’m in AZ. Have heard it’s been an unbelievable transformation – like the light bulb just went on. It’s just spring, but I’ve seen him in past springs where I wouldn’t have given him a snowball’s chance of big league value, so there’s at least something different there.

    Comment by Big Oil — March 29, 2012 @ 12:35 am

  20. Okay, let’s say we accept the premise that spring training K% and BB% have some predictive power, even when controlling for projections (such as Marcel) that presumably encapsulate most of the available predictive power derivable from regular season stats (and perhaps additional, non-performance based variables such as age). Why not? I’m an open-minded guy…

    As a result, you now feel emboldened in your prediction of Liriano being a top-10 starter. But you have yourself demonstrated that Marcel projections are (of course) more reliable than those based on spring stats. Marcel predicts a fairly unimpressive season for Mr. Liriano, whereas spring stats predict greatness.

    By your own model, you should be weighting Marcel more, but instead you’re basing your prediction emphatically on an impressive preseason. So it seems to me that you have supported an argument for Liriano outperforming his Marcel projections, but still have not provided a basis for the prediction of Liriano being a top-10 starter—a stronger claim.

    Comment by Peter — March 29, 2012 @ 12:56 am

  21. Very simple answer: health. Marcel, and any projection system, has no idea why players post the numbers they do, are unaware of injuries, etc. Liriano was not fully healthy last year. His spring suggests that he is now. We all know how good Liriano can be when healthy- he’s shown us before.

    Comment by Mike Podhorzer — March 29, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

  22. That is a reasonable explanation for why spring training stats might have some predictive power above and beyond Marcel projections (that is, an impressive spring might well be indicative of good health). Unfortunately, that doesn’t answer *my* question, which was “Why weight spring stats *more* than Marcel predictions, when Marcel predictions are more reliable according to your own model?”

    Comment by Peter — March 30, 2012 @ 1:49 am

  23. Man, Greinke continues to miss bats at an incredible rate. I could see him getting 250+K this year if he can stay healthy.

    Comment by MrGJG — March 30, 2012 @ 10:12 am

  24. Because Marcel projections for players like Liriano are pretty much worthless. Brian Matusz is another guy. Marcel has no idea his velocity was down last year and he was hurt. Spring tells us he’s healthy.

    Comment by Mike Podhorzer — March 30, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

  25. K should be a letter that naturally comes to mind when you think of Zack Greinke.

    Comment by JDanger — March 31, 2012 @ 11:22 am

  26. right, it is an article about k’s after all.

    Comment by henry — March 31, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

  27. In a previous fangraphs article it discussed how Mendoza not only changed his mechanics but he also has increased his FB velocity by 2-4 MPH.

    Comment by kozilla — April 3, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

  28. The Ks are certainly coming fast for Hammel in the last couple of starts. Anyone heard about an mechanical adjustment or new pitch, etc, or are we (more likely) just seeing the effects luck and/or facing the White Sox?

    Comment by Nate — April 25, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

  29. Funny, I just checked his Fangraphs page before your comment because I noticed that even before tonight he had a strong K/9. Two things stand out to me- velocity up a bit and now at a career high and he has thrown his slider 9% more often than last year. Obviously, more sliders should lead to more strikeouts. He’s always had a slight ground ball tilt and his GB% is way up. So far so good on a breakout.

    Comment by Mike Podhorzer — April 25, 2012 @ 8:56 pm

  30. I watched Hammel pitch last night against the Jays. A generous strike zone helped but this is not the same pitcher I saw last year.
    His two-seamer had a lot of movement toward the outside side of the plate against lefties; looks like a strike but tails away at the last millisecond. The LH Jays hitters had a tough time laying off of it.
    Jim Palmer said during last week’s start against the ChiSox that Hammel had added a splitter and a cutter to his arsenal during spring training. I didn’t see much evidence of a cutter last night–a pitch that generally dives down against hitters batting from the opposite side–but his command of the strike zone was superb again.
    I only saw Hammel once last yr. but one thing stands out: it appears that he has worked on his mechanics during the spring. His delivery seems to be a lot more repeatable than when I saw him last year with the Rockies.
    His velocity was great: hit frequently hit 95-96 with his fastballs.
    Hammel is definitely worth a pick up right now in most leagues.

    Comment by balticfox1917 — April 26, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

  31. :(

    Comment by Peter — May 12, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

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