MASH Report (6/21/13) – Introducing SLOW

Today, I am mainly going to look at new metric, SLOW. It looks for hitters who are having problems hitting fastball in the strike zone. Besides SLOW, just a few other quick looks at Scott Kazmir, Jeanmar Gomez, Ryan Zimmerman and Felix Hernandez.

• I have read and heard many experts state a player has a slow bat and/or can’t catch up to fastballs. Finally, I have come up with an initial stab to see if a player is having problems hitting fastballs. To keep it easy, I am going to name it SLOW.

The basic parameters for the pitches examined are:
1. Pitches thrown into the heart of the plate (I don’t want to look at a chase rate)
2. Fastballs >=92 mph (looking for fastish fastballs)

I created the final metric using a weighted combination of:
1. Contact% (contact with the pitches)
2. Foul% (In play contact)
3. Pull angle on line drives and ground balls (is the hitter hitting the ball late)

The SLOW value may change a bit (I will probably put it on a 100 scale where 100 is league average) as I tweak it a bit here and there over the next couple of weeks. I have included two leader boards. One with the 2013 value. Another with players who have slowed the most from 2012 to 2013. Let me know if anything seems out of place.


Note: Like with PAIN and HURT, I will be taking recommendations for the letters in the acronym.

2013 SLOW Leaders (min 50 pitches in the heart of the strike zone)

Rank Name SLOW Hand
1 Justin Upton 92 R
2 Ian Desmond 74 R
3 Adeiny Hechavarria 71 R
4 B.J. Upton 70 R
5 Jeff Francoeur 69 R
6 John Buck 69 R
7 Josh Donaldson 67 R
8 Dayan Viciedo 67 R
9 Ryan Raburn 67 R
10 Mike Morse 65 R
11 J.P. Arencibia 64 R
12 Starlin Castro 60 R
13 Marlon Byrd 60 R
14 Will Middlebrooks 60 R
15 Rick Ankiel 59 L
16 Carlos Gomez 59 R
17 Nick Hundley 59 R
18 Brandon Moss 57 L
19 Yoenis Cespedes 56 R
20 Drew Stubbs 56 R

Biggest Change in SLOW from 2012 to 2013 (min 50 pitches in the heart of the strike zone)

Rank Name Change in SLOW Hand
1 Greg Dobbs 93 L
2 Justin Upton 62 R
3 Marlon Byrd 42 R
4 Will Middlebrooks 41 R
5 Dan Uggla 40 R
6 Nate Schierholtz 38 L
7 Devaris Gordon 38 L
8 Ryan Raburn 37 R
9 Adeiny Hechavarria 37 R
10 Mark Kotsay 31 L
11 Starlin Castro 31 R
12 Rick Ankiel 31 L
13 Brett Gardner 30 L
14 Freddy Galvis 29 L
15 Evan Longoria 29 R
16 Xavier Paul 27 L
17 Ian Desmond 26 R
18 Matt Dominguez 25 R
19 Ike Davis 24 L
20 Chase Utley 24 L

• The big name near the top of both lists is Justin Upton. While his early season heroics are well documented, signs show he struggles with fastballs. His K% is up from 19% in 2012 to 27% in 2013. Also, his Fastball Pitch Run Value (per 100 pitches) went from 0.92 in 2012 to -0.18 in 2013. Finally, his contact rate for any pitch in the strike zone (Z-Contact%) has gone from 87% in 2012 to 76% in 2013. Pitchers have noticed he can’t keep up and have increased the percentage of fastballs he is seeing this season.

Scott Kazmir left a game last night with a hurt back. It looks like he didn’t pitch long with the ailment since his in and inter game fastball velocities were good.

Also, he was able to keep a consistent release point.

No signs of an injury yet, but I would be weary of his next start.

Jeanmar Gomez returned from the DL and his fastball velocity looks fine

HURT (Hitter’s Under-performance from Recent Trauma) Rankings (hitters 27-years-old or younger today, no PA min.):

Any player with a HURT value over 100 (red) has the traits of a batter playing through and injury.

Rank Name HURT PA (2013) PA (2010 – 2012)
1 B.J. Upton 169.2 270 1883
2 John Jaso 162.0 205 1038
3 Ike Davis 159.6 207 1334
4 Nolan Reimold 148.8 113 505
5 Seth Smith 138.0 264 1372
6 Matt Kemp 129.6 214 1806
7 Albert Pujols 128.4 344 2021
8 Alex Avila 127.2 188 1318
9 Chris Iannetta 124.8 226 902
10 Melky Cabrera 121.2 331 1716
11 Miguel Montero 116.4 286 1457
12 Jason Heyward 109.2 230 1730
13 Lance Berkman 106.8 268 1165
14 Garrett Jones 105.6 244 1647
15 Chris Johnson 105.6 222 1295
16 Robert Andino 100.8 85 1008
17 Justin Turner 100.8 102 690
18 Mark Teixeira 99.6 63 1920
19 Kevin Youkilis 96.0 118 1461
20 Cesar Izturis 94.8 83 719

Ryan Zimmerman is dealing with some shoulder discomfort. He not being picked by HURT because he has played through pain in several recent season and his stats have been suppressed.

PAIN (Pitcher Abuse INdex) Rankings (pitchers 25-years-old or younger, 40 IP in 2012, 20 Ip in 2013)

Any player with a PAIN value over 100 (red) has the traits of a pitcher likely to be hurt.

Rank Name PAIN IP (2013) IP (2012)
1 Jason Marquis 216.5 94.2 127.2
2 Lucas Harrell 183.2 93.0 193.2
3 Jonathan Broxton 157.4 27.0 58.0
4 Alexi Ogando 146.0 55.1 66.0
5 Matt Moore 123.5 86.2 177.1
6 Francisco Liriano 115.1 54.2 156.2
7 Craig Stammen 109.3 40.0 88.1
8 John Axford 108.2 33.0 69.1
9 Esmil Rogers 101.1 54.2 78.2
10 Luis Mendoza 98.2 75.2 166.0
11 Ryan Dempster 95.5 95.1 173.0
12 Burke Badenhop 89.7 35.1 62.1
13 Carlos Villanueva 88.1 66.0 125.1
14 Jake Westbrook 86.7 57.0 174.2
15 Brett Myers 80.9 21.1 65.1
16 Scott Feldman 73.8 91.0 123.2
17 Felix Hernandez 69.2 116.2 232.0
18 Josh Johnson 68.7 45.0 191.1
19 Jim Johnson 67.0 38.0 68.2
20 Ivan Nova 65.7 29.1 170.1

Felix Hernandez makes the watch list. Not a real surprise since his velocity and Zone% are down and his pace (with a lower WHIP) is up. He getting to the point in the pitcher aging curve when results get progressively worse and worse.

Players on the DL

(*) 15 Day Disabled List
(**) 60 Day Disabled List
(***) 7 Day Concussion List
Red colored entries are updates since last report.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

17 Responses to “MASH Report (6/21/13) – Introducing SLOW”

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  1. Michael says:

    Swinging Late On Wfastballs

    …I tried.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Brian S says:

    Swinging Lethargically Or Weakly

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. colbyamoss says:

    Swinging Late or Whiffing

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. avoidiam says:

    This is pretty awesome.

    Now if we could only determine if SLOW for a particular player is because of declining skills or changes in a hitters mechanics like their swing getting too long.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Retirenutting says:

    I don’t get how Liriano can land on the PAIN list… he never pitches past the 5th or 6th and he missed the first quarter of the season. Should be pretty fresh!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Paul says:

    So with this new SLOW metric is saying is that i should be looking to sell Justin Upton??

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. pudieron89 says:

    you may be weary from watching scott kazmir, but i’d be wary of getting tired from all that poor spelling.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Observer says:

    Melky Cabrera eh? Must be an “injury.”

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      I think his appearance is great.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Oh, Beepy says:

      Its funny that you think this is funny.

      Melky has very clearly been playing through leg injuries galore for most of the season as anyone who’s watched even a couple innings of Blue Jays baseball can attest.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. whee says:

    Swung late, oh well

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Shattenjager says:

    Swinging Like on Whiffleball team. Okay, so that doesn’t work, but I really wanted to make the W into whiffle ball.

    Swinging Like Old Wimp?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. andy s says:

    Slow, Lame, Old, Weakened
    Slappy Like Old Winkie
    So, Like, OverWhelmed

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. supershredder says:

    Swing Latency … On/Over … ?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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