Jose Arredondo, Peter Pascarelli and Regression

Monday night ESPN televised the Tigers-Angels game. Veteran baseball man (and current ESPN Baseball Today co-host) Peter Pascarelli joined Joe Morgan and Jon Sciambi in the booth for a couple of innings. Pascarelli came across well – he had a good voice and brought some opinions to the table. But one thing he said jumped out at me.

Pascarelli was talking about Angels reliever Jose Arredondo and mentioned that a drop in velocity was leading to his disappointing season.

In 2008, Arredondo averaged 93.7 with his fastball and this year his average is down to 92.2 – a noticeable drop and one which seemingly supports Pascarelli’s assertion. Pitch Type Values show Arredondo’s fastball being a plus pitch in 2008 and slightly below average this season. Last year Arredondo had a wFB/C of 1.55 while this year it sits at minus 0.07.

Now, that is unquestionably a noticeable difference. A wFB/C of 1.55 would rank as a Top 20 mark this season for relievers. But is it enough to explain how Arredondo went from a 10-2, 1.62 ERA in 2008 to a 1-3, 5.97 ERA this season? Especially since he averaged 93.94 with his four-seam fastball Monday night, topped out at 95.3 and gave up four runs?

Since Arredondo is a reliever, we are dealing with small samples. Last year he pitched in 61 innings and this year he has just 34.2 through Monday night’s game. However, there is much less difference between the two seasons if we simply examine his FIP. In 2008 Arredondo had a 3.10 FIP compared to a 3.77 mark this season.

When Arredondo came out of nowhere to put up his outstanding 2008 season, he enjoyed a great deal of good fortune. His BABIP was .250 while he posted an 82.2 percent strand rate. And his FIP may have even been underestimating his fortune, as he had a HR/FB rate of 5.8 percent last year.

Flash forward to this season and we see the exact opposite in Arredondo’s fortune. Now he has a .373 BABIP and a 64.8 percent strand rate. And his HR/FB rate has more than doubled to its current 12.5 percent, or slightly above-average rate.

Perhaps Pascarelli is right and Arredondo’s poor season is due to his drop in velocity. Or maybe it was just regression. Either way, smart fantasy owners avoided him on Draft Day and are happy with that decision, even with Arredondo’s increase of two strikeouts per nine innings over a season ago.

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I love Peter Pascarelli, but sometimes due to his sarcasm and biasness I have trouble understanding his opinions – are they real or hyperbole? I do know that he pays more attention to watching a player than stats/sabremetrics. It could be he just seen Arredondo a few times and came up with his own conclusion.