CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
The Week in Quotes: We... (05/10)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Castro C... (05/07)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spot... (05/10)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Monday T... (05/10)

May 10, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Mr. Perfect: Dallas Braden

by Craig Brown

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Entering Sunday’s game, Oakland starter Dallas Braden was owned in 45% of all ESPN leagues.  Since his two previous starts weren’t all that special (a combined 11 IP with 19 hits and 9 ER with just three walks and four strikeouts to push his season totals to 3 Wins with a 4.14 ERA and 1.19 WHIP and 22 strikeouts in 37 innings) he had the dubious distinction of having his league ownership drop by 27% over the previous week.  

There are probably more than a few who are kicking themselves for being hasty in cutting Braden loose.

It's difficult to fault those who released Braden as he hadn’t distinguished himself this season, or in his brief career. His strength has always been command.  Entering 2010, he was walking three batters per nine in his career.  This year, he’s sliced his walk rate down to 1.7 BB/9.  It's consistent command... He’s walked more than one batter in a game just once in his seven starts.  

Given the fact he lacks an overpowering fastball (average velocity: 88 mph) and lives around the plate, his contact rate figures to be high… and it is.  Opponents are putting the ball in play in 78% of all plate appearances.  That’s well above the major league average of 69%. 

The high contact rate may be enough to scare some off, but this season, Braden has made a change to his repertoire - and found some quality results on those balls in play.

Braden has always been a fastball/change-up pitcher who will toss a slider into the mix from time to time along with a couple other secondary pitches like a sinker and curve.  This year Braden has been featuring a sinker with increasing regularity and his change-up is exhibiting a little more downward bite.  As you would imagine, the result has been more ground ball outs.  A lot more ground ball outs.  Here are the top four plate appearance resolutions for Braden last summer, as shown by percentage of all resolutions.

Fly Out - 20%
Ground Out - 17%
Single - 16%
Strike Out - 14%

Here are his top four plate appearance resolutions through his seven starts this year:

Ground Out - 26%
Single - 16%
Strikeout - 15%
Fly Out - 12%

Braden works his change-up down and on the right side of the plate and generally keeps his fastball on the left side.  From Texas Leaguers, below is a chart plotting all of his pitches through his first six starts of the season.



Needless to say, this approach is working for Braden.  This year, his ground out to air out ratio is at 1.29.  It’s the first time in his career he’s getting more ground outs than air outs.  He’s held opponents to a slash line of .262/.298/.411.

Going forward, the ground balls will continue to be the key to Braden’s success. The interesting thing about Braden’s perfect game is that he recorded six strikeouts to go along with seven ground outs and 14 air outs.  On the surface, it doesn't make a ton of sense, but of those 14 air outs, five of them didn't leave the infield.  That's another interesting trend that Braden has developed this year - he owns a 22% IF/FB rate, third highest in the league.  That seems to indicate he's doing a great job keeping hitters off balance while taking advantage of the spacious foul territory of his home park.

The perfect game is an outstanding result and will undoubtedly make Braden's this week's waiver wire stud.  And as long as he keeps the ground balls in his pitching toolbox, he'll continue to make a solid fantasy impact.

Craig Brown is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Craig's other articles. You can contact Craig by clicking here

Related Content:  Dallas Braden

9 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

R.A.Wagman

Looking at Gameday, it seems that Braden did a great job of mixing locations and never going near the middle of the strike zone - always around the inner or outer corners.

May 10, 2010 05:08 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Craig Brown
BP staff

And he followed the pattern from above... His change-ups were on the right side and his fastballs were on the left. I was kind of surprised about the location of his sinker... It looked like a lot of them were in the upper half of the zone.

May 10, 2010 07:00 AM
 
Henry F.

I've read conflicting reports about whether his pitch that breaks down and in to a RHB is a screwball or a circle change...do you have any information on this Craig, or would it be better to ask a scout?

May 10, 2010 08:28 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Craig Brown
BP staff

I haven't seen anything that says he throws a screwball with any regularity. I think it's his slider that is running down and in on the RHB.

May 10, 2010 08:54 AM
 
R.A.Wagman

When he first came up, reports had him as a screwball pitcher (pretty unique these days - IIRC, Danny Ray Herrera is the only (other) one around. After some time, it was revealed that he really throws a changeup that has screwball like action. I can't site that info though.

May 10, 2010 08:58 AM
rating: 0
 
Henry F.

I meant down and away from a RHB, but I think you guys picked up on. A circle change thrown correctly certainly acts like a screwball (see late career Greg Maddux when he really needed to strike out a LHB), but I was hoping the screwball was finding some air rather than fading away (pun intended).

May 10, 2010 09:10 AM
rating: 0
 
psugator01

i think braden needs to thank yesterday's home-plate umpire. it was obvious that on getaway day the umpire calling balls and strikes wanted to do just that and "get away." anything near the strike zone was called a strike. it got so bad that the commentators were even joking about it.

May 10, 2010 10:13 AM
rating: -1
 
greendrummer

wow what a terrible response for one of the most inspiring sports stories and people of the year...

this guy has come a hell of a long way since his very poor 2007 performance.
give him some credit at least for beating both the Yanks and the Rays this season so far - has any other pitcher done that?

May 10, 2010 14:15 PM
rating: 0
 
dalbano

Why didn't Dallas go nuts on Evan Longoria after he attempted a bunt in the 5th? Isn't that an unwritten rule as well?

May 10, 2010 10:45 AM
rating: 2
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
The Week in Quotes: We... (05/10)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Castro C... (05/07)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spot... (05/10)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Monday T... (05/10)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
The BP Wayback Machine: Retaliation, and Pit...
Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Week Four
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Done Zo
Fantasy Article The Buyer's Guide: Jimmy Nelson
Pebble Hunting: Scott Boras Has The World's ...
Premium Article Rubbing Mud: The Worst Holes On Contenders
Premium Article Monday Morning Ten Pack: April 27, 2015

MORE FROM MAY 10, 2010
Premium Article Under The Knife: Beltran's Moment of Truth
Premium Article Transaction Action: Senior Shuffling
Premium Article On the Beat: New Blood, Same Result
Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Ten Pack
Premium Article Ahead in the Count: If They Stay or If They ...
The Week in Quotes: Week of May 3-9

MORE BY CRAIG BROWN
2010-05-17 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Rotation Woes and a True Outco...
2010-05-14 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Weekly Planner #7
2010-05-12 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Killer Quentin
2010-05-10 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Mr. Perfect: Dallas Braden
2010-05-07 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Weekly Planner #6
2010-05-06 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Covering For Bradley
2010-05-03 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Swing And A Miss: The Aramis R...
More...

MORE FANTASY BEAT
2010-05-12 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Killer Quentin
2010-05-11 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Bas...
2010-05-10 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-05-10 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Mr. Perfect: Dallas Braden
2010-05-07 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Castro Called Up, Theriot Bump...
2010-05-07 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-05-07 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Weekly Planner #6
More...