CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe
Strength of Schedule Report
<< Previous Article
Premium Article What Will Happen if Al... (01/10)
<< Previous Column
BP Unfiltered: Nominat... (01/12)
Next Column >>
BP Unfiltered: RISPy B... (01/16)
Next Article >>
The Week in Quotes: Ja... (01/13)

January 13, 2014

BP Unfiltered

John Axford Tips Well

by R.J. Anderson

John Axford had a tipping problem, according to John Lott's latest. In his first day with the Cardinals following a late-season trade from the Brewers, the coaches took him aside and revealed to him how he'd been telegraphing pitches. They then worked with Axford to make "one little adjustment." That little adjustment worked wonders. After posting a 4.45 ERA and 2.35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 62 appearances with the Brewers, Axford compiled a 1.74 ERA and 3.67 SO/BB with the Cardinals and improved his whiff rate on sliders. The Indians were impressed enough by his strong finish to add him this winter as their new closer.

While that's all fine and dandy, most of us want to know what Axford was doing that clued in hitters. He declined to say, however, leaving us to our own devices. Pitchers can tip their pitches in a lot of ways, though not all are detected by batters. Some slow their arms or deliveries, others alter their posture, and then there are those who tweak their glove angle or motion. In Axford's case, he did a little bit of everything.

Take the two pitches below from Axford's appearance against the Pirates on May 14, an outing in which he blew a one-run lead:

There are at least three differences between the pitches: 1) the height of the leg kick; 2) the height of the glove; and 3) the angle of the glove. Compare those images to the ones below, from August 31 against the Pirates, and it's like comparing peanut butter and jelly:

Some minor differences remain, but not as numerous or as noticeable as before.

Axford didn't tip his pitches all season. Those tells were absent from his Opening Day appearance, yet were in full bloom by the time Milwaukee visited St. Louis in mid-May. Cardinals hitters, by the way, didn't perform as well against Axford in 2013 as one might suspect, hitting just .241/.353/.310 against the Notre Dame product. (They did walk five times in 34 plate appearances, though, so perhaps there was some value gained from knowing what was coming.)

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

Related Content:  John Axford,  Tipping Pitches

3 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article What Will Happen if Al... (01/10)
<< Previous Column
BP Unfiltered: Nominat... (01/12)
Next Column >>
BP Unfiltered: RISPy B... (01/16)
Next Article >>
The Week in Quotes: Ja... (01/13)

Expert FAAB Review: Week 25
Baseball Prospectus News: Subscription Price...
BP En Espanol: Tuneles y secuencias: aplicac...
What You Need to Know: A Tale of Two Teams i...
Short Relief: A Long September
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Confessions of a Fake Mana...
Rubbing Mud: The Sinker Doesn't Play Well Wi...

Premium Article Prospects Will Break Your Heart: San Diego P...
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Building a Better Starting...
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: AL Rotation Rumblings
Premium Article Minor League Update: International Winter Le...
Fantasy Article State of the Position: Catchers
Fantasy Players to Target: Catchers
The Week in Quotes: January 2-12

2014-01-21 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: The Mark of the Reynol...
2014-01-15 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: The Youngian Thing
2014-01-14 - Premium Article Painting the Black: Smyly Anticipated
2014-01-13 - BP Unfiltered: John Axford Tips Well
2014-01-08 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: The Sands of Time
2014-01-02 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Crain So Good Coulda S...
2013-12-26 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Colletti's All-Closer ...

2014-01-28 - BP Unfiltered: Masahiro Tanaka: A Reader Pol...
2014-01-27 - BP Unfiltered: The 2014 Annual is Out; Ebook...
2014-01-16 - BP Unfiltered: RISPy Business
2014-01-13 - BP Unfiltered: John Axford Tips Well
2014-01-12 - BP Unfiltered: Nominations Needed For The Ha...
2014-01-10 - BP Unfiltered: Rereading Nate Silver: 17. Th...
2014-01-09 - BP Unfiltered: YCPB and You Never Could