Searching for the source of the struggles of Matt Cain and Jeremy Hellickson this season.
Matt Cain and Jeremy Hellickson are similar pitchers, with a likeness that extends to stuff, mechanics, and stats. Both pitchers have fastballs that average 91-92 mph on the gun, with plus command of great off-speed stuff to keep opposing batters off-balance. Each uses a 77-mph curveball around 12 percent of the time, but while Hellickson uses an 80-mph changeup at a 30 percent clip, Cain is a 15 percent cambio guy whose off-speed pitch comes in at a heavy 86 mph on average. He also adds a slider with the same frequency and velocity as his change. I have touted both pitchers for their excellent balance and strong posture, the underlying ingredients of top-notch pitch repetition, although the hurlers also share an affinity toward slow momentum.
Hellickson might be lower on the totem pole and several years Cain's junior, but the negative connotations associated with his profile are eerily reminiscent of those that Cain endured early in his own career. Armchair analysts who choose to focus solely on certain stats and eschew batted-ball numbers due to their inherent volatility have screamed “luck” in a reach to explain the consistently low BABIPs of both pitchers, with constant calls for regression to the league mean. Those same analysts can now be found basking under a cloud of smug, as both Hellickson and Cain are currently in the midst of the worst seasons of their respective careers.
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Earlier this week, Zack Greinke opposed Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson in his Angels debut. Doug reviews each player's approach to pitching.
The Angels showed off their new prize last Sunday, as deadline acquisition Zack Greinke made his Anaheim debut in a face-off with 2011 Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson. Greinke returns to the American League after a year and a half spent taking swings in the senior circuit, arriving via a July 27th exchange for three Angels minor leaguers, including Futures Game LVPAriel Pena. Hellickson made a comeback of his own on Sunday with a return from his first trip to the disabled list, a 15-day hiatus to rest from shoulder fatigue. Greinke and Hellickson are advanced students of the game, and Sunday's throwdown between the two pitch-sequence savants did not disappoint.
Sunday was a clinic for pitcher target practice. The two starters yielded just a single free pass between them, with excellent mechanics contributing to masterful pitch execution on both sides, though each player employed his own unique gameplan. The young Helix posted the superior stat line, allowing just a pair of singles while showing off his penchant for inducing weak contact. Hellickson was also the beneficiary of an opposing lineup lacking Mike Trout, who gave way to out-machine Vernon Wells in a swap that cost about 900 points of OPS.
Jeremy Hellickson gets hit hard and Clay Buchholz impresses in the game of the week, plus thoughts about Tampa Bay's pitching and Bobby Valentine's way with words.
The night before Saturday’s game, the Red Sox scored eight runs against the Rays to turn a relatively normal game into a 12-2 laugher. Actually, there was something abnormal about it, even before the offensive explosion: Rays starter David Price lasted only three innings. He gave up three runs on four hits and three walks while running up an 83-pitch tab. Josh Beckett, meanwhile, suffocated Tampa Bay for eight innings, allowing just one run on five hits.
Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, both in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that has been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.