Looking at another pitcher who found benefits in a small shift.
Last April I chronicled Fernando Rodney's shift on the mound and the potential ramifications. Though examining similar shifts bore no predictive fruit—pitching, as it turns out, is more complicated —it was a fun topic that showcased the creativity put forth by the league's pitching coaches. The new season will bring new changes to uncover and analyze. But before we forget about 2012 let's take one final look back at the year in shifts.
Max Marchi was kind enough to assist me, as he did in the first piece, by providing the PITCHf/x data complete with his own ballpark adjustments. The top-10 shifters, as ranked by absolute difference in horizontal release point from 2011 to 2012, are presented in the table below. This methodology benefits those who made one big shift from the first year to the second rather than those who made a number of small moves, which is to say fervent shifters like Francisco Liriano (who moves based on the batter's handedness) are absent from the list. Rodney is amusingly absent as well, since he failed to meet the playing time requirement of 1,000 pitches in both seasons. Rest assured, he would've finished at the top.
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Tim Collins has emerged as one of the top relievers in the game.
The Thursday Takeaway
As the Royals swept the Brewers out of Kauffman Stadium, one pitcher took home two of the three victories. That pitcher is lefty reliever Tim Collins, who is rapidly developing into one of the top bullpen arms in the American League.
The 22-year-old Collins struggled to rein in his walks last season, issuing 48 free passes in 67 innings as a rookie. He was tough to hit, though, holding opposing batters to a .216 average and pitching effectively against right-handed hitters, who combined for a 582 OPS. Armed with a quality fastball and outstanding curveball, Collins flashed his potential in 2011. In 2012, he has put it all together.
How often do teams' Opening Day starters live up to their top billing?
“He deserves it. He earned it. He should have made the All-Star team last year. Right now, I think Mike Pelfrey should be the No. 1 guy on this staff.”—Terry Collins
The quote above is a variation on a theme repeated exactly thirty times per preseason. At some point before 25-man rosters are finalized and the games start to mean something, each manager makes a show of anointing his team’s Opening Day starter. The names change—in most cases, they’re more impressive than Pelfrey’s—but the platitudes stay the same.
Clay returns with the most recent installment of his Objective Hall of Fame series, as he starts to move away from 19th Century players.
The players who retired around the start of World War II--and there were a bunch of those--are starting to show up now, so we won't be entirely stuck on players from the 19th century--not that there's anything wrong with that. Next time I'll take a break from the players I'm putting in and look at some of the players I'm keeping out. The information presented below is the player's name, position, Career MVP score, and, in parentheses, the year he was elected to the real HOF.