13 February 2009

Links . . . Uehara's Changeup and Fangraph Stats

Uehara working on a changeup.
Pitchers often have to adapt as they age or change from one league to another. Koji Uehara is looking to adding a changeup to his pitch selection, which we identified as including 2 fastballs, a slider, and a forkball. This article introduces that he occaisionally threw a shuuto, which is a pitch that is not seen in the US. It is sometimes referred to as a fast, reverse slider. It was famously confused by Will Carroll as the gyroball. For some reason, the shuuto is fairly common in Japan, but pitchers coming over to the states often drop it from their repertoire. For example, Daisuke Matsuzaka threw it over in Japan, but I am at a loss to have ever seen him throw one here in the states. Here is a video of the pitch:

Another interesting point the article makes and focuses on, is that Uehara is trying to "invent" a curveball. He has never committed to throwing one and wants to introduce it this spring. As seen in this photo mentioned in the NPB article, it is a one finger curve. He claims to have had trouble achieving break with both fingers on the ball. The result is a slow slider or hard curve that he has difficulty placing. Should be interesting to get some video from spring training on the guy.

FanGraphs is beginning to incorporate DPs and Outfield Arms into UZR.
I'm not sure how I feel about this yet. I have been trying to determine how predictive UZR can be and was pretty solid on how to approximate future performance. I guess I just think the work on double plays and outfield arm performance is a bit green to be encapsulated into a larger metric. I do give respect though for the folks at FanGraphs that they do report the numbers separately. It will be something that I will pay attention to and will tinker with. For fun, Orioles infield and outfield UZR/150 from 2008:
1B - Aubrey Huff (-14.8 UZR/150)
2B - Brian Roberts (-3.1; -17.9 cumulative)
3B - Melvin Mora (-5.2; -23.1)
SS - Cesar Izturis (10.5; -12.6)
LF - Feliz Pie (9.2 career; -3.4)
CF - Adam Jones (12.2; 8.8)
RF - Nick Markakis (9.3; 18.1)

So, if the players defend like they did last year according to this metric . . . we can expect the team to be in the black by 18 runs. That is almost two games worth. Major improvements were at shortstop and left field. First base is hurt defensively with Huff being there. Maybe Wigginton is better suited.

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