Would somebody care to explain to me how the Rockies are seemingly capable of conjuring up wins like this one whenever they happen to feel like it?
- Back on July 11th, I submitted that Scott Feldman might very well be the single most difficult Texas Rangers pitcher for me -- heck, for anyone -- to figure out, and just when it seemed as though we were beginning to close in on what he actually is ... well, he threw us another curveball. Literally.
Twenty-three of the 113 pitches Feldman threw during his magnificent seven-inning, 11-strikeout performance against a relatively potent Rays lineup on Sunday afternoon were mid-to-high-70s yakkers, providing a nice complement to his bread-and-butter cut fastball and occasionally employed change-up; however, none of that is particularly fascinating when taken in isolation. What is fascinating is the average horizontal movement he managed to impart upon that one pitch (9.71 inches), which he commanded relatively well and frequently utilized in his successful attempt to completely rattle the opposition.
[Disclaimer: Although the data mined by Sportsvision's Pitch f/x real-time pitch classification system is supposed to be consistent through all 30 major league ballparks, we know that's not really the case -- pitch velocity, movement and location slightly varies from one ballpark to the next, thanks in part to human error.
If Feldman were to perfectly replicate his 113-pitch outing down to the last fraction of a millimeter in, say, Oakland, a slight, but noticeable deviation in the average horizontal movement of his curveball would exist, so perhaps Tropicana Field's Pitch f/x configuration is somehow exaggerating the pitch's break; however, he's generated greater average horizontal break with his curveball in recent starts than his seasonal benchmark (5.7 inches), so it would appear that something has actually ever-so-subtly changed on a mechanical level.]
One of the prevailing complaints about Pitch f/x-quantified pitch movement is that the numbers don't really mean anything by themselves -- that is to say, even if we know that the horizontal break on a given pitcher's curveball is greater than that of the horizontal break of the league-average curveball, we don't know whether that's conducive to the curveball actually being a successful pitch.
Thanks to Dave Allen's groundbreaking work with pitch run values, however, we actually do know that positive horizontal movement on a curveball very strongly correlates with a curveball's run prevention against same-handed batters, and while a curveball's success is not solely dictated by its movement, more break generally produces better results.
Given Feldman's acquired reputation as a continuously evolving and improving young pitcher, one certainly can't rule out the possibility of that pitch becoming even more dangerous ... or, for that matter, the possibility of Feldman correcting the imbalance between his strong 2009 performance and his less impressive peripherals by not regressing towards the mean, but rather taking the far more laborious route and simply sharpening his peripherals. He just might be stubborn enough to pull it off.
- Michael Young's unconscious 15-for-30 (.500/.516/.733 in 31 plate appearances) streak over his last seven games earned the six-time All-Star American League Player of the Week honors on Monday, casting the national spotlight upon the top-hitting third baseman in the Junior Circuit and fanning the speculative flames with respect to his chances of snagging Most Valuable Player hardware.
Frankly, these chances don't actually exist so long as Joe Mauer is still alive and in good health, and while top-five recognition on the BBWAA ballot would make for a tidy little feel-good story in the newspapers, let's be perfectly candid here -- does anybody really care about who doesn't win? You might even go so far as to argue that we shouldn't even care about who actually does win, as Dave Cameron recently argued, although the weight assigned to post-season hardware whenever Hall of Fame balloting gears up is reason enough to care, since voter ignorance in the present can -- and does -- unjustly inflict collateral damage in the future.
- Since the Rangers are unlikely to revert to a six-man bullpen to create the requisite space on the active roster for the soon-to-be-recalled Chris Davis, the most painless corresponding roster move with the fewest implications would likely be the assignment of Andruw Jones (sore left hamstring) to the 15-day disabled list. But what if he wasn't hurting?
Back in mid-May, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark wrote at some length about the creativity being increasingly employed by general managers in justifying potentially sketchy disabled-list transactions, which are reportedly evoking some grumbles in front-office circles but resulting in few formally lodged complaints. I suspect there's some mutual gamesmanship in play here, in the sense that no team wants to be the whistleblower on a minor transgression for fear of reprisal when it comes time to play its own version of the disabled-list game, and it is for that reason that the Rangers could probably get creative in disabling a player of lesser value, if necessary.
That said, sufficient medical evidence supplied by a "highly qualified" physician must exist for the commissioner's office to approve any disabled-list assignment, which is something to keep in mind the next time you believe that a struggling player who is exhibiting no outward signs of pain and/or injury can be easily stashed away on the disabled list with absolutely no repercussions.