Meet the New Yanks: Same as the Old Yanks

So here are the Bombers, dropping a large FA contract on a pitcher coming off his worst year in five years, a guy departing the lazy NL Central, a guy who was tagged but good in interleague, a guy who will be on the wrong side of 35 by the All-Star break, a guy with a suspect elbow, and—guess what—just about everyone in Yankeeland is happy about it. If the player involved was anyone but Andy Pettitte—or maybe Roger Clemens—there would likely be an uproar. What’s the deal? Well, Pettitte is a bona fide Yankee hero of yore. He has provided us with some great memories, and a lot of solid innings. (But let’s not kid either, he was never the team ace, and was practically run out of town by the Boss—wrongly, but still.) The deal is for only 2 years, the Yanks need pitching depth, they need a consistent innings eater (Pettitte has been over 200 in 3 of the last 4 years, nevermind the elbow), and they need a mentor, or at least someone to set a solid example, for the many young pitchers in the organization. Money is a consideration, but let’s face it, the team can afford it—especially after jacking up box seat prices. The arrival of Pettitte makes the status of Carl Pavano an even greater question mark than ever. Pettitte will walk into the clubhouse with huge respect from his colleagues. Pavano has lost that, apparently, and who knows if he’ll even be back. I’m interested to see which of the two has a better 2007—wherever Pavano plays. Meanwhile, the Yanks would do well to find a decent glove at first base. Between Wang and Pettitte, there will be a lot of ground balls at the Stadium this season.

Pettitte may always have been lukewarm about New York, but there’s no question as to his committment to the Yankees, or his work ethic. Here’s Tom Pettitte, Andy’s father, on the Houston/New York movement (courtesty Bronx Banter):

“I never wanted him to leave New York to begin with…lThe Yankees were always a special part of his life, no question. When he was deciding to pitch down here, he said: ‘I’m a Yankee. I’ll always be a Yankee.’ That’s how he understood it. Now he gets to go back and be a Yankee again.”

Welcome back.

103 comments… add one
  • Who knew Carl Pavano even had a “status”?!

    SF December 9, 2006, 12:29 pm
  • Worst season in five years to the tune of 4.20 with 178 Ks, and a 2.54 K/BB ratio? I’d take it.
    BUt more promising would be his post all-star line of 2.80 with 1.23 WHIP. The guy had a rough start to the season and finally put it together after the All Star Break.
    I just hope the coincidence of him putting it together and Clemens coming back is just a coincidence.

    tpxDMD December 9, 2006, 12:32 pm
  • Who knew Carl Pavano even had a “status”?!
    Of course he does! He’s a talented pitcher, who has hit a rough spell these past couple years, and is now healthy and ready to go. On this market, Pavano is a very valuable trading tool.
    SF, don’t underestimate the Yankee trade spin- this guy is good and will contribute to some team next spring.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 12:33 pm
  • I like the movie, Pettitte man-crush aside. You pay a little extra to not have to pay A LOT extra for someone with a worse track record for a longer time. More depth, more innings, role model, can handle the media, blah blah blah… Moving to a slight pitcher’s park will hopefully mitigate a little bit of the NL/AL translation.

    tom yf December 9, 2006, 1:47 pm
  • By “movie”, I mean “move”, of course. But I do like a lot of movies too.

    tom yf December 9, 2006, 1:48 pm
  • I can’t see the “same as the old Yanks” distinction. Last year was better than ’05, and this year will be better than ’06. Consider:
    Johnson Wang Wang
    Mussina Mussina Mussina
    Wang Johnson Pettitte
    Brown Wright Johnson
    Chacon Rasner Igawa
    Small Karstens …who knows…
    Pavano …others…
    See how the rotations from ’05 to ’06 to predicted ’07 get smaller and smaller? That means more stability, which implies better performances (yes, Randy sucked in ’06, but at least he was still a 7-inning pitcher).
    I expect ’07 to be to ’06 what ’06 was to ’05. That would be amazing, seeing as how the Yankees had one of the better pitching staffs in the AL last year.

    Anonymous December 9, 2006, 2:48 pm
  • Crap. The above post was mine, and apparently this blog doesn’t do spaces well. Let me re-edit:
    Small……..Karstens…who knows…

    Andrew December 9, 2006, 2:50 pm
  • Of course, that’s assuming that Wang does what eveyone in the world predicts he will not. Not only was he far and away past his inning high, but all experts say that GB pitchers come back to earth.
    Also, a guy who just had back sugery can’t really be included on the list to be decent “or a seven inning pitcher” until he comes back and does so.
    Other than those two factors, I agree with you. They are better than last year with AP.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 2:52 pm
  • ugh..has anyone else been in the virtual waiting room all damn morning?

    Brad December 9, 2006, 3:02 pm
  • Cubbies make yet another move! Marquis. Don’t know the details, but they’re definitely better than they were last year. They do need another good bat.
    Also, Padilla staying in Texas for 3/34. Wow. This market just went crazy this year.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 3:11 pm
  • Well Brad, seeing as how Wang already did what the world predicted him not to do, I think chances are he’ll still be pretty damn good next year. His WHIP may never be Mussina-esque, but his GB/FB ratio is ungodly, and that was because of what he throws, not because of luck. Granted you need to have a good defense behind you to be successful in that regard, but I don’t see the Yankee defense being any worse than it was last year. The difference between Wang and other ground-ball pitchers of the past is that Wang throws in the mid-90s. That’s what will separate him from the pack.
    And for Johnson, who knows. If he doesn’t recover from back surgery (worst-case scenario, and less likely than recovery) then yeah, he’s out of the picture. But then you can just pick one of many starters the Yankees have in the minors to fill the 5-hole. Rasner has good stuff and can pitch pretty good for a #5. Karstens is pretty much Jaret Wright, which means he’s subpar, but for a #5 guy that’s perfectly alright. And if Randy does recover, I’m not saying he will go 7 innings a start this year. Hence why he’ll be a #4 guy. Those don’t need to go 7 when you have the top 3 already doing that.
    Anyway, obviously as a Yankees fan I’m optimistic about the rotation, and as a Red Sox fan you’re pessimistic (well, really, optimistic from your POV) about it. The same would probably go if we were analyzing the Red Sox rotation, but let’s save that for when the Sox eventually sign Matsuzaka for 3 years $12 million per.

    Andrew December 9, 2006, 3:33 pm
  • Andrew, I can’t tell you how many times I had this argument with YF’s over D-Lowe. Turns out, I was wrong, and they were right. At his K-Rate, if he doesn’t come back to Westbrook-esque stats, he’ll be the outiler on every pitching chart in history.
    The chances for him are just as good as bad, but I’m just saying that the odds are stacked against the kid. Of course he’s good (better than I thought actually), but he’s no different than Derek Lowe whatsoever in terms of ability to induce the ground ball and strike guys out. I still hold my ground that Mussina is the best pitcher not named Marino on the Yankees, and will be next year too.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 3:42 pm
  • Starters:
    Potential replacement starters due to injury:
    Closer: Mo
    The Yanks haven’t had pitching depth like this in a while. I really like the bullpen, there are some guys there that can really bring heat and Britton, on paper, appears to be a nice addition. The best part is the young ones will be in AA and AAA; Hughes, Clippard, Sanchez, etc. who could possibly become contributors. I am by no means implying that this is a shut-down stellar staff, but on paper it appears to be that going into 2007, the Yankees will be carrying solid talented pitchers both in the rotation and in the bullpen. I just really like the depth that Cash has put together.

    bloodyank78 December 9, 2006, 3:53 pm
  • Brad, I have to point out that when comparing Wang to D-Lowe, or many other GB pitchers, Wang’s coming with more velocity than any of these guys including Webb. His sinker hits 95mph at times and like I heard Vernon Wells say in an interview once, “it’s like trying to hit a bowling ball with a broomstick”. I think as long as Wang maintains his velocity, he’ll be fine.

    bloodyank78 December 9, 2006, 4:00 pm
  • Brad, I have to point out that when comparing Wang to D-Lowe, or many other GB pitchers, Wang’s coming with more velocity than any of these guys including Webb. His sinker hits 95mph
    I agree, BY. But here’s what I’m saying: It doesn’t matter if Wang is bringing it at 100mph. Guys are hitting it, and he’s not striking them out. That’s exactly the same result that you get with every single other groundball pitcher. The ball hits the ground, and it’s only a matter of time before they start to find holes instead of gloves – the same way every other GB pitcher comes back to average. I know he’s a good pitcher, but until he begins to strike guys out, that law of averages is bound to catch up to him. His sometimes 95mph matters very little to his advantages, because if anything, it’s speeding up the ball off the bat because guys are hitting it.
    I’m not knocking the guy at all, so don’t get me wrong. I love GB guys no matter who they are, but in the end, letting that ball into play on every single batter will bite a pitcher in the ass as often as it helps them. I see nothing from Wang to indicate he’s above history’s pattern or better than the groundball guys that came before him who had a good year here, and a mediocre on there.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 4:26 pm
  • edit…
    mediocre onE there.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 4:29 pm
  • You have a very valid point Brad, I just hope (as you and other SF’s probably do not), that his K/9 rate gets up to at least 4.5 or better this season. Wang would really start cruising if he could that, but I am only faintly optimistic he will.

    bloodyank78 December 9, 2006, 4:34 pm
  • If wang had the capability to learn a better than high school type breaking pitch, it would benefit him greatly. Having that out pitch when guys are fully expecting the sinker would allow him to mix things up. When Wang is in trouble, it’s as predictable as Becketts fastball (which is also 100mph), and guys gear up for it. That off speed breaking pitch is the key for both of them. Beckett has one of the best ones I’ve ever seen from a fastball pitcher, but he refuses to throw it. Wang, if he developed one, could – as you say– cruise. But for now, and for both, velocity matters very little. Hitters know whats coming.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 4:38 pm
  • Beckett can’t really control it, so I can see why he doesn’t throw it when he’s in trouble. He should be one of those “work backwards” guys, but that gets predictable too.

    tom yf December 9, 2006, 5:01 pm
  • Wang does have secondary and tertiary pitches; he doesn’t use them that much because the sinker is so effective. His performance from 2005 to 2006 was remarkably consistent, and his BABIP is at league average, which means he didn’t get “lucky” with a larger than expected number of his ground balls finding gloves last year. He may not strike out as many as you would like, but he’s super-stingy with the home run. If Wang stays healthy, expect another good year. My opinion.

    YF December 9, 2006, 5:05 pm
  • I for one would not be disappointed if Wang continues in the mold of Derek Lowe.
    Does Derek Lowe not have a career ERA+ of 121? I would be ecstatic if Wang could do that (without the injuries, of course). And even more, Wang throws harder than Lowe. When you’re throwing pitches other than fastballs, like Wang does, speed matters. Like the guy above me said, quoth Vernon Wells re Wang’s sinker, it’s like trying to hit a bowling ball with a broom. Sure you can hit it, but it probably ain’t going anywhere special. I’ll take an Major League all-star’s word over any statistician’s ‘predictions’ any day, thanks.

    Andrew December 9, 2006, 5:07 pm
  • YF, great comment, I totally agree. He allows contact, but not a lot of good contact. I’m a lot more worried about how he’ll age than how he’ll do next year, b/c once that sink dips to 90-91, hasta la vista, unless those otherpitches get better.

    tom yf December 9, 2006, 5:10 pm
  • The thing that most convinces me about Wang is what opposing players say about his pitches. Hitters just say he’s sick.

    Nick-YF December 9, 2006, 5:14 pm
  • What I meant to say above was that speed matters for many pitches, including Wang’s sinker. And sometimes it doesn’t matter for fastballs…look at Beckett.
    In fact I’d rather have a power sinker like Wang than a straight fastballer like Beckett. When hitters know the fastball is coming, they’ll hit it out of the park. But when hitters know the sinker is coming, and they know it can be thrown for a strike, there’s not much they can do than to hit it and hope for the best. You’re not going to get an extra-base hit on that. Loathe as I am to compare Wang to great pitchers, but consider Mariano Rivera’s cutter. Hitters ALWAYS know that Mo is going to throw a cutter. But what are they gonna do? You can’t get good hits off of pitches like that, and that’s what has made Mo successful with basically one pitch, and I hope will make Wang successful as long as he keeps the velocity on the sinker. I dunno the mechanics of it, but apparently velocity does matter for that pitch. And Wang, last year, has shown he can do it consistently.

    Andrew December 9, 2006, 5:14 pm
  • Andrew, great comparison to Mo. I was thinking along those same lines.

    Nick-YF December 9, 2006, 5:15 pm
  • “I for one would not be disappointed if Wang continues in the mold of Derek Lowe.”
    For the record…Wang’s in a mold of his own. If he continues putting up well-below league average ERA’s, he’ll be the first of his kind. Which is why, statistically speaking, the odds are stacked against him. Not saying it’s impossible, as he showed last year that he can succeed with a K/9 of 3.3 and a K/bb of 1.46. He’s not the first guy to put up a single highly-productive season with peripherals like that…but nobody has ever kept it up over an extended period of time.
    Oh…and as YF pointed out, his BABIP was league average. It wouldn’t be his fault if he did get unlucky…but it could hurt New York pretty badly. A season of bad luck or poor defense for Wang could well be disasterous.

    desturbd1 December 9, 2006, 5:17 pm
  • are his peripherals that awful? He doesn’t give up homers or extra base hits and he has good control.

    Nick-YF December 9, 2006, 5:19 pm
  • I know, and I’m not sure where he ranks in those categories compared to the other guys who’ve done similar things. Regardless, though…my original point remains: In terms of his K-rate, Wang will be in a league of his own if he has a well-above average career.

    desturbd1 December 9, 2006, 5:22 pm
  • d1, that’s true. I believe Neyer had an article about that earlier this season.
    His k-rate is odd if only because he had a decent one in the minors. I guess the story is he added the sinker after he had shoulder surgery and his whole approach changed.

    Nick-YF December 9, 2006, 5:25 pm
  • Wang is the greatest pitcher ever. History be damned here. For every pitcher to every induce ground balls, Wang is heads and tails above them all.
    See how silly that sounds? It sounds equally as silly to denounce the notion that averages will come back to him and he may not equal his great year. If he does, great. If he doesn’t, great. But either way, he’s fighting an uphill battle. If he doesn’t learn to strike guys out, he’ll never be in complete control of the game. Period.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 5:27 pm
  • and he has good control.
    Of course he does – batters hit the ball every time he throws it. It’s hard to walk guys if every one of them puts it in play.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 5:29 pm
  • aren’t there groundball pitchers who have poor control?

    Nick-YF December 9, 2006, 5:30 pm
  • “d1, that’s true. I believe Neyer had an article about that earlier this season.”
    Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking of. One of the better, more interesting articles ESPN had all season, I thought. I guess the reason SF’s like myself are optimistic that he won’t maintain this level of performance is that k-rate has come to be viewed as one of the most important predictors of extended success. Really, I won’t be surprised either way next year if he puts up another 3.6 ERA or if it jumps up to 4.5; though I will say that I don’t expect his K-rate to go up anytime soon. It showed no signs of improvement at the end of last year, and I don’t really know how he could change his approach.
    I’d also point out that he somehow only gave up 4 unearned runs all last season, out of the 59 NY allowed; it wouldn’t show up on his stat sheet, but if that number climbs, it might hurt his W/L record.

    desturbd1 December 9, 2006, 5:34 pm
  • Yes, and they walk a ton, because hitters don’t have to hit the ball when it’s not in the strike zone. Wang’s sinker is in the strike zone, so hitters have to swing or just take a strike. It’s not like hitters keep on saying “psh, it’s just a sinker, I can hit it.” They swing because it’s going to be a strike anyway. They’re not morons.
    That is, unless I’m confusing control with command.

    Andrew December 9, 2006, 5:36 pm
  • Yeah, and there are groundball pitchers with respectable K-rates too. Guy, all I’m saying is that if you don’t walk anyone, and you don’t strike out anyone, what’s left? Right, the ball is in play! Which is what I base my entire argument on.
    Why is it so hard to admit that when the ball is in play, it’s more likely to be bad news than if it isn’t?

    Brad December 9, 2006, 5:37 pm
  • 4/59 sounds like luck, but as we know, that has nothing to do with Wang’s games.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 5:40 pm
  • Dude, just because the ball is in play doesn’t mean it’s suddenly a crap shoot where 3 out of 10 times it’s a hit. I assume you didn’t really watch Wang pitch much last year, but those balls weren’t hard-hit rising liners, on Wang’s best games (the complete games where he had under 100 pitches) he induced crappy ground ball after crappy ground ball, a lot of the time on the first or second pitch. Again, no, that wasn’t luck, that was the product of the pitch he was throwing. His aim was to get these guys hit a pitch that you can’t get a good hit off of. That’s why his pitch count was so ridiculously low, and since he did it successfully more often than not, I’m willing to guess that all balls in play are not equal.
    Also, I really like that you think that balls in play are more likely bad news than not. If that were true all batters would have over .500 batting averages. Get a clue, guy.

    Andrew December 9, 2006, 5:46 pm
  • There’s no getting around the low k rate. But you know what: he’s a fun player to watch. Throws strikes, gets balls into play, keeps his defense on its toes, fields well. Yes, he’s going to have some lousy outings. He’s not Johan Santana. He’s going to need a few “lucky” dps to get himself out of jams. Hopefuily he’ll get them. When he does, it’s classic, fundamental baseball–a real joy.

    YF December 9, 2006, 5:50 pm
  • I assume you didn’t really watch Wang pitch much last year, but those balls weren’t hard-hit rising liners
    What does that matter? Is the ball in play? Was contact made by the batter in 85% of the chances? Why is this debateable?
    If the ball doesn’t get into play, it’s much less dangerous to a team. It makes no difference how “weak” or “simple” the ground balls were. The ball being in play introduces a whole new margin for error for whomever.
    Yes, I did watch Wang pitch last year. And every time I did, he needed a few great plays to keep himself out of trouble.
    I don’t know why this is being discussed here- If the ball is in play, it’s more dangerous for the team. How is that a question?
    Get a clue? Are you kidding me??
    If a ball is in play, it is automatically, by default, more dangerous than ones that are not. Where do you get off saying “…a .500 avg” Where does this come from?
    Really, you’re saying that balls that are hit and put into the field of play are just as good as balls that do not end up in play? Is that right? Is that really what you’re trying to argue here? I don’t think it is – that’s impossible that you, or anyone for that matter, thinks that.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 5:54 pm
  • Wang’s a good pitcher. He will probably be a decent guy this year; no reason to think otherwise. Whether he can be as good is up to him, along with some element of chance. He’s only different from other guys because of the K rate.
    The fair thing to say is that because he doesn’t strike out guys, he’s got less margin for error. So he has to be as consistent, as accurate as he was this year, as fortunate with the performance of his defense every time. If he’s not, that’s bigger trouble than for other types of pitchers. I don’t think there’s any shame in Yankees partisans admitting that, but there appears to be a denial of statistical fact here with regards to ground ball pitchers, and Wang seems to get something of a pass because he had such a nice year. That’s partly deserved, partly bias.

    SF December 9, 2006, 5:58 pm
  • And another point. Baseball is a game of individuals and individuality. Every player is to a certain extent, unique, an outlier. Josh Beckett has a high k rate, but the balls go out of the yard so often it kills him. Or it did last season. Wang has a low k rate but the ball stays on the ground, and in the park. Both guys could have had, indeed, probably had anomalyous 2006s. Both are likely to move closer to the mean in 2007. But how much? A lot? A little? And by what measure? Wins? Yes, Wang is going to have trouble putting up another 19 wins next year. That’s A LOT of wins, and wins are team dependent. There’s a great deal of randomness in the game. That’s why it’s so much fun to watch. If we could just use PECOTA to figure out what was going to happen in 2007, then, well—that wouldn’t be too much fun now would it?

    YF December 9, 2006, 5:59 pm
  • That’s partly deserved, partly bias.
    ‘ya think? I started out complimenting the guy, and end up needing to get a clue because ground balls are more dangerous than strikeouts. What a insane concept.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 6:00 pm
  • PECOTA to figure out what was going to happen in 2007, then, well—that wouldn’t be too much fun now would it?
    No. Drew would be terrible for a 70mill dollar player if we do that.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 6:01 pm
  • SF: K rate is not the end-all, be-all stat. That homer rate is not a coincidence. Yeah, there’s chance involved when so many guys put the ball in play, but there is also good reason why he’s been consistently succesful.

    YF December 9, 2006, 6:02 pm
  • I also differ from YF’s “joy” in watching Wang, not just because I dislike the Yankees. YF and I have different likes and dislikes with the aesthetics of pitching. We always have: he even loved Jimmy Key, a characterless junkballing lefty who absolutely defined “boring” to me. He and Dave Stieb, that is.
    My favorite pitchers have always been guys like Pedro, Clemens, Maddux, guys who could throw like 4 pitches 12 different ways. “Power” is irrelevant: Clemens had it but knew how to pitch. Pedro had it most of the time, but it was the times where he couldn’t rely on anything but his changeup(s) that we saw the artistry. Maddux is Maddux. Wang is, to me, a joyless effort: mechanical and boring. Fundamentally sound, sure, but “joyful”? I can’t even fathom summoning anything like that emotion when he’s on the mound, and forget the uniform’s role.

    SF December 9, 2006, 6:03 pm
  • I misread your post. I thought you were saying that balls in play will more likely be bad news than not. You were comparing balls in play to balls not in play. Let me retort with saying that balls in play, while, yes, are more dangerous than a strikeout, can also be less dangerous than trying to get that strikeout and instead watching it fly over the fence. Take Josh Beckett for example, not just because he sucked, but because he is the antithesis of Chien Ming Wang in many ways. Trying to blow the fastball past hitters, reaching for that strikeout, can be more dangerous than simply letting them hit the ball to ‘where they are’ more often to ‘where they aint’. Yeah they’ll get a single once in a while, but that’s much better than a homerun or an off-the-wall double. Wang’s success stems from his control over hitters. Yes, you can have control over hitters without striking them out. Want to know who had the most double-plays while he was pitching last year? Wang. I dunno, maybe it’s hard for people to understand that the strikeout is not the end-all and be-all of good pitching. All ground balls are not created equal. Grounders hit off of Wang are more likely to be crappy than not, and if they aren’t, then the next one will most likely be. Hence the massive amount of double plays, and no, double plays are not these magical, lucky, once-in-a-lifetime kind of things. They’re routine, and they happened all the time. And again, I’ll take the word of a major league hitter named Vernon Wells over a stat-head’s ‘predictions’ anytime. When a great hitter like Wells says a pitcher is ‘sick’, I think that speaks volumes of why he was successful.
    And I really can’t believe you think that ‘weak’ ground balls are no different than ones that are not weak. Well-hit balls are going to be hits more often than ones that are not well-hit. I thought this was common sense.

    Andrew December 9, 2006, 6:05 pm
  • Not saying K-rate is the end-all, be-all. But Wang has a great sinker that doesn’t get swings and misses, and is effectively a finesse pitcher who relies on balls put in play weakly. That’s a slimmer margin for error. I don’t think that’s an opinion, I think that’s, as Brad says, a fact. But that’s no predictor of future success: he may very well be good enough to always get weak balls in play. Don’t misinterpret my comment as any kind of prediction of Wang failing: I haven’t seen him pitch for long enough to be any kind of authority on his future.

    SF December 9, 2006, 6:06 pm
  • Wang and Beckett- A Tale of Two Pitchers.
    Will Wang have another very solid and consistent year (His record was either 3-1 or 4-1 every month of the year except April, when he was 1-1), resulting in a 2nd place finish in the Cy Young voting?
    Will Beckett have another wildly inconsistent year, either pitching very well, or getting carpet-bombed with HRs resulting in a 2nd from the bottom finish in HRs allowed and an ERA over 5?
    Should be interesting. Stay tuned.

    whatever December 9, 2006, 6:07 pm
  • It strikes me as a little odd that if I try to think of the greatest pitchers of this generation, which ones were ground ball producing machines, and which ones had high k- and home run rates?
    I’m just wondering. I really don’t know the answer. I wonder who the best GB pitcher was, say in the past 15 years? Also, anyone have any clue how many times Nolan Ryan or Roger Clemens led the leauge in Homeruns? I know that Roger has given up more than 15HR’s seventeen times and more than twenty six times. That seems like a ton, but at one time or another, don’t all guys with great fastballs like that die by them?
    Of course I feel like both Beckett and Wang will come back to their averges for those numbers, which is all I was trying to say to begin with.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 6:08 pm
  • And I really can’t believe you think that ‘weak’ ground balls are no different than ones that are not weak. Well-hit balls are going to be hits more often than ones that are not well-hit. I thought this was common sense.
    You’re right, it is. Which, is why I wasn’t trying to argue that. All I said was that balls in play introduce the possiblity of error that does not exist when they are not. No matter how weak, it’s still there.
    This argument is stupid. None of us can predict any of it. If Wang comes back, it’s because he should (according to history). If he doesn’t, then kudos. I love a GB guy, and I’ve said so numerous times within this post.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 6:12 pm
  • And also, I’m saying that while ground balls are not nearly guaranteed to be outs, trying to strike people out is not nearly a guaranteed strikeout. It takes the best pitchers with something more than just heat to consistently strike people out. When that doesn’t happen, you get Josh Beckett, 2006. Now, Wang hasn’t pitched for very long so we haven’t really seen the effect of a supremely unlucky year for him, where A-Rod suddenly thinks Mussina is pitching and Jeter’s right arm suddenly turns into Giambi’s, which I think could be comparable to an entire of Josh Beckett thinking that major-league hitters can’t touch his straight fastballs. I would certainly hope that major league pitchers don’t assume they’re going to strike out a hitter every time. You’ve got to have some semblance of control of what batters are going to do with your pitch.
    Yes, Wang relies on some kind of luck, but major league defense is major league defense. They’re not all 12-year-olds out there. Relying on your defense is not some kind of weird thing to do, it’s actually smart because good defense is just as much a part of the game as good offense. It’s just not as statistically friendly.

    Andrew December 9, 2006, 6:16 pm
  • I’ll be wildly surprised if both pitchers don’t end up where most people think they will. It only makes sense to think that way. Beckett has probably learned a little bit since he got to Boston, and will probably pitch a little better this year. How much? Who knows? But I do know that I like the IDEA of having a guy that can strike out 15 or 16 in any given game. I’ll take the treat of the HR with it. All great pitchers, upon research, have been that guy. With the talent, comes the predictability of losing some over the fence. If you’re happy hoping the sinker keeps the bats at bay, then that’s your opinion, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Personally, I like to know that with every given batter, the chance of a strike out is as likely as anything else that could happen.
    I like groundball guys because of their pitch counts and demeanor. I like strike out guys because of the excitement. They’re different animals, and we’re going to have to wait and see where it goes this year.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 6:18 pm
  • “All great pitchers, upon research, have been that guy.”
    Is that true, Brad? Did you just do the research in the last 5 minutes?

    Nick-YF December 9, 2006, 6:21 pm
  • I agree Brad, groundballers are completely different animals than guys who try and strike everyone out. Which, I think, is why they need to be seen in a different light.
    I am excited to see if anomalies like Wang continue success, and what your more typical strikeout pitcher like Beckett can recover from what seemed to be an anomalous season.
    Sigh, it’s too bad it’s 4 and a half months away.

    Andrew December 9, 2006, 6:22 pm
  • Clemens 1999 and 2000 are oddly similar to Becketts year this year. With that animal, you’re going to get years like that. Roger’s ERA was a little bit better than Becketts. But, Beckett this year, had been in the majors 9 years less than Roger in 2000. I think it’s a valid comparison.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 6:27 pm
  • “That’s a slimmer margin for error. I don’t think that’s an opinion, I think that’s, as Brad says, a fact.” Yeah, but it’s not a fact, it’s an opinion. The “finesse” claim is both wrong (we’re looking at a guy who’s in the 90s) and a red herring. LOOK AT THE HOMERS. REMEMBER BILL JAMES. The pitcher’s primary job is to prevent runs. Homers are runs allowed. Last year, Wang allowed 12. I believe Beckett had 36. That’s 24 runs, but actually more, because a dinger actually plates–here’s a wild guess–an average of 1.5 runners. So that differential is closer to say, 35ish runs. Or about one run per game. Nevermind the strikeouts. Anyway, if you’re interested in finesse, go take a peek at Greg Maddux, who’s finessing his way toward 350 wins. So whatever works.

    YF December 9, 2006, 6:28 pm
  • Let me put this another way. K’s aren’t telling in this case, when reviewed in isolation from other facts. Couple them with other facts, and your story changes. Think of it this way: Short guys may on average make less money than tall guys. But short guys with Harvard MBAs make more money than average tall guys. Wang’s sick GB/homer rate is his Harvard MBA.

    YF December 9, 2006, 6:35 pm
  • Is that true, Brad? Did you just do the research in the last 5 minutes?
    Nope. I looked up the lifetime stats of Roger Clemens here:
    Nolan Ryan here:
    Randy Johnson here:
    and Bob Feller here:
    Nick, of course I didn’t do ALL the research, but I did do it enough to know that power pitchers have year that they give up enormous amounts of homeruns. Insinuating that I didn’t isn’t cool.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 6:35 pm
  • I agree, YF. That’s a good comparison for you to make. I guess if I compare Beckett to the guys I compared him to, you are more than allowed to compare Wang to Maddux. Looking at it now, I think we’re both really pipe-dreaming there.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 6:37 pm
  • There is absolutely no way I don’t bookmark this page under : REVIEW SEPT. 07
    This page offers too much for both sides a year from now.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 6:39 pm
  • Wang’s two-year WL% is .711. For him to continue that would not be decent; it would put him in rarified air.
    The pessimist in me sees the comparative numbers regarding a possible twitch in BABIP/bad fortune in the field, his suspect K-rate, holding up to a similar work load that he as shouldered in 06, and opponent scouting as pointing toward a correction taking place, but that assumes he will either remain static or devolve as a pitcher.
    Obviously, we shall see, but the optimist in me sees it likely that what has worked for him:
    1: He has arguably the best high-velocity sinker in the game (the Vernon Wells reference summed it up).
    2: He has a mid-90s fastball that he can place if not for a K, for a purpose (see #5, and I’m not just taking Yankee Stadium’s optimistic radar as gospel regarding the velocity).
    3. He is one of the better fielding pitchers in the game (I watched the two plays that probably cost him a GG {not that that means anything, but the guy is SOLID defensively}; one was definitely not his fault), and is very adept when dealing with the extraordinary number of come-backers that he induces.
    5. He makes so very few long-ball mistakes. This speaks to his discipline and the fact that he and Posada must be really on the same page.
    6. The growth of another pitch or two through working with Guidry may make him devastating, as opposed to formidable.
    One niggle about Wang that hasn’t been brought up in this thread, and I am betting it is being addressed by his coaches: sometimes it seems he becomes a different pitcher when throwing out of the stretch as opposed to the windup.

    attackgerbil December 9, 2006, 6:40 pm
  • Brad and I are having a bad day together. In general, I sense a feistiness today among YF’s and SF’s. That’s good. But, Brad, I was actually intrigued by your original thought. I want to know who have been the greatest pitchers and what their k-rates and groundball and homerun rates have been. Is there a dominant trait common among them?
    Re: Beckett. I suggest that he might be over-rated by some and you, his biggest fan, imply that his trends are comparable to Ryan, Clemens, Johnson and failure. Am I so off base here?!
    ding ding: Round 47 begins now.

    Nick-YF December 9, 2006, 6:41 pm
  • edit “..what has worked for him will continue, and anticipate evolution for the young man”

    attackgerbil December 9, 2006, 6:42 pm
  • Oooh. I left off number 4: he’s cool. When says “hi” to Johnny Damon, he says, “What up, Dawg?” Or at least according to Pete Abraham. But seriously, he’s supposedly a great teammate in the clubhouse and a very bright person.

    attackgerbil December 9, 2006, 6:47 pm
  • Nick, if you look at the numbers, their is a trait. I didn’t do the groundball thing, but I do know that of the guys I mentioned, there are years that the HR’s are though the roof. Clemens, in particular, has had a whole bunch of years where he gave up more than twenty. Granted 28 or 26 isn’t 36, but it’s still alot.
    Nolan Ryan actually gave up 38 one year, but overall his numbers were not as bad as Clemens re: HR’s.
    I did not do the Wang comparisons simply because Derek Lowe is the only real guy I can think of, and Wang’s sample size doesn’t really match up. I based the years on Becketts years of service beside those other guys years.
    Re: Wang. I suggest that he may be over rated by some, and you, and his trends are comparable to absolutely nobody. He’s either a groundbreaking history maker, or stepped outside himself. Only time will tell.
    Round 48. Ding.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 6:52 pm
  • okay, I’ll join you guys later. I have to study, which is why I’ve been sitting here all day anyhow.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 6:54 pm
  • Few things here…
    -One,can Yankee fans PLEASE stop listing Wang as our #1, he isn’t now and won’t be in 2007. He is at best our #2.
    -Two, how could this Pettitte signing be wrong? He is a stop gap until our young guys are ML ready. Who should they have signed? Maybe Jeff Suppan? Oh I know maybe Vicente Padilla, no how about Gil Meche? Oh I got it Ted Lilly! There is ZERO wrong with this signing, the sox fans just can’t handle that cashman made a very sound, win/win move.
    -As for Wang’s former K ability, that’s gone. He lost that when he had the arm surgery a few years back. While he was never a dominant strikeout guy, his ratio was much better before the surgery. As for his long term success, provided the Yankees defense is better than last season he should be just fine. I don’t think there are any Yankee fans that are delusional and believe that he is the next Cy Young, but at his worst he is a 3 and a very good 3 at that. I too worry that he will eventually come back to earth as far as his win total, but we will cross that bridge when and if we get there.

    Triskaidekaphobia YF! December 9, 2006, 6:54 pm
  • Since someone brought up Beckett and his inability to keep the ball in the park, especially compared to Wang…
    One thing about Beckett’s HR rate last year…the odds of him repeating are slim to nil. For all the talk that he actually got a little lucky in terms of balls in play…he got unbelievably unlucky in terms of HR/F. THT says the average HR/F% is 11-12% and attributes extreme variations to luck…Beckett’s was %17.4, 3rd worst in baseball. Wang’s was %8.2, 4th best in baseball.
    First off, about Beckett. Part of the problem was probably the AL switch, part of it was almost certainly bad luck; we can argue about whether or not his stubbornness etc. was literally at the heart of the problem, but statistically speaking, he got very unlucky last year. For what it’s worth, in the NL he posted a HR/F of 13.2 and 10.3 in 2004-2005, respectively.
    Now I suppose a case can be made for the idea that Wang’s stuff makes him less-likely to give up the long-ball. But there are two problems with that assumption. First, Wang’s HR/F was %11.2 in 2005, in half the number of starts. And second, it’s probably a little too early anyway to make grandoise career predictions about his ability to keep the ball in the park. Again, statistically speaking…he got pretty lucky last year as far as HR-rate is concerned.
    I’m not really trying to draw any conclusions here, I just thought this made sense to bring up. You guys can interpret it the way you like. Incidentally, I prefer to see it as: A return to statistical averages would be bad for Wang, and good for Beckett. :)

    desturbd1 December 9, 2006, 6:55 pm
  • Brad: Power pitchers do give up a lot of dingers. But not many excellent pitchers give up as many as Beckett last year. (Not Clemens, Johnson, Ryan, or Feller, FYI). Schilling has. A few other HOFers have. But mostly not:

    YF December 9, 2006, 6:55 pm
  • I realize after a more thorough reading of the thread that much of what I said in my post had already been stated by others. Sorry about being redundant.

    attackgerbil December 9, 2006, 6:56 pm
  • There is ZERO wrong with this signing, the sox fans just can’t handle that cashman made a very sound, win/win move.
    Huh? I think you mischaracterize. I believe most of us SFs think this is a sound move. From what I’ve read at SoSH, there is some question about whether or not Pettitte is a $20M pitcher (which is what the salary is with the tax figured in), but that the idea of it is pretty good. Please don’t start flame wars where there shouldn’t be one!

    SF December 9, 2006, 6:58 pm
  • Beckett isn’t excellent yet, which is, I think, the main thing. Also, with the exception of Johnson none of those pitchers made the switch from a pitcher’s park to a hitters park, from a pitcher’s league to a hitter’s league. Ryan made the move to California, but the leagues were different back then, to some extent, and I don’t recall Anaheim Stadium being a crazy balls-flying-everywhere joint. Johnson, the only guy on this list to do it, is one of the weirdest pitchers ever, a unique guy with no compare over the entirety of baseball history (this might be hyperbole but I really strained to think of someone just like him), and a Hall-of-Famer. Schilling cut his teeth as a starter in Houston (in he Astrodome) and then in Veterans Stadium. Feller spent his entire career in the cavernous Municipal Stadium, I believe.

    SF December 9, 2006, 7:06 pm
  • SF, just go back and read the “Fate of Carl Pavano” thread….
    Also, the Yankees don’t owe Houston a draft pick, due to the fact that they didn’t offer him abritration. Another Positive!

    Triskaidekaphobia YF! December 9, 2006, 7:07 pm
  • SF, just go back and read the “Fate of Carl Pavano” thread….
    I thought I wrote most of the comments in that one! In any case, Paul says “it was a good pickup”, I say “it was a good move”, d1 says that though he doesn’t think Pettitte is the bees knees that it should work out for the Yankees, and Brad picks the fight. That’s the extent of the SFs who commented, as far as I can tell. Let’s call it 2-1-1, good-middling-bad. I wouldn’t call that any kind of general SF antipathy towards he move, Trisk.

    SF December 9, 2006, 7:14 pm
  • it just occurred to me that I my have an unhealthy relationship with baseball. How many days till opening day?

    Nick-YF December 9, 2006, 7:17 pm
  • Well my apologies to those of you who were ok with it.
    I guess I am just being a defensive Yankee fan.

    Triskaidekaphobia YF December 9, 2006, 7:18 pm
  • I guess I am just being a defensive Yankee fan.
    Hey no big deal. I think I once bit off the head of a Yankees fan because he once said “Pedro Martinez is the second greatest pitcher of all time”, or something like that…

    SF December 9, 2006, 7:21 pm
  • Fearof13YF: Thirteen is my lucky number.
    Your first point: I didn’t see where someone said Wang was a #1 last year or that he is projected to be a #1, whatever that means anyway. Wang was and is under intense scrutiny because he’s not playing by the rules of the statistics and that is what was the focus, not where he “ranked” in the order. What I think is the point is that NY has a young pitcher who at the end of the season was the effective number one, or a very close number two to Mussina, and is certainly the pitcher with the most interesting future upon which to speculate out of the current proposed five. He led the team in wins and was the only pitcher to win a game in the playoffs against Detroit. Stats and/or where you rate him in the rotation don’t matter once you look at results. He’s young. NY is paying him near-league minimum, and fans love to watch the guy throw. I think of Moose as a surgeon. I think of Johnson as an ulcer. I don’t think (yet) about Pavano. Igawa/Pettitte/other guy? We’ll see. Did I mention that Wang is young? When is the last time there was a _young_ yankee starter about whom to get excited? Oh wait. It was Andy Pettitte. Whoever says Randy Choate deserves a punch in the neck. Sorry, I take that back; violence is never the answer.
    Two: I don’t see the Pettitte signing as “wrong”. I’m glad Andy’s back. However, I do not think there is reason for this Yankee fan to bubble over with optimism on this signing. It’s spendy, and it could work out very well, but it also is fraught with questions. I have much more trepidation regarding Pettitte next year than I do Wang.
    Three: Regarding K-ability, I’m not thinking that this is the do-all, end-all for Wang. I think that it’s entirely possible in has maturation as a major-leaguer it’s possible he may develop an out pitch. He’s only got 1.5 seasons as a big-leaguer. Are you saying we have already seen the best he can do?

    attackgerbil December 9, 2006, 7:22 pm
  • Entirely possible… it’s possible.. I’m redundantly repeating myself over and over again tonight. Gah.

    attackgerbil December 9, 2006, 7:27 pm
  • “Wang’ to me, is a joyless effort: mechanical and boring. Fundamentally sound, sure, but joyful?”- SF.
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, SF. Sure Wang is stoic. It’s one of his strengths. He’s an iceman out there. He acts no differently on the mound if he’s pitching a gem or getting rocked.
    Sure we’d like a few more Ks from the Wanger, but he makes up for that with DPs, low BB, and keeping the ball in the yard.
    I recall one game last season where Wang had an extraordinary number of weak comebackers, like 8 or 9. He had 3 one inning and the crowd started to get into it. There were 3 or 4 more after that, and every time the crowd would cheer wildly. I remember Murcer exclaiming, “there’s another comebacker to Wang. How many is that?!” Now, this isn’t a big deal, but there was so many of them, that I was laughing, the YES announcers were laughing, the crowd at the Stadium was laughing and cheering, Wang was his usual stoic self on the mound, and believe it or not SF, that particular game brought me a lot of joy, courtesy of Mr.Chien Ming Wang

    whatever December 9, 2006, 7:28 pm
  • It’s ok, Gerb. You’re in that four-six week new kid fatigue zone right? Just wait til week 10. You’ll be posting in pig latin, thinking it’s english.

    SF December 9, 2006, 7:29 pm
  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, SF. Sure Wang is stoic. It’s one of his strengths.
    No doubt, WE. I personally find pitchers like Wang horribly boring to watch, though in baseball any player, however boring, can still make an event. That’s the beauty of baseball. But I hear that Wang is pitching, and I want to drop acid beforehand, just to make sure something interesting happens. He’s dull, uninteresting. To me, of course.

    SF December 9, 2006, 7:32 pm
  • Brad picks the fight..
    ha. That’s cheesy. I agreed the move was good, and in this market, the money wasn’t as bad. Given my choices however, I would’ve went with Lilly. Pick a fight, I did not mean to do.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 7:33 pm
  • SF: Sleep. I vaguely remember having a handle on that nebulous thing. I chase it, while it is taken away every three hours. Today is Owen’s 28th day birthday. I think he’s a lefty, or at least that is the hand he usually uses to reach for the bottle. Should be good for 10-12 mil on spec, no? Boras! Scott Boras! Call me. Posting fee starts at: you feed him at 10p, 1a, 4a, and 7a while we sleep.

    attackgerbil December 9, 2006, 7:39 pm
  • Well, then. That means that YF is pretty much the only guy who doesn’t like the move. For the first time in my blogging life, I hope he is 100%, incontrovertibly correct!

    SF December 9, 2006, 7:42 pm
  • Nick, no worries. I’ve been writing a paper all day that’s due on Thursday. All I can think about is baseball and hot-wings with beer when I should be thinking about my LSAT’s on Monday or this paper. Your unhealthy addiction is more normal than you think, I think. Twice today I’ve said, I gotta go study, and more than that I’ve come back to get back into it.
    It’s really sick if you think about it. I think I’m more into the arguments when they’re not playing than I am during the season. Probably during the season I have much more going on, I guess. Either way, you’re not alone, buddy.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 7:42 pm
  • Hey, Brad, I’m in the exact same boat working on papers. This week is a killer.

    Nick-YF December 9, 2006, 7:43 pm
  • you feed him at 10p, 1a, 4a, and 7a while we sleep.
    Holy cow. Are you kidding? During my undergrad, I lived with two baseball players and three football players, and I thought I’d seen a person eat more, well, than humanly possible. That’s downright impressive, AG.
    PS. I napped for two hours today. ha.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 7:45 pm
  • Yeah, I finished my UG a few years ago, but thought I’d go back to law school next year. Well, it turns out that I had all the qualifications less the PSC cognates that go with Pre-Law program. So, I was accepted early admission with the prerequisite of passing these classes and a 162 on the LSAT. I took the LSAT once already as practice and it went pretty well, but I have to take it again to get the score I need. But, for the past two semesters I’ve been taking those classes, and as it turns out, there is an inordinate amount of writing that goes along with them! I’m currently taking Con.Law and Interpretation of Political Data. Wanna Trade? HA. I don’t even care what you’re doing, I’ll still trade!

    Brad December 9, 2006, 7:53 pm
  • SF: In my weakened state, I assume you refer to Pettitte. I remember when I read YF’s post regarding the Pettitte move, and to get his back, I have to say I was rather indifferent about that decision as well, and posted it prior to his comment. However, I hope we are both proven quite wrong.
    Brad, I never really understood what a “bottomless pit” was. Now I do.

    attackgerbil December 9, 2006, 7:54 pm
  • edit:
    I was accepted early admission with ..
    should have been:
    I was advised that an early admission acceptance would require… I just sent in the application, so clearly, I haven’t been accepted yet. ha. sorry.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 7:58 pm
  • “But I hear that Wang is pitching, I want to drop acid, just to make sure something interesting happens.”
    Yeah, that would probably do the trick. Windowpane, blotter, barrel, microdot, mescaline, shrooms or whatever.
    Actually though, when I watch baseball, I prefer to watch balls bounce off the Green Monster wall, not green monsters bounce off the wall and turn into balls.

    whatever December 9, 2006, 7:59 pm
  • you see, WE.. that’s a funny joke!

    Anonymous December 9, 2006, 8:02 pm
  • that was me.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 8:14 pm
  • OK then, and on that note, I’m off to the grocery store. Brad’s given me an idea….Wings….

    whatever December 9, 2006, 8:15 pm
  • Wings…
    that show was so dumb.

    SF December 9, 2006, 8:16 pm
  • Yeah, a agree with that. But, if it’s on, I find myself watching it. ha.

    Brad December 9, 2006, 8:30 pm
  • There’s a place here in New Haven called TK’s that has the hands-down best wings in the world. Every time I say something is the best in the world, I think of the movie “the elf”. Making myself laugh….

    Brad December 9, 2006, 8:31 pm
  • It’s fair to say that if Wang is to get to an elite pitcher, he’ll have to learn and adapt. If his sinker gets flatter or the hitters are figuring him out, he’ll learn another pitch.
    If it somehow always work, then maybe Wang will always be a sinkerballer. But you know, he’s young.. didn’t a certain someone learn a splitter that prolonged his career by a very long time? =)
    The same with Beck, more or less.

    Lar December 9, 2006, 11:13 pm
  • “Your first point: I didn’t see where someone said Wang was a #1 last year or that he is projected to be a #1, whatever that means anyway.”
    Over the course of the past week in many of the threads you will find Yankee fans listing the rotation for next season. Most of them list Wang as the #1. There isn’t a person in this world who loves the Yanks more then this guy, but Wang while he is a very good pitcher, is not a #1. That’s all I am saying.
    “I don’t see the Pettitte signing as “wrong”. I’m glad Andy’s back. However, I do not think there is reason for this Yankee fan to bubble over with optimism on this signing.”
    Why not bubble over? For the first time in a LONG time the Yankees didn’t get suckered into a guy who really isn’t as good as advertised. For example, Kevin Brown, Jeff Weaver (Who I like), Javier Vazquez, Jaret Wright and so on and so on. AP was the one guy we could get cheap and by cheap I don’t mind $$$$, I mean years. I am not saying the WS Trophy was awarded to the Yanks when Pettitte signed, nor do I think he is a #1, I only think it was a smart, safe, reliable choice.
    “Are you saying we have already seen the best he can do?”
    I don’t think he is the Titanic or anything, but I think it would reasonable to say he will come back to earth next year. He defies logical baseball thinking. Regardless of his ability not to allow HR’s, he still puts the ball in play a TON and hammers the zone, eventually that
    MIGHT not result in the sparkling numbers we saw in ’06. I would LOVE to be wrong by the way!

    Triskaidekaphobia YF December 10, 2006, 7:54 am
  • Trisk:
    I don’t think too many people are saying Wang is *a* #1, but he is *the* #1 of the Yankees as of right now.
    Take the Red Sox for example. Their “#1” in 2006 was Curt Schilling. Doesn’t mean he’s actually a “#1” pitcher in the strictest sense of the word.

    Andrew December 10, 2006, 11:44 am
  • Take the Red Sox for example. Their “#1” in 2006 was Curt Schilling. Doesn’t mean he’s actually a “#1” pitcher in the strictest sense of the word.
    If you’re talking about a guy who dominates the regular season the way he’s been known to do, the probably not at this point. But, if you’re talking about a guy you know will give you the best shot at winning a playoff game – absolutely.
    No matter what, and to some extent Wang can be included here based on a very, very small sample size, Schilling is still every bit the number one when it comes to needing a big win.

    Brad December 10, 2006, 12:13 pm
  • I’ve had this debate in many other places and what most people often ignore is that Wang does have a history of being a strikeout pitcher. Not only did he have a strikeout-reputation in Taiwan, where he was called the “new fast ball king”, but in the minors, he averaged over 7Ks per nine innings (in over 470IP). So, there is some stat-based evidence to believe that Wang has the ability to strike out more hitters.
    If you watch the radar readings when Wang pitches, he seems to throw a sinking fastball at between 93-95MPH and a four seam fastball at 95-97MPH. Wang’s ability to maintain his velocity throughout a game is really quite remarkable. When he does get strikeouts, it is generally on the four seam fastball. It just seems as if there hasn’t been a need for him to use it. When he throws that 95MPH sinker pitch after pitch, batters continue to hit feeble ground balls, so why even bother doing something else. Should hitters make an adjustment, Wang very well might have to start throwing the four seamer more, and as a result might get more strikeouts. Until then, however, I don’t see any reason why he should change.
    Also, one other thing to consider is that many scouts/players compare Wang’s “stuff” to Kevin Brown (aka, the bowling bowl). Of course, in addition to a nasty sinker, Brown also struck out many batters…but, not until later in his career. In Brown’s first 610 IPs, however, he only struck out approximately 4.5 men per nine innings. Granted, that’s still over 1 K/9IP more than Wang, but it pales in comparison to Brown’s later career.
    Perhaps, Wang, who has just over 300 innings under his belt, will develop into more of a strikeout pitcher, especially as his minor league numbers suggest he has the ability (incidentally, Wang’s K/IP rate in the minors was over 7, while Brown’s was just under 6). I am not sure if there are other examples of an extreme sinker baller developing into more of a strikeout pitcher, but the comparison of Wang and Brown is interesting because so many have compared both pitchers’ sinkers.

    Will December 11, 2006, 11:59 am

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