Blog Entry

Delgado pains and changing the Sheets

Posted on: March 2, 2008 12:45 am
Edited on: May 8, 2008 8:06 pm
Just wanted to touch on a few of Saturday's developments before I check out for night ...

Carlos Delgado has an impingement in his hip and will sit out for a few spring games. I'm telling you: nothing says "old man" faster than a hip injury. I don't mean to overreact to anything that, on its surface, appears minor, but we have more warning signs of Delgado's decline than his sudden need for a walker. His slugging percentage has declined sharply over the last three seasons -- including by 100 points last season to give him his lowest mark since 1995 -- and his batting average and on-base percentage have declined along with it. His strikeouts have increased. His walks have decreased. He looks about ready to fall off the map. People who expect a rebound from him this year either don't see the warning signs or don't care. I don't count myself among them.


So ... apparently Ben Sheets is throwing out of a new arm slot.

What the?

Doesn't that sound like a big enough pitching adjustment that we should have heard about it a little sooner? I mean, I'm no pitching guru, but in order to get to the major leagues, don't you first pick an arm slot and then spend years perfecting your craft from that particular arm slot? Wouldn't just up and changing it one year set you back -- I don't know -- a few hundred innings? And I know some pitchers have a variety of arm slots they use within a game, but to switch from using only one arm slot to using only one different arm slot ... that seems a little weird to me.

But I could be wrong, and if I am, people will assuredly make fun of me for it.

Anyway, whether or not I overestimate the impact of this particular variable, the fact remains that Sheets now enters 2008 with an unknown variable. The new arm slot worked well for him in his first start this spring -- he tossed two perfect innings -- but until I see more from him, I don't entirely trust him. I'll probably drop him some in my rankings for now -- not totally off the map, but just enough to ensure someone other than me ends up with him. Hey, his injury concerns and decreasing strikeouts didn't make me feel all that comfortable anyway.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB

Since: Oct 25, 2007
Posted on: March 2, 2008 11:10 pm

Delgado pains and changing the Sheets

Delgado - Couldn't agree more... He is nearing the end, I think.

Sheets - I hadn't heard this either and thought it was interesting, so I checked out his pitch f/x data, and I found that Sheets' release point last year was inconsistent.  His curveball was usually released at a higher point than his fastball, so I think there's a chance his pitching coach might have thought it led to his sharp decline in missed bats.  Some numbers which support this:
  • Only 13% of strikes registered by Sheets (counting balls put into play) were missed swings.  This was his lowest total since 2003.
  • Batters swung at 49% of his pitches, which is pretty consistent with what he'd been doing his entire career.
  • Contact rate was 82%, the highest since 2003. 
Considering that hitters made better contact against Sheets with no real change in swing frequency, and considering that Sheets might have tipped his pitches last year with an inconsistent release point, possibly the new pitch angle is for the better.  I suppose we'll see.

Since: Feb 2, 2008
Posted on: March 2, 2008 7:43 pm

Delgado pains and changing the Sheets

I sifted through the internet for a bit and was able to find the projected top 150 pitchers of 2005 and Sheets was the fourth best starting pitcher that year behind Johan Santana, Randy Johnson, and Jason Schmidt. He was projected to be the 6th best pitcher overall. (Eric Gagne and Mariano Rivera were third and fourth.)

I think my brother was big on Sheets that year and ended up taking him in the first round which is why that stuck in my head.

This doesn't really prove anything, I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't crazy. Although, in doing so, I may have proved the opposite...

Since: Feb 8, 2008
Posted on: March 2, 2008 7:05 pm

Delgado pains and changing the Sheets

You're right. Well, I don't know about the first- or second-round part, but he's a bargain in the 13th round even with all the risk factors.

Since: Feb 2, 2008
Posted on: March 2, 2008 4:52 pm

Delgado pains and changing the Sheets

Oh man, I felt pretty good about picking up Sheets in the 13th round of my draft.  Two (three?) years ago he was a first- or second-rounder, surely he's worth my THIRTEENTH pick, right?

Tell me I'm right!

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