"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.
I don't know if this information is accurate, and I'm not too proud to admit I wouldn't know how to verify it, but it certainly puts a new spin on the Fantasy prospects for Sheets this upcoming season. I can tell dangerranger, however, that Sheets didn't come across the new slot off the suggestion of any pitching coach. He said he discovered it himself while throwing the ball against a wall one day. His exact quote:
"There is no reason I found it or how I found it, other than I just stumbled on it and I felt like it was a good slot," Sheets said. "It ended up being just what I was looking for."But whether I think this new arm slot will help Sheets pile up more strikeouts or set him back even further doesn't change how I'll approach him on Draft Day. He still has a certain measure of uncertainty that forces me to drop him in my rankings to the bottom of my third tier -- right around Daisuke Matsuzaka, A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez. So I can guess wrong and it not even matter because someone else making a guess will put too much trust in his guess and take Sheets in the top or middle of that third tier, banking on a rebound. I get the leftovers without the risk of guessing wrong.
That's the great thing about Fantasy that makes it far less about luck than some people want to acknowledge: Interpreting value takes priority over guesswork.
That's all for now.