• August 6th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on August 6th, 2005 · Comments (7)

    There was so much talk today on YES about Johnson’s stuff, and all the hits that he’s given up off the slider, because of its lack of bite, etc., that it brought cause for me to look up some stuff.

    The good folks at Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) keep track of everything. And, according to their stats, last year, Randy Johnson’s average fastball was 93.6 MPH. This mark was good for 2nd in the NL – just behind Roy Oswalt at 94.0.

    Now, many times on YES, you hear things like “We’re still waiting to see that consistent 98 MPH heater from Johnson.” But, the staff at BIS also track number of pitches thrown at 95+ MPH. And, even though Johnson was 2nd in the NL for “average fastball speed,” he failed to crack the Top Ten in the NL last year for “Most Pitches Thrown at a Speed of 95+.” (In fact, current Yankee Felix Rodriguez threw 469 pitches at 95+ last year in the NL – good for 8th in the league.)

    This all tells me that last year, when he was a great pitcher, Unit was basically a 94 MPH thrower – and not someone who consistently hit 97 or 98 on the gun. So, should we be shocked that he’s not hitting the high-90′s this season?

    The team at BIS also tracks the Top Ten for “Highest % of Pitches Thrown” – like fastballs, curves, etc. And, last year, Randy Johnson led the NL in “Highest % of Sliders Thrown” with a mark of 41.1%. No one else was close to this mark and most others in the Top Ten were at around 20%. (In the AL, the highest mark for the league last year was 29.8% held by Jon Lieber – and most of the other AL pitchers in the Top Ten were around 20%.)

    Based on this, I want to suggest that Unit called on the slider too many times last year and now it’s burnt – just like the year that Pettitte threw too many cutters and then the pitch lost its sharpness the following season.

    Therefore, in the end, what we see now is what we’re going to get this year from Johnson – a heater in the low 90′s and a slider that is beat up. And, the dreams of Yankees fans, those that included Randy Johnson going 25-4 in 2005 and leading the team to a ring, are going to be just as busted as the Big Unit’s slider.

    Lastly, regarding the 1st and 3rd move today where the runner on 3rd scored after the pitcher threw to first with a pick-off attempt, well, expect to see that play put on every time now when Giambi is playing first. Can you just imagine how much fun Johnny Damon is going to have with that when he’s on 3rd (with a runner on 1st)? I’m already getting sick just thinking about it.

    Comments on August 6th @ The Blue Jays

    1. JohnnyC
      August 6th, 2005 | 10:08 pm

      Knowing that RJ threw sliders 41% of the time doesn’t tell us when he threw them in a typical count. Granted, the “tilt” on his slider is too often flat, but a change in philosophy in when he throws the breaking pitch would improve things for Unit. Going with his fastball more late in the count would enhance his slider earlier and set up his slider better when he chose to use it as a strike-out pitch. Using the slider as an out pitch rather than trying to throw early strikes with it would be going against Mel’s basic modus operandus but could mitigate his less effective breaking pitches. Fixing his mechanical problems are beyond Mel’s capabilities so changing his mix of slider/fastball might be the easier solution.

    2. Don
      August 7th, 2005 | 2:32 am

      None of this is on Mel, RJ is a veteran pitcher who should fix what is wrong on his own. But at nearly 42 this may be all RJ has left. Pig in a poke?

      Pitching coaches are way overrated.

    3. August 7th, 2005 | 8:40 am

      Randy’s always been a two-pitch pitcher: slider and a fastball. Now, I’ve read that he throws a two-seamer and a four seamer – but, at this age, I would bet that both of those are now the same speed. So, in essence, his fastball is just his fastball – no matter what grip.

      The slider, now without hard rotation, is basically a BP fastball.

      I wonder if Unit would consider throwing 90% fastballs, spotting it like crazy, and using the “BP-fastball-slider” as a change – but keep it out of the strike zone?

      Given his unique release point, this might work – at least better than things are going now.

    4. Makofan
      August 7th, 2005 | 10:52 am

      As a Blue Jay fan, I can say that was a great game. Unfortunately for the Yankees, the Jays exposed how bad Giambi is at first – I bet many teams have made a note of that play!

    5. Raf
      August 7th, 2005 | 11:51 am

      Randy’s always been a two-pitch pitcher: slider and a fastball. Now, I’ve read that he throws a two-seamer and a four seamer – but, at this age, I would bet that both of those are now the same speed. So, in essence, his fastball is just his fastball – no matter what grip.
      ==================================

      RJ throws a 2 & 4 seamer, along with a slider and split.

      He had a tremendous year last year, it stands to reason that there may be a letdown, much like Clemens in 1999 after winning the “pitchers triple crown” two years in Toronto

    6. Raf
      August 7th, 2005 | 11:53 am

      As a Blue Jay fan, I can say that was a great game. Unfortunately for the Yankees, the Jays exposed how bad Giambi is at first – I bet many teams have made a note of that play!
      =======

      Giambi has been a full-time 1b since 1997. I think teams already know how good/bad he is ;)

    7. Don
      August 7th, 2005 | 1:46 pm

      Clemens wasn’t nearly 42 after 1999. And RJ was pitching in the NL in 2004, the difference is much more than the DH if you watch some of those lineups.

    Leave a reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.