In 2009, Andrew Bailey was the AL Rookie of the Year coming out of Oakland A's bullpen.
- That season he had 26 saves, a 0.876 WHIP, a 1.84 ERA, and 91 strikeouts in 83.1 IP.
- His fastball averaged 94.2 mph, topping out 97.8. Batters went 15-for-101 (.149) off the fastball, with three doubles, one triple, and one homer. That fastball struck out 40 and walked 12.
- Bailey tossed 576 fastballs of which 51.4% were in the zone.
- Batters swung at 39.8% and missed on 32.3%.
Jump ahead to 2013
In 2013, Andrew Bailey was the closer coming out of Boston Red Sox bullpen.
Then he wasn't, when Joel Hanrahan got the gig.
Then he was, when Hanrahan got hurt.
Then he wasn't, after being effective in only one of his last five appearances.
- This season he has eight saves, a 1.299 WHIP, a 4.03 ERA, and 30 strikeouts in 22.1 IP.
- His fastball has averaged 94.0 mph (basically the same as 2009), topping out 96.8 (close to the same as 2009). Batters have gone went 12-for-48 (.250, .101 points higher) off the fastball, with one doubles, no triples, and five (!) homers. That fastball struck out 13 and walked 10(!).
- Bailey has tossed 260 fastballs of which 57.3% were in the zone.
- Batters swung at 47.7% and missed on 21.8%.
All this shows that Bailey is getting nowhere near the same location and movement on his fastball this season compared to when he was successful despite having the same speed.
So what is the x-factor that has made the fastball so ineffective?
You need to look under the hood to really see the problem with Bailey's cutter because if you just look at his BAA you will be misled.
Batters are hitting .185 this season compared to .197 in 2009.
But check out the differences in the Bailey's cutter
The most obvious difference between these two heat maps is that you can see how far out of the zone Bailey's cutters are this season.
How big a difference in the location is there?
- 2009: 72.2% cutters in the zone
- 2013: 60.9% cutters in the zone
- 2009: Batters chased 38.7% of the cutters when they swung
- 2013: Batters chased 28.3% of the cutters when they swung
As a result:
Batters who swung at 58.6% of Bailey's 2009 cutters are only swinging at 41.7% of the 2013 cutter...and they are sitting on Bailey's fastball.
And come closing time, Bailey is now sitting as well.