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Entries in Jered Weaver (10)

Saturday
Mar232013

Weaver's Lack of Zip, Whiffs a Growing Concern

With a lanky, 6-foot-7 frame and a cross-fire delivery that baffles hitters trying to pick up the ball, Jered Weaver exudes deception. But can Weaver, coming off a 20-win season, keep tricking batters as he enters his thirties and becomes one of the game's softest tossers? Fangraphs' Paul Swydan isn't so sure (ESPN Insider subscription required):

"Over the past couple of years his velocity -- as well as his strikeout and swinging-strike rates -- has declined...With his 20s behind him, Weaver is unlikely to see these trends suddenly reverse themselves, and he will become even more reliant on his control and defense."

Weaver struck out a career-best 25.7% of batters faced in 2010. Since then, his punchout rate his nosedived to 21.4% in 2011 and 19.2% this past season. On a related note, Weaver's fastball velocity has declined three years running: 89.9 MPH in '10, 89.1 MPH in '11, and just 87.7 MPH in 2012.

Weaver's fastball beat out just R.A. Dickey's and Bronson Arroyo's in velocity among right-handed starting pitchers last year. Yet, the pitch has defied logic by remaining highly effective despite a gargantuan dip in swings and misses. Let's take a closer look at Weaver's not-so-fast fastball, and what that velocity loss could mean for him in 2013.

Here is Weaver's fastball contact rate by pitch location over the past three seasons:

Weaver's fastball miss rate by pitch location, 2010

 

Weaver's fastball miss rate by pitch location, 2011

 

Weaver's fastball miss rate by pitch location, 2012

Back in 2010, batters swung and missed at Weaver's fastball 19.6% of the time. That was seventh-highest among all qualified starters, beating out the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. Weaver's fastball miss rate fell to 15.9% in 2011, and came in at a paltry 12% in 2012 -- below the 14% MLB average and in the same finesse lefties like Paul Maholm and Tommy Milone.

But while hitters are making  much more contact against Weaver's fastball, they're not doing any more damage. Check out Weaver's fastball slugging percentage by location from 2010-12:

Weaver's opponent fastball slugging percentage by location, 2010

 

Weaver's opponent fastball slugging percentage by location, 2011

 

Weaver's opponent fastball slugging percentage by location, 2012

Opponents slugged .393 against Weaver's fastball during his high-strikeout 2010 campaign, about 60 points below the major league average. Weaver's opponent fastball slugging percentage actually fell to .322 in 2011, and barely budged in 2012 (.333) as he started putting up radar gun readings that wouldn't get him pulled over by highway patrol.

Weaver's success with such a slow heater is exceptionally rare. Last year, hitters slugged .513 against fastballs thrown between 87 and 88 MPH. Basically, batters morphed into Albert Pujols when a pitcher lobbed a fastball in that velocity range. Can Weaver keep getting outs with a fastball that only the Zitos and Buehrles of the world consider fast? He does have some advantages over other soft-tossers:

  • His fastball command has improved as the pitch has slowed. Weaver threw about 24% of his fastballs over the horizontal middle of the plate in 2010, which is the MLB average for starters. He left 23% of his fastballs over the middle in 2011, and just 21% this past year. Perhaps Weaver's fine touch can counter the extra time that hitters have to react.
  • Weaver has one of the game's most diverse repertoires, as he tossed his changeup (14% of pitches thrown), slider (13%), and curveball (10%) more than 10% of the time, and nearly did the same with his cutter (9%). Not many hurlers have four other options with which to occupy hitters' minds.
  • Weaver's home park is death to power hitters. Angels Stadium decreased run-scoring by 14 percent for both left-handed and right-handed hitters last season, according to StatCorner. Long fly balls that become souvenirs at other stadiums die at the warning track in Anaheim.
  • He also benefits from playing behind arguably the best defensive team in the majors. The Angels led all clubs in Defensive Efficiency in 2012, converting about 72% of balls put in play into outs (the MLB average was about 70%). As a fly ball pitcher, Weaver can't ask for better support than Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos and Josh Hamilton keeping balls out of the gaps.
  • Weaver will also get to take on the Houston Astros, who join the AL West in 2013. Outside of pint-sized All-Star Jose Altuve and perhaps high-strikeout sluggers Chris Carter and Justin Maxwell, the Astros's lineup looks like a mess. Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA system projects Houston's offense for the second-fewest runs scored in the AL, topping only the division rival Seattle Mariners.

Weaver's lack of zip is concerning. Most pitchers who sit in his new, low-octane velocity range get pummeled. But if ever there were a case where a guy could Houdini his way to another 20 wins, it's Jered Weaver in 2013.

Wednesday
Sep192012

Jered Weaver joins the Angels 100-win club

RkPlayerWFromToGSSHOLW-L%IPBBSOERA
1 Chuck Finley 165 1986 1999 379 14 140 .541 2675.0 1118 2151 3.72
2 Nolan Ryan 138 1972 1979 288 40 121 .533 2181.1 1302 2416 3.07
3 Mike Witt 109 1981 1990 272 10 107 .505 1965.1 656 1283 3.76
4 John Lackey 102 2002 2009 233 8 71 .590 1501.0 441 1201 3.81
5 Frank Tanana 102 1973 1980 218 24 78 .567 1615.1 422 1233 3.08
6 Jered Weaver 100 2006 2012 204 6 51 .662 1306.0 348 1109 3.24
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/19/2012.

 Batters have hit .213 against Jered Weaver this season

Monday
Sep032012

The fading Jered Weaver

It's hard to look at a pitcher who has a record like Jered Weaver and say that he's in a slump, but at the time when the Angels are struggling to avoid major disappointing season, Weaver seems to be fading.

When you look at Weaver's 16-4 record after losing a 2-1 squeaker to the Mariners yesterday, I don't blame you for wondering what I'm writing about. Particularly when you add that Weaver's ERA is 2.86 and his WHIP of 1.029 is the best in the AL. But, you need to realize that through his starts of August 6, Weaver was 13-1 with a 2.13 ERA and a 0.916 WHIP.

Look at his numbers in his last five starts:

Date

GS 

CG 

Tm

W-L 

W-L 

IP 

H  

R  

ER 

BB 

SO 

HR 

ERA 

BAA

8/12 - 9/2

5

0

2-3 1-3

29.1  

34 

21 

20

11

20

7

6.14

.293

 WHIP = 1.546                          

 

But as you compare his heat maps up to and through his August 6 starts to those from August 12 and beyond, you see an entirely different (and probably tired) pitcher.

Here's Weaver in his first 20 starts when batters hit .197 against him:

Now look at Weaver in his last five starts in which batters have hit nearly 100 points better:

Batters are now hitting .343 on the lower half of the plateHere is why I think the Weaver fatigue factor does not bode well for the Angels postseason hopes.

In Weaver's first 20 starts, batters hit .191 against his fastball and slugged .292:

Lefties hit .173 against Weaver's fastball and righties hit .221

In Weaver's last five starts, batters have hit .245 against his fastball and slugged .472:

Lefties are hitting .229 and righties are hitting .278

Don't be entirely fooled by the 2-1 score yesterday. Weaver gave up solo home runs to Jesus Montero (who owns Weaver) and Carlos Peguero and took a line drive off his right shoulder in the 5th. Weaver remained in the game but walked two of the next six batters and was pulled when his pitch count was at just 86.

Hopefully it was nothing more than a bruise to Weaver's shoulder and maybe the short outing will do him good; his only win in his last five outings came on August 22 against the Red Sox (yes, it still counts) after he threw just 58 pitches in just three innings while getting clobbered for nine runs by the Rays on August 17.

For the Angels to reach the postseason they need to hit with runners in scoring position (they're hitting just .259) and a winning Weaver.