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Entries in Rafael Soriano (2)


To truly be the best team on paper, some team needs Rafael Soriano 

RAFAEL SORIANO (29) of the New York Yankees, in action during the Yankees game against the Washington Nationals on June 16, 2012 at Nationals Park in Washington DC. The Yankees beat the Nationals 5-3.Free-agent Rafael Soriano is still available ostensibly to the higher bidder and I for one keep wondering what is taking the Toronto Blue Jays or the Washington Nationals (or any team for that matter) so long to pull the trigger.

Soriano declined a qualifying offer from the Yankees and would therefore cost some team their first-round pick and the draft pool bonus money that goes with it. On the other hand, it would provide the Jays or Nats (or any team for that matter) an absolutely proven closer or 8th inning guy that could make any team better.

Over the last three seasons, Soriano has had saves seasons of 45, 2, and 42. Don't be mis-led by Soriano's two saves in 2011, he was Mariano Rivera's set-up man appearing in 42 games, 13 times in the 7th inning and 20 times in the 8th inning.

Don't be mis-led by Soriano's 42 saves in 2012 either. He didn't earn his first save until May 10 in the Yankees 31st game of the season and from that point on he brilliantly filled Mo's shoes saving 42 of 46 with his fastball/slider combination, with an occasional cutter thrown in.

Let's look at the Soriano fastball and cutter

In 2012, Soriano's fastball averaged 92.3 and he kept batters off balance with his 82.9 slider which makes that fastball look even harder.

Batters hit .227 and one homer off the fastball.

Batters hit .235 with four homers off the slider.

But its his closer's mentality that makes Soriano so effective.

Soriano in 2012 with the bases empty

With the bases empty, batters hit .270 (37-137) and drew 12 walks resulting in a .333 OBP. Also, five of his homers came with the bases empty.

Soriano in 2012 with runners on base

With runners on base, Soriano held batters to a .155 average (18-116), he walked 12, struck out 230 and allowed one homer. Batters slugged .224. If you want more data to support his toughness, with runners in scoring position, batters hit .111 and .061 RISP w/2 outs.

The Blue Jays and the Nationals (or any team for that matter) would look even better on paper going into the season with Soriano, but somebody needs to figure its worth the cost.


Mariano Rivera's Pitch Frequency

With the first game of the ALCS less than an hour away, let's take a quick look at the pitch frequency for a player that has been so instrumental in the New York Yankees postseason success: Mariano Rivera.

As the heatmap below shows, Mariano Rivera has an amazing ability to command the strike zone.

Mariano Rivera's 2010 Pitch Frequency vs. All Major League RHP Notice how Rivera barely touches the middle of the plate.

Here are Rivera's Righty-Lefty heatmaps vs. the rest of the league:

Mariano Rivera's 2010 Pitch Frequency against LHB (439 pitches) vs. All 2010 Major League PitchersMariano Rivera's 2010 Pitch Frequency against RHB (476 pitches) vs. All 2010 Major League PitchersAs you can see from the top map, Rivera lives on the inside corner to lefty batters.  In fact, the majority of his pitches fall outside the designated strikezone.  Meanwhile, the rest of the league favors throwing down and away to LHB.

Against RHB, Mo spreads out his pitches a bit more.  However, notice how he barely ever throws to the middle inside part of the plate to righties.  He also busts righties up and in, again in contrast to the rest of the league.

As a matter of comparison, here are the pitch frequency heatmaps for 3 other AL closers:

Rafael Soriano's 2010 Pitch Frequency (890 pitches) vs. All 2010 Major League RHPJoakim Soria's 2010 Pitch Frequency (1086 pitches) vs. All 2010 Major League RHPNeftali Feliz's 2010 Pitch Frequency (1072 pitches) vs. All 2010 Major League RHPAll three of the above closers tend to pitch to the middle of the plate, a striking contrast to Rivera's pitch frequency.

Lastly, here's a look at Rivera's pitch frequency since 2008:

Mariano Rivera's Pitch Frequency since 2008