I’ve been working on a few things that are taking longer than anticipated, so I figured I’d try a fun little exercise this week. As you know, I’m a big believer in the combination of stats and scouting, having attended the MLB Scouting Bureau’s Scout Development Program last fall. Scouting can provide insight into things that numbers alone can’t.
Today, I thought I’d use more subjective means to try and evaluate pitchers who are performing well in 2010 but who have no previous track record of such performance. Essentially, I’ll look at 10 pitchers and try to decide if their 2010 strikeout rate success is sustainable using PITCHf/x and other relevant data. At the end of the year, I think it’ll be very interesting to go back and see how accurate these end up being.
Projection systems take a very formulaic approach to predicting the future, taking many years worth of data into account and regressing everyone to the league mean. This works very well on the whole, but some guys will get missed in the shuffle, and I don’t believe that everyone should be regressed to league average. Some players change in significant ways, and projection systems aren’t particularly adept at identifying these guys. The point of this exercise is to try and do just that.
For purposes of comparison, I’ll use Oliver’s rest-of-season projections and come up with my own rest-of-season predictions so that we have some way of testing this at year’s end. Please take my predictions with a grain of salt, though. I’m putting a precise number to it for the purposes of end-of-season testing, but they’re mostly just coming off the top of my head, a rough estimation of how I feel about a player. The general point is more important than the precise number.
Now, onto the players.
*Credit to TexasLeaguers.com for the PITCHf/x graphs.
Previous career high K/9: 6.00
Hensley was a starter for most of his career and has never posted a K/9 above 6.00. This year, though, he’s dominating out of the Marlins pen and could be next in line for saves behind Leo Nunez. I’m definitely buying into Hensley based on a few factors, the biggest being his improved stuff. His breaking ball (which may or may not be two different pitches) is getting terrific movement with a wide range to keep hitters guessing. He’s also reversed the usage of his curveball-like breaking balls and slider-like breaking balls, using the curve more, which generates more swings-and-misses. His changeup is being used more often and is getting more sink.
Combine this with Hensley’s full-time move to the bullpen and pitching in Florida (which inflates Ks by 10.1 percent), I wouldn’t have a problem predicting Hensley to strike out at least a batter per inning the rest of the way.
Verdict: Largely sustain
Oliver ROS K/9 Projection: 6.3
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