The Rain Delay

Hard-Hitting Baseball Analysis

Jered Weaver’s Disappearing Fastball

Spring Training is rife with outliers and has very little predictive value for the most part. In 2015, for instance, Mariners catcher Mike Zunino ripped through the Cactus League, slashing his way to a Bondsian .352/.453/.852 line. In the regular season, Zunino was arguably the worst hitter in baseball, striking out with regularity and hitting a feeble .174/.230/.300. I don’t mean to pick on Zunino, who is still just 24 years old and possesses rare home run pop for a catcher, but his 2015 campaign underscores why we should never put much weight into Spring Training statistics.

With that caveat out of the way, Spring Training still can provide meaningful clues about players. You just have to be able to discern which clues are gold, and which are pyrite. One example of a bona fide clue is pitcher velocity. While pitchers may gain a couple ticks in velocity throughout the year as they build up arm strength, often times what you see in Spring Training is what you get from April to September.

Take Justin Masterson for example. In his prime, Masterson was a filthy sinker-ball pitcher, armed with a lethal combination of sharp downward movement and plus velocity. Last season, the Red Sox signed Masterson in hopes that his decline in recent years could be reversed. In Spring Training, however, signs that Masterson was damaged goods were abundant, highlighted by his alarming drop in velocity:

While Masterson boasted a robust 3.52 ERA across 23 innings in Spring Training, the warning signs were clear. And unfortunately for Boston, the warning signs proved to be prescient when Masterson posted a 5.61 ERA and 4.89 FIP in 2015. When a pitcher loses his fastball, it’s often a sad sight to behold. Occasionally, there are outliers like Jamie Moyer, but all too often the tale of a pitcher robbed of his fastball ends without a happy ending.

Yesterday, the baseball world saw Jered Weaver as a shell of his former self, seemingly fleeced of his talent by the Monstars. Weaver has been an excellent pitcher throughout his career, amassing three all-star appearances and two top-five Cy Young finishes. At his peak, Weaver bedazzled hitters with outstanding off-speed stuff, command, and a fastball in the high-80s to low-90s. Never a flamethrower, Weaver won with guile and smarts and hid the ball well due to his awkward delivery.

But unfortunately, nobody can hide from a demonstrably slow fastball, which Weaver learned the hard way yesterday. According to reports, Weaver’s fastball – which is a bit of an oxymoron – topped out at just 80 MPH, a number that would fail to intimidate even a mediocre high school batter. The Dodgers battered Weaver with ease yesterday, crushing three home runs, including this moonshot from Austin Barnes below:

Barnes had enough time to make a cup of coffee, eat his breakfast, and read the newspaper before reacting to this Weaver offering. It’s always sad to see a great one lose his fastball, and Weaver’s fastball appears to have surpassed the point of no return.

Jered Weaver is a true professional, a certified pitching savant. He’s too prideful, too earnest to simply give up and throw in the towel. But even he must be wondering if he can still be an effective major league pitcher.

“I wake up every day hoping this is the day that it’s going to click,” Weaver said yesterday, “and it just hasn’t happened yet.”

Unfortunately for Weaver and the Angels, it doesn’t appear likely that it will ever click again.

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Google+
http://theraindelay.com/2016/03/10/jered-weavers-disappearing-fastball/
Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Rain Delay © 2016 Frontier Theme
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Google+
http://theraindelay.com/2016/03/10/jered-weavers-disappearing-fastball/
Twitter