Thursday, April 9, 2009

Scott Olsen's Velocity

One explanation offered for Scott Olsen's poor showing in his first start was that the velocity on his change-up was too high, perhaps because of some excitement from his first start against his old team.

Chico Harlan's gamer has this:
Olsen's fastball, on this night, registered between 87 and 88 mph. His change-up, normally one of his top pitches, took an adrenaline shot and registered in the low-80s -- too fast for its purpose. As a result, pitching coach Randy St. Claire said, "there wasn't much of a difference. A lot of the change-ups I thought were fastballs."
Here's the problem. Last year, according to pitch f/x data at Fangraphs, the average velocity of an Olsen fastball was 87.8 and his change sat at 81.7. His average change on Tuesday was actually down at 81.1. His average fastball was all the way down at 86.9.

Yes, you read that right. Eighty-six point nine miles per hour.

St. Claire is right that 5.9 miles per hour isn't enough of a gap between a fastball and a change-up to fool anyone. But the team should have known that before they traded for him and installed him as the #2 starter. What you saw Tuesday is what Scott Olsen is, sadly.


James Bjork said...

I tip my cap to you Steven, for pegging the guy dead on. I was one of the multitudes who did not look past his young age, 200 workhorse innings, and a respectable 4.20 era last year.

While I'm not inclined to draw a trend or conclusion from one sample, he looked so completely lost on the mound, coupled with the old adage that "You can't teach velocity" has me pretty concerned that JimBo's trade was for all practical purposes Bonifacio for Willingham and an additional hit to the payroll.

Sean Hogan said...

As I noted in Mike Harris' last post about how much Nats stuff we all have, the 3 Nats whose t-shirts I own all left the team within 3 months of me getting the shirt: Wilkerson, Guillen and Soriano.

Feel free to buy me an Olsen shirt!

Steven said...

James--don't forget P.J. Dean and Jake Smolinski. Two C+ prospects ain't nothing. Dan Uggla was once a C+ prospect.

Groundskeeper Willie said...

those pitch speeds are eerily similar to cordero.

James Bjork said...

That's right- two OTHER prospects, too. To quote Miracle Max, "Why don't you give me a paper cut, and put lemon juice on it?!"