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Another Time, Another Place

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Almost two and a half years ago to this day I first found FanGraphs. At the time, to me, the numbers were new, the methods were confusing, but in some way it all made sense. It intrigued me. I had little to no idea what wOBA was or why anyone would want to know about FIP, but I liked the idea of thinking about old methodologies in a new light. And so I read and read and read and in turn filled my head with a new perspective on baseball.

At that point in time I had just dipped my foot into the ocean of the online blogosphere. I’d found Tao of Stieb, DJF, and Bluebird Banter among many other baseball blogs. After reading posts in those places I was always left thinking, thinking that I could have something to add to the conversation. That impulse is initially what pushed me to write a blog of my own, House of the Bluebird. For two years now I’ve written on the pages of this website, posting everything from transaction analyses to GIFs of Jose Reyes smiling, giggling, and dancing.

However, as you may have already seen on the Blue Jays Plus announcement post…I’m moving on. Not out of the Blue Jays blogosphere but to a new and improved Blue Jays Plus that I will co-manage and contribute to with the likes of Gideon Turk, Ewan Ross, Chris Sherwin, and Steve McEwen.

You may have already seen the works of Gideon Turk, Ewan Ross, and Chris Sherwin on the previous rendition of Blue Jays Plus. Gideon was the initial founder of Blue Jays Plus and has been writing there since 2010. He’s kept Blue Jays Plus active with great content over the years and has consistently kept his readers up to date on all things Jays and Jays prospects.

Ewan and Chris are both newer additions to Blue Jays Plus. Most recently they have both created and continued to produce the wonderfully done Blue Jays Plus Podcast with talk about a variety of Blue Jays topics as well as segments with such guests as Dirk Hayhurst, Ben Lindbergh, and Zach Mortimer.

Last, but not least is Steve McEwen, who’s work you may have seen on Runs Batted Out or Halo Hangout. Steve has become one of my better friends in the online Jays world over the past year. He’s heavily into numbers and has both tracked bbFIP and even created his own rendition of pitcher WAR with bbWAR, which is a batted-ball profile based Wins Above Replacement number.

On September 1st we will be releasing the new and improved Blue Jays Plus at BlueJaysPlus.com. On there you’ll be able to see analysis based articles similar to what you’ve previously seen on HBB as well as added and diverse content from other contributors to the new site.

As for House of the Bluebird, the site will stay up, but will remain inactive for the most part. However for the time being you’ll still be able to see all of my GIFs on gifs.houseofthebluebird.com.

I’m really looking forward to this new venture and I hope to see many of the same readers I’ve seen here over on our new site!

A Guide to Steve Delabar and The Steve Delabar Story

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Image Courtesy of james_in_to via Flickr

When the Blue Jays traded Eric Thames for relief pitcher Steve Delabar midseason I had little to no knowledge of who he was or what he could do. To me Delabar seemed like any other relief pitcher, but as time wore on I found him to be quite a tantalizing and fascinating player. He is 6 foot 5 and 220 lbs, he’s a relief pitcher, and the inside of his elbow looks like this. The reinforcement of Delabar’s elbow as seen in the picture was the result of multiple elbow injuries from Delabar’s 6 year minor league career that included stints in loA and hiA as well as Independent ball.

Following his last stint with the Brockton Sox of the Can-Am League Delabar called it quits and moved on to pursue other things in life. As Geoff Baker wrote for the Seattle Times back in September Delabar went on to substitute teach and coach at the high school his wife taught at in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. All was well, until one day a friend of Delabar’s who owned an indoor pitching facility brought in a new throwing program that was intended to be used to prevent injuries to the throwing arm, but instead it produced higher throwing velocities in it’s participants. Delabar was among the greatest beneficiaries of this program, according to their site he experienced a 10 MPH increase in velocity.

Shortly thereafter Delabar was scouted by the Mariners, which eventually resulted in him being signed to a minor league contract midway through the 2011 season. In April of that year Delabar was out of baseball and living in Kentucky. In June of that year Delabar was pitching for the High Desert Mavericks in the HiA California League. In September of that year Delabar was striking out major league hitters with 95 MPH fastballs…okay the Royals, but still.

For a pitcher who had a career 4.27 ERA in the minors prior to 2011 that was quite a remarkable turnaround, but that alone is not what makes Delabar so interesting. Beyond his story Delabar has displayed some remarkable skills and has proved to be quite the effective reliever.

The three pitches in Delabar’s repertoire include a mid 90s fastball, a high 80s splitter, and a slider that he throws against right handers every once in a while. He rarely pitches backwards and he’s generally consistent in his approach that sees him set up with the fastball and finish with the splitter.

The incredible thing about Delabar is the location he’s shown with the splitter; he’s able to throw the it down and away with ease to both sides of the plate. A prime example came when Delabar was sent in to pitch the 10th inning against the White Sox and struck out 4 batters, the most strikeouts by any pitcher in a single extra inning. Greg Wisniewski of Infield Fly had a great post breaking down the four at bat sequence in it’s entirety. In order Delabar struck out Dayan Viciedo, Tyler Flowers, Gordon Beckham, and Alejandro De Aza all strikeouts coming on the splitter.

In terms of overall results in 66.0 innings in 2012 Delabar had 92 K’s, good for a 32.8 K%, which ranked him 6th among relievers with at least 60 IP. Of those 92 strikeouts, 56 came on Delabar’s splitter a number that ranked second in the league. Aside from his K’s, Delabar has also proven to be a relatively effective reliever through other facets of his game. He’s strikes out tons, he doesn’t walk too many, and he keeps the ball on the ground at an efficient rate.

Generally a reliever who does those three things well is one you’d consider for a full time late innings role, however like others of his kind Delabar has demonstrated vulnerability in both his home run rate and his platoon splits. Delabar, interestingly enough has exhibited reverse platoon splits in his short time in the majors mainly due to a huge jump in his fly ball rate versus right handers.

If you take a look at the chart on the right (via Baseball Prospectus) it shows Delabar’s career fastball frequency vs. right handed hitters in each section of the strike zone. As you may notice it appears that Delabar has a tendency to leave his fastball up in the zone quite a bit more versus right handers, which could be a contributing factor to the increase in home runs and fly ball rate vs. righties.

Of course another factor in the equation is the rate at which Delabar’s fly balls turn into home runs, which as it stands now vs. right handers it’s a lofty 27.5%. One would expect that rate to normalize, meaning there would be a significantly less amount of home runs.

If in any fashion Delabar can find a way to limit his home runs versus right handers it could make him a much more valuable commodity going forward. A commodity that could perhaps pitch in a full time late innings relief role and to think it only cost ole’ Eric “let’s swing at everything” Thames.

Of course we are dealing with small sample sizes throughout all of this data, but it brings an intriguing possibility to the future of Delabar’s career. Even if he doesn’t progress further than where he is now, Delabar is still a valuable reverse LOOGY with raw stuff that is as exciting as any. It’s a theme that is common among many of the Blue Jays’ relievers, they have the stuff and hopefully the stats will come.

Teams with Former Jays on their Rosters

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Photo Courtesy of AP Photo via Daylife

Over at Beaneball, a fantastic A’s blog, Jason Wojciechowski put up an interesting post this morning in which he went through the major league rosters of all the MLB teams to see which rosters contained a former Athletics player. Because I’m a curious person I would have looked at the same thing for the Blue Jays anyways, but then I thought hey why not make a blog post about it too.

As Jason stipulated, the rules are as follows.

1. The player must have played at least 1 game for the Blue Jays at some point in their career and only the Blue Jays, not any of the Jays’ minor league affiliates.

2. The player must currently be on the 25-Man Roster of a MLB team

With that said I’ll predict that 16 MLB teams have a former Blue Jay currently on their 25-Man Roster (as Jason found the A’s had 19)

So let’s start!

AL East
Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gregg
Boston Red Sox:
New York Yankees: Jayson Nix
Tampa Bay Rays: Ryan Roberts, Jose Molina

AL Central
Chicago White Sox: Alex Rios, Ray Olmedo, Orlando Hudson
Cleveland Indians:
Detroit Tigers: Octavio Dotel
Kansas City Royals:
Minnesota Twins: Darin Mastroianni

AL West
Los Angeles Angels: Vernon Wells
Oakland Athletics:
Seattle Mariners: Eric Thames
Texas Rangers:

NL East
Atlanta Braves: Eric Hinske, Reed Johnson
Miami Marlins: John Buck
New York Mets: Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch
Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Halladay
Washington Nationals:

NL Central
Chicago Cubs: Luis Valbuena, Shawn Camp
Cincinnati Reds: Scott Rolen
Houston Astros: Ben Francisco
Milwaukee Brewers:
Pittsburgh Pirates: Travis Snider, Rod Barajas, A.J. Burnett
St. Louis Cardinals: Marc Rzepczynski

NL West
Arizona Diamondbacks: John Macdonald, Aaron Hill
Colorado Rockies: Josh Roenicke
Los Angeles Dodgers: Juan Rivera, Brandon League
San Diego Padres:
San Francisco Giants: Marco Scutaro

So there you have it, 21 teams have a former Blue Jays on their 25 man roster. That’s 5 more than what I predicted and 2 more than the number of teams with former A’s, which frankly is kind of surprising.

Trivia Facts:

  • Of the 21 teams that have a former Jay, the Pirates and White Sox have the most and are tied with 3 each
  • The division with the most former Jays is the NL Central with 8
  • The division with the least former Jays is the AL West with 2
  • The NL as a whole has 81% more former Blue Jays than the AL
  • Darin Mastroianni and Josh Roenicke still have major league jobs

Overall it was a quick and fun exercise that created some reminiscence on the futility and productivity of the careers of a few former Jays….and it gave me an excuse to use a picture of Roy Halladay, that’s always fun.

Side note: The process in which this was done is in no way perfect, so if I missed someone let me know in the comments below.

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