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Thread: THT:Fluke Watch: Jason Hammel
05-03-2012 08:55 AM #1
THT:Fluke Watch: Jason Hammel
A bucket of cold water:
Hammel's two-seam fastball has a groundball rate of 77 percent against right-handed hitters. Once again, this is a pitch without much natural sinking action, relying mainly on velocity and location to get ground balls. Except he's not using the two-seamer to frequently hit good groundball locations?he's not getting low and away locations to these batters.
Hammel has gotten ground balls against lefties with his four-seam fastball (seven of 10 balls in play on the ground) and both of his breaking pitches (five of five balls in play on the ground). But there's no reason for this to have occurred. Hammels hasn't changed how he pitches much in terms of location or usage in such a way that would cause this. He hasn't gotten ground balls with his two-seam fastball or change-up, a fact which isn't surprising as two-seamers have a clear platoon effect on ground balls and his doesn't have huge sinking action.
All in all, Hammel's ground ball rate reads quite strongly as a fluke, with regression seemingly on the way. Hammel's increased velocity (if he can keep it up) and the addition of the two-seamer should result in him getting more ground balls this year than last, but not a huge amount more. Optimistically, he should get around 50 percent ground balls if his improvements are real?still a solid rate, but not elite.Hammel's addition of a two-seam fastball has improved his pitch repertoire, and will help him be a better pitcher this year. But his performance so far seems unsustainable.
Of course I don't think any of us actually expect Hammel to keep up the ridiculous pace he is currently on.
05-03-2012 09:04 AM #2
Stats could suggest 2010 was Hammel's regression year not a standard to measure reregression against.
I am sure it has been mentioned here, Jim Palmer said scouts in spring training all noticed Hammel's ball movement was better - thinner air in Colorado vs. east US? One site stated Hammel, believe it or not, was one of the more underrated pitchers in baseball in 2009 and 2010: his fWAR (wins above replacement as determined by fangraphs.com), 7.9, was among the top 20 starting pitchers, ahead of such pitchers like Chad Billingsley, Cole Hamels, and Matt Cain. And remember, he pitched half of his games in one of the more notorious hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball history.
Stats people seem to have completely denied the fact that athletes can get better - they are the antithesis of training and coaching in any sport - all performance is based on trends from prior years. While true in many cases, the observant student looks for what has changed to influence the trends.
05-03-2012 09:07 AM #3Plus Member Since 02/03 Hall of Fame
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If Hammel can give us innings and around a 4.00 ERA this season, he's done his job. I'm not sure if the person that wrote the article has actually watch him pitch this season, but the guy has been dominant. While his ball might not be getting "low", it sure seems like a "heavy" ball.
I definitely think there will be regression. Nothing in his history shows that he can be this lights out for a long period of time.
05-03-2012 09:13 AM #4
I don't think anyone really thought that Hammel would sustain a sub-2.00 ERA. Is he pitching like a man on fire right now? Yes.
05-03-2012 09:13 AM #5
Did you read the piece? The author does mention that Hammel has adjusted his approach, it is part of the reason that he does expect some of Hammel's improvement to continue. The Author did "look for what has changed" he looked into the 2 seamer that Hammel is throwing, he looked into the differing pitch selection.
Hammel has changed his approach to pitching slightly. In addition to the two-seamer, Hammel has increased his slider usage on two-strike counts, which makes sense as it's his best strikeout pitch.
05-03-2012 09:16 AM #6
He's also sporting an 8.44 K/9... which is probably not sustainable.
But I'll tell you this, his stuff definitely passes the sniff test. Dude keeps the ball down and his two seamer is dirty. He'll be better than in years past when it all shakes out, IMO.
05-03-2012 09:31 AM #7Plus Members Since 9/11 All-Star
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05-03-2012 09:32 AM #8
Hammel has so many ways to get batters out, I'm not worried if he loses his sinker for a few games.
05-03-2012 09:41 AM #9
The increase in velocity and improved pitch selection may be the key factors to his season, not the sink on his fastball. If anything his 94-96 MPH high fastball has been the difference maker. When the hitter has to respect that power, the sink doesn't need to be that good.
05-03-2012 09:43 AM #10
He has a 1.97 ERA and a 8.4 K/9 when his career is 4.87 and 6.3 respectively. Without a doubt he's going to regress from his hot start. Saying that, the addition of the two-seamer and the peak in velocity tells me he's got a much better chance of being a better pitcher than he was with the Rockies. Not to mention he doesn't have to pitch in Coors Field any longer. I don't think anyone expects Hammel to pitch to a sub 2.00 ERA all season, so yes, regression per se should be expected, but that doesn't mean that Hammel can not be an effective starting pitcher all season.
05-03-2012 09:55 AM #11
I don't disagree that he's due for some regression, but there does seem to be a healthy dose of confirmation bias driving this analysis.
Last edited by sakata_catching; 05-04-2012 at 06:32 AM.
05-03-2012 10:32 AM #12
There's more bias than analysis, as far as I'm concerned (including the assumption that you can always see why something is occurring by using PitchFX). Why not break out the numbers a bit more? Contextualize them?
05-03-2012 10:33 AM #13
Yep, but I think even the biggest doubters have to agree that his stuff checks out. He isn't smoke-and-mirror-ing it like Tommy Hunter. We all know legit stuff when we see it, and Hammel's got it. His command is certainly in question, and he'll leave a few over the plate every now and then. But that curve is legit, and that 2-seamer is legit. He's found a rare career resurgence, so good for him.
05-03-2012 10:46 AM #14
I'd sign for 3.97 ERA for the year for Hammel right now.
05-03-2012 10:49 AM #15Plus Member Since June 2010 All-Star
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A few questions:
But there are some warning signs about his whiff rate, too. Much of his increased ability to get strikeouts has come from his four-seam fastball, which has above a 10 percent swinging strike rates against both lefties and righties. A typical fastball has a swinging strike rate of around five percent, so this is pretty insane. And yet, Hammel isn't using his four-seamer much differently from last year and certainly not in a way that would explain such a super swinging strike rate.
Also, as a fan without the ability to parse through data, what's the GB% against lefties with the 2 seamer? And how effective of a pitch has it been? Fangraphs only shows me FB ratings. And that it's gone from a negative to a positive value.
It just feels to me like for an article that uses past history as an indicator for how Hammel will do with his other pitches, the author should be a bit more hesitant to gather a larger sample size on Hammel's new 2 seamer before he makes an assessment of where it will regress to. He sites league averages etc. but right now it seems impossible to judge if Hammel's 2 seamer is league average or much better.
It does feel like Hammel should regress. The interesting part will be to see how much. I guess this guy is saying he thinks it's going to be a lot. But having watched him pitch and get through a fairly tough game against the Yanks the other day where he didn't have it all going on, I'd say my eyes tell me the regression won't be as bad as his GB% and Swinging Strike % based on a league average.