Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Brian Wilson: what (not) to expect

A lot of rumors about Wilson coming back to pitch for the Dodgers next season.

I'd be ok with that.  I might prefer someone like Joaquin Benoit though.  STEAMER projects Wilson for a 3.50 FIP next season and Benoit for a 3.16 FIP.

The latest rumor has Wilson taking a 1 year deal with a player option for 2015.  I'm not a fan of player options.  If Wilson pitches well, he can opt out and become a free agent.  If he's terrible, or injured again, the Dodgers are on the hook for however many millions.

But that's all kind of besides the point of this post.

Wilson only faced 49 major league hitters last year, so looking at his .66 ERA (or 2.02 FIP or 2.82 xFIP or 2.66 SIERA) isn't really helpful.

What we can look at are his pitches.  The common refrain was that Wilson's pitches were back.  Were they?

In 2009 and 2010[/URL] Wilson's pitches were like this
62% 4-seam fastballs at 97.0 MPH with 3.4 inches of horizontal movement and 8.9 inches of vertical movement.
35% cutters at 89.5 MPH with 2.5 H-movement and 1.4 V-movement

This season Wilson threw
70% cutters at 89.5 MPH with .5 H-movement and 3.9 V-movement
15% 4-seam fastball at 94.4 MPH with 4.4 inches of H-movement and 8.2 inches of V-movement
13% sinkers at 94.4 MPH with 8.6 inches of H-movement and 6.1 inches of V-movement

First thing that's easy to notice is that Wilson has greatly increased his cutter usage.  He's maintained his speed on his cutter but the movement is much different.  His cutter now has virtually no horizontal movement but he's added a bit of vertical movement.

In 2013 13% of Wilson's pitches were classified as sinkers.  Does he throw a sinker now?  I don't know.  His sinker is similar to his 4-seam fastball in terms of speed and direction of movement.  Were those sinkers just fastballs with a different movement?  Maybe.

Either way, his fastball has lost about 3 MPH.  Depending if those sinkers are misclassified fastball or not, his movement might be similar, or he's gained significant horizontal movement.

As I said, I'm ok with the Dodgers bringing Wilson back.  We just shouldn't expect him to be the 2009-2010 version or his 2013 results.

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