What The Heck Is Wrong With Yovani Gallardo
Welcome into the Advanced Statistics Office.
Coming into the 2012 season, Yovani Gallardo was a big sleeper for me. His improvements in walk rate in 2011 were excellent as he cut his BB% from 9.3 in 2010 to 6.8% in 2011. That 6.8% was the lowest mark of his career by a huge margin.
Unfortunately he gave all of his gains back as his walk rate jumped back up to 9.4% in 2012.
The most concerning of all however, has to be Gallardo’s issues vs. lefties. In 2012 lefties hit .253/.341/.418 with a .333 wOBA, compared to righties .223/.286/.368 with a .286 wOBA. Much of his issues against lefties are magnified by the lack of control vs. them, as his walk percentage was 11.4%.
This could be a case of one thing declining and leading to another; let me explain. First of all, Gallardo has never had a reliable changeup, as he has relied on his excellent curveball-slider combination as his off-speed pitches for years. Secondly, Gallardo’s fastball has been on the steady decline in terms of mph and confidence. Illustrated here:
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|Year:||Mph||Usage % vs. Lefties||Usage % vs. Lefties (behind in the count)||Slash line vs. lefties (BA/Slug/ISO/TAv|
Has Gallardo lost confidence in his fastball? It would seem so; and given the tendency for pitchers to be able to control their fastball more than any other pitch, it would seem that this is one of the things that caused Gallardo’s walk percentage to go up vs. lefties.
Even more disconcerting is this attitude that some industry analysts have about HR/FB – an issue I will delve into greater detail on in later articles this season – with Gallardo being one of the poster boys for an “increased” HR/FB and having “bad luck”. Is it really bad luck when your fastball is declining?
Let’s take a look in greater detail: Gallardo allowed 26 HR in 2012, and 27 HR in 2011. Where is this bad luck coming from? Could it be the fact that his GB% spiked in 2012, resulting in fewer fly-balls? Could be, but really, it’s not. In 2011, Gallardo registered pop-ups 7.69% of the time with his fastball, 6.33% of the time with his slider, and 5.22% of the time with his curveball.
In 2012, those numbers were 6.19%, 2.61%, and 2.11% respectively. Let’s see, declining fastball velocity, increasing walk rate, decreased fastball usage, and significant decrease in pop-up rates? Yeah, Houston, we have a problem.
So far this year Gallardo’s fastball average fastball velocity is 91.20 mph. His usage rate of the fastball sits at 29%, with his sinker becoming his primary pitch. Without a changeup can Gallardo get away with using his sinker as the only downward action high velocity pitch? One would think it would be easier for a batter to recognize. The thing with small samples is this: have we seen this before? Is it fluky? For example, R.A. Dickey has a 5.82 ERA so far though three starts. In 2012, Dickey, through three starts, had a 5.71 ERA.
We all know what Dickey did in 2012.
However, after searching through Gallardo’s historic player card on brooksbaseball, I was not able to find a one month sample where a) Gallardo messed that much with his pitch mix, and b) was living that dangerously in terms of velocity on his fastball. We have to take some small samples with more weight so that we can stay ahead of our competition.
If you play in a league with industry analysts, or other fantasy players that seem to “prudently” not give credence to small samples, go ahead and try and move Gallardo. Yeah, I know, Gallardo was awful last year too early in the season. Don’t believe there is a disconnect from Gallardo’s 2011 season yet? Fine. Then I leave you with this:
|2011||Horizontal Release Point (Ft)|
|2012||Horizontal Release Point (Ft)|
Just another fly in the ointment as far as I’m concerned.
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