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   1. Walt Davis Posted: August 20, 2006 at 06:51 AM (#2148447)
In conclusion, individually none of these statistics would raise many alarm bells.

I dunno about that -- 5 BB/9 sets bells ringing in my head. Also I hadn't realized the GB and HR numbers had changed so dramatically. Strikeouts are up a bit so I guess that's a good thing.

Maybe batters have adjusted and are doing a great job of laying off the sinker.
   2. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 20, 2006 at 12:49 PM (#2148503)
I've mentioned this elsewhere, and I think Zambrano is throwing with more effort. He's always had a tendency to emphasize velocity over finesse, and I wonder if it's something he used to receive instruction on, but either that's stopped or he's stopped listening. Either way I don't like it. I'd like to see some CBW comparisons of Zambrano 2003 vs. 2006.

Anyway, as Steve Stone will tell you until you want to shove bamboo shoots in your ears, throwing too hard causes sinkers not to sink, and of course, it can't help Zambrano's already questionable control either.

From 2003-2005 Zambrano showed only a modest platoon split. He held righties to a .222/.296/.318 line and lefties to a .229/.322/.358 line. In 2006, however, Carlos has been hit hard by LHB - .262/.399/.461 versus a miniscule .156/.234/.272 against RHB. He has walked over twice as many LHB as RHB. I’m not sure what such a drastic change might mean, and perhaps, like the walks, is just a single season outlier.

I wouldn't pay too much attention to any of those splits, but will just point out that Zambrano has always had a tendency to give up HRs to LHB. Actually, it's probably more a matter of being really good at preventing HR from RHB.
   3. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 20, 2006 at 12:58 PM (#2148505)
I'm on it......
   4. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 20, 2006 at 01:26 PM (#2148512)
I'm on it......

Cool.
   5. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: August 20, 2006 at 06:38 PM (#2148707)
Carlos has been hit hard by LHB - 262/.399/.461

Is this really "hit hard"? I'll grant you that it's certainly not a good line, and there's some worry there -- but when I think "hit hard", I think smacked around to the tune of an OPS 100 or so points better than that.

I think it's been a strange seasons for the NL's "aces" - Peavey's been near a disaster and while Oswalt's had some rotten luck, he's hasn't been nearly the pitcher he was the last 2-3 years.

There's certainly been regression in the BB and HR rates for Zambrano - but I think it would be fair to group Oswalt, Peavey, Big Z, and maybe Dontrelle Willis as the best best young guns in the NL (sorry Webb fans, 3 full seasons minimum).

Of that group - I think it's pretty clear cut that despite the warning signs, Zambrano's had a better season than any of them - and clearly much better than Willis/Peavey.

I'm certainly not discounting what lies behind the stellar VORP, win totals, etc as something to keep an eye on --- but for whatever reason, Carlos's troubles this season pale before those of his peers. Willis' BB and HR rate are up, too. So are Peavy's. Even Oswalt has seen his K rate fall (for the 3rd straight year), while his walks are up (though marginally) and both HR/SLG is up.

If you accept that these 4 pitchers entered the season as the 4 top young hurlers on your shopping list -- I don't see how anyone stock has either remained steady or even risen a bit more than Big Z.

Maybe it's just "one of those seasons"... who knows.
   6. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: August 20, 2006 at 06:53 PM (#2148722)
Upon closer examination - I retract my "clearly" from the Z vs. Peavy comparison. Peavy's DIPs numbers - aside from an HR spike - are actually pretty darn good. How the heck is he 6-12 with that ugly of an ERA? Zambrano's still been better, but looks like Peavy's had worse luck than Oswalt.
   7. Sparkles Peterson Posted: August 20, 2006 at 07:13 PM (#2148750)
Carlos Zambrano had a fine outing this afternoon. Seven innings of 2-run ball and he only walked two.


In fairness you should note that if the HP umpire was paying any attention, he'd have actually given up at least 3 runs.
   8. Meatwad Posted: August 20, 2006 at 07:45 PM (#2148784)
The Chicago Cubs today traded infielder Neifi Perez to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for the Tigers' third-round selection from the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, catcher Chris Robinson.
   9. MM1f Posted: August 20, 2006 at 10:09 PM (#2148890)
"Is this really "hit hard"? I'll grant you that it's certainly not a good line, and there's some worry there -- but when I think "hit hard", I think smacked around to the tune of an OPS 100 or so points better than that."

Yes, its "hit hard". Its a pretty bad line for any pitcher vs any kind of batter much less an ace type vs 25% of the leagues hitters. Hes making an average LHP into an all-star

"There's certainly been regression in the BB and HR rates for Zambrano - but I think it would be fair to group Oswalt, Peavey, Big Z, and maybe Dontrelle Willis as the best best young guns in the NL (sorry Webb fans, 3 full seasons minimum).""

Webb is in his fourth full year and has more career games and innings pitched than Dontrelle.

and anyone who puts upeven 2 years like Webb is a legit young gun. no need for arbirary borders
   10. Luke Jasenosky Posted: August 20, 2006 at 10:17 PM (#2148896)
I've mentioned this elsewhere, and I think Zambrano is throwing with more effort. He's always had a tendency to emphasize velocity over finesse, and I wonder if it's something he used to receive instruction on, but either that's stopped or he's stopped listening. Either way I don't like it.

Sorry if I missed your previous comments on this issue, SSU, and I agree with your diagnosis. I only got to see some of yesterday's game, but Zambrano clocked 97 on the radar gun a number of times. One of the reasons I was thrilled with Zambrano was the amazing numbers he put up in 2003 - the nine home runs allowed and superb GO/AO rate. It is worrying.


Thanks for the insights zonk. You make some good points. Peavy's numbers are rather baffling. His peripherals are pretty much in line with his last two great seasons (although he's giving up a few more hits). Interestingly, like Zambrano, he has seen his GO/AO rate plummet to a career low of 0.85 and his home run rate has spiked. He has also given up no unearned runs, so his ERA hasn't had any help (Zambrano's given up 5 unearned runs for an RA of 3.60.
   11. Biscuit_pants Posted: August 21, 2006 at 12:45 AM (#2149008)
I have noticed all of those numbers as the season has gone on with the exception of the splits but have not been extremely alarmed. I am worried about the walks the most but am not sure if that is a new trend in Zambrano’s career. With the team performing as bad as it has I really think that Zambrano knows that he is the only pitcher that the Cubs can throw out there and get a win, which might be causing him to pitch differently. I believe that this years “bad” stats will be more of a hic-up in his career. The sinker has not been on as much this year as it has in the past which translates into less ground balls and since he can “fall back” on a 97-98 mph fast ball it can also explain the K’s. I am not sure that a pitcher can lose a pitch so I think this year will necessarily translate into next year.

Of coarse the Cubs fan in me knows I should expect a collapse if he gets a contract extension and if he leaves the team then a hall of fame career with the Braves is what will happen.
   12. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 21, 2006 at 02:44 AM (#2149149)
I haven't had a chance to do a frame-by-frame video comp yet, however, here's my initial impressions.
First of all, seeing all these clips after not having really watched him this year, one thing stands out. His stuff is sick, I mean REALLY sick. His breaking pitch (some would call it a slider, I'd call it more of a slurve since it's a low 80's velocity pitch) is just stupid, and his sinker is HEAVY.

A quick comments on his stats. If his walks/9 are up, it would mean that he's probably facing more hitter/9, so his K's/9 should also rise. I'd like to see his BB/Batter faced and K/hitter faced for a better comparison.

I'm gonna have to disagree with an earlier poster who says that Zambrano seems to be putting more effort into his pitches. To me, it actually seems like he's a little slower to the plate than in past years and is a little more "under control" when it comes to his delivery. One thing I'm in AWE of is how quick his torso rotates after footplant. More to come.....
   13. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: August 21, 2006 at 05:58 AM (#2149811)
I'd like to see his BB/Batter faced and K/hitter faced for a better comparison.

2003-2006, BB/batter faced: .104, .091, .095, .134.
2003-2006, K/batter faced: .186, .212, .222, .236.

Possibly Wrigley is playing more hitterly this year.
   14. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 21, 2006 at 03:39 PM (#2150095)
I'm gonna have to disagree with an earlier poster who says that Zambrano seems to be putting more effort into his pitches. To me, it actually seems like he's a little slower to the plate than in past years and is a little more "under control" when it comes to his delivery. One thing I'm in AWE of is how quick his torso rotates after footplant. More to come.....

I look forward to it. I'm more than happy to be wrong about this.

Possibly Wrigley is playing more hitterly this year.

It is, but probably not enough to explain those increases.
   15. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 21, 2006 at 09:53 PM (#2150949)
CBW is a great asset to this site, I really enjoy his work.
   16. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 22, 2006 at 04:46 AM (#2151513)
Thank you Jack....

Anyways, presented without commercial interruptions.

Zambrano '04 vs '06

I'm more interested in finding out what you guys see that I may be missing. On a lot of the comments I put on the file, I found myself basically nitpicking at stuff. BTW, both are 93 mph fastballs that result in K's.



I look forward to it. I'm more than happy to be wrong about this.

After watching the video, I'm actually convinced that we're both right and wrong. On this particular pitch it seems that he is throwing with more effort (IOW, he's using his body better to throw). I have a feeling that if I look at other pitches and compare them, I will quite probably find pitches in '06 that exhibit "more effort" than in '04. So you could very well be right that he's throwing with more effort as a whole this year. His mechanics both years are so similar that it is very difficult for me to say that something is the definite culprit.
   17. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: August 22, 2006 at 05:00 AM (#2151521)
Is it possible that his knee is higher in the '04 picture because he's trying to compensate for fatigue? It's the 5th inning, so he's usually thrown around 70 pitches at that point, so raising the knee more could be his way or ensuring the same speed while making his arm work a bit less. This would also help explain the difference in knee bend.

And as I look at it all, a lot of the differences seem like they could be explained that way, such as how he seems to get slightly ahead in '04 between the knee bend and his arm starting forward, then coming back to be even as the arm goes. I might be reading way too much into it, but a comparison of two pitches very early in the game would probably go a long way to telling how accurate I am.
   18. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 22, 2006 at 01:57 PM (#2151742)
Is it possible that his knee is higher in the '04 picture because he's trying to compensate for fatigue?



I probably should've explained this better on the clip so as to not to make an issue out of it.

The clips are synchronized to release. I first did that and worked back from when they release the ball. Since '04 Zambrano is about 1 1/2 frames quicker to home from the top of the knee lift, I had to cut out a couple of frames from '06's motion. IOW, '06's leg has already started its descent, whereas '04 is at the apex. If I would've left the other 2 frames on the '06 clip, you would've seen Zambrano at about the same leg height.
I did this because I don't believe Zambrano's tempo is significantly different in these two clips. I mean 1 1/2 to 2 frames of speed is somewhat significant to other pitchers, however, it doesn't seem to affect the other aspects of his mechanics (arm action, lead arm, etc).


That said, lifting the knee higher is, if done correctly, a decent way to try to create more momentum on the way down in order to a)throw harder b)compensate for fatigue
   19. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: August 23, 2006 at 03:15 AM (#2153256)
Okay, but would a faster tempo with his body also be a way to compensate for fatigue?
   20. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 23, 2006 at 09:38 AM (#2153635)
Yes, but people tend to slow down their when they're tired. It's difficult to tell a tired pitcher to speed it up.
   21. Meatwad Posted: August 23, 2006 at 01:48 PM (#2153708)
awesome anaylisis there CBW
   22. dcsmyth1 Posted: August 23, 2006 at 02:13 PM (#2153731)
Maybe the explanation is that Zambrano is simply trying to strike more batters out (and succeeding at it). So he sacrifices some control to increase his velocity, and is throwing a bit higher in the zone (leading to more HR), which is apparently better for batters swinging and missing. Maybe he thinks that will help win the Cy Young. Maybe he doesn't want to rely on the fielders as much. Who knows.
   23. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 23, 2006 at 05:13 PM (#2153938)
Maybe the explanation is that Zambrano is simply trying to strike more batters out (and succeeding at it). So he sacrifices some control to increase his velocity, and is throwing a bit higher in the zone (leading to more HR), which is apparently better for batters swinging and missing. Maybe he thinks that will help win the Cy Young. Maybe he doesn't want to rely on the fielders as much. Who knows.

It is quite possible that you are right and/or wrong on all of these. I guess my point in this mechanical analysis is that there is really nothing different in a major way (mechanics-wise) that would point to his increase in BB, K, and HR rates. When I did the analyses on Mulder and Prior, their tempo differences lead to longer, less efficient arm action, less explosiveness, etc, etc.
In Zambrano's case, I don't see it.

Pitch selection, pitch location, how the catcher sets up, a bunch of other things, or just a change in pitching philosophy is probably the reason.....which is to say, I just don't know. I'd have to go and watch a bunch of his games in different seasons in order to see if he's just more 4-seamer happy than in years past.
   24. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 24, 2006 at 04:39 PM (#2155262)
CBW, thanks for that analysis.

Maybe the explanation is that Zambrano is simply trying to strike more batters out (and succeeding at it). So he sacrifices some control to increase his velocity, and is throwing a bit higher in the zone (leading to more HR), which is apparently better for batters swinging and missing. Maybe he thinks that will help win the Cy Young. Maybe he doesn't want to rely on the fielders as much. Who knows.

Well, that was sort of what I was thinking, although I was thinking it could have been something as simple as wanting to see 98s and 99s on the scoreboard.

But I think the more likely explanation is that Z has increased the velocity and action on his pitches, and of course this is something that is considered generally good. I think the increase in velocity and action could explain the increased BB, K and HR rate, and decreased groundballs because his pitches are higher in the zone. I worry about the cost in efficiency, and eventually, effectiveness.

One thing about the arm angle: It seems to me that Z used to tend to vary it quite a bit, and would occasionally trip someone up by throwing almost completely sidearm. Seems we're seeing less of that than we were a couple of years ago (does it seem that way to others?). However, he still has tricks up his sleeve like the slow curve.
   25. dcsmyth1 Posted: August 25, 2006 at 11:19 AM (#2156284)
</i>But I think the more likely explanation is that Z has increased the velocity and action on his pitches, and of course this is something that is considered generally good. I think the increase in velocity and action could explain the increased BB, K and HR rate, and decreased groundballs because his pitches are higher in the zone. I worry about the cost in efficiency, and eventually, effectiveness.<i>

I don't see the difference between your explanation and mine. Other than perhaps you seem to be suggesting that the velocity increase happened *naturally*, as maybe a result of his body maturing at age 25 (or whatever he is)--where I'm saying it might have been a conscious decision to try to throw harder. My guess is that when pitchers reach their strikeout peaks at Z's age (as is usually the case, IIRC), it's not usually accompanied by a falling off in other areas. It's the falling off part that makes me suspect the velocity increase is his conscious decision. I certainly may be wrong.
   26. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 25, 2006 at 06:16 PM (#2156642)
Did you fellas see Z's last start? In the first inning he was experiencing control problems, so...

He started throwing his sinker around 88-89 and carved through the lineup. Seven Ks, 1 BB, and zero HRs. It was terrific to watch. It wasn't just fatigue, either, he dialed it up to 95 against Howard later in the game.
   27. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 27, 2006 at 04:20 PM (#2158474)
I think we're in agreement Duffy, and didn't mean to offer that as counter to what you said.

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