Time for another investigation. Looking over past posts of mine, I discovered that Armando Galarraga has never been a true feature of a post of mine outside of his perfect game and my (probably) unwarranted crush on him.
So thinking to myself about this err in my ways, I searched for something to write about. We all know what Armando is capable of, having seen him pitch that 2008 season and having to witness the tragedy that became of his perfect game. I knew I could find a post somewhere in all that. And I did.
To find out what I'm gonna talk about, keep reading. (go ahead, I dare you)
Unfortunately, outside of one game, Armando's career after 2008 has been relatively disappointing. Unreasonably high expectations can do that to a career. But he was a nobody before hand so nobody faults him for the disappointment at least. But he obviously did something right that season. The goal of this post is to find out what. And of course, I'll be using whatever video I can find, metrics, and Pitchf/x charts to try to back whatever I say.
So my investigation usually starts at Fangraph's where we can see what basically all of us know. In a comparison between his 2008 and his 2010 seasons we see that he does worse all around, What sticks out to me first though is the drop in K/9. It's a drop of almost two strikeouts per nine innings. That's not good. So, There is probably a reason for that.
Having some direction now, I head to one of my favorite sites, TexasLeaguers.com. This is where I get all my Pitchf/x data from. To start I opened up data from the 2008 and 2010 seasons for comparison. First thing to notice? 1300 fastballs thrown in 2008 versus about 500 thrown in 2010. Considering that there is only a difference of about 30 innings between the two seasons, that is quite a drop in fastballs thrown. Also to note: Galarraga's slider and sinker became his top two pitches in 2010.
Without going further I'm going to stop and say that I find all of this very strange. Why such a huge drop in fastballs? If I was a pitcher without a real nasty strikeout pitch, I would be establishing my fastball first, especially the location. You want your breaking pitches to be a bit more surprising. At least that is what I would think. Another thing is why a sudden increase in the use of a sinker. Yeah he probably practiced it, but why jump the number thrown from 18 all the way to nearly 400? Especially when it obviously isn't getting you as many groundball's?! Obviously pitch selection is Armando's first problem.
So back to the Pitchf/x charts. Next up is one of my favorite charts, release points. This helps raise awareness of mechanical differences between seasons, and can sometime raise awareness to mechanical problems in general.
I'm not gonna post the charts here to save time, but you can look for yourself using the links I gave above. In comparing the two charts, I see what I consider to be a HUGE change in release point. Now I can't say for certain if this is a problem, but since 2008 was his more successful season, I'll at least consider it an area of interest. In 2008 Galarraga's general release point was at approximately 6ft high and about about 2.5ft from the center of the strike zone. In 2010, Galarraga's release moved in about 6in toward center, dropped about 6in, and became much more spread out. In regards to pitching that is a huge difference.
Now the only video I can find is of Armando's perfect game. Fun to watch in a blood boiling kind of way, but does me little good in terms of analysis. So I'm just gonna list some mechanical possibilities that could be responsible for a change in release/arm slot.
- Getting lower to the ground by increasing stride length. (only accounts for one issue)
- Achieving arm slot by improper means (both issues)
- Timing issues before release. (both issues)
- Injury (both)
Now my best guess is that there is a combination of the first two going on here. An increase in stride length could account for an increase in velocity and account for some drop in release. Add in improperly achieving arm slot (probably by using the elbow versus the shoulder) and you have a resulting change in release. Now the stride isn't a problem, but the arm slot is. If there is an issue there it needs to be corrected, and based upon his location charts I'll just say that it is a problem. What strikes me as interesting is that my instinct says that an injury is also in play here based solely on the variance in the release point.
See why I like those charts? I can get a good grasp of stuff from them.
So in order for Armando to at least improve himself and gain whatever his maximum potential is, he needs to just pitch smarter and properly do things mechanically. Plus he needs to tell someone if he's hurt. Your just hurting the whole team if you are hurt bud.
So there ya guys go, my Mando post. Discuss and ask questions!