Baseball Toaster Dodger Thoughts
Jon Weisman's outlet
for dealing psychologically
with the Los Angeles Dodgers
and baseball.
Frozen Toast
Google Search
Dodger Thoughts

02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

09  08  07 
About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

Penny's Changeup: Achilles' Heel or Hidden Gem
2008-02-26 19:32
by Jon Weisman

Longtime readers of this site will remember Tom Meagher, who posted most recently about baseball at his blog, The Fifth Outfielder. Today, he sent along this e-mail about Brad Penny.

I remember reading the excerpts from the Bill James book on DT last week, and I noticed something interesting in John Walsh's article at The Hardball Times today.

The James book had said that Penny was turning to his changeup a lot last season, and Walsh's numbers support that, as Penny's in his list of the 20 pitchers that threw the most changeups in 2007. However, while James' comment seemed to imply that Penny's 2007 was fueled by a great changeup, Walsh's numbers show Penny's changeup in a different light.

Using linear weights values for each pitch, Walsh finds that Penny's changeup was, on balance, ineffective, so much so that the average Penny changeup contributes an extra .012 runs to the opposition. Only Jamie Moyer and Mike Maroth, both with ERAs over 5, had a worse run value for their changeups.

However, this doesn't necessarily mean that Penny's changeup is bad, and it doesn't necessarily even mean that his improvement wasn't due to going to the changeup more. Walsh breaks the numbers down by pitches put in play and those not, and here's how Penny's changeup stacks up against those of two other changeup-heavy hurlers:

  • Penny: 268 changeups not put in play, -.014 runs per pitch; 82 changeups put in play, .099 runs per pitch; .012 runs per pitch total.
  • Mark Hendrickson: 234 changeups not put in play, -.012 runs per pitch; 84 changeups put in play, -.031 runs per pitch; -.017 runs per pitch total.
  • Johan Santana: 241 changeups not put in play, -.048 runs per pitch; 47 changeups put in play, .116 runs per pitch; -.021 runs per pitch total.

    So Penny and Hendrickson actually threw changeups about the same number of times, though Hendrickson throws them more often since he pitched less than Penny. While they both had about equal success on balls and strikes, when the pitch was put into play Hendrickson had excellent results while Penny generated an awful run value. Meanwhile, Santana is just like Penny in terms of the results of changeups that were hit, but is off the charts with the ones that made batters miss and missed bats more often.

    So did Penny start going to the changeup more often and more effectively in working the count but just didn't have good enough fielding behind him for it to be a net positive? Did Penny going to his changeup more often just happen to coincide with his strong year? Or was 2007 the year that Penny learned to stop worrying about his changeup getting hit and used it more often to set up his other pitches so that they would be more effective? It's an interesting question since by the statistical line it just seems that Penny was lucky on batted balls, so it's obviously counterintuitive to attribute that success to a pitch that had such negative results.

  • Comments (58)
    Show/Hide Comments 1-50
    2008-02-26 19:53:36
    1.   ChicagoDodger
    In honor of this being the last season of "The Wire", and it coinciding with the Dodgers leaving Vero Beach, I am wondering if Jon could write a piece about the effects on the Vero Beach community. He could touch on the economic impacts and the effect on the homeless in Vero. You know, "the Dickensian aspect" of the move.

    Jon, if you are too busy, perhaps you could get Scott from the Baltimore Sun to write the piece? Make sure you have Gus edit it though!

    2008-02-26 20:11:20
    2.   Sam DC
    Oh, dear. How old are you if you think of Tom Meagher as that guy who wrote the Fourth Outfielder?
    2008-02-26 20:22:03
    3.   Jon Weisman
    2 - Ollllllllllllllllllld.
    2008-02-26 20:23:05
    4.   Jon Weisman
    2 - Ollllllllllllllllllld.
    2008-02-26 20:24:24
    5.   Sam DC
    Well, pile right on why don't you? ;)
    2008-02-26 20:26:40
    6.   Marty
    Once again, Tom Meagher makes makes my head spin. He owns the place and I'm just visiting.
    2008-02-26 20:43:27
    7.   Eric Enders
    "Or was 2007 the year that Penny learned to stop worrying about his changeup getting hit and used it more often to set up his other pitches so that they would be more effective?"

    This is the one that makes the most sense to me. Was Penny's great season, despite throwing more changeups, accompanied by a corresponding increase in the effectiveness of his fastball (against hitters who were presumably wary of the possibility of a changeup)? I'm sure we all remember the phenomenon of Penny's 96 mph heaters getting smacked all around the park in the latter half of 2006.

    2008-02-26 20:44:08
    8.   bigcpa
    I've contributed at least 10 clicks on the 5th Outfielder hit-counter since Tom's last entry.
    2008-02-26 20:45:42
    9.   paranoidandroid
    A friend called me from his cell on his way home from work while listening to Mason's show on ESPN. He said Mason was talking about the Dodger outfield situation and referred to a caller from June who said that Juan Pierre was "Slappy McPop-up."

    If given a chance to clarify, I would be sure to tell Mason that the insensitive nickname came from a DT poster and it wasn't me. I believe underdog was the first to coin the name.

    I wonder if Simers would run with the nickname. Juan wouldn't be the first guy to face the wrath of Page 2. Somehow, I feel that the hard working left fielder deserves better. I truly want to like him. Actually I do like him. He seems down to earth and focused. I just wish I liked him as a baseball player more than I do.

    2008-02-26 20:49:54
    10.   El Lay Dave
    Jon, you cut off Buffalo Braves Thoughts. Buffalo Braves!
    2008-02-26 20:54:39
    11.   Jon Weisman
    10 - True - I owe you all an apology.
    2008-02-26 20:55:49
    12.   Dodgers49
    Okay, so Kemp is going to China after all.

    Dodgers' outfield battle begins with bangs

    >> "I won't even think about making a decision until we get back from China."

    That won't happen until March 17. By that time, Kemp, who will make the Dodgers' one-week trip to Beijing, and Ethier, who won't, could be pushing each other to heights previously unknown by either. <<

    ## Josh Rawitch, a longtime member of the Dodgers public-relations staff and the team's PR director for the past 2 1/2 years, has been promoted to vice president for public relations and broadcasting, a role he will assume immediately.

    "As a lifelong Dodgers fan, it is an honor to be entrusted with this position," Rawitch said. "I am grateful to (owners) Frank and Jamie McCourt for having confidence in me that I can handle the responsibilities of this position."

    Rawitch, 31, is a Chatsworth High School graduate. ##

    2008-02-26 20:58:36
    13.   trainwreck
    Congratulations, Josh! He's the best PR guy I know.
    2008-02-26 21:00:10
    14.   Eric Enders
    1 "When Wilfredo Diaz signed with the Dodgers in 2005, he thought he was leaving the jungles of Caguas, Puerto Rico, behind for good. Now, less than two years later, he's been forced to reckon with an entirely different kind of jungle -- the concrete jungle of Vero Beach, Florida.

    Having spent almost all of his paltry $5,000 bonus on a house for his mother, operations for various relatives, an artificial leg for his girlfriend, and relief supplies for Haitian hurricane victims, Diaz arrived in Vero Beach for spring training with only a $10 bill in his pocket. And now he's lost even that.

    At night, the sprawling Dodgertown complex resembles nothing so much as Fritz Lang's mythical underworld of Metropolis. The dense sugar cane fields, chest-high grass, and buzzing of unseen insects gives one the impression of being stranded in the middle of Amazonia. It's literally a jungle out there. In this bleak, desolate swath of Florida wasteland, the black of night gives predators the cover they need to stalk their prey..."

    2008-02-26 21:04:52
    15.   Jon Weisman
    14 - I assume the quotes are to come.

    12 - That's great. And it don't hurt to get a raise when you're a new dad ... just hope he gets to go home once in a while.

    2008-02-26 21:09:29
    16.   scareduck
    "Or was 2007 the year that Penny learned to stop worrying about his changeup getting hit and used it more often to set up his other pitches so that they would be more effective?"

    This is, to me, the real question. They need to analyze his pitching patterns and see whether his change is causing better outcomes on other pitches.

    It would be interesting to see whether pitchers can be seen to be throwing in a predictable way in certain counts, against certain kinds of hitters, etc.

    2008-02-26 21:21:19
    17.   Xeifrank
    Nice 3rd quarter comeback by the Lakers. The tide really turned when Portland took out their point guard Blake. He was eating the Lakers up with his dribble penetration. The Blazers quickly fell apart when Rodriguez came in.
    vr, Xei
    2008-02-26 21:27:11
    18.   Bob Timmermann
    When are we having Rochester Royals Thoughts?
    2008-02-26 21:35:02
    19.   MC Safety
    14 Hilarious.
    2008-02-26 21:40:08
    20.   Dodgers49
    Torre should consider this when Pierre starts. :-)

    Cardinals pitchers will bat eighth

    >> "We'll hit the pitcher eighth," he said. "We're going to have a second leadoff as the ninth-place hitter." <<

    2008-02-26 21:40:54
    21.   El Lay Dave
    20 See the Griddle! (Did I beat Bob?)
    2008-02-26 22:07:55
    22.   LogikReader
    Another big win by the Lakers tonight. Did we get the natepurcell "worry of approval" before the game?

    These guys are on a roll.

    2008-02-26 22:15:25
    23.   Dodgers49
    Penny gives his take on tale of two seasons

    >> The 29-year-old right-hander has maintained that the strained abdominal muscle he suffered last July had no bearing on his second-half performance.

    But Penny confirmed that the discomfort was severe enough to warrant in-season visits to doctors, who mentioned to him the possibility of off-season surgery. Among the doctors visited was William Meyers of Philadelphia, who operated on second baseman Tony Abreu for a problem in the same region.

    "They couldn't prove to me that they knew what was wrong," he said. "It's not something you can find on an MRI or anything. You're going to believe them and you're going to have surgery or you don't." <<

    2008-02-26 22:26:15
    24.   El Lay Dave

    For the last two years, UCLA has made it to the Final Four without having to leave California. This year the Bruins could advance by winning two games in Anaheim and two more in Phoenix. UCLA was second-seeded last year and played top-seeded Kansas in San Jose, and Collison said Jayhawks guard Mario Chalmers wasn't happy about that. "Mario said we played them at home and that's why we won," Collison said.

    Hilarious. San Jose is about twice as far from LA as Lawrence, KS is from Columbia, MO! They love UCLA in the Bay area.

    2008-02-26 23:18:44
    25.   trainwreck
    NO!!! Deshaun Foster is signing with my most hated team, the 49ers.
    2008-02-26 23:36:16
    26.   Bob Timmermann
    They do let UCLA players play on the 49ers.

    Some of them end up being very good like Jimmy Johnson and Randy Cross.

    2008-02-26 23:37:36
    27.   fanerman
    I remember Tom Meagher from the Fourth Outfielder! I loved that blog. I think I read that shortly after discovering Dodger Thoughts, which is sometime during the 2005 season. I think.
    2008-02-26 23:47:45
    28.   trainwreck
    And then there is JJ Stokes.
    2008-02-26 23:50:09
    29.   Bob Timmermann
    Steve Bono did great things as the 49ers quarterback.
    2008-02-26 23:54:31
    30.   El Lay Dave
    Some UCLA players play for both the 49ers and the Rams, such as Wendell Tyler.
    2008-02-26 23:56:19
    31.   fanerman
    27 But then again, I guess I'm kind of old. I feel old anyway.
    2008-02-27 00:09:26
    32.   trainwreck
    Or the Rams and the Raiders, such as Robert Thomas.

    I miss liking the Rams.

    2008-02-27 00:14:33
    33.   trainwreck
    The Rams winning the Super Bowl was the most bittersweet moment of my life. I was hoping they would win, but I was thinking how unfair it was that they sucked the entire time that I loved them.

    While now, the Raiders are going on a stretch of sucktitude that has no end in sight. : (

    2008-02-27 00:21:16
    34.   El Lay Dave
    33 Imagine how it was for us fans that rooted for those great 70s Rams teams that always managed to come up just short, usually against either the Vikes or the Cowboys. Bittersweet is the word, indeed.
    2008-02-27 00:24:27
    35.   El Lay Dave
    New Diamond Leung article on the M & M s.

    "The minute I saw him in the bullpen, I knew," said Logan White, the Dodgers' former scouting director who's now assistant general manager. "It's kind of like your first date with a girl you really like. You're hoping and praying you get him. You're praying he's Koufax."

    Gee, hope the hype and expectations don't get too big.

    "Where that circle comes back around is that they both ... have similar mental abilities and approach," White said. "They both can be quiet, but can be fierce competitors. I hope they both fulfill that promise."

    2008-02-27 00:24:40
    36.   trainwreck
    That is definitely a hard thing no doubt, but I believe it is better to be good and come up short than never to be good. Which is why I give Toycannon and Clipper fans a lot of credit.
    2008-02-27 00:27:20
    37.   Xeifrank
    34. Go Vikings!
    vr, Xei
    2008-02-27 00:35:19
    38.   Xeifrank
    Oh, and here is what Dex at Gaslamp Ball said in his introductory piece about Jon's roundtable NL West chat the other day.

    The Baseball Analysts have a roundtable discussion on the NL West up today. Chatting with them are Jon Weisman from Dodger Thoughts (booooo Dodgers! We hate you, you humorless turds!) and Russ from Purple Row (booooo Rockies! We hate you too, you pleasant bunch of friendly people who we actually like!).

    Ok, which one of us is the humorless turd?
    Raise your hand!
    vr, Xei

    2008-02-27 00:38:21
    39.   trainwreck
    If you like the Vikings then you must really hate the Raiders.

    Xei, was wondering if you have been following the Edison Chen scandal?

    2008-02-27 01:13:04
    40.   LAT
    Marty, from the last thread, I loved the shout out to Ernie D. It brought back some good memories. When I was a sophmore in high school in RI, I went to basketball camp at Providence College and he was one of the coaches for a few days. He was awsome! I see where it was just announced that he will be coaching North Providence next year. We played them in football. I hit their QB harder than I ever hit anyone and blew his knee out. He was carrierd off the field on a strecher. Everyone on my team was patting me on the back. It was a clean hit but I felt really bad. I knew right there I never really had a football players mentality.
    2008-02-27 01:20:00
    41.   Xeifrank
    39. No, I haven't been following the scandal. I had to look it up on Wikipedia to see who the heck he was. I probably won't be following it too closely in the future either. Why, have you been following it? vr, Xei
    2008-02-27 01:20:17
    42.   LAT
    BH, I just saw 1 from the last thread. I would love to go back to Blair Field for the UCLA game, sounds like fun but I will be out of town then. Spring break. I am going to miss a lot of baseball that week. Opening Day, Coliseum and a chance to go to opening of Nat's stadium.
    2008-02-27 01:27:57
    43.   trainwreck
    I have been following it pretty closely, and my friends and I have been debating whether scandals like that will ever change the view of sex in China and surrounding areas. So I was just interested to hear others' opinion.
    2008-02-27 01:57:58
    44.   trainwreck
    Anyways, I cannot wait for McDonald and the Minotaur.
    2008-02-27 07:03:41
    45.   Sam DC
    42 If your Dad's pal needs extra company at the Nats Stadium Opener, I can be available. :)
    2008-02-27 07:38:01
    46.   Jon Weisman
    Cheating scandal at Harvard-Westlake, Sam. Check
    2008-02-27 07:50:35
    47.   MollyKnight
    Ooooooooh. HW!!!
    2008-02-27 07:56:26
    48.   Disabled List
    The tests were then shown to several other students before midterm exams last month, said Harvard-Westlake President Thomas Hudnut.

    I went to Notre Dame HS. I have two things to laugh about in this story.

    2008-02-27 08:28:44
    49.   JoeyP
    I was looking over BA's top 100 list.
    Two things jump out at me:

    #1. Luke Hochevar is all the way down at #63. Thats quite a fall for a #1 overall pick.

    #2. BA always seems to underrate the collegiate guys that put up great numbers citing tools, age vs competition, or something..Chase Headley is that guy this year, just like Ryan Braun was last year. I definitely dont think Headley will do as good as Braun, but just that he's similarly underrated.

    Would you take LaRoche or Headley?

    BA's got them at #32/#33.

    2008-02-27 08:50:24
    50.   Marty
    RIP William Buckley, Jr.
    Show/Hide Comments 51-100
    2008-02-27 08:53:15
    51.   Hythloday
    I would take Hedley Lamarr over LaRoche any day of the week. Though if pressed I might prefer Lili von Shtupp. Comedy classics always beat baseball.
    2008-02-27 09:05:18
    52.   Sam DC
    46 Yowza.

    I did stupid things in high school at times. I'm glad none of them really burned me.

    2008-02-27 09:17:34
    53.   Andrew Shimmin
    50- Died with his boots on:

    "[WFB] was found at his desk in the study of his home, his son said. 'He might have been working on a column,' Mr. [Christopher] Buckley said."

    2008-02-27 09:24:31
    54.   cargill06
    from espn's fantasy deparment on billingsley

    2008 Outlook: Billingsley could be the Dodgers' ace as soon as this season. He thrived in the bullpen the first half of 2007, then won 7 of 16 starts after the All-Star break with a 3.12 ERA. His control still remains sketchy at times, but in that ballpark, his upside is huge, and he's only 23.

    look at park factor

    2008-02-27 09:30:10
    55.   Terry A
    51 was authentic frontier gibberish.
    2008-02-27 09:32:06
    56.   LogikReader
    It has occurred to me that D4P has been missing from this webspace. Anybody know where he's been lately?
    2008-02-27 09:37:52
    57.   underdog
    56 {D4P, in defensive voice:} "I was nowhere near William F Buckley, I swear!"


    Yay, first exhibition game is tomorrow.

    2008-02-27 09:39:15
    58.   Jon Weisman
    New post up top.

    Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.