As another baseball season winds down, we have a chance to reflect on our own journey in this wonderful game. Perhaps you, the reader, ponder of such things like — What did I do wrong? What did I do right? Why did I listen to Jaywrong? Or, better yet, why didn’t I listen to Jaywrong? Right? RIGHT! Regardless, we’re here to look back on the first year of the Bear or Bull series, and walk that same line of reflection and get an idea of how everything looks as the 2013 pieces fall into place. How did the process work, and did it do a good job? Are there ways to make the analysis better? Was I Jayright? Was I Jaywrong? More importantly, was I Jaysexy? Trick question, I’m always Jaysexy. Maybe we’ll learn something on the way. Or maybe we’ll just go over to the Football side of Razzball. My question is, why not both?
R.A. Dickey — I saw one hard bull Dickey. (Post can be found here.) Also called ‘An Ode to Dickey’ in some circles, I think it was obvious that I was crushing on this guy. As the year wore on and nothing I said came true, we can at least come away with the solid conclusion that none of this is my fault. Or maybe I’m just saying that. Look, I can’t foresee injuries, and that is an absolute factor in why Dickey has gone from a legitimate ace to hide all the breakable items in the house when he starts because I’m going to drop kick everything every time he gives up a home run. If we’re keeping count, that’s 31 things I drop kicked this season… so far. Look, I know I can be stubborn, but he is slowly returning to form. The velocity has been creeping back up in the last month, and we shouldn’t completely disregard Dickey in terms of next season. As for me, I’m sticking with him, since, in just a couple of months, he’ll be considered an under-the-radar pitcher for 2014 and I can find my redemption then.
Matt Harvey — Was a bull. After injury, now bull shiitake mushrooms. (Post can be found here.) Everything was going great until elbowcalypse happened. I’m not sure what else to say here. I’m pretty sure he’ll be okay, but we’re looking at around two years until we can revisit any analysis. So let’s just agree that this was a good call.
CC Sabathia — I chose bear, but one who could still do things. Like eating. Always was good at that. (Post can be found here.) I want to call Charleston Chew, but I don’t know, that’s just me. Carsten Charles just seems so… frat boyish. Anyhow, here’s what I said about him at the time:
“Personally, I’m more tempted just keeping him this year and riding out the bumps. Afterall, he was drafted at a tier where it will be almost impossible to get that value back, and while he won’t be the same CC Sabathia, there’s no reason why he still can’t be some measure of something quality like in shape and form. The rest of season numbers are still good enough for a number 2 guy on your staff.”
Now, the actual numbers actually don’t really mesh with this analysis. I, of course, didn’t project him to continue being an ace, but there’s nothing wrong with a guy who can still show flashes of one. Well, the peripherals are close to supporting that, with a FIP nearly a run lower than his ERA. And while the uptick in walks is disturbing, the strikeouts are still there. Sabathia won’t be as good as he once was, but this year seems like regression waiting to happen. He’ll make an intriguing buy-low next year.
Clay Buchholz — I proclaimed ‘nervous’ bull here, but then injury happened. So I guess he’s an injured bull. (Post can be found here.) Like Harvey, and to a lesser extent with Dickey, Buchholz’s analysis was speed bumped by injury. Before his arm troubles, there were encouraging changes to support his elite production.
“His fastball has certainly leveled up, which is sending a positive ripple-effect on the rest of his repertoire. Based on what we’ve discovered, these changes come from improved command and perhaps even better sequencing. But are these improved skills here to stay? Well, that’s the rub.”
With only two starts since coming off the DL, we’ll have to stay in a holding pattern for a bit longer to see if the changes Buchholz was showing earlier in the year are legitimate.
Derek Holland — A complete, affirmative bull. (Post can be found here.) Finally looking like he’s put everything together, there is certainly plenty of good evidence to believe this new level is real.
“When throwing his slider, Holland gets a 25.3 whiff rate, a large improvement from last season’s 19.3% and career rate of 21.3%. Obviously, he knows what the most effective pitch in his arsenal is this year, and he’s throwing it at the right time.”
However, his second-half numbers have clearly shown that regression was due. Less strikeouts, more walks, and an uptick in home runs allowed is concerning. There is still a chance this is a bad stretch for him, but as of now, my left eye-brow is in Spock stance. The data still supports what he did in the beginning of the year, so as of now, I’m in a holding pattern.
Jhoulys Chacin — For what and who he is, bull happened. (Post can be found here.) This one is simple. Chacin has basically figured out which pitch works in the least friendly pitching environment in the Major Leagues.
“Based on his usage and sequencing, the curveball has fallen by the wayside in his repertoire. Why is that? Simply put, the curveball is the one pitch that is most negatively affected at a mile above sea-level. And what has taken its place? The slider has now become the primary out-pitch, or ‘go-to’ pitch, and, of course, it is the one non-fastball pitch that is least negatively affected in Coors Field.”
I think this puts him into the class of a mid-rotation guy in fantasy. That could be a Jordan Zimmermann type, but at a discount.
A.J. Burnett Yet another bull. (Post can be found here.) And Francisco Liriano. So now I’m realizing all my pitchers but one was a bull. Interesting. (Post can be found here.) They’re lumped together for a couple of reasons. First, they are Pirates and love that booty. Which I guess makes me a Pirate too. Which I guess makes everyone butt Pirates. Which actually seems like a path that will get us all in trouble. But as they say, sometimes it’s about the journey, not the destination. Also, they are lumped together because of how both these pitchers share a similar story in terms of their drastic improvement. And that is not throwing their four-seam fastballs anymore.
“Is is really that simple? Tell a player, “Hey, this pitch isn’t really working out… so maybe throw your other ones more and this one less.” Well, I guess it is, because that’s what’s happened here.”
Yup, I guess it is that simple. I’m going to continue to believe here.
Jaywrong is a 30-year old Korish writer who finds solace using Makers Mark as a vehicle to impress women, and also has an affinity for making Jennifer Lawrence GIFs. You can follow him @jaywrong, read his blog Desultory Thoughts of a Longfellow, or, you can find his GIFs at his tumblr, named Siuijeonseo.