Early Season Trends To Monitor

One game in, there's not very much data. And yet it seems far too backward to study last year's numbers at a time like this. Rather than an in depth analysis, then, I'm instead starting off my regular slot with a list of things I think are worth keeping an eye on early in the season.

  • Batter platoon splits. I don't think we as a baseball watching community understand them very well. Yesterday, Joe Girardi made a move that showed that he puts more stock in Pena's recent struggles against lefties than in his more moderate career split. I know of no one (other than Carlos Pena, who was pretty emphatic) that can give a definite answer on whether Girardi was right or not. My attempts to study splits have been pretty fruitless (although I did derive the constants in wOBA in a very roundabout, accidental way, once). So. Everybody, please theorize like mad over what you see from Pena, Joyce, S-Rod, and Keppinger, about how they're different or the same than the less split-heavy players. All ideas are good.
  • J.P. Howell's fastball movement. Everyone knows that Howell's problems last year were mostly to do with command. But there was a difference in his movement also, as compared to 2008 and 2009. In the good years, he threw a noticeable percentage of his fastballs with more than 10 inches of rise. Last year, almost none. Yesterday, his three fastballs had between 4 and 6 inches of rise. It might not matter, but I was kind of hoping everything about his game would revert to the old-school version.
  • Wade Davis's velocity. Last year, when Davis moved to the pen, he amped up his stuff. Will he be able to do the same this season? Yesterday, the answer was no.

7441_p_fa_20120406_medium

via www.fangraphs.com

  • David Price's changeup. Price's repertoire has changed a lot. But towards the end of last year, he had a good thing going. His changeup became a legitimate plus pitch. I'll be anxiously watching it early in this season. If he struggles with it, I'll be sad. If he scraps it, I'll be devastated.
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