Well-Publicized Drops in Velocity Presented with Limited Commentary

The following pitchers have a fair bit more in common than may be discernible at face value. Each was, at one time or another, lauded as a top prospect (albeit to varying degrees). All five experienced enough success at the Major League level to stoke the flames of their respective fanbase’s fiery prospect love. And finally, the lot of them were decried for a loss of velocity from one season to the next, as if such an occurrence was an affront to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

Without further ado:

Tim Lincecum
2008 – 94.67 MPH, 10.51 K/9, 3.33 BB/9, 2.62 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 3.13 xFIP
2009 – 93.22 MPH, 10.42 K/9, 2.72 BB/9, 2.48 ERA, 2.34 FIP, 2.83 xFIP

Clayton Kershaw
2009 – 94.81 MPH, 9.74 K/9, 4.79 BB/9, 2.79 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 3.85 xFIP
2010 – 93.18 MPH, 9.34 K/9, 3.57 BB/9, 2.91 ERA, 3.12 FIP, 3.64 xFIP

Phil Hughes
2010 – 93.26 MPH, 7.45 K/9, 2.96 BB/9, 4.19 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 4.13 xFIP
2011 – 92.10 MPH, 5.67 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 5.79 ERA, 4.58 FIP, 4.90 xFIP

Brian Matusz
2010 – 90.58 MPH, 7.33 K/9, 3.23 BB/9, 4.30 ERA, 4.05 FIP, 4.31 xFIP
2011 – 88.63 MPH, 6.89 K/9, 4.35 BB/9, 10.69 ERA, 7.66 FIP, 5.22 xFIP

Jair Jurrjens
2010 – 92.05 MPH, 6.65 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 4.64 ERA, 4.19 FIP, 4.29 xFIP
2011 – 89.81 MPH, 5.33 K/9, 2.61 BB/9, 2.96 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 4.23 xFIP

What can one take away from this? Well, Lincecum improved quite a bit, and an argument can be made that Kershaw did so as well. Nary a Yankees fan can forget the plight of Hughes last season, regardless of how much we would like to do so, while Matusz’s awe inspiring awfulness serves as a sobering reminder that it could always be worse. And Jurrjens … stayed the course.

So, in short, not much. And as I ricochet back and forth over the line of “limited commentary” and “full-blown rant,” I will wrap things up thusly – a loss of velocity portends a heaping pile of nothingness.

About Domenic Lanza

Domenic is a staff writer for It's About the Money, and the host of the It's About the Money Stupid podcast. By day, he is a mild-mannered real estate attorney on Long Island, and an aspiring intellectual degenerate.

4 thoughts on “Well-Publicized Drops in Velocity Presented with Limited Commentary

  1. Brooks Baseball’s player cards – sorry, I should’ve clarified that in the post itself.

  2. For Lincecum it gets even worse as far velocity dropped as he was down to 91.2 MPH in 2010 and up only to 92.2 MPH last season. Which is still decent but a far cry from the 95 MPH heaters he was throwing when he won Cy Youngs.

    By the way where are you getting your MPH numbers? Not fangraphs I know. I highly doubt Hughes averaged 92.1 last season. Fangraphs has him at 93.7 in 2009 when he spent most of the year in the pen, 92.5 in 2010 in his full starting season and 91.3 last year. These numbers seem much closer to accurate than yours.

  3. The Pineda v-lo saga is analogous to being given a shiny new remote controlled toy-car (Jesus) for Christmas, for your already vast toy-car collection, but being told by your mom that it’ll be several years before you can play with it.

    As the years pass by, you watch advertisements of this toy-car on TV, seeing all of the awesome things it can do. Despite having a large toy-car collection already, this new toy-car is better and unique. The sheer weight of anticipation becomes unbearable.

    Then just before you’re finally allowed to play with it, your mom takes the toy-car and exchanges it for a remote controlled toy-plane. Naturally you’re very disappointed, you are told that the toy-plane will have amazing features, and the apprehension partially subsides.

    Problem is, when you open the packaging, you discover the toy-plane does not fly as fast as the packaging claims, however the plane also shows features that you didn’t anticipate, like a longer lasting battery and better control and maneuverability. Potentially the toy-plane is even better than anticipated…just not what was initially expected.

  4. Based on these stats, velocity drop means drop i K/9, but for those who have kept their sense and secondary pitches, also drop in BB/9. I’d say Pineda has better secondary pitches than Hughes or Matusz, so he shouldn’t lose effectiveness. Jurrjens is great surprise (not ERA, but FIP and xFIP). He seems to really know how to pitch.