Saturday, May 3, 2008

Re-examining Wang, Part III

My newest favorite subject, Chien Ming Wang, ran his record to a league-best 6-0 last night. He gave us a bit of a scare when he had a cramp in his hand, but at the time, we weren't sure just how serious it was. Turns out it was just that, a simple cramp. Good news.

So how'd he do?

Pretty darn good, again. His line: 6 IP, 90 pitches, 3 hits, 1 ER, 5 K's, 2 BB.

Let's continue the examination:

Ground ball/Fly ball
Wang's GB:FB rate continues the slide from the 3's to now under 2.0 (1.92, per ESPN). The chart to the right captures the ratio with the blue line. What to make of this? Well, clearly Wang's evolution from primarily a sinkerballer is in full bloom. Again, if he was just losing his ability to control the sinker, leaving everything up, would be a concern. But that's not the case.

The proof is the fact that he's only surrendered one HR this year. He's notoriously stingy with giving up the long ball, giving up just 9 last year and 12 the year before. (Bronson Arroyo does that every few weeks.)

Note, using the orange bars, the spike in K-rates for Wang this year. He's now at 6.40 K/9 IP. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not insignificant. This is not an aberration. This is a pitcher who has won 19 games each of the last two years, his first FULL two years in the league, getting better. This is the evidence of a person who is driven to be better, every day. When I first started following Wang this way, he was at 5.06 K/9. Now, after his 9 K performance last week and last night, he's bumped to 6.40. Very impressive. [Caveat: yes, it's still a small sample size but we've got enough to chew on.]

Pitches per inning
Wang got thru the end of the first inning on just 9 pitches and needed 90 pitches to get thru six innings. That's 15 pitches/inning for those without a handy calculator, which is right in line with the 14.6 P/IP he's averaged all year. It's still a bit higher than in the past but that's going to happen with the higher K rates.

I mentioned in earlier postings that the reason for all this is his new additions to his repetoire. Seems that the MSM (that's blogger-speak for 'main stream media') is catching on, too:

In the past, Wang relied heavily on his sinker most nights. This year, he's shown a more varied repertoire.

"We don't even talk. That's probably the good thing about it. I don't know if he likes me, anywhere," joked [Jose] Molina, who sported a Wang T-shirt. "Now you have to look for the slider, maybe change, maybe split, and still have the sinker there."

Wang's a better pitcher this year. He won 19 games last year after winning 0 until May 5th last year. Think about that for a second. He missed the first few weeks due to injury and didn't win until the second month of the season, yet still won 19. He's got 6 wins on May 2nd this year. Where's he going to end up?

No matter what the number is, he's a better pitcher and still getting better. Scary thought. And the Yanks certainly need him to keep it going given the struggles of their young guns and all the injuries.

I'll be watching.

Related posts:
Re-examining Wang
Examining Wang


Anonymous said...

Wang is my favorite now but he's such a mystery to me. All I know is that he's dame good; he's persistent, reliable and stoic. The way he got over humiliation, denial and statistics to focus on the simple goal of becoming a better pitcher is very very inspiring. Thanks for sharing your observations. Great blog.

Jason said...

Anon: thanks for the thoughts. Next time, put your name so I can thank you personally!

Anonymous said...

Your analysis is spot on - the new confidence he has with his slider and splitter has nearly doubled his K/9 rate.

I forgot whether it was Molina or ARod who said this, but Wang can throw basically every pitch right across the plate, because every pitch has late movement. Between his 94mph+ sinker and his 84-86mph slider, he has two pitches with late movement and good speed separation.

He might become the pitcher that can do it all. He can use his full repertoire to strike-out batters in RISP situations and blow past power hitters. He can switch to sinkers to induce ground-outs and double plays to keep pitch count down. He could be a strike-out artist with the endurance of knuckleballer/sinkerballer.

High IP, low HR/9, low(er) ERA, Wpct 1.000. What more can you ask for?

-Jealous BoSox fan.

Joey said...

Jason, you do a great job examining the Wanger, who has impressed me since he was brought up. Thanks for all the charts and stat break downs, it allows me to be that much more impressed by him (and your work of course!)

Jason said...

Thanks Joey and Anon. I sincerely appreciate your comments and input. I'm still pretty new at this and always looking for interesting things to discuss. If there's something you see, please don't hesitate to email me.

Jason said...

And Anon (the jealous BoSox fan), no need to be jealous. We're the ones who are jealous of you guys. We're chasing you!

Just kill the pink hats. good grief. Affleck, too.