Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rays bullpen has the slowest arm

Nothing going on much in Rays Land, only the official signing of reliever Joe Nelson. Just looking around FanGraphs, and I found an interesting stat. The Rays bullpen was the best in the Majors in opponents batting average and BABIP, but had the second slowest average fastball velocity in the Majors last year, at 90.1 mph (San Diego Padres had the lowest 89.9 mph and the White Sox had the highest at 92.5 mph). It took me a second, but half of our bullpen had guys who could barely touch 90 mph. Here is a chart of the Rays pitchers that pitched at least 19 innings last year and their average fastball velocity.

Pitcher Average Velocity
Grant Balfour 94.6
Gary Glover 92.4
Jason Hammel 92.4
Troy Percival 91.4
Dan Wheeler 88.9
Al Reyes 86.9
J.P. Howell 86.4
Trevor Miller 86.3
Chad Bradford 79.1

Wheeler, Howell, Miller, and Bradford all have a unique delivery that makes it more difficult because they also feature a good curve and a moving fastball. Having a bullpen with a mix of fast and slow pitchers benefits the entire bullpen because no two pitcher are the same, it doesn't allow the opposing team to get comfortable in the box.

The Rays starters are quite the opposite as they're second in the majors in highest average fastball velocity. Shields, Kazmir, Garza, and Jackson all threw in the nineties with the latter three pitching in the mid nineties.

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