In last night’s win against the Dodgers, Ryan Vogelsong, feel good baseball story of the century, continued to excel for the San Francisco Giants in a way that is truly perplexing to me. I know the facts by heart: he’s throwing a little slower this season, but the results are nearly identical. In 2011, by PitchF/X, Vogelsong threw 979 pitches that were classified as a four-seam fastball. The average velocity on those four-seam fastballs was 92.26 miles per hour. In 2012, Vogelsong’s four-seam velocity has dipped to 90.76 mph. I think there’s an argument to be made against reading too much into mid-season pitch data, but even by the crude measurement of “my eye,” Vogelsong appears to be operating a few ticks under 2011.
And here’s the thing: it hasn’t really mattered.
Here’s a graph, via Brooks Baseball, that depicts Vogelsong’s pitch-type and velocity.
You can see he’s lost a little off the high-end on the fastball, but everything else looks pretty close to what we saw last year. And, if one takes a quick look at some of the core pitching statistics – walks, strikeouts, homerun rate, contact, and FIP — between years, one would see that not a whole lot has changed.
The strikeouts are down very, very slightly; and, he’s allowing fewer home runs. Batters are making contact at the same rate. His FIP is nearly identical. He’s essentially been the same guy.
Something else that’s been impressive about Vogelsong is that he’s been pitching deep into just about every game he’s started this year. Here’s a data table of the number of times a starter has thrown seven innings or more in 2012.
|1||Ryan Vogelsong||2012||11||Ind. Games|
|2||CC Sabathia||2012||11||Ind. Games|
|3||Clayton Kershaw||2012||11||Ind. Games|
|4||Johnny Cueto||2012||11||Ind. Games|
|5||Justin Verlander||2012||10||Ind. Games|
Vogelsong has been one of the most durable and consistent innings-eaters this season. You’re doing something right any time you can surround yourself with names like Sabathia, Kershaw, Cueto, and Verlander. And for a team like the Giants, a team with a dinged up bullpen, having a starter that can pitch deep into games is a huge bonus.
Vogelsong’s story is still ridiculous, crazy, made-for-TV type stuff. What he’s been able to do over the past 1.5 seasons is incredible. And, how he continues to do it doesn’t matter all that much to me anymore. (Well, it kind of does, but I can survive without knowing Vogelsong’s “black box” secret.) The important part is that he’s been nails; he’s been very good; and he’s been doing it for the Giants.
I’m not sure what more you can say about Vogelsong that hasn’t already been said. Dude took himself from the ashes of AAA and Japanball to form himself into an All-Star and a danged good pitcher in the process. And really, when you think about it like that, what more can you say? He’s been great.
Even Kruk and Kuip agree: