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Feliz to Start

The Rangers are apparently going to give Neftali Feliz a chance to start in Spring Training.  As dominant as he's been in the  closer role, his success as a starter will largely be determined by the effectiveness of his secondary pitches.  Last year, Feliz relied on his fastball 83% of the time.  Obviously, he will have to adjust his approach as you can't get by throwing that many fastballs in a starting role.

Feliz throws a curveball (often mistaken for a slider) and a changeup.  His K-Rate on his secondary pitches was around 40.4% last year, which put him into the 92nd percentile for all soft pitches thrown in the majors in 2010.  And his contact rate of 61.7% put him in the top 87th percentile.

Of course, he only threw his secondary pitches 17% of the time last year, making it more difficult for batters to identify and adjust to them in brief stints.  It will be interesting to see how Feliz changes his approach as a starter, and how effective those secondary pitches can be when utilized more often.


Top Changeups

A while back I posted the top 15 NL changeup pitchers from 2010 by wOBA.  Here's a look at the top 20 in all of MLB.

2010 Top 20 MLB Changeups (min. 100 PA)I was curious how many pitchers from the above list ranked in the top 20 in changeup movement.

2010 Top 20 MLB Changeups by PVZ (min. 100 PA)PVZ is the difference in feet per second of vertical movement on a pitch compared to league average (13 ft/s).  Since we're dealing with changeups, each PVZ value above indicates how many additional ft/s over league average the pitch dropped.

Interestingly enough, only seven pitchers that made the top 20 in changeup vertical movement ended up placing in the top 20 in wOBA.  This is likely an indication that while movement certainly contributes to the success of the pitch, it can't make up for a pitcher's inability to locate.  How well a pitcher disguises his change and the deviation in velocity from his fastball are also big factors.


Cain's Home/Road FB Splits

Dave Cameron posted a discussion he had with Rory Paap over at FanGraphs regarding Matt Cain's HR/FB rate. Park factor came up in their discussion and I was curious to see if there was any major difference in fly ball distance in his home/road splits.

In the last 3 seasons, fly balls hit off Cain's fastball averaged 320 feet of distance at AT&T park, compared to 313 feet on the road. Not a tremendous difference. Although it was interesting that fly ball HRs off of Cain fastballs traveled an average of 410 feet at home, while traveling 424 feet in away parks.

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