Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I want to talk about Strasburg.

You already know his stat line from last night, I'm not going to dig into it.  However, I did watch the entire game, and I want to communicate some things you might not already know.

1)  His official average fastball speed is 97.5, but really he was playing at 99 all night, occasionally touching triple digits.  He maintained this speed through all seven innings.  He is officially the hardest throwing starting pitcher in baseball, and only Daniel Bard and Joel Zumaya have a higher average amongst relievers.  He's tied for eighth in curveball velocity (82.2) and his changeup (90.2) is only 0.8 behind Daniel Bard.  His velocity is unlike anything I've ever actually had the pleasure of watching live.

2)  Everything he throws has crazy movement.  PitchFx data says his horizontal movement ratings are -7.2, 7.4, -8.3 for his three pitches.  He doesn't even throw a two-seamer.  Needless to say, he makes Ubaldo Jimenez look like Kyle Farnsworth.  This is approaching Randy Johnson levels of movement, except Randy threw sidearm and so naturally everything broke to the right.  Strasburg comes pretty much over the top, and can cover both sides of the plate.  His curveball is at least in the neighborhood of Barry Zito's in terms of vertical movement (-8.1 vs -10.1) but Barry's is 10mph slower.  How are you supposed to swing at a curveball that bends both space and time, but also has the velocity of Jaime Moyer's fastball?

3)  I mentioned this in the Yahoo Fantasy liveblog, so if you see Pianowski eventually writing it in a column I'm going to take full credit, but he works very quickly.  He's only 10 seconds between pitches, as long as the batter stays in the same zip code as the box.  It's kind of surreal to watch a guy mow down batters, with that velocity, that quickly.  You can get up for a drink and the inning will be over by the time you sit down.

4)  He's the only player in baseball with a negative xFIP.

5)  He seems to stay on the upper half of the strikezone.  I don't remember very many low pitches.  The curveball, which most guys throw low into the dirt to induce swings and misses, he throws high so that it looks like it's going to sail over the catcher's head, but then drops down for a called strike.  His punch-out pitch is the high fastball.  The changeup is the only thing that seemed to drop down to batters' knees.

6)  The Yahoo liveblog was absurd amounts of fun to read and participate in (I got maybe 50% of my messages posted) and I highly recommend catching the next one, if they make it a regular feature.

7)  There's no possible way the Yankees don't throw $300 million at this guy in 2013, unless he pulls a Rick Ankiel on his career.  I can't see him staying in Washington for the pricetag he's going to command, and I can't see the Yankees not breaking the bank for a 24 year old RJ-in-his-prime kind of pitcher.

8)  Not to jump on the hype bandwagon, but if you're a baseball fan, he's really breathtaking to watch.  Maybe the aura will change when he faces better lineups and he has a couple of 5-run games.  But until then, he's like nothing else in the league.  Not Jimenez, not Josh Johnson, not even Halladay.

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