We love the game face. We love the bull-dog determination. We love the playoff performances last year that helped them win it all.
But everything has gone south for Ryan Vogelsong so far this year. The question is, why?
I’m not going to pretend that I know, and I’m going to guess he would just called it an unlucky slump, and there is certainly some truth to that. I’m not trying to single Vogey out in this article, as Cain is worth of one as well (so that may be coming soon). However, Vogelsong is that guy we all pull for, the underdog, and I want to at least consider why this may be happening.
In a stunning turn of events for the first 25 games of the season, the Giants are second to LAST in starting staff ERA at 4.27 and only ahead of the team that just swept them (SD at 5.33). This is abhorrent, Twilight zonish, perplexing. This staff is supposed to be part of the NL-elite, not within the neighborhood of the Padres or Rockies. Of course Cain and Vogey are the two main culprits, with ERAs of 6.59 and 6.23, respectively. Only Bumgarner is keeping the Giants from the cellar of this statistic, with a sparkling 1.87 ERA.
Back to Mr. Game Face’s statistical breakdown:
Vogelsong has a .303 batting average against and has allowed 10 BB and 7 HR in 30.1 IP, while his WHIP is almost as high as my cholesterol at 1.55. He gave up 17 HR ALL SEASON last year in 189.2 IP and only 8 HR by the all star break when he had 110.2 IP.
Why so many big flys?
Clearly when batters start hitting the ball out of the park with more frequency than a Kardashian getting fat, they are not being fooled. Hitters are making contact more often with pitches in the strike zone, and more alarming, is the BABIP has skyrocketed into 2012 Timmy territory from .284 to .330. Homeruns per nine IP is a video-game like 2.08, almost triple what he allowed last year, and approximately 1 out of 5 fly balls have traveled over the fence, just a bewildering statistic. Most of the other metrics (K%, BB% and pitch selection) have not changed dramatically, and the problem seems to be isolated in not being able to fool opposing hitters as often with balls in the strike zone. This may be correlated with a drop in the timing differential between his fastball and changeup, two pitches that make up 60% of his pitches delivered. His fastball is 1.4 MPH slower this year (89.4 vs 90.8), and the change up, ironically, is slightly faster by 0.4 MPH, which makes the timing differential an average 1.8 MPH smaller, which is a sizeable 23% difference. The lowered chance of throwing opposing hitters’ timing off will only serve to hurt Vogelsong in the long run.
I’m not hitting the panic button yet, and neither should Giants fans; it’s only 5 starts, for crying out loud. He did tail off for the last 2 months of the regular season last year, but we can’t say it’s the start of his decline connected to this year, as he had a stellar playoff run. If tossing bowls of cereal across his kitchen gets him motivated, then lets all hope he has stock in Crate and Barrel and a good maid service.
Stats that will alleviate your panic:
- Giants are only 2 games back of AZ/COL
- After 25 games last year, the Giants were 2 games worse at 12-13 and 5 GB of LAD.
- The Giants have lost all 5 of Cain’s starts; surely that will turnaround (right?)
- Giants are second in batting average in the NL at .267
- Giants are second in batting average in the NL with runners in scoring position
- Torres won’t EVER do that again
- Scutaro won’t EVER do that again
- Ok, those last 2 aren’t stats