Sorry, I Couldn't Resist...

By Blaidd Drwg

I would be remiss in my duties if I did not make a comment on another nostolgic Griffey piece of peplum from last week, this time from Steve Kelley of the Times. Some of the comments from both Griffey and Wak make me think that they are sharing the same delusion about the rapidly declining skills that Griffey has. Note to Griffey, Wak, Z and all the Griffey defenders – this is not 1999 anymore. Griffey is a shadow of his former self and needs to put his ego aside, announce he is retiring at the end of the season and take the role as bench player/cheerleader that he seems most suited for at this point in his career.

Some wonderful gems from the piece:

“So Griffey takes pitches. Lots of pitches. He works the count the way manager Don Wakamatsu preaches to all of his players. He waits for that one pitch in his at-bat that he can work with. The Mariners’ offensive strategy is simple. Make the starting pitcher throw dozens of pitches in the early innings. Wear him down. Get “the horse” out of the game early. Get into the bullpen fast.

Griffey fits that philosophy and that plate patience is one of the reasons the Mariners re-signed him for his 22nd big-league season.”

I am not sure where this notion comes from – Griffey sees 3.88 pitcher per plate appearance, which is almost exactly league average and slightly below the team average of 3.92. He is also not particularly patient – he swings at 44% of the pitches he faces, which is league average and it is also one of the highest percentages in the Mariners lineup (and highest % for him since 2006) – even higher than Ichiro and only outdone by Milton Bradley (which is surprising considering he is a patient hitter) and our favorite hackers Jose Lopez and Jack Wilson. Griffey also swings at 30% of the first pitches he gets, with only Bradley swinging at more. Sorry Mr. Kelly – the numbers don’t show what you are saying.

The Mariners offensive strategy may be to get pitchers out of the game early, but they aren’t really doing it. They are just about league average in their opponents starters appearance lengths – just over 6 innings and 99 pitches per start, about what you would expect from a starting pitcher in April. There have only been 5 of 19 games in which the opponents’ starter failed to last 6 innings this season and there have been 8 times where the opponents starter has pitched at least 7 full innings in a game against the M’s. Need to work on that Wak.

My favorite quote from Griffey:

“I’m not going to get the 2-0 fastball. I understand that,” he said, walking toward the field to take batting practice. “I have to be selective, wait for a pitch that’s over the plate that I can hit, whether it’s a changeup, or curveball.”

Here is what Griffey has faced this season:

Pitch Type % of Pitches (2010) % of Pitches (2009)
Fastball 63.8% 64.2%
Cutter/Splitter 9.0% 8.0%
Slider 6.4% 7.7%
Curve 10.6% 9.2%
Change 10.1% 9.9%

The percentages of what he is seeing really haven’t changed – he sees roughly 72% fastballs, and 17% breaking stuff.

Teams aren’t afraid of him anymore – he is swinging at 22.3% of his pitches outside the zone (as opposed 20.6% over the last 8 seasons), making less contact with pitches in the zone at 82% this year (87.8% over the last 8 seasons) and missing a lot more – 10.3% of his swings. Even if you don’t believe the numbers – if you watched the end of the M’s game yesterday, you could see if for your self. Bobby Jenks threw Griffey 3 pitches – a 94 MPH Fastball that Griffey took, a 95 MPH fastball that Griffey was way behind on and fouled off and a 96 MPH fastball down the heart of the plate that Griffey came no where close to hitting. There were your fastballs, Junior, why didn’t you hit them?

3 comments to Sorry, I Couldn’t Resist…

  • Coltrane

    Griffey is only seeing bendy stuff. I read a scout’s quote on ESPN today (I believe through Buster Olney)– basically everyone is busting him fastballs inside. At this point he has to look for that pitch, and start his bat early. That leaves him helpless against the bendy stuff.

    IIRC he’s also seeing an incredibly low percentage of first pitch fastballs, and first pitch strikes.

  • Junior Joey Jo-Jo Shabadu

    The low %age of first pitch strikes should work in his favor as generally hitters gain the advantage when they are ahead in the count. He isn’t seeing any more bendy stuff than last year. He can make all the excuses he wants – he just can’t hit anything anymore, even when he is cheating on the fastball.

  • Coltrane

    You’re right, what he’s seeing has pretty much normalized. I think I looked at Fangraphs early in the year and his FB% was at about 33%. Now it’s back to normal.

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