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Thread: Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

      
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    Default Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

    From WHYGAVS :

    http://www.whygavs.com/20100222879/p...evin-hart.html
    Joe Kerrigan's next project: Kevin Hart
    Written by Pat Lackey

    Monday, 22 February 2010 09:45

    We spent a lot of time last season trying to determine what sort of effect Joe Kerrigan had on the Pirates' pitching staff in his first season on the job. A lot of that focused on Ross Ohlendorf, who Kerrigan worked with a lot in spring training, and how the velocity on his fastball changed during the season.

    This year his big project is likely going to be Kevin Hart, who's already been tabbed by the coaching staff as a early favorite for the fifth starter role, despite his rough finish with the Pirates in 2009. One reason for that is that Kerrigan's already been working with Hart extensively; he told a Bradenton paper today that Hart's mechanics were a mess when he came to the Pirates from the Cubs. According to Kerrigan his release point was all over the place, varying between the stretch and the windup, and while they worked to fix his mechanics his performance suffered.

    You have probably guessed by now that my initial reaction to reading this story was to try and load up Excel with Kevin Hart PitchFX data to determine if we could really detect a difference in his release point. This wouldn't be easy (we'd have to use all data from one park, say Wrigley Field since Kerrigan supposedly worked on fixing this problem, and then try and decide exactly what "different" means in this situation), but apparently MLBAM, in all of their infinite wisdom, changed something about the way that PitchFX data is served to the public and it screwed with Brooks Baseball, my go-to PitchFX site. It looks like Dan's working on sorting through the problem, but the expanded tables that I use to make my own charts are unavailable for now and since that's what I need to really be able to tackle this (there are other PitchFX sites, but none that make all of the data accessible in a form I can use and none that let me do the sort of sorting I'd want to do to approach this question) we'll just have to look at something else.

    The next best way to look at this, as far as I can tell, is just to look at Hart's splits. With runners on base in 2009, Hart held hitters to a .238/.332/.375 line. That's not spectacular, but it's certainly effective. It's a little harder to parse strikeouts and walks (BREF only gives me plate appearances instead of innings, making it harder to figure the rates out) and his 27 strikeouts and 21 walks with runners on base (some back of the envelope math says Hart threw the equivalent of around 40-45 innings with runners on base) clearly aren't great, but that pitcher is certainly better than the one we saw in Pittsburgh down the stretch.

    What's alarming is his line with the bases empty in 2009. Hitters hit .373/.453/.595 while Hart was throwing from the windup. His strikeouts and walks aren't very different (25 and 23 in 180 plate appearances, vs. 27/21 in 193 from the stretch), but hitters just teed off on him when no one was on base. In the story, Hart says that it's the windup that he was struggling with and in this case, the numbers certainly bear that out. He attributes it to switching between starting and pitching out of the bullpen, which kind of makes sense. Entering games in the middle of innings with guys on base means more pitching out of the stretch. More pitching out of the stretch could throw his windup mechanics all out of whack and lead to the disaster that we saw down the stretch.

    This is just my own speculation, but I wonder if Hart was tipping his pitches from the windup. Less than 200 plate appearances in either direction from one season doesn't provide us with a huge sample size, but the biggest difference between his lines with runners on and without runners on isn't walk rate, it's that hitters pounded the crap out of him when the bases were empty. That, to me, makes it seem more like hitters just weren't fooled by what he was throwing. Whatever the case, there's certainly something for Kerrigan to work with here and it's something worth watching throughout camp.

    Bradenton Herald link via BBTF

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    Default Re: Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

    I looked at a bunch of Hart's stats and he really wasn't very good at much last year. He had a poor BAA, his FIP and BABIP numbers didn't indicate he was unlucky and really the 2 biggest issues I saw with Hart was his ridiculously HIGH BB/9 which was over 4 and his ridiculously low K/9 which was in the 5's.

    I said it when I was talking about how I liked McCutchen better as a start than hart and that was the big reason, Hart's control sucks. His control has been terrible in all of his MLB time but his K/9 really fell last year.

    I'll be interested to see if Kerrigan can turn Hart around. sometimes a delivery point makes a difference. Consistency with a release has pitches fall into place better. If hart was really "messed up" with his mechanics Kerrigan can help but with Hart's BB/9 numbers and how ridiculously high they are, just cutting that in half, you're still talking about high end BB/9.

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    Default Re: Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

    The cubs have a reputation of turning good pitchers into pitchers with serious injury/contro problems (wood, prior, Marmol, Farnsworth), hell, they even managed to turn Zambrano into an even worse headcase than he initially was. Rothchild is the big reason for this.
    Kerrigan has the ability to turn Hart into what cub fans out here know what he could be. I think Hart is gonna be more than the typical 5th starter with JK's tutilage. To look at his tools, he has great potential to win around 12 games this year. Good luck Joe.
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    Default Re: Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

    Quote Originally Posted by Steelreign View Post
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    The cubs have a reputation of turning good pitchers into pitchers with serious injury/contro problems (wood, prior, Marmol, Farnsworth), hell, they even managed to turn Zambrano into an even worse headcase than he initially was. Rothchild is the big reason for this.
    Maybe Ascanio belongs in that list as well. The injury actually occurred with the Pirates but you'd have to think that the strain on his arm (for whatever reason) before joining the Bucs helped make the injury possible.

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    Default Re: Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

    I always thought that a lot of those arm problems with the cubs were related to Dusty Baker's stay there? Wood and Prior he badly overpitched to injuries they've never really overcome. Zambrano went up and down, which doesn't happen often under Baker (the up part) but it's been rumored that the toll on Zambrano's arm from Baker overpitching him has caused his later/latest downturn.

    Hell Baker already pitched Vasquez into TJ surgery after 1 season in Cincy and some say that Baker is already leading Cueto down the Kirk Reuters path.. Reds fans better hope Baker is gone before he can ruin their $30 million man

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    Default Re: Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    I always thought that a lot of those arm problems with the cubs were related to Dusty Baker's stay there? Wood and Prior he badly overpitched to injuries they've never really overcome. Zambrano went up and down, which doesn't happen often under Baker (the up part) but it's been rumored that the toll on Zambrano's arm from Baker overpitching him has caused his later/latest downturn.

    Hell Baker already pitched Vasquez into TJ surgery after 1 season in Cincy and some say that Baker is already leading Cueto down the Kirk Reuters path.. Reds fans better hope Baker is gone before he can ruin their $30 million man
    To be fair,Kerry Woods problems started long before he got to the Cubs.I read an article about how he was used in high school and also about his delivery
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    Default Re: Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    I looked at a bunch of Hart's stats and he really wasn't very good at much last year. He had a poor BAA, his FIP and BABIP numbers didn't indicate he was unlucky and really the 2 biggest issues I saw with Hart was his ridiculously HIGH BB/9 which was over 4 and his ridiculously low K/9 which was in the 5's.

    I said it when I was talking about how I liked McCutchen better as a start than hart and that was the big reason, Hart's control sucks. His control has been terrible in all of his MLB time but his K/9 really fell last year.

    I'll be interested to see if Kerrigan can turn Hart around. sometimes a delivery point makes a difference. Consistency with a release has pitches fall into place better. If hart was really "messed up" with his mechanics Kerrigan can help but with Hart's BB/9 numbers and how ridiculously high they are, just cutting that in half, you're still talking about high end BB/9.

    The low k/9 could be due to him taking something off of his pitches, trying to find the plate. His highe BB/9 would definately be a symptom of an inconsistant release point and arm slot.

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    Default Re: Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Pittsburgh View Post
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    The low k/9 could be due to him taking something off of his pitches, trying to find the plate. His highe BB/9 would definately be a symptom of an inconsistant release point and arm slot.
    He's a fastball pitcher. Looking at his pitch splits from last year it was very strange...

    Hart threw his FB near 60% of the time. He loses velocity going from reliever to starter due to pitching more innings and having to preserve his arm. That's natural. 60% though is ridiculously high. When your FB becomes "average" and you throw it that much you're asking for trouble.

    What's strange is that he stopped throwing his Slider all together last year and in his previous 2 seasons threw it 37%. He threw his cutter and curve a ton more. I almost wonder if the increased amount of those pitches, especially throwing his curve and cutter a good 10% more than in his previous season contributed to his poor control numbers. If he's not having good command of breaking pitches, he's not getting strikes and then if he's relying on his FB as an out pitch, he's probably getting smacked

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    Default Re: Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

    Quote Originally Posted by buccoray61 View Post
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    To be fair,Kerry Woods problems started long before he got to the Cubs.I read an article about how he was used in high school and also about his delivery
    I dunno Ray. I'm not saying that I don't believe what you read but Wood pitched in the majors on top of college for 5 seasons, 4 seasons before Dusty killed his arm. If he had arm injuries they'd have shown up earlier. That his injuries didn't occur until after he pitched 211 and 213 innings just points to Dusty

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    Default Re: Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    I dunno Ray. I'm not saying that I don't believe what you read but Wood pitched in the majors on top of college for 5 seasons, 4 seasons before Dusty killed his arm. If he had arm injuries they'd have shown up earlier. That his injuries didn't occur until after he pitched 211 and 213 innings just points to Dusty
    Kerry Wood never played college ball. The Cubs drafted him out of high School in 1995. He had his first surgery in 1999. He spent 3 seasons in the minors.
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    Default Re: Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

    Quote Originally Posted by buccoray61 View Post
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    Kerry Wood never played college ball. The Cubs drafted him out of high School in 1995. He had his first surgery in 1999. He spent 3 seasons in the minors.
    Sorry, I meant minors

    surgery seemed to be fine based off his 2001 and 2002 seasons until his arm got abused by Baker. It was likely Baker's abuse that reactivated or whatever, the arm

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    Default Re: Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

    I get a little leary of tinkering with pitchers arm slot and stuff. I pitched in college. My whole life I threw with a 3/4 arm slot with kind of an awkward delivery. Threw this way my whole life and nobody ever changed it and never had a single shoulder issue at all.

    First practice in college the pitching coach starts telling me he wants me to throw straight over the top so my breaking ball drops off the table more and I threw a splitter that did well with this motion as well. I was fine that season but as the season wore on my arm had some twinges and tingling in my fingers and stuff. Didn't think much of it though. Thought it was just from a long college season compared to what I was used to.

    That summer I went home to play in my normal men's league and was playing RF. A ball was hit to the fence, I grabbed it, threw it into the cutoff and when I did I just heard/felt a pop in my shoulder and it went numb for a few seconds. I came out of that game and got it looked at. At the doctors I did all the range of motion tests and everythign and there was no pain or anything like that I needed surgery on. I was pretty much fine other than whatever popped. Doctor didn't know what to tell me...nothing showed up on the tests.

    From that day forward though when trying to pitch I was scatter armed with no control and my fastball went from high 80's/touching 90 if I really humped it up to throwing low 80's full effort. I was just never the same and did no more pitching in college as I sucked as a pitcher from then on. Had no confidence anymore.

    I swear it was from messing with the way I thew my whole life. I think your small muscles and tendons get used to the way you throw and if you tweak it the wrong way...you can jack yourself up.

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    Default Re: Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Pittsburgh View Post
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    I get a little leary of tinkering with pitchers arm slot and stuff. I pitched in college. My whole life I threw with a 3/4 arm slot with kind of an awkward delivery. Threw this way my whole life and nobody ever changed it and never had a single shoulder issue at all.

    First practice in college the pitching coach starts telling me he wants me to throw straight over the top so my breaking ball drops off the table more and I threw a splitter that did well with this motion as well. I was fine that season but as the season wore on my arm had some twinges and tingling in my fingers and stuff. Didn't think much of it though. Thought it was just from a long college season compared to what I was used to.

    That summer I went home to play in my normal men's league and was playing RF. A ball was hit to the fence, I grabbed it, threw it into the cutoff and when I did I just heard/felt a pop in my shoulder and it went numb for a few seconds. I came out of that game and got it looked at. At the doctors I did all the range of motion tests and everythign and there was no pain or anything like that I needed surgery on. I was pretty much fine other than whatever popped. Doctor didn't know what to tell me...nothing showed up on the tests.

    From that day forward though when trying to pitch I was scatter armed with no control and my fastball went from high 80's/touching 90 if I really humped it up to throwing low 80's full effort. I was just never the same and did no more pitching in college as I sucked as a pitcher from then on. Had no confidence anymore.

    I swear it was from messing with the way I thew my whole life. I think your small muscles and tendons get used to the way you throw and if you tweak it the wrong way...you can jack yourself up.
    That would certainly explain why it seems there are so many more injuries than there used to be. I don't think coaches used to tinker as much with mechanics and arm slots as they do nowadays. If you could pitch you could pitch, and if you had a weird looking delivery, so what as long as it was effective.

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    Default Re: Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

    Quote Originally Posted by irahuss View Post
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    That would certainly explain why it seems there are so many more injuries than there used to be. I don't think coaches used to tinker as much with mechanics and arm slots as they do nowadays. If you could pitch you could pitch, and if you had a weird looking delivery, so what as long as it was effective.
    I agree. Especially with the guys coming right out of HS. College guys should have been straightened out a little already but who knows. Guess it depends on the college/coach/and player. College coaches probably just wear their arms out too as their jobs depend on W's and they will pitch the hell out of a player if it gets them more W's for their resume.

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    Default Re: Kerrigan's Next Project : Kevin Hart

    Quote Originally Posted by irahuss View Post
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    That would certainly explain why it seems there are so many more injuries than there used to be. I don't think coaches used to tinker as much with mechanics and arm slots as they do nowadays. If you could pitch you could pitch, and if you had a weird looking delivery, so what as long as it was effective.
    I agree with this...people harped on Lincecum's mechanics and he's been fine...people said the same things about Randy Johnson when he came out...and he's one of the best pitchers of all time.

    I also agree with Kipper that DB can and has ruined pitchers before...that is also why I do not think it is fair to label some pitchers as "busts" when they were ruined. Mark Prior was an elite talent...but in only his SECOND year (without very much--50 innings) minor league seasoning...Baker put him out there for 211 innings...Prior had never pitched that much before in his life. People said he was over worked in college when they pitched him 130-140 innings...but it wasn't but ONE year later that he was pitching almost 180 and then 210+ the next season. The history of pitchers who throw 200+ innings and then struggle the following season is long.

    Pitching is something that needs proper development...and I am not sure that happens as well as it once did.
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