FanPost

The Evolution of Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs

Haven't seen a pitch f/x in quite a while, so I figured it would be interesting to look at what Motte and Boggs have been doing as lynchpins in the bullpen. And to do this, what better way than to look at brooksbaseball.net's player cards with pitch f/x!

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via cdn2.sbnation.com

Per fangraphs.com, Jason Motte's fastball velocity has been an average of 96.3 mph over the course of his career. But this season, Motte has amped up the heat to an average 97 mph fastball, the highest of his career. Using fielding independent pitching, Motte's career rates have resulted in a pretty sweet 3.28 FIP and 2.85 ERA. He avoids the home run pretty well, since his xFIP is 3.5.

Jason has been an important part to the Cardinals bullpen since 2009: 57, 52, 68, and 50 innings pitched already this season. FIP/xFIP over that time: 4.81/4.21, 3.29/3.52, 2.48/3.39, and 3.12/3.11. It is clear he truly arrived in 2010, after just 1 year of relieving in the majors and being a converted catcher.

To illustrate how he arrived at his effectiveness in 2010, it appears that it may have a lot to do with his horizontal release point:

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via cdn.brooksbaseball.net

Next are the pitch f/x graphics that demonstrate what he has done in his career thus far and what pitches he has evolved into using the most:

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via cdn.brooksbaseball.net

Eventually Motte and his coaches eliminated his curve/mystery pitch experiment and mixed in more cutters... or it just turned into that pitch, which was more effective. Throwing hard is the key to the Sauce. It appears that he is mixing in a changeup more often this season though... which may prevent hitters from figuring him out (he didn't throw heat?? what).

This one shows horizontal by vertical movement for each pitch, career-wise. Sometimes his cutter turns into something more like a curve, which must be a truly devastating pitch considering the velocity:

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via cdn.brooksbaseball.net

If you have extra time, here is his complete player card... it is fun to look at this last graph in particular year by year.

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via cdn0.sbnation.com

Mitchell Boggs also became a key member of the bullpen back in 2009: 58, 67, 61, and 52 innings pitched so far in 2012. That is more innings than Motte has pitched except for last season, where Boggs had a mysterious demotion mid-season despite being better than much of the bullpen. What sets them apart is that Boggs velocity on his fastball is not nearly as ridiculous as Motte's: 94.1 career average instead of 96.3. Perhaps counting his 2009 is not fair though (since his average velocity was 93.1 mph then), but it has become 96.1, 95.1, and 95.6 this season.

The main difference most of us know is that he has more movement on his pitches. Boggsy's slider has been particularly nasty. Here are the pitch f/x on his movement:

Horizontal

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via cdn.brooksbaseball.net

Vertical

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via cdn.brooksbaseball.net

And here is how Mitchell's pitch usage has developed:

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via cdn.brooksbaseball.net

It appears that Boggs has some nice variety in his pitches and a notable difference between the faster pitches and the slower ones for the most part. Last pitch f/x is his horizontal release point (neither pitcher notable changed their vertical release point imo):

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via cdn.brooksbaseball.net

Boggs too was a work in progress back in 2009, but has been consistent the last two seasons, and was almost there in 2010. Here is the Boggs player card at Brooks. So, what are Mitchell Bogg's rate stats? Since 2009... FIP/xFIP: 4.10/4.62, 3.88/4.02, 3.44/3.66, and this season 3.58/3.79 with a 2.25 ERA.

  • While not quite as great as Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs has shown he can get better after a similarly rocky first year. ZIPS projects a 2.75 ERA for the remainder of the season for Boggs & 2.86 for Motte. FIP projections like Motte a lot more.
  • The two have developed well and are great assets to the team as the heart of the bullpen. Boggs has a 1.46 WPA this season. In the past he always had a negative WPA. Motte has been much more consistent historically in Win Probability Added, but this year is at .76, not quite as good as the last two seasons.
  • Boggs has worked well recently as a setup man this season (or at times in high leverage situations in the past), and Motte continues to be great as the closer, mowing down major leaguers left and right.
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