Adam Russell And Joel Peralta Observations | The Process Report

Adam Russell And Joel Peralta Observations

1) Each of Adam Russell’s offerings included whiff rates above 11%. His mid-90s heater generated more empty swings than Grant Balfour and Rafael Soriano alike. Since 2008, Russell has the third lowest ISO against among pitchers with at least 35 appearances who spent the majority of their time in relief. Batters only hit for less power off Johnny Venters and Joey Devine. As a reference point, consider that Jason Tyner hit one home run in his big league career – which in this case is totally indicative of the power he lacked – and his career ISO was .049. Russell’s ISO against in the big leagues is only slightly higher at .058.

A large part of that miniscule ISO has to do with his equally small home run rate. It’s hard to see Russell’s one homer per 54 innings pitched ratio as a sustainable facet of his approach. Particularly since that ratio occurred as a pitcher within the National League as a member of the San Diego Padres. Russell’s canniness for inducing groundballs is the most defensible aspect of the lowered power outputs against him. (A good rule of thumb is to expect flyball-heavy pitchers to allow fewer hits, but with a higher percentage of extra base hits against; meanwhile groundball-heavy pitchers are the opposite: more hits, but fewer of the extra base variety.)

2) Two of the four highlights on Joel Peralta’s page involve daylight plays at second base. Peralta successfully picks off Drew Stubbs in one and nearly picks off Bill Hall in another. Talented pickoff artists add hidden value in a few ways. The most obvious being the outs they create by reducing base runners. The other, more nuanced dynamic is how a pitcher can change the base running approach. Limiting a stolen base threat becomes even more important when one’s catchers are feeble in their ability to gun down daring thieves.

As such, Peralta’s pickoff highlights inspired hope that maybe, just maybe there was hidden value to be had here. The numbers say probably not. Pickoffs are rare and Peralta has two since 2008 and four since 2000. That places Peralta in the top 60 of the 700 or so relievers who qualified, which ties him with J.P. Howell, who also has four pickoffs in roughly the same number of innings pitched. The qualifying threshold was left low (35 games) so as to see if any small sample standouts existed; sure enough Justin Lehr (six in 77 games) and Ed Vosberg (five in 53 games) satisfied that itch.

Base runners are also 21 of 25 in steals against Peralta. Therefore, ending that hope.

3) Another thing about Peralta: it appeared that he occasionally drops his arm angle. Not often, but enough to give opposing batters a different look. Pitchfx data confirms this and Harry Pavlidis confirmed that he only drops his arm angle against righties. Pavlidis also suggests that Peralta had the tendency to drop when ahead or even on 2-2 counts and using his fastball or breaking pitch.

4) Whereas Russell is a quick worker (a little under 20 seconds between pitches) Peralta takes closer to 30 seconds. Joaqun Benoit had the tendency to work slowly and (although it cannot be proven) occasionally held the ball longer on certain counts to throw off the hitter’s timing. Peralta might employ a similar tactic, but his average pace is even slower than Benoit’s.

5) Peralta displayed personality quirks twice. One in rolling up his right sleeve about as far as it would go while warming up and then after recording the final out of the inning he removed his cap and pointed it *towards the sky.

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