Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jo-Jo Reyes and Vicente Padilla in Context

There were two moves in the KBO and the NPB that were interesting today. Vicente Padilla signed with the Softbank Hawks, and Jo-Jo Reyes was released by the Angels to sign with the SK Wyverns. Considering all the work I had put into velocity and the comparison between leagues (specifically the NPB and KBO), I figured it was a good time to use the data we have seen to make projections on the two players.

Jo-Jo Reyes had a 90.3 MPH average on his fastball in his MLB career. This would put him on the fringes of either the Elite or Above Average category in the KBO (I think it has him 14th out of the 40 KBO pitchers profiled here). It appears that Reyes is replacing Mario Santiago on SK's roster. Santiago was actually the team's hardest thrower on a team that I rated as the 3rd hardest throwing team in the KBO. The team didn't have another "foreign" pitcher in their top 5 in innings last year, but the club also signed Chris Seddon earlier this off-season. Seddon throws 89 MPH according to Fangraphs, which puts him in the above average category and third best out of the SK rotation. So if we take out Santiago from the top 5 SK Wyrens pitchers, along with Kim Kwang-Hyun (who was the worst pitcher of the group, so you expect him to throw less innings in 2013), the SK rotation average velocity should be roughly 88.87 MPH (assuming no drop or gain in velocity by the pitchers or an unforeseen change in SK's pitching plans), almost exactly what it was last year (technically .024 MPH better), which should be slightly above league average and 3rd place out of 8 teams in velocity. This should keep them as an average to above average rotation in the KBO.

We don't know (or at least I don't) too much about what the NC Dinos plan to do with their rotation, but we do know that they were allowed to sign 3 foreign players (instead of just 2) and signed Adam Wilk, Eric Hacker, and Charles Shriek. These 3 pitchers average about 89.3 MPH, which is slightly above average in the KBO and better than the SK rotation on the whole. Of course, since we don't know how the rest of the rotation sets up, it is hard to project how their rotation will operate on the whole. If we assume, that since they are an expansion team, that the two other pitchers are both below average in velocity (or that one is average and one is poor), we can project about 88.73 MPH rotation, which would still put them in the fringes of the above average rotation in the KBO and very competitive with SK's rotation. The Dinos should at least have the pitching to be competitive in their first year, and they have done a good job of getting a hitters as well, so they could be surprisingly competitive.

Vicente Padilla averaged 92.9 MPH on his fastball in 2012, and 92.5 MPH in 2010, his last year as a starter (both of these come from Fangraphs. Brooks Baseball separates his sinker and fastball differently and have him throwing harder). According to NPB Tracker, this would make him one of the hardest throwers in the NPB. Of pitchers that have gone from the MLB to the NPB, Padilla is above average velocity wise. Hawks' prospects Kodai Senga and Hiroyuki Kawahara throw 92 and 93 MPH on their fastballs respectively, but Padilla throws harder than the rest of their Ni-Gun prospects. When you look at the Hawks 2012 "rotation", that is, their 5 most used pitchers in 2012, by kwERA and velocity, this is what they look like (league average kwERA in the Pacific League was 4.29 in 2012):

Tadashi Settsu: 3.86 kwERA, 86.40 MPH

Kenji Otanari: 3.90 kwERA, 85.89 MPH

Hiroki Yamada: 4.9 kwERA, 85.10 MPH

Sho Iwasaki: 4.2 kwERA, 89.53 MPH

Nagisa Arakaki: 4.76 kwERA, 89.46 MPH

As you can see, the Hawks have a couple quality pitchers, but they don't have much velocity at the front of the rotation. Padilla, as long as he can stay healthy, should slot in as their number 1 starter.

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