Thursday, July 11, 2013

Derek Hankins Signs With Doosan

According to reports, the Doosan Bears of the KBO (Korea Baseball Leagues) have signed Derek Hankins out of the Tigers AAA. Hankins is a 6-4 30 year right-handed pitcher with over 1000 innings of MiLB experience (originally a 10th round pick by the Pirates in 2004) but no MLB experience.

I watched the first inning of his start against the Phillies AAA team (Lehigh Valley) on July 1st on since they have a working radar gun. The Lehigh Valley gun tends to be a little slow, but it gives us some idea of what he he is throwing. The 2-seam like fastball averaged 87.7 MPH. This would put him in the "average" velocity category in the KBO. He worked low and arm side with, and wasn't afraid to throw it low and in to righties.

His 84-85 MPH change that moves a lot like the 2-seamer, working arm side, getting down to 78-79 MPH. He also has a 77-79 MPH slider, got up to 83 MPH, stayed glove side, with not much sweeping break, and obviously is not very hard. It is more of a down pitch, with heavy usage against righties.

We've got 28 pitches of Pitch F/X data for Hankins, even though he has never pitched in the big leagues, thanks to Spring Training data from 2011 and 2012. Keeping in mind that the data is from Brooks Baseball (which uses the 55 foot measure that causes the velocity to be a little bit higher) and it is in relief outings (and he will almost assuredly be a starter in Korea), here were his average locations and velocities (click to zoom):

 Clearly he is a low ball pitcher, just like the eye test of his outing showed. When it comes to average release points, Hankins is somewhat similar to former KBO pitchers Dave Bush and Chan Ho Park (he is a little further out than Park and a little higher than Bush). Even though the release point is pretty far out, he really hasn't had much splits in the minors.

Doosan is above .500 right now, but they are in 6th place in the 9 team league (the records of the NC Dinos and Hanwha Eagles cause the league's "average" to be very unbalanced). They have scored more runs than anyone else at this point, but only Hanwha, who tried to replace Ryu Hyun-Jin with Dana Eveland, has given up more runs.

Hankins is taking the place of Garrett Olson, who was in a very similar velocity range, throwing just over 89 MPH on average. In the KBO, he didn't have a Naver scouting report, but according to video he was getting up to 90-91 MPH. So Hankins, especially when you consider handedness, is clearly inferior when it comes to velocity. However, statistically, Olson was struggling, with a 4.87 kwERA, with a -.16 FIP WAA (though he was still better than replacement, you have to get real value from foreign players in the KBO since you only get two). Olson was under performing his defensive independent metrics by a lot, which made his 2013 with Doosan seem much worse. However, since it is such a small sample size, there is no reason to believe that this is due to anything of Olson's doing. Doosan's defense also appears to be awful, as the team is under performing the FIP by about .7 runs per 9 innings (which is nearly 50 runs over the 71 game period, basically meaning that over a full season, they are losing a 10 win player if you believe that the runs cost are because of the defense and not just randomness or luck. Doosan's defense did seem to rate pretty good last year according to range factor in my WAR measurement). This is not good news for Hankins, considering he relies on getting balls put in play.

Velocity is the better predictor of success to the KBO than statistics, but comparing Hankins to Olson is pretty interesting. Last year in the International League, Olson had a SIERA .06 worse than league average, while Hankins has a SIERA almost a full run per 9 innings worse than a league average. On a whole, it is hard to see how Hankins is a better pitcher than Olson. He may end up putting up better numbers thanks to randomness and the low standard Olson set in his short lived time with the Bears, but there is no real reason to believe that he will succeed if Olson didn't.

No comments:

Post a Comment