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  • Is Samuel Deduno a lock for the 2013 rotation?

    The front office will likely do some shopping-n-swapping to infill the rotation this winter however one member of the Twins staff who is almost certain to get an opportunity to win a role next spring is Samuel Deduno.

    For the most part, Deduno’s unexpected and head-scratching success has continued across his 13 starts. He has struggled to get ahead of hitters (54% first pitch strike rate compared to the 60% league average) and then falls deeper behind in the count (8% of all his plate appearances went to 3-0 counts) and ultimately loses the battle of the balls. As such, his 15% walk rate is the highest in baseball among all starters with a minimum of 70 innings pitched. Because of this, the expected Fielding Independent Pitching metric -- which takes batted ball trajectory, strikeouts and, most pertinent to Deduno, walks -- calculates him to have an earned run average closer to 4.60 rather than the 3.84 that he is currently sporting.

    If you were applying the standard statistical analysis to this situation, it would be easy to label the right-hander as a case ripe for regression. After all, Deduno has allowed 48 hitters on base via walk but somehow has managed to keep a high percentage of those from scoring. He has stranded nearly 80% of all base-runners which is well above the league norm of 72%. At some point, a ball chops through the infield here or a subsequent hitter manages to get one up into the jet stream to plate some runs there. Yet again, Deduno has been extremely fortunate in that respect as well.

    Consider this for luck: Line drives become hits approximately 73% of the time. It makes sense when you think about the trajectory and speed that causes frozen ropes to be quite hard to defend. Yet line drives from Deduno’s opponents have turned into hits just 60% of the time. Somewhere down the line, that number is surely going to regress to the mean and drive his overall batting average on balls in play – which is at a miniscule .258 right now – back closer to the league average.

    While regression in 2013 would be the anticipated response based upon the above two paragraphs, if you consider how little opponents have been able to actually square up on his repertoire, there could be a correlation as to why the majority of his balls put into play have been fielded.

    The biggest factor is his ground ball rate. At 58%, his worm-killing rate is the seventh highest among those with a minimum o f 70 innings. The next significant indicator of his ability to avoid heavy contact is his 18% infield fly ball rate. What that means is that nearly 20% of all the fly balls hit are not getting past the infield dirt. As of Thursday, only former Twin Johan Santana (19%) has been able to keep a higher percentage of flies from leaving the infield. What this statistic is indicative of is their ability to get hitters to lunge and make off-balanced contact with pitches.

    When first introduced to the Twins, the initial reaction was that Deduno came equipped with a fairly legit curveball. In 2007, Baseball America graded his curve a 70 on the scout’s 20-to-80 scale. In 2010 Deduno was pitching in the Rockies organization. Coming off one spring training outing as a 26-year-old manager Jim Tracy simply said “Those were paralyzing-type curveballs.” Major league hitters would likely agree with those assessments of the pitch as they have hit just .153 off of it and he has racked up 39 of his 54 strikeouts with the curve.

    As impressive as his curve ball has been, Deduno possesses a ridiculously underappreciated weapon in his fastball.

    According to Baseball Prospectus’s Pitch F/X leaderboard, Deduno’s four-seam fastball has induced the highest amount of ground balls on that pitch since the inception of Pitch F/X in 2007. Sure, it is only 403 pitches but his 68% ground ball rate on a four-seam fastball is downright unbelievable.

    The reason he is getting such an incredible amount of grounders is because of the sink action he has on his “crazy fastball.”

    Deduno’s movement on his four-seam fastball almost defies physics as four-seamers – which because of the backspin created more often tend to give the illusion of “rising” - generally have the least amount of sink among all pitches. On average, Pitch F/X says that the majority of four-seam fastballs have a vertical movement of roughly 8.60 in measured in 2009. As a rule of thumb, the higher that number, the greater the “rise” action or conversely, the lower that number, the greater the sink. To provide some perspective, the Angels’ Jared Weaver, whose fastball has been described as having “hop”, has a vertical movement of 12.23 on his fastball. On the other end of the spectrum, the Indians’ Justin Masterson, who has one of the “heavier” fastballs, has a vertical movement of 4.24. That use to be the most sink on a four-seam fastball. That is, it was until July 7 when Samuel Deduno started pitching. Deduno’s four-seam fastball has a vertical movement of 2.76.

    For those who are not properly geeked up by those numbers, here’s another visual: The average split-finger fastball has a vertical movement of 3.37 which means Deduno’s four-seam fastball has more vertical sink than an average split-finger fastball.

    Take a look at the pitch’s action in all its .gif glory:


    This particular one not only sinks, but has arm side run for days as both Seattle’s Trayvon Robinson and Ryan Doumit were fooled by the late movement.

    Later, Doumit was at a loss in attempting to explain the movement and where it comes from. “I don’t know if it’s finger pressure or wrist angle or what it is, but he’s got a gift of natural movement on the fastball and the changeup,” said the Twins catcher.

    Deduno’s movement is exciting and provides explanation as to why he is out-performing his Fielding Independent Pitching figures. Hitters simply cannot square up on anything they swing at. However, if they put on a swing boycott, his inconsistent control may lead to too many free passes – beyond the point where he can continue to strand them all. This was evident in his most recent start against the White Sox where he walked five and three of those came around to score.

    Deduno will take the mound tonight to take on the Tigers. Watch for some of that crazy fastball movement and if he can locate it in the strike zone.
    This article was originally published in blog: Is Samuel Deduno a lock for the 2013 rotation? started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 40 Comments
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      LOCK. This is my opinion, and not based on fact, but this organization is impressed by small sample size performances, like signing hitters that beat up on them, or pitchers that are good in the AFL. Plus, they are not exactly willing to spend money. Deduno is a perfect storm for their scouts and money guys.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      LOCK. This is my opinion, and not based on fact, but this organization is impressed by small sample size performances, like signing hitters that beat up on them, or pitchers that are good in the AFL. Plus, they are not exactly willing to spend money. Deduno is a perfect storm for their scouts and money guys.
      Exactly.

      They're not swimming in decent pitchers and are not likely to gather in much more than guys found in the bargain bin.

      That's been their pattern in the past, and unless radically changed, won't be any different this year.
    1. 3up3down's Avatar
      3up3down -
      i have seen deduno alot thru the years, my opinion is & has been is he should be in the pen , where he can throw the curve 15 times & give you 1 good inning, you are correct he has great movement on his pitches but he has & will always struggle with control, thats a good thing & a bad thing....hitters cant sit on pitches because they have no idea where its going...if he tries to change & get less movement & throw more quality strikes he is going to start to get hit harder....the video you showed is a perfect example, the ball was never over the plate , it had alot of movement but it was never a strike, hitters will not swing at that once they get a good look at him..i do believe deduno comes into spring training with a shot , not a lock at the rotation & then its 50/50 if he throws strikes for a month in ST he makes the team if not & he struggles with control he gets designated & maybe gets claimed or goes to rochester..
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      LOCK. As the video shows, Deduno is very hard to hit.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by 3up3down View Post
      i have seen deduno alot thru the years, my opinion is & has been is he should be in the pen , where he can throw the curve 15 times & give you 1 good inning, you are correct he has great movement on his pitches but he has & will always struggle with control, thats a good thing & a bad thing....hitters cant sit on pitches because they have no idea where its going...if he tries to change & get less movement & throw more quality strikes he is going to start to get hit harder....the video you showed is a perfect example, the ball was never over the plate , it had alot of movement but it was never a strike, hitters will not swing at that once they get a good look at him..i do believe deduno comes into spring training with a shot , not a lock at the rotation & then its 50/50 if he throws strikes for a month in ST he makes the team if not & he struggles with control he gets designated & maybe gets claimed or goes to rochester..
      Guys with control problems are a disaster out of the bullpen. When you need an inning out of a guy and he's almost guaranteed to walk at least one batter in that inning, you're not going to see very good results. Deduno can get through that as a starter because he has 5-6 innings to work with but as a reliever, you need to be able to come in at a moment's notice and get a guy out, not walk the first two batters you face.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      That "crazy fastball" is a double-edged sword. Look at the graphic - a lot of movement , but the pitch is obviously a ball and Deduno is lucky that Robinson swung at it. He's a unique pitcher but teams are going to figure out real quick to lay off Deduno's fastball.

      Deduno's numbers scream "regression" to me. But I think he's a lock anyway because the Twins won't bring in enough starters to bump him from the rotation.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Nobody should be a lock. Make everyone earn a spot next year.
    1. COtwin's Avatar
      COtwin -
      Not a lock, but strong consideration. That pitch was not an obvious ball. In the first third of its flight it is heading for the outside of the plate. when the hitter is deciding to swing, it looks like strike. Dedunos problem is with that much movement, painting the corners is nearly impossible. Also, I agree that Deduno would be a disaster out of the pen. He is going to walk some guys, but the beauty of what he has been doing is that over the course of a game, he makes up for it with ground balls and weakly hit flys. Short appearances could magnify his issues.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      If the rotation is Diamond-Deduno-Hendriks at 3-4-5, then that is not bad. If they are 2-3-4, that is bad.
    1. Teflon's Avatar
      Teflon -
      The two closest historical comparisons I can find for pitchers in Deduno's age range and comparable ratio of hits, walks, and Ks per 9 innings are the 29 year-old Steve Barber of 1967 and the 25 year-old Bo Belinsky of 1962. Barber went 24-28 over the remainder of his career (6 years) while Belinsky was 18-40. (7 years)

      I look for Deduno to be more of a Bo Belinsky. (Without the interesting Mamie Van Doren press sightings, unfortunately)

    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Is a lock to go inti ST as a starter but its 50/50 if he makes the club. Gardy admits he cannot get by with his present walks & since hes out of options, i wouldnt be stunned if hes outrighted & claimed.
      To me, he's the guy holding down the position till Bakers ready May 1 or Gibson June 1
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      If the rotation is Diamond-Deduno-Hendriks at 3-4-5, then that is not bad. If they are 2-3-4, that is bad.
      3-4-5 is "not bad", but 2-3-4 "is bad".

      That begs the question:

      1) What does that make the "1-2-3" scenario if the Twins decide that Baker/Gibson are designated as the other two starters and they both end up breaking down again?
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      1) What does that make the "1-2-3" scenario if the Twins decide that Baker/Gibson are designated as the other two starters and they both end up breaking down again?
      That would be the "Oy vey!" scenario.
    1. James's Avatar
      James -
      Quote Originally Posted by greengoblinrulz View Post
      Is a lock to go inti ST as a starter but its 50/50 if he makes the club. Gardy admits he cannot get by with his present walks & since hes out of options, i wouldnt be stunned if hes outrighted & claimed.
      To me, he's the guy holding down the position till Bakers ready May 1 or Gibson June 1
      Agree with this 100%.

      I don't think anyway has earned a spot except maybe Diamond. Everyone else should have to earn a spot in ST (as reliable as that is). Deduno has definitely earned his ST invite though.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Wait, you do not trust the results this year, but you would trust spring training? Also, I answered bases on what I think the team will do, not what I would do.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      How would Baker be ready by May 1, 13 months after surgery while Gibson won't be ready until June, 22 months after his?
      I think the most likely thing is Gibson starts in the bullpen to save innings, moves into the rotation after June 1 and gets 15-20 starts. Baker could maybe be ready to pitch around June and also get 12-15 starts. However, why are we thinking Baker is coming back?
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      I'm kind of fascinated by the reports on this kid's FB. Some cut, some tail, and some sink. And apparently, nobody, including him, knows which direction the ball is going. Or, even what's causing the variance. The one thing I could add to Doumit's thoughts, “I don’t know if it’s finger pressure or wrist angle or what it is, but he’s got a gift..." is this: A normal FB is thrown with index and middle finger on the seams with the thumb opposing them, roughly forming an isosceles triangle, with the ring finger second knuckle providing stability. When I switched to softball I found the movement I had, because of the shorter distance, confounded the firstbaseman. I discovered a grip change that "killed" the spin, thus reducing movement, with no real drop in velocity. All I did was change from a 3-point cradle to a 4-point cradle by moving my thumb further to the outside of the ball and adding the first knuckle of the ring finger as the 4th point. This was an accidental discovery and had more to do with the size of the ball than any mission I had. Anyhoo, if Deduno, actively or inadvertently, moves his thumb out or hits a seam with it he might "kill" some of the spin and cause apparent sink.
    1. James's Avatar
      James -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Wait, you do not trust the results this year, but you would trust spring training? Also, I answered bases on what I think the team will do, not what I would do.
      It's not that I don't trust this year's results. I was saying that he would have to continue to show results in spring training to get a spot in the rotation when the season starts. More of a combined look, not just one or the other.
    1. James's Avatar
      James -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      How would Baker be ready by May 1, 13 months after surgery while Gibson won't be ready until June, 22 months after his?
      I think the most likely thing is Gibson starts in the bullpen to save innings, moves into the rotation after June 1 and gets 15-20 starts. Baker could maybe be ready to pitch around June and also get 12-15 starts. However, why are we thinking Baker is coming back?
      I think the common thought is that Gibson needs a little bit more AAA experience, not that he would be coming back from the surgery too soon. Since Baker has been a MLB starter for a while, he wouldn't need the AAA experience, just go there long enough to prove he's healthy again. All speculation on my part though.

      I do actually like the idea of Gibson in the bullpen to start the year. It makes sense to me on an experience/arm usage level.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
      I'm kind of fascinated by the reports on this kid's FB. Some cut, some tail, and some sink. And apparently, nobody, including him, knows which direction the ball is going. Or, even what's causing the variance. The one thing I could add to Doumit's thoughts, “I don’t know if it’s finger pressure or wrist angle or what it is, but he’s got a gift..." is this: A normal FB is thrown with index and middle finger on the seams with the thumb opposing them, roughly forming an isosceles triangle, with the ring finger second knuckle providing stability. When I switched to softball I found the movement I had, because of the shorter distance, confounded the firstbaseman. I discovered a grip change that "killed" the spin, thus reducing movement, with no real drop in velocity. All I did was change from a 3-point cradle to a 4-point cradle by moving my thumb further to the outside of the ball and adding the first knuckle of the ring finger as the 4th point. This was an accidental discovery and had more to do with the size of the ball than any mission I had. Anyhoo, if Deduno, actively or inadvertently, moves his thumb out or hits a seam with it he might "kill" some of the spin and cause apparent sink.
      I believe his 4 seamer sinks (it doesn't actually sink, it just rises less than normal) because he slings the ball, creating a rotational axis that is more vertical than horizontal. This would also account for the tailing action.

      Exactly the opposite from that windup doll Blyleven's "get on top of the ball" and "downward plain" mantras.
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