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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. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      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.
      Or "2012", in English.
    1. 3up3down's Avatar
      3up3down -
      brock, the pens are full of guys that could not be straters for some reason or another, if hes in the pen he eliminates a pitch, he throws his slider for a strike more often than his fastball, so what if he walks 2 , he then strikes out the next 3...have you watched chris perez..
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      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.
      I do believe that is a significant source for his "sink" and "run" action on his fastball. I was going to dive into that aspect of why in the piece but ultimately axed it because, dang it, I could go on forever and bore the pants out of the casual fan.

      Pitch F/X shows that in his last three seasons (including spring training data with Rockies/Padres), Deduno's vertical release point has dropped a bit and now he has a similar arm slot to Justin Masterson's -- the other noted slinger. Obviously Deduno's is higher, but it is comparable.

      In regards to the grip argument, it's true that different grips can offer different movement, but as you can see in this image, he holds a standard four-seam grip.

      Last, biomechanical studies have shown recently that one of the biggest influential factors on a fastball's "sink" is due to the amount of forearm pronation put on the pitch when throwing. Without any super-slo motion cameras from a side or front angle, there's no way of telling how much pronation Deduno puts on his fastball.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by 3up3down View Post
      brock, the pens are full of guys that could not be straters for some reason or another, if hes in the pen he eliminates a pitch, he throws his slider for a strike more often than his fastball, so what if he walks 2 , he then strikes out the next 3...have you watched chris perez..
      A few problems with that thinking:

      1. Deduno doesn't strike guys out. He's sitting on a rather paltry 6.5 k/9 ratio in 2012.

      2. MLB bullpens are full of guys who failed as a starter because their secondary pitches were below average. Deduno's problem pitch is his fastball. If he moves to the pen, he still needs to throw that fastball to be successful. He can't live on his curveball. Even the good version of Barry Zito couldn't live on his curveball, never throwing it more than 26.7% of the time. And Barry Zito's curveball was knee-buckling during his prime. Absolutely filthy.

      3. Chris Perez' career stats are 3.8 bb/9 and 8.8 k/9. Samuel Deduno's career stats are 5.8 bb/9 and 6.8 k/9. It's not hard to see why one would be successful out of the pen while the other would be an unmitigated disaster.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I'd love to hear a rational reason why Deduno (1.467 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 1.13 K/BB) earned a spot over De Vries (1.209 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 3.22 K/BB -WHIP and K/BB tops for Twins' SPs this season, btw).

      Where rational means excluding references of "unhittable stuff" and earned means performed better than others
    1. 3up3down's Avatar
      3up3down -
      brock, i see wht your saying......but .... perez would have higher walk rates if he was trying to pitch 6,7 innings.......are you telling me you dont think zito could have got thru one inning throwing nothing but his curve.....there are alot of relievers that rely mostly on one pitch to get them thru 1 inning, deduno could do that for 1 inning.. its a complete different situation..deduno is trying to last 6 innings , he cant throw 90% sliders, even though one game i bet he threw atleast 60%.......we will just have to agree to disagree, but i dont see his control getting better........

      thrylos, my opinion is you have a bunch of #5 starters, that includes deduno,devries,blackburn,walters,hendrix, they are all #5s & if more than one of those guys is in the rotation next year for a extended time, the twins will not be in the playoff race......one of these guys can help the team in the 5th spot but like some have said if they are 3,4& 5 the twins are in deep trouble.....they need to sign or trade for a #1 #2 diamond can be a #3, sign a cheap #4 & may the best man win the #5 spot, but having more than one of these guys in the rotation is disaster..
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
      ...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...
      Willihammer, I agree with everything you say. But my point was centered around the data I've cited from my previous comment. This data is from an article on this site a few weeks back. I find it fascinating that a ML pitcher doesn't know if the ball he's throwing will go right or left or stay up or go down. And ML catchers can't tell either. Watch Doumit in the video. It's like he got crossed up on the pitch. I mentioned my grip discovery as a way of explaining this stay up or go down phenomenon. Maybe I didn't explain it well enough. The grip doesn't eliminate the spin, but rather reduces the rpms and lessens the movement caused by the Magnus effect, much like a split finger FB. Thus appearing to the batter to sink as you described. I've never heard of this grip anyplace, and I've never even spoken of it before, and I doubt that this grip would be intentionally used by a pitcher as they normally want to increase the spin. Also, I know what you mean about Blyleven. But he IS a fountainhead of pitching finer points. If only you can decipher what he's trying to say.

      Parker, from the link showing his grip I agree with you, but his thumb does look to be on the seam. I know from experience that the slight added friction from the seam, rather than the smooth leather, sliding off the thumb REDUCES the rpms. (at least for me) My thought was perhaps he is careless with his grip and this varies the rpms and thusly the sink. In any event, the guy in the video clip is gettin' PLENTY of rpms, and it does look like he pronates a tad.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by 3up3down View Post
      thrylos, my opinion is you have a bunch of #5 starters, that includes deduno,devries,blackburn,walters,hendrix, they are all #5s & if more than one of those guys is in the rotation next year for a extended time, the twins will not be in the playoff race......one of these guys can help the team in the 5th spot but like some have said if they are 3,4& 5 the twins are in deep trouble.....they need to sign or trade for a #1 #2 diamond can be a #3, sign a cheap #4 & may the best man win the #5 spot, but having more than one of these guys in the rotation is disaster..
      Pretty much agreed
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      I'd love to hear a rational reason why Deduno (1.467 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 1.13 K/BB) earned a spot over De Vries (1.209 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 3.22 K/BB -WHIP and K/BB tops for Twins' SPs this season, btw).

      Where rational means excluding references of "unhittable stuff" and earned means performed better than others
      Well, I suppose it depends on what your definition of earned is.

      But for a rational reason, conventionally, Deduno has a better record (6-4 to 5-5), a better ERA (3.84 to 4.11), allowed fewer runs per nine innings (3.96 to 4.95), allowed fewer home runs per nine (1.0 to 1.6) and hits (7.4 to 9.0). The stats you reference (WHIP and K/BB), it mainly skews to De Vries's side because of Deduno's egregious amount of walks (as referenced in the article). Combine that with what I believe I had presented a superior stuff, I say the scales are tipped in Deduno's favor.

      Now, I am not suggesting anyone has earned a spot but if I had to rank them, and this is nothing against De Vries (who has pitched very well) but I put Deduno ahead of De Vries.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      The only true "lock" for the rotation in 2013 at this point is Diamond. DeDuno has been decent, but I highly doubt he will be handed a spot for 2013 any time soon, will he be in the running and a good shot to make it? yup! But lock at this point?nope.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
      ...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...
      Willihammer, I agree with everything you say. But my point was centered around the data I've cited from my previous comment. This data is from an article on this site a few weeks back. I find it fascinating that a ML pitcher doesn't know if the ball he's throwing will go right or left or stay up or go down. And ML catchers can't tell either. Watch Doumit in the video. It's like he got crossed up on the pitch. I mentioned my grip discovery as a way of explaining this stay up or go down phenomenon. Maybe I didn't explain it well enough. The grip doesn't eliminate the spin, but rather reduces the rpms and lessens the movement caused by the Magnus effect, much like a split finger FB. Thus appearing to the batter to sink as you described. I've never heard of this grip anyplace, and I've never even spoken of it before, and I doubt that this grip would be intentionally used by a pitcher as they normally want to increase the spin. Also, I know what you mean about Blyleven. But he IS a fountainhead of pitching finer points. If only you can decipher what he's trying to say.

      Parker, from the link showing his grip I agree with you, but his thumb does look to be on the seam. I know from experience that the slight added friction from the seam, rather than the smooth leather, sliding off the thumb REDUCES the rpms. (at least for me) My thought was perhaps he is careless with his grip and this varies the rpms and thusly the sink. In any event, the guy in the video clip is gettin' PLENTY of rpms, and it does look like he pronates a tad.
      I had a teammate in high school who threw a forkball which effectively was a knuckleball - no spin. You really need less than a quarter of a turn to get a truly unpredictable action which could breakl in any direction. Its also very tough to throw a ball 91-92 without heavy spin, so Deduno is definitely getting spin and judging by the brooks baseball page his action is repeatable, on both the 4 seamer and the cutter. In fact, if Doumit is getting confused back there, I suspect its because he just hasn't totally felt out where Deduno likes to throw the cutter and where he likes to throw the 4 seamer. All Doumit knows is that he is putting down a 1. I doubt Deduno himself doesn't know what the pitch is going to do, even if it doesn't hit the target.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
      ...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.
      The gif isn't a good example of Deduno's sinking fastball; looks more like a two seamer that got away from Doumitt and the batter just had a notion to swing and missed because the ball ran away from the outside corner.

      Thing is, Deduno throws pitches that move so much, both the batter and the catcher have trouble making contact. For Deduno, the key to success is to reduce the movement to a manageable level, and it looks like Rick Anderson has made great progress getting Deduno's fastball reasonably under control.

      Deduno's future as a starter depends entirely on his ability to maintain a modicum of control over that crazy fastball. If the opposition senses him losing command (as they did in a few games this season), they'll just stand there and take walks. He's always going to have to prove he can throw strikes if batters refuse to swing. When that happens, Deduno is going to have to have something he can throw for a strike that's not just a batting practice pitch.

      Absolutely you pencil him into the starting rotation next spring. Then you see if he can actually throw strikes. If so, he's got the best raw stuff on the team. Great fielder, tough competitor, good endurance.
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      Parker, from the link showing his grip I agree with you, but his thumb does look to be on the seam. I know from experience that the slight added friction from the seam, rather than the smooth leather, sliding off the thumb REDUCES the rpms. (at least for me) My thought was perhaps he is careless with his grip and this varies the rpms and thusly the sink. In any event, the guy in the video clip is gettin' PLENTY of rpms, and it does look like he pronates a tad.
      It's an interesting theory, but I don't necessarily think that is consistent for everyone. For example, Justin Verlander, who has one of the "rising" fastballs, also throws a four-seamer with his thumb on the seams, as seen here. Again, you are correct that grip has some influence on the movement, just not as much to explain Deduno's movement. Overall, I believe it is a combination of things (the arm slot, pronation and possibly grip).
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      The gif isn't a good example of Deduno's sinking fastball; looks more like a two seamer that got away from Doumitt and the batter just had a notion to swing and missed because the ball ran away from the outside corner.
      First, Deduno does not throw a two-seamer. It's all four-seam fastball action.

      This specific .gif'ed pitch has plenty of downward sink and arm side run (the above camera angle at Target Field sometimes does not provide great context). Pitch F/X says the vertical movement was sub-2.5 meaning it dropped quite a bit from the starting point.

      However, if you want an example of just the straight downward drop on his fastball, the sinking fastball he throws to Casey Kotchman at the 1:33 mark is just breathtaking.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by 3up3down View Post
      brock, i see wht your saying......but .... perez would have higher walk rates if he was trying to pitch 6,7 innings.......are you telling me you dont think zito could have got thru one inning throwing nothing but his curve.....there are alot of relievers that rely mostly on one pitch to get them thru 1 inning, deduno could do that for 1 inning.. its a complete different situation..deduno is trying to last 6 innings , he cant throw 90% sliders, even though one game i bet he threw atleast 60%.......we will just have to agree to disagree, but i dont see his control getting better........
      Could Zito make it through one inning with just his curve? Sure.

      Could Zito make it through one inning 50 times with just his curve? Absolutely not.

      The curveball works when it is paired with a much faster pitch. Throwing only 70mph curveballs will allow a hitter to sit on the pitch all day long, waiting for the curveball that doesn't curve. The pitcher needs to keep batters honest by throwing a fastball alongside it to keep the hitter off-balance. Deduno's fastball and slider are too wildly inconsistent to complement his curveball over one inning of work. Even if he struck guys out (which he doesn't), he'd still be too wild to be a good reliever.

      And Perez wouldn't walk more batters if he was a starter (assuming it didn't require him to add another pitch he couldn't control). He'd certainly strike out less of them (you can throw at 100% for 20 pitches in an outing... throwing at 100% for 100 pitches is a good way to blow out your arm) but there's no reason to think he'd walk more as a starter. Control is control is control. You either have it or you don't. Since Deduno can't drop the wildest pitch in his arsenal, the fastball, there's no reason to think he would cut down on walks as a reliever and the Perez comp still doesn't hold muster.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parker Hageman View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      I'd love to hear a rational reason why Deduno (1.467 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 1.13 K/BB) earned a spot over De Vries (1.209 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 3.22 K/BB -WHIP and K/BB tops for Twins' SPs this season, btw).

      Where rational means excluding references of "unhittable stuff" and earned means performed better than others
      Well, I suppose it depends on what your definition of earned is.

      But for a rational reason, conventionally, Deduno has a better record (6-4 to 5-5), a better ERA (3.84 to 4.11), allowed fewer runs per nine innings (3.96 to 4.95), allowed fewer home runs per nine (1.0 to 1.6) and hits (7.4 to 9.0). The stats you reference (WHIP and K/BB), it mainly skews to De Vries's side because of Deduno's egregious amount of walks (as referenced in the article). Combine that with what I believe I had presented a superior stuff, I say the scales are tipped in Deduno's favor.

      Now, I am not suggesting anyone has earned a spot but if I had to rank them, and this is nothing against De Vries (who has pitched very well) but I put Deduno ahead of De Vries.

      So Deduno has better RA9, better winning %, better quality start % than Diamond (and equal HR%) and better K/9.
      Do you put him ahead of Diamond too? If not, why?
    1. AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS's Avatar
      AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS -
      After watching the game today....NO THANK YOU...nice flash in the pan now get him out of here
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      I can't wait.
    1. JA's Avatar
      JA -
      No! he has earned an opportunity to come into spring training with a chance to earn a spot. But no more.
    1. Rick Niedermann's Avatar
      Rick Niedermann -
      Is Samuel Deduno a lock for the 2013 rotation?. . . . NOOOOO. At least I hope not.
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