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  • How Scott Diamond Continues to Shine

    One of the biggest surprises of the Twins season has to be the performance of starter Scott Diamond. Written off by many as just another “soft tossing pitcher” in the organization, Diamond has shown mastery of the strike zone and has been getting ground outs by the barrelful. This has led to a 10-5 record and a 2.91 ERA – the sixth best in the American League.

    While radar gun enthusiasts and strike out fanatics are not likely thrilled by his skill set, Diamond is proving that it is not necessary velocity that makes the pitcher. Let’s take a look at what has made him so successful this year.


    (1) Release Point/Plane Change

    Diamond’s over-the-top release point gives him a very high angle. Pitch F/X, which captures the first data of a pitcher’s pitch at 55 feet, shows that Diamond’s pitches are at approximately six-feet-four inches on average – which, by comparison, is slightly higher than the taller lefty teammate Tyler Robertson. Combine that with crossing the plate at the knees or lower regularly and you have a solid recipe for grounders.

    As 1500ESPN.com’s Phil Mackey pointed out recently in a great piece detailing Diamond’s outstanding game preparation, the majority of his misses are low. Mackey cites a stat that said just 6% of his entire offerings this season have missed the strike zone high. This downward trajectory ensures that he is changing planes and making it more difficult for hitters to do anything besides hit the top of the ball thereby inducing a high percentage of ground balls.




    There’s more than just his ability to keep the ball down in the zone that has made him effective this year. His curveball, which may be his best pitch, may be the key behind elevating his fastball from pedestrian to impressive.

    (2) Noon-to-Six Curveball/Effective Velocity


    His curve is released at the same point as his fastball but, unlike other pitchers’ sweeping version, Diamond throws his with a 12-to-6 break (north-south movement versus the east-west type). Because the path of his curveball follows the same trajectory as his fastball before it dips – as opposed to many 11-to-4 curves which deviate off of the fastball’s path sooner - hitters will have a more difficult time deciphering between the two offerings. This is what has been one of the practices of the “Effective Velocity” teachings.

    Part of the Effective Velocity theory is that hitters have approximately 20 feet to decide what the pitch is as they are beginning their swing. The longer an off-speed pitch looks like a fastball or vice versa, the better the odds are the hitter would be fooled by the pitch. Because Diamond’s fastball and curveball share roughly the same plane for the first 20 feet, opponents are having troubles identifying which is which before it is too late.

    From his Pitch F/X chart you can see how the fastball (blue circles and red triangles) and the curveball (green squares) have little horizontal movement yet the curveball will have a quick drop:



    Roughly eight miles an hour and several inches of drop separate the two pitches but the two complement each other well. And Diamond continually teases opponents with this breaking pitching which likely keeps opponents off of his fastball. By throwing his curve 30% of the time – the third highest rate among qualified starters – he likely disguises his 89 mile-per-hour fastball effectively.

    (3) Battler

    He also possesses a bulldog-like determination on the mound of not giving in to hitters. For starters, he rarely issues free passes or puts himself in drastically bad count situations. Baseball-Reference.com says he has only had 10 3-and-0 counts – the fewest among starters with 100 innings or more. When he does fall behind hitters he is able to navigate out of trouble. While most pitchers are cuffed around when they are behind in the count, according to his “Batters Ahead” split opponents are holding just a 760 OPS. That is more than 200 points better than the league average of 974.

    Will Diamond remain a winning pitcher? If he continues to have stellar defense and posts a 3.69 expected fielding independent number (xFIP) next year, there is certainly a chance he’ll put up very good stats and win a high portion of his games. Based on his repertoire, consistent peppering of the strike zone and studious nature of the game, there is little reason to think he cannot repeat next season with a similar xFIP.

    Still, on the flipside, his offense in 2012 has been extremely generous to him. In fact, his 7.40 runs of support per nine innings is the second highest amount of support among qualified starters. If that figure starts to slip in 2013 -- which it is almost certain to do – Diamond is surely due to come up with the short end of the stick. Even great pitchers are unable to manufacture wins without the aid of their hitters – after all, Bert Blyleven can tell you all about losing ball games 2 to 1 or 3 to 2.
    This article was originally published in blog: Why Minnesota Twins' Scott Diamond Continues to Shine started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 42 Comments
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Where has Nick insisted that Duensing is starting material?
      You're not looking very hard.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Nick was all for removing Duensing from the rotation in 2011 because of his splits. I know this for a fact because several massive threads were dedicated to it over on BYTO.
      What evidence prompted the change in heart in 2012?
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      You're not looking very hard.
      The onus is on you to support your own statements.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      What evidence prompted the change in heart in 2012?
      It probably had something to do with having the 29th best rotation in baseball.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      What evidence prompted the change in heart in 2012?
      Is it a change of heart, or simply a gross misrepresentation of his position?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      It probably had something to do with having the 29th best rotation in baseball.
      OK, then not very thoroughly thought out then? (Given the alternatives I posted previously who still actually have a chance at some sort of success as a SP).
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Is it a change of heart, or simply a gross misrepresentation of his position?
      Or is it you, displaying your ignorance by not actually finding our public conversations on the matter?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      The onus is on you to support your own statements.
      The onus is on you to keep up with the conversation.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Okay, that's quite enough. The tone in this thread is turning for the worse.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Okay, that's quite enough. The tone in this thread is turning for the worse.
      Thankyou.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      I suppose I could just step in and settle this, since I don't need to "look" anywhere to identify my own viewpoints.

      In spring of 2011, when the Twins named Duensing as a starter very early on, I criticized the decision and heavily advocated for placing him in the bullpen. See here:

      Unfortunately, for anyone looking past those categories, it's tough to see him sustaining the kind of success he had last year in a starting role. ... As a reliever, he would provide the Twins with an established commodity in a bullpen that lacks many. He'd be able to fully utilize his dominance against lefty swingers rather than facing starting lineups stacked with righties.
      It shouldn't be difficult to see why I was open to giving him a shot this year. The rotation has been an absolute mess and Duensing has had more success as an MLB starter than most of the "alternatives" suggested by jokin will ever experience.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      I suppose I could just step in and settle this, since I don't need to "look" anywhere to identify my own viewpoints.

      In spring of 2011, when the Twins named Duensing as a starter very early on, I criticized the decision and heavily advocated for placing him in the bullpen. See here:

      Unfortunately, for anyone looking past those categories, it's tough to see him sustaining the kind of success he had last year in a starting role. ... As a reliever, he would provide the Twins with an established commodity in a bullpen that lacks many. He'd be able to fully utilize his dominance against lefty swingers rather than facing starting lineups stacked with righties.

      It shouldn't be difficult to see why I was open to giving him a shot this year. The rotation has been an absolute mess and Duensing has had more success as an MLB starter than most of the "alternatives" suggested by jokin will ever experience.
      You should have stuck to your guns, Nick. Duensing had his niche role filled perfectly. (cc this to Snepp)

      You are walking out on a thin limb, though, by cavalierly suggesting that Duensing will end up as the best starter out of the 6 mentioned (Duensing + Vasquez, Hendriks, Hernandez, Hermsen, Hirschfield). The rotation is a mess, this is the perfect time to find out what else you have in SP pitching depth before you start making the hard financial decisions that might include locking up Carl Pavano-type money (or more) to someone as you construct a 2013 rotation in the offseason. Nobody saw what the Twins had in Diamond, I certainly don't remember your prediction, or mine, about him as an "alternative" (more importantly, the Twins, themselves!). I'd say now is the time to find out if there are cheaper and less risky alternatives to high-dollar acquisitions. There is absolutely nothing to lose by finding out more about what you don't know, then to learn the same information that you already knew.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      You should have stuck to your guns, Nick. Duensing had his niche role filled perfectly. (cc this to Snepp)

      You are walking out on a thin limb, though, by cavalierly suggesting that Duensing will end up as the best starter out of the 6 mentioned (Duensing + Vasquez, Hendriks, Hernandez, Hermsen, Hirschfield). The rotation is a mess, this is the perfect time to find out what else you have in SP pitching depth before you start making the hard financial decisions that might include locking up Carl Pavano-type money (or more) to someone as you construct a 2013 rotation in the offseason. Nobody saw what the Twins had in Diamond, I certainly don't remember your prediction, or mine, about him as an "alternative" (more importantly, the Twins, themselves!). I'd say now is the time to find out if there are cheaper and less risky alternatives to high-dollar acquisitions. There is absolutely nothing to lose by finding out more about what you don't know, then to learn the same information that you already knew.
      I'd leave Hendriks off that list for now. I think it's pretty apparent that Cuellar is working on something specific with him in Rochester and as soon as they feel comfortable with his progress, he'll be with the ML club.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I'd leave Hendriks off that list for now. I think it's pretty apparent that Cuellar is working on something specific with him in Rochester and as soon as they feel comfortable with his progress, he'll be with the ML club.
      I'd leave almost everyone off that list for now. Hermsen hasn't even pitched in Triple-A, while Hernandez and Hirschfeld (seriously? Hirschfeld?) have had zero success there. These aren't top-flight prospects that you simply throw directly into an MLB rotation. Just because you haven't seen a guy before doesn't mean he's better than what you have. Plus, with the exception of Hendriks and Hernandez, none of those players are on the 40-man roster.

      When I suggested trying Duensing in the rotation, it was simply because he was readily available and has had success as an MLB starter in the past, and at the time the Twins were trotting out Swarzak and Blackburn. That doesn't mean I think he's a viable long-term option or that I'm "continuing to insist that he's starting material" – amusing statements coming from a person accusing others of being ignorant and not taking the time to track down and accurately recap past conversations.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Blinded by his half season ERA?
      Nah, not blinded... I see he's figured it out.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Quote Originally Posted by nick nelson View Post

      it shouldn't be difficult to see why i was open to giving him a shot this year. The rotation has been an absolute mess and duensing has had more success as an mlb starter than most of the "alternatives" suggested by jokin will ever experience.
      ohhhh snap!@##w$
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      You should have stuck to your guns, Nick. Duensing had his niche role filled perfectly. (cc this to Snepp)
      As I said, you butchered his viewpoint to support your own and were unwilling to provide proof of your exaggerated claims because they didn't exist.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Scott Diamond's downward pitch slant makes hitters top a lot of balls, identical release point masks the pitch for a vital fraction of a second.

      Another factor is the speed difference between his fastball and his curve. The fact that they look so alike coming out of his hand does more than create problems with pitch identification. It also creates a tendency to be early on his curve and late on his fastball, because the two aren't that far apart in speed. This should allow Diamond's infield and outfield to shade slightly to one side or the other, potentially gaining a vital step on a ball put in play.

      One other thing that jumps out is his excellent grouping. It indicates that Diamond is spotting the ball with great precision, which implies that his style of pitching is sustainable so long as he's healthy, and I haven't seen any indication that his motion causes damage.

      I'd love to see the pitch scatter chart on De Vries and Deduno. I bet De Vries has groupings in the corners, and Samuel Deduno's fastball looks like buck shot.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      You should have stuck to your guns, Nick. Duensing had his niche role filled perfectly. (cc this to Snepp)
      As I said, you butchered his viewpoint to support your own and were unwilling to provide proof of your exaggerated claims because they didn't exist.
      You were asked nicely to cease and desist. Geez.

      There were no exaggerated claims, there was no butchering of Nick's viewpoint, the debate regarding Dunce's role happened from the time Duensing was moved into the starting role, I questioned Nick's assertion that Dunce would be fine as a SP and asked Nick at the time to defend it. Feel free to check the dates when he became a SP and then search the TD archives. It isn't up to me to provide you footnotes, you are wasting everyone's time and providing nothing but white noise to this particular thread.
    1. Land Of 10,000 Beasts's Avatar
      Land Of 10,000 Beasts -
      Great work as always Parker. Let's just all hope he can be consistent and keep this going for years to come.
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