Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kevin Correia's missing dimension

Kevin Correia has struck out just 4.6 men per nine innings
over the past two seasons, both of which were spent with
the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Twins have still not confirmed (or denied) signing free-agent right-handed starter Kevin Correia, presumably because there are still details to finalize, such as the pitcher passing a physical.

I'll wait until it is actually official, and until Terry Ryan and Co. have given their rationale, to rip the signing. For now: I don't like the idea of signing him, I don't like the reported contract (2 years, $10 million), and I doubt a convincing rationale for it can be made.

But I wanted to take note of a LaVelle Neal tweet of Monday evening, in which the Star Tribune beat writer said Correia's average velocities on his pitches were:

  • Fastball: 90.3 mph
  • Cutter: 88.1
  • Slider: 85.9
  • Change-up: 85.9
  • Curve: 77

Five pitches, and four of them with less than 5 mph of separation among them. That's not a real change-up, or at least it cannot realistically serve the function of a change-up. It's not different enough from the fastball.

Pitching is an art in four dimensions. The strike zone has width, height and depth (that last a factor ignored by the animated strike-zone graphics displayed during most TV game broadcasts). The fourth dimension is time, the ability of the pitcher to throttle up and down.

Earl Weaver, the great manager of the Baltimore Orioles' glory years, was an early adherent of radar guns. Not because Weaver was fascinated by 95-mph fastballs, but because the guns provided objective evidence of pitch separation. The guns made it possible for Scott McGregor, a lefty with almost no velocity, to develop gaps of about 12 mph between his fast ball, his straight change and his curve -- and that made it possible for McGregor to win at least 13 games in eight consecutive seasons.

Correia lacks that dimension to his craft. And if he hasn't developed it at age 32, I don't know that he's ever going to.


  1. The National League version of Nick Blackburn?

  2. Great analysis. Thanks for the Weaver-McGregor reference, and the four dimensions of pitching. Very insightful.