Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Sean Doolittle is a lefty and throws one pitch 87% of the time. Even without knowing his back story — he was a first base prospect that couldn’t stay healthy on the field, and pitching was his chance to “activate his insurance plan” as he put it — you’d be forgiven for throwing the dreaded “LOOGY” moniker on him. First basemen aren’t generally known for their arms, he can’t have a great breaking ball with so little experience pitching, and he’s a lefty with one pitch. He must be there to get lefties out. But no, Doolittle is not a LOOGY, and he talked to me a little about how he makes that one pitch work for him. Not many throw one pitch more often, relatively, than Sean Doolittle. With a minimum of 40 innings, only Jake McGee, Aroldis Chapman, Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen throw their fastball more exclusively. You might notice that most of those guys are also known for their plus-plus velocity. Doolittle’s 93.6 average velocity on his fastball last year ranks second-to-last of the crew. By overall results, though, he hangs with that crew. Ninety-three-six is still good velocity. But there is a pitcher on the list that is a little more like Doolittle than the rest — Jake McGee. McGee throws his fastball 87.2% of the time. It goes 95.7 mph on average. His fastball has 9.5 inches of vertical break and 6.6 inches of horizontal break. Doolittle throws his fastball 86.8% of the time. It goes 93.6 mph on average. His fastball has 9.6 inches of vertical break and 6.4 inches of horizontal break. Looks like a pitch comp to me! But Doolittle thinks there’s more to this than just break and velocity. “I throw three quarters and I’m so far up the first base side of the rubber that it comes in on a diagonal, and that’s why it’s such an effective pitch against righties” Doolittle said to me. And the lefty has a reverse platoon split indeed. It’s a small sample, but he strikes out seven percent more right-handed batters than lefties. How far out is the former firstbaseman’s placement on the first base side? Sorta. He has the 34th-most extreme “x” value on his release. Right between Sean Marshall, Charlie Furbush and Randy Wolf, there’s Doolittle. If you follow the list all the way to the very extreme — another half foot or so — you do get some interesting names: Jake Diekman, Joe Thatcher, Sean Burnett, Javier Lopez and Clay Rapada are the top five. As a group, these lefties have a career FIP around three against lefties, and close to five against righties. They aren’t all strictly LOOGYs, but they have LOOGY tendencies. Seems strange that a lefty with one pitch would be less of a LOOGY by embracing a release point more associated with LOOGYs in the past. But this post from Jeremy Greenhouse on how players fare against extreme arm slots might provide a clue. Take a look at Ryan Howard‘s offense against different arm slots. Yes, he’s bad against the LOOGY slot, but look at the extreme righties — they give him fits too. Perhaps any extreme works to disrupt traditional splits? And of course there’s more to it. “I try to do a good job of hiding the ball with my front side — it kind of comes out of a weird spot with my high front side and where I throw, my release point is kind of by my ear,” said Doolittle, adding that “deception is kind of why I get away” with throwing one pitch so often. That’s a bit hard to test, but we can take a look: It’s not the greatest GIF, but it gives you a sense of where Doolittle sets up on the rubber, his high front side (watch the glove), and a little bit of the release point by the ear. If we bring this back to Jake McGee, we can focus this ramble a bit. Doolittle has a fastball that looks like McGee’s, but it comes in two miles per hour slower. That’s significant. And McGee has always been known for having a league-worthy slider. Doolittle? The “lack of even an average breaking ball” was something that kept him from being drafted as a pitcher. Doolittle can hang, though, because he uses deception and a funky release point to augment his stuff. He also thinks being able to place it on both sides of the plate helps him, something that was part of his scouting report in college (when he threw 89-92 as a starter). Maybe the one-pitch magic won’t last forever, but as Sean Doolittle will remind you — “I’ve only been pitching for two years.” He spent the offseason working on his slider and he has confidence in his changeup, and he’s going to keep honing his craft. But for a guy that turned to pitching “because I didn’t want to retire on the DL,” Doolittle has already done a great deal.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Barry Switzer urged Cowboys to draft Murray with great quote

SF Giants file brief in support of gay marriage to Supreme Court

Jay Cutler available to teams in trade

Brian Hoyer praises Johnny Manziel for checking into rehab

Dockett: I would have signed with Cardinals for less money

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Darrelle Revis' decision to come down to Patriots, Jets

Maurice Jones-Drew announces his retirement from NFL

Ndamukong Suh is biggest prize, risk in free agency

Associated Press will have 'robots' writing game stories

Jaworski on Winston: 'I would not take him at that No. 1 pick

Peyton Manning passes physical, returning to Broncos

WATCH: Craig Sager emotional in warm welcome back to TNT

Likeliest landing spots for Ndamukong Suh

Tigers pitcher Alfredo Simon drives a chrome Mercedes

WATCH: Ronda Rousey breaks guy's ribs who doubts her ability

Michelle Beadle’s campaign to be cast in ‘Sharknado 3′ pays off

Ten teams who have tightened the belt

Dodgers will have a tough time dumping Andre Ethier

Brian Cashman: Derek Jeter should be final Yankees captain

Tom Brady, Rory McIlroy to play round at Augusta National

No one knows who will win the 2014-15 NBA MVP

Giants TE on plane that slid off runway in New York

TSN to stop airing tweets after trade deadline debacle

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Larry Bird trash talks Dominique Wilkins’ statue

Likeliest landing spots for Suh

Jay Cutler available to teams in trade

Ronda Rousey breaks guy's ribs

Ten teams who have tightened the belt

Mayweather waited for Pacquiao to get old, right?

Maurice Jones-Drew announces his retirement from NFL

Ndamukong Suh is biggest prize, risk in free agency

AP will have 'robots' writing game stories

Manning officially returning to Broncos

No one knows who will win the MVP

Pop rips notion of NBA Finals in July

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.