Originally written on Camden Crazies  |  Last updated 4/26/12
Mlb_may_03_26c9

When the Orioles traded Jeremy Guthrie for Jason Hammel (and Matt Lindstrom), I said " It's entirely possible that Hammel and Guthrie are similarly good pitcher... If the Hammel of old shows up in 2012, there's a good chance the Orioles will have actually upgraded their rotation." It's incredibly early, but so far the returns have been positive:


Guthrie Hammel ERA 5.92 1.73 FIP 5.98 2.40 xFIP 5.69 2.74 K/9 1.9 8.7 BB/9 3.7 2.8 HR/9 1.5 0.4 fWAR -0.2 0.9
Obviously Guthrie is unlikely to continue walking twice as many batters as he strikes out (especially since batters aren't really making any better contact against him than they used to). Hammel has looked really good so far though. Here's a rough update of his whiffs per year chart:

Year Fastball Slider Curve Change Two-seamer Overall 2009 12.7% 23.4% 46.8% 31.9%
21.5% 2010 11.7% 27.3% 29.7% 18.6%
17.5% 2011 10.4% 27.6% 26.2% 26.1%
16.8% 2012 29.5% 39.5% 28.6% 12.5% 16.9% 26.3%
You could argue that Hammel threw some two-seamers in 2009-11 too, even if BrooksBaseball doesn't classify them that way. He's definitely going to that pitch often in 2012 though, as the average movement on all fastballs he's thrown has increased by around two inches of tail. And certainly no matter how you classify them, Hammel is throwing harder than he ever has in a season* (~93.5 mph) while also missing more bats with the pitch. On top of that, he's also getting a ton of groundballs; ~70% with the sinker and almost 62% overall.

* Normally, it looks like Hammel's velocity goes up over the course of the season, but it's starting out higher this year. It'll be interesting to see if he maintains it or - if not - which direction it goes.

The improved whiff rate on the slider is interesting because that's become Hammel's primary non-fastball offering this year:

Year Fastball(s) Slider Curve+Change 2009 60% 15% 25% 2010 61% 19% 20% 2011 61% 17% 22% 2012 62% 24% 14%
Maybe it's a pitch-sequencing thing? Sinkers and sliders are supposed to go better together (more so than sinkers and curveballs or change-ups), so it's kind of neat to see the increased slider usage coinciding with the increased number of two-seamers.

It's very unlikely that Hammel will continue pitching at even close to this level - he's 3rd in the AL in ERA, 4th in FIP, and 4th in xFIP* - but he may just be this year's "JJ Hardy" and pitch at an above average clip like he did in '09-10, which would be pretty neat. Groundballs + strike-outs + good control is certainly a winning combo**.

* Jeremy Guthrie actually has the worst xFIP in the majors amongst qualified pitchers. Hope he turns things around.

** Pitchers in the majors with GB% over 55%, K/9 over 7.5, and BB/9 under 3:

Clayton Kershaw
Jason Hammel

Seems good.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Lovullo: I don’t see Hanley Ramirez playing left field again in 2015

Judge Berman’s one-sentence order repeats Deflategate decision timeline

Ishmael Adams suspended indefinitely following arrest

McNair: Pats caused problem by not cooperating with Deflategate

Browns terminate contract of Phil Taylor

WWE’s “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka charged in 30-year-old murder case

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Randall Cobb: ‘I don’t plan on missing a game’

Ronda Rousey confirms she was supposed to fight Gina Carano

Harbaugh denies using F-word in Jay Gruden exchange

Urban Meyer: Both J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones will play

Legal expert: NFL's reported offer to Brady 'really ridiculous'

Seguin called out by former Maple Leafs CEO for partying

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

Underdogs: Hopefuls that can shock in the World Cup

Manfred digs Shoeless Joe a deeper grave

Why Mike Trout ain't right

The Opening Drive: Jamal Anderson warns UM fans before heading to Salt Lake City

Best and worst MLB players in August

RG3 blames intern for liking Instagram post trashing owner

Four most surprising roster cuts from NFL teams

Raiders cut Trent Richardson

Caroline Wozniacki smoking cover of ‘Rhapsody’

Everett Golson named FSU's starting QB

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker