The velocity of Phil Hughes

Yanks about to lock up Cano
Minor League's Hardest Throwers

A few among us are skeptical of Phil Hughes because of his decrease in velocity following first a hamstring injury and then an ankle injury. Yankee fans are indeed demanding. But worry not, says Phil, in a Q-and-A on his blog:

After coming back from my injury last season my mechanics were a little out of whack. This led to a little loss of velocity and command. When Dave arrived in September we were able to work out some things and I think that had a lot to do with the success I had at the end of the season. It was nice to finish off the year on a good note so I have something to work toward to get back to my normal self in 2008.

So there you go. Hughes looked great in September and October, and a strong start should put all of you velocity-doubters to rest.

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Yanks about to lock up Cano
Minor League's Hardest Throwers
  • Ivan

    I can’t believe we are still having this arguement.

    Look he doesn’t have Joba fastball (but then again who does)
    but when healthy and at full strength, his fastball has alot heat period.

  • Count Zero

    I never realized there were so many Yankee fans from Missouri. ;-)

  • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the worst thing that happened to Phil Hughes’ velocity in 2007 was Joba showing up.

    • daneptizl

      Because he was trying to challenge Joba’s mph? Or why?

      • Geno

        Next to a bullet train, a sports car looks slow.

    • Moose

      INCORRECT MIKE,

      SEE BELOW

  • Stephen

    Check out how many people have visited Hughes’ blog from Australia. That’s a bit strange.

    • Mick Fury

      Phil (and the Yankees) have fans all over. Chile, Israel, Russia, China…pretty impressive

  • Ivan

    I did learn that he throws a spike curve or knucke curve, alla Mike Mussina or Roy Halladay.

    • mooks

      I wish someone had asked him for more details about his knuckle curve (story goes is that in 2006, Mike Mussina showed it to him, and Hughes changed his grip, and made his curve into a knuckle curve).

  • marc

    I jokingly bash phil for his velocity all the time but its not joba and his 95+heat that makes me question phil but rather every scouting report I read for 2 years that had him in 92-94 range not the 89-91 range that I ended up seeing. Just a misconception I guess…

    • Moose

      THANK YOU MARC,

      THE COMLPAINTS ON HUGHES’ VELOCITY HAD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH JOBA SHOWING UP. INSTEAD, IT HAD EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT HE NEVER WENT ABOVE 94 ONCE IN ALL OF 2007 (INCLUDING PRE-INJURY), AND HE GOT POUNDED EARLY-ON AFTER THE INJURY SINCE TEAMS WERE SITTING ON HIS NOW 90-91 MPH FASTBALL AND HAMMERING IT.

      ONCE HUGHES GOT HIS MECHANICS IN CHECK, HE WAS FINE. BUT PEOPLE, DONT FOOL YOURSELVES, HUGHES IS NOT A POWER PICTHER. HE’S A GOOD PITCHER WHO THROWS HARD, BUT HE’S NOWHERE NEAR THE LIKES OF “OLD” CLEMENS, JOBA, ZUMAYA, BECKETT, ETC. THOSE GUYS CONSISTENTLY HIT 95-96 (AND SOMETIMES HIGHER).

      THE GOOD THING ABOUT HUGHES IS THAT HE HAS A “SNEAKY” FASTBALL THAT CATCHES PEOPLE OFF GUARD DUE TO HIS SMOOTH DELIVERY (ALA MARIANO). BUT IN REGARDS TO PURE “POWER”, HUGHES IS NOT THAT KIND OF PITCHER. SORRY.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

        Easy on the Caps Lock there, Moose.

      • Count Zero

        This seems a little overstated? I mean, I agree that Hughes is not a Zumaya or a Beckett (or a Joba), but you’re saying his velocity sucks because he never went above 94?

        A guy who can throw 94 (even if it’s only occasionally) may not be a “power” pitcher, but he’s not a “finesse” guy either. Make it 94 with his smooth delivery, excellent command and a devastating curveball (which is really his best pitch) and you have a potential ace. He didn’t get hit hard after his injury because he was throwing 90-91 — he got hit because he was throwing 90-91 AND he lost command of both his fastball and his curve (as well as the falling-off-a-table break). And according to him, that was what Eiland fixed mechanically prior to the ALDS.

        I didn’t see any Indians teeing off on 90-91 in the playoffs, which proves it wasn’t really the velocity that was killing him. If he regains his command and throws 91-93, he’s downright filthy. When he has that curve going in the high 70s with location, a 93 fastball looks like 96 to a hitter. If it’s on the corner and at the knees, it might as well be Zumaya.

        Remember: Injury and all, Phil still posted the highest K/9 (7.2) of any starter we had last year. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see that number over 8 (maybe over 9) this year.

        • kanst

          Hughes isnt that much like Clemens at all if you want a good comp a young mussina is probably a good comp. Hughes throws low-mid 90’s with a plus curve and an above average change. That is a lot like young Mussina and look where that got him.

          I prefer 94 and controlled to 98 without control every day and twice on sunday

  • Steve S

    Can I just ask one favor? I think the Hughes trade scare is almost over. Can we stop hyping him, this blog is turning into super-mush for this kid. Please stop.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Considering the comments we’ve gotten in the past about Phil’s velocity, I’d say this is a legitimate post addressing concerns that Yankees fan have, rightly, held over the last few months.

      But what do I know? I just write this stuff :)

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      It’s not just about Hughes the pitcher. He represents a new movement towards building from within and refusing to overpay for over-the-hill free agents. The super-mush is deserved.

  • steve (different one)

    yes, can we please stop speaking so highly about young, talented yankee players on a yankee blog?

    • Steve S

      Im just making a comment about Phil, there are a plethora of other players we can discuss. I just think the Santana trade has pushed him to the forefront and perhaps we should relax in hyping him. He had a nice start last year, injury marred and inconsistent, but good with really good signs. BUT call me superstitious, I feel like we have gotten carried away. And Ben, your right absolutely valid, but this is coming from Phil in January. The only way to answer the question is to see him in April popping the mitt at 91-85. Its the only empirical way to end the debate. And Im not sure the anti-Hughes voices really enjoy this blog that much. Most of them have been run out of here.

      • Motown Yankees Fan

        We can always talk about Melky.

  • huuz

    @ mooks

    phil mentioned on his old website that he has thrown the knuckle or spike curve since high school…so there is no truth to the story that Moose taught it to him. **maybe** Moose gave him some tips…i don’t know…but phil has been throwing that curve since HS…

  • Rich

    It has been apparent to some of us that if Hughes hadn’t gotten hurt, he woudl be as untouchable as Joba.

  • YankCrank20

    the hype has clearly gotten out of control. hughes and joba are going to need time to grow and adapt. all this attention and critique from a couple 22-23 year old kids isn’t going to help any of them. at this point we’re going to be booing phil and joba every time they don’t strike somebody out; much like a-rod every time he doesn;t hit a home run.

    give the kids some time, i hate to see it but i can see 2008 as a transition year for the yanks where they miss the playoffs. our young arms in the rotation and pen need to develope, and next year a lot of guys are off the books

  • Jeff

    I need to see it before I believe it. I agree with Steve that so far there is no reason to have this all out love affair with the kid. I don’t care about minor leage stats or scouting reports. I want to see him win 18 + games in the majors and then I’ll jump on the band wagon too. Just have to see it first.

  • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    Phil Hughes went 3-0 with a 2.66 ERA in his last 4 starts in 2007. He then threw 5.2 innings in the playoffs, giving up 3 hits, 0 walks and 6 K. Small sample size yes, but a reason to be optimistic.

  • dan

    Moose, do u have any supporting evidence or fact to base your argument on?

    As for his diminished 2007 fastball…

    http://baseball.bornbybits.com.....ughes.html

    Idk how many time’s I’ve had to post that in a Phil Hughes argument.

    • JR_CLT

      Dan – I have never seen that. What amazes me is the consistancy of his release point for ALL of his pitches. That’s amazing for a soon to be 22 yr old!

  • Realist

    I like the part about “Dave” arriving and helping with his mechanics the best
    ;-) .

    He knows the “big three” better than Gator did and I believe will be a huge impact on their early pro careers.

    They looked good under Gator , one can only hope/wonder what they will look like under Eiland?

    • RZG

      He might know the “Big 3″ better than Gator but he doesn’t know them much more. Based on the speed they went through the system I doubt he’s seen any of them pitch a total of 40 times in the minors.

      • Realist

        So that lessens the point of how Dave helped him with his mechanics…meaning Hughes? Plus 40 times in the minors is more than any of them pitched in the majors????

        Gator was one of my alltime fave Yanks but imo , Eiland will be an upgrade with the big three and the young relievers that may be relied on this coming season.

        • RZG

          No it doesn’t lessen the point that he helped with his mechanics. I was referring to the statement that Eiland knew the 3 pitchers better than Guidry.

  • Barry

    hughes is hughes. expect small things and you’ll be happier when he does big things. hughes kennedy and joba are all very talented, and yes the odds are against them, but you’ve got to pull for them

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  • RollignWave

    I don’t really see it as overhype…. it really depends on where you know a guy’s ceiling is .. and realize that “ceiling” doesn’t mean he’ll reach that, but means he could be that if everything breaks the right way.

    Hughes’ ceiling isn’t Clemens. they weren’t the same type of pitcher to begin with. Phil is much more similar to Mussina in his prime than Clemens.

    Joba however, is fairly similar to Roger, both were passed up in the draft (Roger was drafted 18th overall) because of… you guessed it, injury concern, it proved true for Clemens early too, as he had shoulder surgery in the minors. but both destroyed the minors and came up very quickly and had very immediate success.

    EVERYTHING has to break right for those two to reach that type of level, but to say that they have that sort of potential is hardly ridiculas.

  • kanst

    Ok so just to put some facts to this stuff, I looked up the enhanced gameday data for all of Phil Hughes starts. I then deleted any pitch under 87 mph (all his fastballs). That left me with about 560 pitches thrown. Those pitches ranged in speed from 86.9 MPH and 96.3 MPH. The average velocity was 91.45 MPH, the median velocity was 91.5, the mode was 92.2.

    Graphing the velocity over time you dont see much of a pattern, his velocity dropped a bit (~2-3 MPH) after the injury. There is a spike corresponding to like the 5th start after coming back but then the velocity settled back down to about 92 MPH.

    Maybe later I will do some more analyzing but I dont feel like it.

    To me it basically looks like Hughes is a pitcher who throws 91-93 topping out at 94-95 or so.

    • dan

      I already posted his Josh Kalk player card above. Your numbers differ from his a little bit. But you definitely have the right idea in talking about actual data, which moose clearly does not agree with.

      • Moose

        It’s not that I dont agree with “cold hard evidence” like you guys. Its just that I dont have time to do hours of research to locate stats and scouting reports, etc. I base my opinions on what I see with my eyes, not read in data reports. From what I saw last year, Hughes was a very good picther, but he wasnt your typical “power” blow-away picther. That’s it.

        Please excuse me, I actually have to get back to work now. Apparently unlike certain bloggers who lambasted me for not doing copious evidentiary research.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

          No bloggers lambasted you for opining with the facts. The other commenters did. Feel free to apologize whenever you want.

          • Moose

            Obviously, i meant the commenters. I figured “blogger” and “commenter” were synonomous. Chill with the sarcasm Benjamin.

            • kanst

              I wasnt trying to criticize I was simply doing the research since I did have the time to do it.

    • steve (different one)

      BUT THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE. MOOSE SAID HE NEVER WENT ABOVE 94 MPH THE ENTIRE SEASON. SURELY YOUR COLD, HARD EVIDENCE MUST BE WRONG.

      • Count Zero

        Nice touch. :-)

    • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

      let me ask, how were you able to do that?

      the only tool i know of is:
      http://baseball.bornbybits.com.....d_tool.php

      but you cant differentiate by date.

      • kanst

        Enhanced gameday logs all their play by play data

        http://gd2.mlb.com/components/game/mlb/year_2007/

        You can look by date and find a game hughes pitched in. There will be a .xml file with pitch velocities, release points, break and a bunch of other info. You can normally import that data into excel to screw around with. If you fee like doing it Phil Hughes player ID is 461833

      • dan

        Theres directions on how to do it here:

        http://webusers.npl.uiuc.edu/~.....acking.htm

  • Ivan

    Yo those info are quite amazing when you look at those specific data.

  • Steve S

    I just want to be clear. I dont think we have over hyped Hughes, I just think we need to stop now that the Santana trade is pretty much off the radar in fear of completely mushing him. Again there is no logic to it, but the reality is we love this kid based on a gut feeling and a very small sample size. It could all fall apart as it could with Joba and Kennedy. I think Hughes is going to be great, but there no empirical or objective support that I have for that.

  • bart

    Hughes will never be Santana — the best RH is NEVER equal to the best LH in Yankee Stadium — there are lots of reasons to love Phil Hughes but make the trade

    • KAnst

      Trades arent just based off a one to one talent swap.

      There are other implications like money, and the other players. If it was Hughes for Santana I bet a lot of people make that trade, but Hughes, Melky, Marquez and Hilligross (or whatever the latest encantation is) is not a good trade for the Yankees.

      Santana will be better then Hughes over the next 6 years but over that period of time Hughes will make something like 20 million dollars while Santana will probably make 120 million. Is Santana 100 million dollars better then Hughes plus the other guys. I dont think so.

      Personally I think Santana is due for an injury. He had some issues down the stretch, and a lot of small pitchers run into injury problems later in his career.

  • Curramba

    Love the kid, nothing wrong with his velo other than 2mths on the DL. The kid will be fine and I’d rather have him in the starting rotation than trade for Santana. If we can get Santana via FA fine, if not let him go to the sucker that’s willing to give up not only some of the better prospects but also a ton money to sign him long term.

  • Curramba

    RZG,
    Actually, he’s seen quite a bit. He was Joba’s and Ian’s pitching coach in Hawaii and was Phil’s coach in AA and if I recall correctly in A ball.

    • Realist

      Exactly my point…thanks for adding to what I left out ;-) :-)

  • b/c

    I jusdt went back and watched that Rangers game where Hughes got injured. I’d forgotten how his change was in that game. He was also throwing a easy 94 on the conrners. He is going to take MLB by a storm.