Wang: I was tired during the playoffs

2008 Preseason Top 30 Prospects: The Just Misses
D-Day for McNamee, Clemens arrives as Pettitte's words come under scrutiny

Kat O’Brien, on her first day in Tampa, checked in with Chien-Ming Wang, and the Yanks’ ace said he took his playoff failures pretty hard. It took Wang a month to get over the losses, and he says that his arm was dropping so that he couldn’t get on top of his sinker. With the youngster breathing down his neck, Chien-Ming Wang will, I predict, turn in a big season in 2008.

2008 Preseason Top 30 Prospects: The Just Misses
D-Day for McNamee, Clemens arrives as Pettitte's words come under scrutiny
  • Jamal G

    1-1 with a 2.70 ERA entering in the 2007 post season. Obviously not much to go on since it was just two divisional series he played in over 2 seasons but enough that it made the label of him as a guy who can’t pitch in the post season just ludicrous. I still believe he’s a #1 pitcher because I know in a 2-1 game with runners on the corners and 1 out, I want Wang and his heavy sinker on the mound instead of a “true” ace that will go for the strikeout.

    • Mike A.

      In that situation, I’d take the strikeout over the ground ball every time.

      • Jamal G

        I can see why you would, to eliminate the possibility of a seeing-eye grounder but personally when I play I like to eliminate as many chances for the opposing team as I can. So in that situation I would rather take my chances on the inning-ending DP than allow my opponent 2 ABs in that situation by going for the K.

      • kunaldo

        yeah dude, you take the strikeout hands down in that situation

        granted, he may have been tired, and it hampered his pitching…but still, wang being a groundball pitcher allows for too much luck being involved in a small sample size in the playoffs….strikeout pitchers will take away that luck b/c players wont put the ball in play as much…

        • Realist

          Andy Petitte in his prime was a master at getting the ground out double play…………just sayin’……..but what the hell do I know??????????????

          • Realist

            OOOps Pettitte not what I misspelled….either way , don’t dismiss the value of a double play!

  • Rich

    I wonder what caused Wang to be more tired this postseason than last. Could being on the DL early in 2007 have affected his ability to build up endurance?



    Post AS: 92
    Pre-AS: 126
    Sept: 31

    2006 Postseason ERA: 4.05


    Post AS: 95
    Pre AS: 104.1
    Sept: 33

    2007 Postseason ERA: 19.06

    • dan

      He did throw more pitches per plate appearance this year (3.47) than in 2006 (3.39) or 2005 (3.28), so that might have contributed to his fatigue.

  • Lanny

    The great pitcher can strike 2 guys out when he needs to.

    Wang is good. Not great.

    If he ever develops a 3rd pitch he could be great.

  • pete

    wang isn’t a strikeout pitcher, but he’s also not incapable of striking guys out. you only see those 0 or 1 k games when his sinker is biting so well that he is never in a runners-on situation that requires a strikeout. However, most of his outings in the 2nd half produced 5-6 ks. His slider is a good enough strikeout pitch for him to be reliable in the playoffs. The bigger issue is hype. Baseball people love to call wang a great #2, but not that front line ace, despite great win totals and overall numbers, not to mention filthy stuff. Thus hitters are not afraid going up against him, as they would be against somebody like Beckett, who, incidentally, does not deserve the constant placement alongside santana as the two true frontline aces in the AL. If you want to call Beckett a true frontline ace, that’s fine. But don’t put him in any league with Santana. Santana had a bad year last year with a 3.33 ERA. Beckett’s 06 ERA was over 5. In other words, he has had one (1) truly dominant/cy young caliber year. He was good in Florida. He has never been comparable to Santana.

  • dan

    Sorry to be off-topic here, but this just made my day…. If you read the latest post on Fire Joe Morgan (titled “Why, God, Why”), my email to Ken Tremendous is posted in the comments (also under “Dan”), about the PCL. My life is complete.

  • Pablo Zevallos

    It’s been said many times that when Wang goes for strikeouts, it’s because his sinker is off. He then resorts to his slider, an average-to-above-average offering, to do his work. See the Detroit game in the 2nd half.

  • jboogz

    I’d like to see some numbers depicting Wang’s pitch selection against his WHIP, more importantly what pitch does he go to the most that gives the free pass? For some reason I feel like he favors the slider low and away to Rs and a way too low FB/SNK to the south paws. Anyone know of site that can produce those numbers?

  • bill73083

    dan, congrats on being quoted on FJM. You made a great point, and good job bringing up Bubba in some sort of relevant baseball comment.

    Someone mentioned above that Wang’s inability to strike batters out makes him more prone to bad luck in small sample sizes. I think that the whole thing with small sample sizes is that anything can happen to anyone. That’s why CC Sabathia can have a 8.81 ERA in the 2006 playoffs while Jeff Weaver could have a 2.43 ERA in 2005. The most someone can do is put their best players on the field and hope for the best. Sometimes they match their ability, sometimes they surpass it, and sometimes they simply crumble.

  • daneptizl

    Just how big of a season? You can use a range on ERA.

  • Edwantsacracker

    The only thing I really don’t like about this is Wang is admitting that he was too tired to raise his arm up to get into a proper throwing motion. He was sent out on short rest in the playoffs! Torre and Guidry dropped the ball on this one.

    • kunaldo

      edwantsacracker, he wasnt on short rest in the first game though….

      bill73083, sure, anything can happen to anyone in a small sample size, but understand that when you can take away the element of luck via the strikeout, you have a better chance of succeeding than if you rely on outs from balls in play(not just balls getting through for hits, but even errors made by our “wonderful” SS)

      look, i think wang is a great pitcher…especially in the regular season…and i think he has the potential to be awesome, b/c he has nasty stuff, and has shown that he can strikeout guys when he’s on(10Ks vs the mets!)….but until he becomes more brandon webb, where he can get a K when necessary, but use GBs to be efficient, i can’t say he’s a frontline ace yet

      but he is the ace of our staff, for the time being

      • edwantsacracker

        But his sinker didn’t sink the first game, and Wang knew that it was because he wasn’t getting on top of the ball, and has now admitted that he was unable to do it due to fatigue.

        I certainly appreciate the competitive drive that would make you want to take the ball, but a good manager and a good pitching coach has to be able to decide whether or not their players can really do it.

  • samiamsports

    Wait a minute, I thought sinkerballers are more effective when tired?? I always remember them saying the more well rested mendoza used to be the more ineffective he was…

    • Ben K.

      Depends on mechanics, pitching style, etc. Not every sinkerballer is the same. If Wang relies on getting on top of the ball for his sinker to be effective, having a tired arm won’t make him or his sinker better.

      • ceciguante

        ok, but how many of these batters were faced with a runner on 1st and less than 2 outs? far fewer than 823. but i agree that greater K ability = more versatile and therefore more effective, esp if his sinker isn’t working. let’s not forget that having another weapon is huge even in non-DP situations, just to keep batters unsure of what to look for.

        still, if wang had his good sinker against the indians, everyone would be saying “wow, ace.” he faltered last year, so now it’s popular to highlight his weaknesses. he’s not perfect, but media and fans can be a little overreactive. here’s to hoping he returns to form and then some in 2008.

  • samiamsports

    And If there are runners on 1st and 3rd and one out , i rather a ground ball pitcher on the mound. you could argue either way, but i think people prefer the strikeout just bec its sexier

    • Ben K.

      Wang faced 823 batters last season and induced just 32 double-play balls. With odds like those, you want the strike out guy on the mound every time. The fewer balls put in play, the fewer runs score.

      • kunaldo

        Totally agree Ben K…you get an absolute result, the strikeout, instead of making the batter put the ball in play…wang doesnt actually WILL the ball to go to an infielder, it just so happens to more often b/c he gets so many groundballs…

        homeruns and strikeouts are “sexy” b/c they are absolute result…they depend on nothing else(defense, luck) to produce a run or an out(respectively)

  • jboogz

    Not sure if anyone else cares but I found out how to chart the pitch location from this website:

    Its got step by step instructions on how to modify an open source code to download the pitch f/x data straight from the MLB. If you’re like me and love to crunch the numbers for your analysis take a look here and be prepared to lose the next couple of weeks of free time. Thanks to the guys are Replacement Level for linking to the original article by Mike at

  • jboogz

    Ben K.,

    How can you cherry pick the 823 batters and say “just 32 double play balls”. Did every batter come up with a double play opportunity? You need to look at the ratio of double play opp/conversions, that would give you a more accurate picture. Also where does 32 GIDPs rank as compared to all Major League starters? I would say its most likely top 15.

    And [sorry to be a blowhard] with Cap’n Jeets rapidly decreasing range, how many more would he have had with a SS with decent range? I am a Yankee fan, and as one I recognize the brilliance behind #2’s career but seeing his sweet as candy jump throws do not offset the lack of ability to cover plays to his left.

    • Ben K.

      I’ll get back to you with this data – if I can – in a bit. But you never want to have the ball in play if you can avoid it. There’s too much room for error.

    • Ben K.

      Here’s some info for you. Not sure if it helps.

      Wang faced 153 batters with runners on first and got 25 DPs. He faced 44 batters with runners on 1st and 2nd and recorded 3 DPs. He faced 26 batters with runners on 1st and 3rd and recorded 3 DPs. He faced 9 batters with the bases loaded and recorded 1 DP. As a caveat, some of those batters came up with two outs. I’m not sure how many. I’d take the top strike out pitcher over those numbers, especially with more than one runner on base.

      To answer your other question, Wang led the AL with 32 ground ball double plays. He induced two other DPs as well.

  • jboogz

    Understanbly so. Case in point BJ Upton’s .400 BABIP from last year. BTW, I’m totally recalling this from memory and could be completely wrong.

  • kunaldo

    jbooz, the avg BABIP is about .300 i believe, and anything above or below is usually caused by luck….

    so, with runners on first and third, would you take the 70% chance of an out(not necessarily a DP either) with a ball in play, or the 100% chance of 1 out with a strikeout? And since the situation was 1st and 3rd, 1 out, you would eliminate the sac fly after the K as well.

  • kunaldo

    sorry, i meant jboogz

  • jboogz

    I agree the strikeout is always a preferable outcome to anything hit into the field of play. I’m gonna take some of the numbers the gracious Ben K. pulled and grab some of Wangers K info and see where it leads me in terms of K’s produced in pressure situations and the corresponding DP’s/GB outs in the same scenario. If anyone is interested I’ll repost later otherwise I’ll keep that juicy nugget to myself.

    Also, if my gf allows me freedom on Vday tomorrow night I’ll be doing the pitch f/x database building and posting my results on a soon to be named piece of primo internest real estate.

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