Food For Thought: Rafael Soriano

The RAB Radio Show: January 19, 2011
Open Thread: A Tribute to Thames

That graph comes courtesy of Mike Fast, who published it as part of this Baseball Prospectus article. You’ll need a subscription to read the whole thing, but the gist of the article is that Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera aren’t so different. Both guys throw cutters as their primary weapon, which you can see in the graph, but the most interesting part was that Soriano started throwing the pitch more to left-handed batters in 2010 than he had in the past. The result was a few more popups and the best performance against lefties (.267 wOBA against in 2010, .313 wOBA pre-2010) of his career. Before 2010, Soriano went after southpaws with a little two-seamer away that resulted in ground balls and ultimately more hits.

Soriano will undoubtedly see his performance regress a little bit in 2011 because a 16.7% infield fly ball rate and a .212 BABIP is unsustainable, but there’s tangible evidence that suggests his improvement against lefties is real. He altered his approach against them, and the early returns look good.

The RAB Radio Show: January 19, 2011
Open Thread: A Tribute to Thames
  • mbonzo

    I think part of the reason Soriano accepted a setup job in NY (besides the money) was so he could work on his cutter with Mo. I can’t think of a Yankee that throws a bad cutter. Praise Mo.

    • Steve H

      Wasn’t Mo supposed to help Esteban Loaiza with his cutter?

      • mbonzo


        Actually, Mo might have helped, his cutter went from -3.5 to a 15.3 pitch value the following season.

  • Xstar7

    Soriano and Mo are friends right? Maybe Rafael got some tips from the master.

  • Monteroisdinero

    So and Mo. I like it.

    • TopChuckie

      That is the tem-po.

  • Mike

    I guess there are worse things than Joba being a middle reliever. I could be a Reds fan and see Chapman toil away as a reliever.

    • Monteroisdinero

      So Mo and Jo. Don’t like as much.

  • Big Apple

    i throw a nasty cutter

  • mike c

    the BABIP of .212 is low, but it might not be too far off– dominant closers like mo do put up numbers like that

  • Lucas Apostoleris

    Maybe I’ll become a BPro subscriber just so that I can read Mike’s articles. He’s probably the best PITCHf/x analyst out there (or one of them).

  • Plank

    This graph actually scares me. Part of what makes Rivera so effective is how unique his pitches are. If players have been seeing similar pitches for the 2 prior innings (by Soriano) before seeing Rivera, he may be less effective. I have nothing to back that up, just a theory.

    • mike c

      if soriano’s pitching could be that similar to mo’s then I would be very pleased

    • JimmieFoxx

      Funny, I thought the same exact thing.
      I can’t help but think batters will have a slight advantage when facing Soriano and Mo in back to back innings or back to back games.
      May be their (Mo’s and Soriano’s) differing heights and arm angles will help maintain some sort of imbalance.
      Hope we’re just looking way too much into this.

      • mike c

        those pitchers are too good for that theory to make sense. so & mo aren’t going to see 9 batters over two innings unless something goes wrong

  • DH

    Thanks. I don’t know if you read my Soriano cutter comments from yesterday but this is what I was hoping for. Much appreciated.