Boone Logan’s Ineffective Slider

Scouting The Trade Market: Michael Wuertz
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It has not been a good year for Boone Logan, who has “held” the 46 left-handed batters he’s faced to a .350 wOBA this year. He’s only struck out seven of those guys as well, which is an an unfathomably bad rate (15.2%). The Yankees were apparently concerned enough about Logan’s ability to repeat his success from the second half of last year that they signed Pedro Feliciano to a (not cheap) free agent deal. Feliciano’s injury has again thrust Boone into top LOOGY status, a job he really doesn’t deserve at the moment.

The root cause of Logan’s struggles appears to be his slider, a pitch that went from being 2.50 runs above average (per 100 thrown) in 2010 to 1.71 runs below average this year, a swing of more than four runs. He’s throwing the pitch almost exactly as often this year as last, but batters have gone from swinging and missing at it 25.6% of the time to 12.7% of the time, so the slider’s whiff rate has been cut in half. Part of the problem is just location, which you can see from the heat maps above (what’s a heat map?). Logan did a good job of burying the pitch down and away to lefties last year, but this season it’s ending up in the middle of the plate entirely too often.

The characteristics of the pitch are different that last year as well. Boone has actually picked up about an inch and a half of horizontal movement while losing a mile an hour of velocity. A slower pitch with more break is loopier; the 2010 version of the pitch came in harder and had shorter, sharper break. Leave a loopy slider out over the plate … well that’s just a meatball, even to a same-side batter. Logan’s release point is no different (here’s a gif comparing 2010 to 2011), at least not different enough to worry about (could just be a PitchFX issue). Since his fastball velocity is also down noticeably, it could just be a mechanical issue. Or maybe he’s hiding an injury (or doesn’t even know about it) Both theories make sense, as do countless others.

Given the injuries to the rest of the bullpen, the Yankees need Logan to pitch better than he has just to provide depth. He has to improve against lefties at the absolute minimum, since the only reason he’s on the team in the first place is to neutralize the Adrian Gonzalezes and Adam Linds and Matt Joyces and Nick Markaki of the league. Getting back to burying that slider down and away, preferably just out of the strike zone, is step one of that process.

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Scouting The Trade Market: Michael Wuertz
New design added to the RAB Shop
  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    Nick Markaki

    …and that’s why I’m reading this instead of working…

    • Gonzo

      I don’t know why I almost peed myself when I read that. I have been on pain meds way too long right now.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      We would have also accepted “Nick Marcarcass”.

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        excellent.

  • ADam

    Bring up Flores…. He can’t be worse…

  • Brian

    Nick Markakis doesn’t need anyone to neutralize him. He’s been pretty neutral ever since he signed that extension and got his money. And by neutral I mean one of the worst players in baseball.

  • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    Every post currently on the RAB homepage was written by Mike. Give that man a raise.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Joe’s on vacation this week and Ben’s studying for the bar. I’m a one man band for a few days.

      • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Impressive. Most impressive.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Mike has controlled his fear. Now he must release his hatred.

          • Tampa Yankee

            But the true question is whether or not he is a tank or a solider? AMIRITE?!

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              “Tanksisa”.

      • Mike HC

        What happens when Ben gets a job as a lawyer? Blogging occasionally still, or is he slowly going to be gone.

        • Mike HC

          And he also just started working at Baseball Prospectus if I remember correctly, and he has the 2nd avenue blog. If he hasn’t been writing that much for the past couple of months plus, …. ?

  • Kevin

    ‘Boone Logan IS ineffective’-This should be the title.

    • CP

      Why the irrational hate for Logan? I can’t think of much (if any) time in his Yankee career where he was the worst reliever on the team. As long as he’s better than someone else, there’s no reason for the Yankees to think about cutting him.

      Also, this year he’s been reasonably solid: 3.38ERA, 3.89FIP, 4.44xFIP

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        Who said they need to think about cutting him? Logan just needs to perform better.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        .300/.378/.425 is solid for you?

  • bob

    Boone has been pretty awful

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    I have more faith in Kei Igawa pitching for the Yankees than Boone Logan effectively returning to his so call old self.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      All-time leader in SWB innings pitched: he’s finally ready.

  • Duzzi

    Maybe its just boone logan sucks n had a few lucky months last year. He also has a good changeup he never uses mostly cuz he only faces lefties. Girardi keeps trying to put a square peg in a round hole hes not a LOOGY type just cuz he throws lefty.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Boone Logan’s Weighted Pitch Values (per 100 pitches), via FanGraphs.com:
      Fastball, career: -0.83
      Slider, career: +0.42
      Changeup, career: -0.40

      He also has a good changeup he never uses mostly cuz he only faces lefties.

      No, not really.

      —————

      Boone Logan’s Career Split, via Baseball-Reference.com:

      vs. RHB: 414 PA, .315/.392/.493, 13 HR, 49/46 K/BB
      vs. LHB: 426 PA, .253/.328/.363, 8 HR, 102/40 K/BB

      Girardi keeps trying to put a square peg in a round hole hes not a LOOGY type just cuz he throws lefty.

      No, not really.

      • Monteroisdinero

        Has Boone Logan thrown a changeup in his YANKEE career? I can’t recall seeing one fwiw.

        • CP

          Yes. He throws it 3-5% of the time.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Jesus Christ, he has nearly the same amount of PA’s against righties as lefties and he’s making righties look like fucking Matt Holliday.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Yeah. The concept that Boone Logan is anything other than a LOOGY is wrong. He shouldn’t be working on his shitty changeup to become better against righties, he should be working on making his slider better to become a better LOOGY.

          Logan v. RHB is a lost cause.