== He’s been “Dominant Dominic” ==
In part 1 we fielded a question about the value of Dominic Leone. The commenter felt that Leone wasn’t getting much credit.
We don’t really know his general reputation out in the whole blog-o-sphere, but we agree that his value deserves to be shouted from the rooftops a bit.
But first, to lay the foundation, we set out the somewhat amazing value of the entire bullpen. Then we raised the question of whether Leone might be its MVP.
Now, being fair, we point out that Logan Davis wrote for Lookout Landing a couple of weeks ago, and the landscape has, in fact, changed somewhat. First off, in terms of traditional stats, we can see significant change in Leone’s first month (April 6 to May 6) and his appearances since (May 11 and later).
Note how the walks drop a bunch and the strikeouts go up. And the OPS-against, obviously, plummets.
|Since 1st Mo.||57||53||9||2||1||0||3||18||0.170||0.211||0.245||0.456|
And now our designer Brainstorm stats. From this, we see that Logan had a point. For that first month, Leone had a sharp-looking ERA (1.93), but his underlying stats weren’t all that special. Indeed, his 87 composite score indicates below-average performance.
But since then …
|Since 1st Mo.||200||132||154||126||181||154||234|
Well, you can’t do a whole lot better than that. Of course, it’s a small amount of data, but the shift is dramatic.
OK, so what happened?
Well, for one thing, his velocity went up — on both his regular fastball and his cutter. Again, not a ton of data, but a pretty big difference.
[Note that the scale changes a bit (Brooks sets the scale automatically), so you have to adjust a bit.]
Clearly, his fastball has moved up from around 95 to above 95. And the cutter has gone from below 90 to above 90.
Obviously, that’s a pretty devastating combination on its face, but is it working?
Logan was worried about Leone’s swinging strike rate. Well, we can see that the supercharged Leone is winning that battle, too.
- April 6 – May 6: 9.4%
- May 11 – June 17: 14.7%
In other words, he’s gone from below-average to a level that only guys like Koji Uehara and Aroldis Chapman beat.
In fact, here’s your list of guys (per fangraphs.com) who pitched at least 50.0 IP in 2013 and had whiff rates of 14.7% or higher:
|Koji Uehara||Red Sox||18.50%|
So maybe we stop worrying too much about Leone’s swing-and-miss rate being too low. He might not keep it up for the full season, but clearly when he’s got things working, he’s going to miss bats.
Is Leone the bullpen MVP then? I think in the last month he is. He and Furbush have both been valuable, but Leone has pitched more innings, and in the last month he’s been harder to hit. Actually, in the last month he’s been almost impossible to hit.
Will he keep it up, or this just a temporary spike of un-hittable-ness? We’ll have to watch the velocity and the whiff rate. (Maybe he’s a slow starter who likes warmer weather? He went to college at Clemson, but he’s from Connecticut, so that doesn’t really prove anything.)
But we also know how devastating Leone was in the minors when he had his stuff working, which is why we were touting him as a top prospect last year, when no one else was. So we’re optimistic.