A statistical analysis of Josh Spence

For those of you who love statistics you will enjoy this analysis of Josh Spence on the blog Seedlings to Stars today by Nathaniel Stoltz

Josh Spence was a ninth-round draft pick of the Padres out of Arizona State in 2010 who zoomed to the big leagues in almost exactly one year. Formerly a 3rd-round pick of the Angels in 2009, he didn’t sign and missed all of the next season with a nerve issue in his throwing elbow.

Spence was billed as a finesse guy coming out of college, but he was obviously regarded highly nonetheless, since two teams picked him in the top 10 rounds in back-to-back seasons. It comes as a big surprise, then, that the lefty arrived in the big leagues with a fastball that averages 83.8 mph, slowest among 2011′s rookie hurlers.

A starting pitcher through 2010, the lefty was moved to the bullpen in 2011 and pitched solidly (3.28 FIP) in Double-A before his recall. Obviously, even the move to shorter stints didn’t boost his velocity.

Not only does Spence’s fastball barely eclipse Jamie Moyer‘s, he also doesn’t have any sort of weird sidearm delivery that would make that velocity play up. Rather, he attacks hitters from a rather conventional three-quarters arm slot (see here).

So, we’ve got a pitcher throwing in the low-80′s with a conventional delivery–sounds like easy meat, right? Well, Spence has a 2.25 ERA with the Padres, so hitters beg to differ. Part of that can be explained by his .172 BABIP, but even then, his FIP is a quite viable 3.84, as he’s struck out 30 batters in 28 innings.

He does it by throwing a 77-79 mph slider just over half the time, including over 60% of the time to lefthanded batters. His arm action is a bit funky in the back, so it hides the ball well to lefties, allowing him to effectively neutralize them despite his lack of velocity.      More…

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