Hidden Vigorish

Detailed Analysis of The Pittsburgh Pirates

The New and Improved Vanimal

Jim Benedict has done it again. Benedict is a Special Assistant to Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington. The title does little to describe what he actually does. Benedict rebuilds pitchers. He is a guru at taking formerly successful pitchers that have lost their way and putting them back on the right path. The success stories attributed to Benedict’s coaching include Charlie Morton, A.J. Burnett, and Francisco Liriano. They were all pitchers that in recent years have benefited from spending time with Benedict in Extended Spring Training. We can now add Vance Worley to the list of Jim Benedict’s successful fixer-uppers. Worley has been sensational since being recalled to the Pirates in June. He has a record of 5 wins and 1 loss and leads the rotation with a 2.30 ERA.
From my vantage point Jim Benedict appears to be a master at helping pitchers with two things:

    1) Find what works and keep doing that

For Vance Worley that entailed looking at video from when he pitched in college. Worley’s delivery had gotten out of whack in recent seasons due a series of injuries. With Benedict’s help Worley was able to replicate the delivery from his college days that got him to the big leagues to begin with.


    2) Find what doesn’t work and stop doing that

I believe this was about helping Worley refine his repertoire. When the Pirates signed Worley I said this about his cutter:

“I think Worley is going to have to remake himself. His cutter just isn’t effective any longer. Perhaps the Pirates can turn him into a successful two seam fastball/sinker pitcher.”

That is is exactly what Worley has done this season. The usage of his two seam fastball has gone way up, while the cutter has been put on the shelf. Here is the usage of his various fastballs since breaking into the major leagues:

4 Seam FB 2 Seam FB Cutter
2010 49.5% 2.9% 13.2%
2011 44.3% 9.8% 10.1%
2012 34.1% 16.2% 12.4%
2013 44.8% 9.7% 16.2%
2014 24.5% 39.8% 6.0%

Clearly this is a whole new Vanimal. Worley is throwing 4x as many two seam fastballs as he did last season. He has been transformed into a sinkerball pitcher. So far the results have been outstanding.


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