There's a lot of confusion over what League's hellacious offspeed pitch is.
My own confustion? is because if you watch him on video, the arm action and diving trajectory look like he's throwing a forkball. However, if you google the images on him, they often show him with a change grip.
=== Brandon's Tale ===
ESPN radio had League on, not long ago. League explained it.
What happened was that League used to throw a straight change, but "because of my arm strength it came in too hard."
He'd been dabbling with a splitfinger since 2006, but only in 2009 did League get the feel for it, he says. It comes in quite a bit slower than his change, "and I'm able to throw strikes with it."
=== Crosschecker Dept. ===
What do the stats say? They back League up all the way, confirming that before 2009, League's straight changeup used to clock 88-89 mph on the gun. In other words, League throws the ball close to 90 mph using his little and ring fingers.
But League's splitfinger averages only 85 mph, which is a 10-14 mph separation.
In addition, he consistently hits the knees for a called strike with it.
In addition, it dives like Greg Louganis.
3 mph, that is 4-5 feet to the hitter. That extra two yards of parachute that League got, made the difference.
He's now untouchable. 2010 will be worse than 2009. On the radio, League spoke about 2009 being the first year that he got out there consistently and got his feet under him. 2010 is likely to be the bustout.
=== Comps Dept. ===
What we were seeing, in 2009, was Brandon League come up with a Bryan Harvey-, Francisco Rodriguez-class torment pitch. KRod got that overhand change curve to the point to where he just loved to torture hitters with 0-1 counts off called strikes.
Baseball hasn't yet caught on to Brandon League. But if he's healthy, he's liable to establish himself as Francisco Rodriguez, plus three feet on the fastball.
League echoes J.J. Putz, who I scoffed at .... until he came up with that forkball. Whereupon Putz put up two years of dazzling, 11k, 1bb performances with the hard rock banging away at Safeco.
=== Butterfly Effects ===
Dec. 21, we were buried in crumpled Dixie cups as we argued that Morrow-for-League was reasonable. M's fans, believing League to be a 1.0 WAR player, searched for ways to connect it to the Lee trade.
Actually, I'm starting to wonder if this isn't the clearest, easiest way to discern the differences between internet baseball and Safeco baseball. The great RP.
Brandon League adds a lot more than 1 win to this ballclub, gentlemen. He may add five. Or eight. He may be the difference between -4 Pythag and +4 Pythag this next year.
You can't use math to capture the effect of Eddie Guardado blowing four straight games in late April. The team is liable to throw in the towel right then and there. There is a Butterfly Effect in the bullpen.
Dec. 21, POTD Brandon League noted that League's splitter was a 5-run-per-100 pitch (!!) -- and therefore twice as good as Erik Bedard's vampiric curveball (which we had previously believed to be the best pitch in baseball).
Here more recently, LL & Fangraphs underlined the fact that League's forkball is the very best pitch in the majors.
That's kinda tough, on hitters, that is, when 96-98 is your worst pitch. (League also noted, on the radio interview, that he's not satisfied with challenging hitters at 97 mph. He wants to paint at 97. The vids show him actually doing this.)
My question would be, is League's splitter the best pitch since fangraphs began compiling this data? Has anybody ever had a pitch better than 5 runs per 100 pitches? You'd have to start taking runs off the scoreboard. The M's beat the Angels 4 to -2 last night, kids.
Dec. 22, we noted that many great teams started in the bullpen, such as all of Pat Gillick's. Toronto had Henke and Ward. The Orioles, Pat stockpiled four tough RP's. The 116-win M's had three 10K hosses. The Phillies went out and got Lidge.
All of the apologizing for Capt Jack has centered around the idea that Brandon Morrow musta been worthless after all.
SSI stubbornly inverts the equation: Brandon League is worth more than people think he is.
Jack Zduriencik understands that Brandon League, if healthy, could quickly become the best reliever in the majors -- and therefore more valuable than all but the top 10-15 starting pitchers.
I can't wait to watch him.