Stephen Pryor: Off the Charts
Metaphorically speaking. - Not


"Off the charts" seems to be a recent idiom.  Around the 1970's or 1980's, execs at Atari, Apple, and Yankee Stadium would talk about their profits.  "You're not going to believe our profits.  Off the chart again this quarter."

Before too long ... "Man, I had a steak at Ruth's Chris that was off the charts."  "You gotta check this new sports blog.  Dr. D's infotainment is off the charts."  "The dehydrated onions on my Quarter Pounder were off the charts."  It kind of lost its force.

"Off the charts" is so much a metaphor that we're now introducing a new concept by --- > using a chart on which data is off it.


=== Say 'Allo to My Leeetle Frien', Dept. ===

You'll notice that the Brooks Baseball chart is designed to contain the pitch movement of the major league pitcher population.  It extends to 15" in every direction because no pitcher throws a slider that moves gloveside by more than that.

You'll notice also that Stephen Pryor threw 3 fastballs on Friday that rose by 16" and 17".  None of them hopped by less than a foot.


In Ken Griffey Jr's rookie year, a reporter asked him how he planned to deal with Nolan Ryan.  Junior was instant.  "Get on top of it!," he said while making a face as though somebody asked him how he planned to put his mitt on.  

See, a bat's swing plane rises as it proceeds.  If they're late on a pitch, the bat is low relative to the ball.  They compensate by aiming at the top half of the ball.  Great hitters -- we're using hearsay, Your Honor -- don't think in terms of "body" and "bat."  The bat is part of themselves.  They try to jump their bodies on top of the pitch, "capping" the ball and "making him get it down," in order to deal with a super-hot fastball.

You can see why Pryor's fastball rise defeats this.  It's why Brandon Morrow's 95 MPH fastball played up to 101 MPH.  The rise.

It's also why hitters freeze so weirdly when he throws a slider.  They tune their frequencies to the helium fastball and then one doesn't helium, and they lock up.


=== Und Take Zis Mit You, Dept. ===

Pryor's fastball also has the dreaded gloveside cutting action, similar to Mo Rivera's cutter.  That's all we got to say about that.


=== Minor Note ===

He doesn't seem to have to pay attention to baserunners.  He's too fast to the plate.  Check me on this, because it would be a huge advantage.  Carter Capps showed his keister last night, forgetting about baserunners, getting distracted by them, looking like a short-season pitcher in terms of the runners... siiighhhhh.  SO much those guys do that are invisible to us in the peanut gallery.

But Pryor seems to be one of those guys who sort of can forget the runners.  That's weird.  Most Nolan Ryans take all day to get their windups going.  You exploit flamethrowers by running.


=== K.O.'ed Sept. 14th ===

Pryor came into the ballgame with 20 K's and 5 BB's in 15 innings.  These results exceed those of most current ML closers.  You might infer, naturally enough, that Pryor is already superior to most current ML closers.

Nay verily, quoth Dr. D in e-zine editions past.  There are lizards in the cellar.  He's wild and getting away with it because hitters are rescuing him with garbage swings; they can't see the ball.  "Effectively wild" is three doors down from "4 quick baserunners and a K.O. tonight."  Tonight, the wildness caught up to him.  It's not an implosion.  It's just an exposure of the fact that he's not quite a finished product.

But the good news is, all he has to do is slow down a LITTLE bit, smooth the head and front shoulder out a LITTLE bit, stop being QUITE so jerky and hectic out there.  The second thing is to exploit his natural arsenal by going higher in the strike zone.  On Friday he finally got out of the inning with swingthroughs on cap-high fastballs.

He's this close to being a very famous baseball player.




Stephen Pryor, in his age 22-23 season, is walking 4.4 guys/9. Nolan Ryan never walked that few until he was 32.
By then, of course, he had a gazillion strikeouts, 142 no-hitters and an MLB worth of intimidated hitters.When he was 27 he walked 202 gatters. Three seasons later he BB'ed 204!
But The Express was a starter you say. OK, Wild Thing Williams walked 7.1/9 for his career, never having a year below 5.7, and he was a dang good reliever for a while.
Pryor can succeed at 4.4. It will be hard, however, if his hits allowed stays at 9+ per 9. Williams was at 7.0/9 and I'm not sure Ryan ever allowed a hit.
But of course, Pryor's H/9 will drop (as will Capps', who has H/9, BB/9 and K/9 that are all eerily identical to his stablemate's) as he relaxes with experience and as MLB umps see more of his stuff.
Walk 4 and allow 7 hits per nine innings and that's a 1.22 WHIP. Live at 1.1 and you approach M. Rivera range. But this is all stuff you all know.
With young guns like we've got, I think mostly you say, "Go get''em!" and don't do a lot of coaching, really. Refine a release point, maybe, stuff like that. But mostly you let then learn how to get guys out more efficiently on their own. Let it be simple. 1. Count the fingers 2. Find the target. 3. Throw. 4. That'll do pig.
These guys are WAY good. They'll figure it out.


There being times, right?, when you've coached enough and the guy needs more swings ...
Along with the 4.4 walk rate we've got to remember that the K rate is 12+, and the BB's are "entitled" to be higher when the K's are higher.  Walks are up partly *because* batters aren't ending AB's with contact.  You get outcomes on 3-2 pitches rather than 1-0 pitches.
The K/BB of 2.7 would be perfectly fine by Shandler.  Well out of project territory.  


I think the best thiing you can do (often) for precocious talent is let it be simple.
"See the ball, Junior. Hit it hard!," can be enough. You'll find quick enough if a tweak is needed.
Prior and Capps play a simple game. Let it stay that way. if they are smart guys, they will figure out the way to be efficient.
Saunders had a flaw that was exploited. But he wasn't the kind of precocious talent of which we speak.
I'll give Wedge credit (look how far I've come), he doesn't seem to be bogging these guys down with needless mental baggage. That's good.
You're exactly right. Even when you're tweaking, at some point the coaching stops and you let a guy own his swing/move/motion.
These kids are good. "Slow down a bit" = good coaching, most of the time.
go team.

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