Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Venters' Peculiar Season

As most of you know, Jonny Venters is not having his best season.  He had a great first month, then the wheels fell off before hitting the DL last week.  Many have blamed the struggles on the “enormous” workload the past couple seasons.  However, I feel like luck is almost the whole culprit of the regression.

Here are Venters’ main peripherals the past 3 seasons:

2010 10.6% 26.7% 16.5%
2011 10.3% 27.4% 13.7%
2012 10.5% 28.1% 16.1%

As you can see, there is no indication of poor performance this year.  There are a couple stats that do show the disparity in success.  Home runs have suddenly become a problem, allowing six this year after allowing three the first two seasons.  As shown above, he’s not allowing more flyballs, so his HR/FB% has skyrocketed to an insane 42.9%, about four times the league average.  Using xFIP, which sets everyone’s HR/FB% to league average, Venters has a 3.08 mark, just a touch below previous years.

The other main reason for the poor ERA is a .422 BABIP allowed, after posting .287 and .242 figures the previous two seasons.  He has allowed a 23% line drive rate, about 9% higher than 2010-11, and line drives are hits 70-75% of the time.  Groundballs are also leaking through the infield more often, with the BABIP increasing from .220 to .350.  These heat maps show his sinker’s location, with this year’s plot against righties much further inside than past years.  While there is a good chance balls are being hit harder this year, the higher LD%, and especially the HR/FB%, indicate a lot of poor luck.

As far as stuff goes, Venters’ sinker is not much worse, showing similar movement with the average velocity dipping from 95 to 94.  Pitch linear weights has the pitch 9.3 runs below average.  From the outside, his slider has shown more problems, down half a tick, but more importantly losing an inch of depth.  He has also introduced a changeup about 7% of the time, showing good movement but iffy results.

Overuse last year is a common excuse for Venters, though Kimbrel has done even better so far this year.  His peripherals have maintained constant from the last two seasons, meaning his talent level isn’t much worse.  His stuff is a bit worse than last year, though he still owns one of the best sinkers and sliders.  He’s probably just suffered from some location problems and a lot of poor luck.

Tags: Braves FanSided Jonny Venters

  • Carlos Collazo

    Based on simply watching him, it just looks like he isn’t locating like he was last year. He seems to be getting behind in the count more often, and then gets spanked when he tries to throw a strike in there. I haven’t seen enough of him to really say this is what it is though. If any one has any numbers on that, it would be nice.

    • Lee Trocinski

      His first pitch strike percentage is actually a bit higher. He is getting absolutely crushed in at-bats with first-pitch balls however, .415/.516/.698. So, you were half right.

      • Carlos Collazo

        Gotcha. How do you get that data? B-R’s play index?

        • Lee Trocinski

          I got the FPS% from Fangraphs, and you can get the counts data on the splits pages on FG or B-R.

          • Carlos Collazo

            yeah…those are normally the ones I scroll by really quickly. That explains a lot. Thanks. Nice work, hopefully Venters can “regress” in the second half.

  • Trey Peters-Peters

    To me, it just seems like he’s lacking major confidence. He was absolutely dominant last year and it seemed like he took the mound with such authority. This year, it seems like he’s dreading what will happen to him. Hopefully this DL stint will help get his psyche back in order

  • Bob Long

    While I am not a scout, nor any type of baseball professional, I trust my eyes.

    I have seen the greats: Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, et al. I seem to be able to watch their mechanics and spot “problems” before they are officially reported. I’m certain that coaches see the problems and try to correct them before reporting them to the media, so I am not professing to be better than any coach.

    However, I have noticed that Venters seems to be flying open at the hips and leaving his pitches up. Higher pitches are easier to hit and sinkers that are left up in the strike zone do not sink as much as they appear to sink when lower.

    I think some mechanical adjustments are being made, away from prying eyes, while Venters is on the DL. His mechanics could cause shoulder and elbow problems, especially if he tries to power the ball with his arm to hit the spot he wants.

    If Venters repairs his mechanics, it will take strain from his arm, shoulder and elbow and decrease the “luck” that has been so abundant in the first half. At least, I hope so because I absolutely love the Braves!

    • Lee Trocinski

      I agree with your assessment, but he also flew open his first two years. I never thought he had good mechanics, but it’s hard to fix someone who is dominating. It just may be that the inevitable struggles took two years to show up.