A tweet by Jeff Sullivan inspired me to look into why Miguel Olivo sucks so bad.
That’s a completely true statement, but a statement that needs some qualification, because asking why Olivo sucks is like asking why Sean Kramer shouldn’t drink Busch Ice ever again: A lot of the reasons aren’t worth listing, but the best one I can think of comes from my memories of Kramer having to wring out his laptop the morning after a couple of games of beer pong that somehow became a one man game of strip beer pong.
In this application, a soggy laptop and nearly-naked dude beer pong are curveballs, sliders, and changeups. Miguel Olivo can’t hit offspeed pitches on his best day, but since June 6 of last year he’s been downright awful.
Before June 6 of last year Olivo was no contact savant. He whiffed on 24.9 percent of sliders, 20.0 percent of curveballs, and 26.8 percent of changeups. After June 6 those numbers stayed basically the same on sliders, at 24.8 percent, but jumped to whiffs on 27.8 percent of curveballs and 33.6 percent of changeups.
Of course, the difference between sliders, which are generally a power pitch, and changeups and curveballs is the speed. Curveballs and changeups travel a lot slower than sliders. Those two pitches are often what keep minor leaguers from becoming major leaguers, and in this case, it seems like they may end up sending Olivo into retirement unless Eric Wedge’s infatuation with Olivo is as strong as Kramer’s love for bad beer, and hate for keeping his clothes on while consuming the former.
When we check out Pitch F/X, we see some of the reason why Olivo may be having problems hitting curveballs specifically. These the locations of all the curveballs Olivo has swung at since June 6, 2011:
A huge chunk of the curveballs that Olivo swings at are out of the strikezone, many comically far out of the strike zone.
How about John Jaso? Jaso has a whiff percentage on curveballs of… 1.5 fucking percent. 1.5 fucking percent. 1.5 fucking percent. 1.5 fucking percent. 1.5 fucking percent. For his whole career!
John Jaso has swung and missed at four curveballs in his whole fucking career. Miguel Olivo swung and missed at three curveballs last fucking Monday.
How about we check out how John Jaso’s curveball swing locations look:
The difference between Olivo and Jaso as it relates to curveballs, is that Jaso swings at only 20.4 percent of curveballs he sees. Olivo swings at 58.6 percent of all curveballs since June 6 of last year. My head almost just exploded.
It’s time that Eric Wedge opens the gates to Guantanamo Bay, and frees John Jaso. Like soon.