KAP: The Bold Story of Gabriel Kapler

IMG_4913.JPG


ap_17306685283021-e1509714299694.jpg


Written by: Mike Duffy


Cover Art by Paine Proffitthttp://www.paineproffitt.com
Exclusive Interviews with
Chase De Jong, Greg Venger, John Stolnis, & Chase Kaper

Last offseason, one of the biggest surprises was the hire of Gabe Kapler to be the new manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. It was a move on the bolder side, for general manager Matt Klentak, who was given the green light to make his first managerial hire. Kapler was the runner-up for the Dodger gig two seasons before in 2016, having been their Director of Player development.

Kapler has a more bold and analytical approach to the game. This, on top of a few more characteristics, made him a unique choice for a Phillies organization that is familiar to more of a traditional approach to baseball. He has had a rollercoaster first year as manager, and a very interesting journey into baseball which I was just excited to find more about.


cut-3.jpg
August 7: Nick Williams celebrates with manager Gabe Kapler after homering in the third inning. Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

So one Thursday during lunch I swung by the main office at my school (Cleveland High School) to speak to the Athletic Director, Greg Venger. He noticed that I had a Phillies shirt on and mentioned that he had gone to Taft High School with Gabe Kapler. In ‘93 while Greg was the JV shortstop his sophomore year, Kapler was the varsity shortstop. During the playoffs Greg was brought up to Varsity, allowing for some memorable moments for Greg, where he was able to watch and model after someone who was soon to become a major leaguer.


“Gabe was a great teammate great guy. Well liked by everybody very popular in high school,” said Greg. “He was a gym rat always working hard to stay in shape. His group friends were a nice good circle of friends, they are lawyers or stockbrokers, they’re all doing successful so yeah you know they all figured out their niche in life.” 


taft-k-row-1993-seniors-copy.png
Photo: 1993 Taft Yearbook / Gabriel Kapler (left) in his Senior year.                                    (photo found by Mike Duffy)

Greg was telling me about how “people liked to be around him,” and the positive bolt of energy people would get when he walked into a room. He also recalled some memories from their times on the field: 

“We won the game against Kennedy High School, but ended playing in the semifinals against Chatsworth and we got blown out like 17 to 1. His leadership with that group of guys pretty special group he had his senior year. Gabe was definitely the catalyst to my team. ” 

Also, we talked about how currently while managing he stresses the idea of drawing a lot of walks and telling them to take pitches. I asked Greg if Gabe took a lot of pitches, and Greg laughed and said: 

“He was an aggressive guy. He never saw more than a few pitches when he was hitting. He was always up there to hit he did not wanna walk, he had a lot of pop. Back in the day, Taft high school fence in left field was like 330ft and like 408ft to straightaway center. Now they have a different fence up there. If Gabe played there right now, he would’ve broke the state record for home run, guaranteed.”


1993 Taft Varsity Team Photo Greg Venger copy 2.png


After graduating from Taft High School he attended a Division 1 school, Cal State Fullerton. It didn’t work out there for Gabe, so he ended up going back to Moorpark College. He got noticed there and he got drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 57th round in the 1995 Draft.

“He just peaked at the right time,” Venger said. “And that was the big thing.”


81OvlB4+VpL._SY587_.jpg


Gabe played fifteen seasons of professional baseball and has the highest career WAR of anyone drafted in the 57th round. During the twelve seasons in the MLB, he played for the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies, Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, and the Tampa Bay Rays in. In 2004 he won the World Series with the Boston Red Sox.


red_sox_gabe_kapler_103017.jpg


After winning the World Series with Boston, he went to Japan to play some baseball where he ruptured his Achilles. The Red Sox organization offered him his first and only managerial job before coming to the Phillies with the Sox Low-A team, the Greenville Drive.  The team had a record of 58 – 81 in his two seasons with them before returning to playing baseball for three more years.


kapler-1024x630.jpg
Gabe Kapler accepting the job with the Greenville Drive

While he was working hard on his career, he always made time for his two sons. I spoke with his son Chase Kapler. Here’s what Chase had to say about his father:

“I have to credit him for how independent and self-starting I am, from a very young age he trusted me to make my own decisions and face my own consequences for those decisions. He also never pressured me to be anybody that he wanted me to be. He was very supportive of what I wanted and what I needed.” 


IMG_4923.jpg
Gabe Kapler (right) with his two sons Chase (center) and Dane (left).

When officially hanging up his glove he dabbled around in different forms of media. In 2013 he was an analyst for Fox Sports 1. Then using his love for “the importance of training outdoors and clean eating. To that end, he took to sharing information in 2013 and started a health and well-being blog at Kaplifestyle.com. ” 


He used his knowledge of fitness and health to land him the job of Director of Player Development with the Los Angeles Dodgers in November of 2014. The press told two stories of how he was doing at that post, one that we see now, with all the amazing prospects that have come through that system like Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Austin Barnes, and so many more. This shows that Gabe was doing something right with that system. The other narrative was one that talked about how he just came into the system and took out all the unhealthy food in all the clubhouses of the system and made them follow strict diets. We never really heard what the players thought of that, but obviously Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman liked what he was doing and made him a frontrunner for the manager position. Gabe lost it to Dave Roberts in the end.


gabe-kapler-andrew-friedman-spring-training-2015-jon-soohoo.0.0.jpg
Gabe Kapler, seen here during spring training in 2015 with Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. Photo credit: Jon SooHoo | LA Dodgers

I was curious to hear what some of the players thought about Gabe when he was Director of Player development. I followed up with, Major League pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, Chase De Jong, who I originally interviewed back in 2017.

De Jong, who was originally a Dodger prospect, said he “enjoyed being under his leadership. Our minor league organization thrived under it.” 

I asked him if he mentioned any of his goals for his future in baseball, and if he was preaching about being bold in Los Angeles like he is now doing in Philadelphia:

“Yes Gabe was always clear about being bold.  We all knew that he had aspirations to be a major league manager. He’s a leader in whatever he does. He was very passionate about what he believed in he always entertained other points of view and I think that’s an incredible quality to have. Gabe I believe desires knowledge and wisdom above everything else. He’s a learner.” 


1*wMrCRxy2mxtNwotaGpaQow.jpeg


This passion of learning and determination to be as knowledgeable about every player and the game is what caught the eye of GM Matt Klentak. Before the 2018 season, Kapler was signed to a 3 year managerial deal.


“They needed a new culture,” suggest Greg Venger on why Klentak hired Kapler. “But some of the old school Phillies fans might not like that so much. I think that his young energy and his intensity is what that organization needed. It’s maybe for some of them an acquired taste. But as a coach winning cures everything. You win everyone’s gonna love you.”  


ap_matt_klentak_gabe_kapler_phillies.jpg
AP Images

For Kapler, his first week was really rough. He pulled Aaron Nola early on Opening Day, and then the bullpen blew the game that was filled with miscommunications. He was also greeted with boos at the home opener. During all of this, Kapler stayed positive and said they would definitely go to the playoffs.  Most people thought he was on something but Greg Venger suggested that “there is a little bit of arrogance about him, because he is confident. So the players, they like the confidence, they relate to that because that’s how the players are too.”


cut-1-e1540755850147.jpg
Sept. 25: The skipper! Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

I reached out to Writer & Podcaster for SB Nation’s The Good Phight, John Stolnis, where he focuses on covering the current Phillies. He falls in the middle on the Kapler spectrum like most other writers but I challenged him to put away the criticism and just focus on the positives of his rookie season. 

“I think my favorite thing about Kapler this year was how he was at least willing to try things that were different. I didn’t agree with all of what he did, and late in the season I thought he tried to do too much. But I liked that he wasn’t afraid, and I think he has shown a willingness to take criticism and to learn,” Stolnis said.

Greg Venger agreed with Stolnis and had this to say about Gabe’s first year of managing:

“I’m sure he would be the first to tell you the game part he’s still learning it. The game is different from it used to be. And it’s evolved. So when he came up as a player it was more of a small ball steal bases and now it’s more of strikeouts and guys hitting home runs.”  – Greg Venger


cut-5.JPG
April 5: The Phillies line the base path for pre-game festivities at the Phillies Home Opener. Philadelphia Phillies

After that first rough week, the Phillies turned it all around. They were in first place for over a month. At one point they even were 63- 48! It looked like Kapler would win Manager of the Year. The Phillies were in first place, had a really good division lead, and the Nationals were falling off a cliff.  Gabe’s son, Chase said his favorite moments of this successful part of the season were “either the Maikel Franco walk off or Nola out-dueling Scherzer twice.”


cut-4.jpg
July 31: Maikel Franco returns to the dugout after scoring in the fourth inning. Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

But then the bad skid happened, the really bad skid. The Phillies went 8-20 for the rest of the season in September and they were not able to get that postseason chance they were hoping for.  The pitching staff looked tired and bats were not coming alive.


cut-2.JPG
August 19: The Phillies line up for the national anthem before the MLB Little League Classic game. Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos

Although the Phillies finished 2 wins below .500, they showed improvement from the year before. The ride has just begun for Gabe Kapler and he is ready to get back out there next season with something to prove to the city of brotherly love. Gabe wants to make sure he can be the manager of the next Phillies World Series team rather than finding himself on the hot seat.


IMG_4872.jpg


Please Subscribe to The K Zone

Thank you Paine Proffitt, Chase De Jong, Greg Venger, John Stolnis, & Chase Kapler, and everyone else who helped out on this article.


Additional Sources:

https://www.phillymag.com/news/2018/03/24/gabe-kapler-phillies-manager/

https://theathletic.com/141869/2017/10/30/phillies-bold-pick-of-gabe-kapler-as-manager-shows-clubs-focus-on-analytics/

https://www.phillyvoice.com/who-gabe-kapler-dozen-fun-facts-about-new-phillies-manager/

http://www2.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/gabe-kapler-phillies-moorpark-college-cal-state-fullerton-detroit-tigers-fitness-journey-20180525.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabe_Kapler


cut.JPG
2018 Photo Review #3 – What an awesome display of sportsmanship! Both the Phillies and Mets lined up for handshakes after the 2018 MLB Little League Classic. Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos.            “If you get those guys to believe that they can do it. Then they can do it, and they’re young and they’re talented and they’re going to go through their ups and downs during a 162 games and you’re going to have your slumps you’re going to go through your hot streak. Everything is fantastic at that time. But when things aren’t going well. It’s about how  you respond to that.”           – Greg Venger

 

Max Muncy, That Funky Muncy!

Friday: June 15, 2018

by Brandon Gutierrez

One of the many surprises this year around the league, has been the Dodgers’ Max Muncy. He has been called “This years’ Chris Taylor,” and for good reason. Entering play on Friday, he has a slash line of .277 / .395 / .631. His 1.030 OPS is 5th in MLB (min. 150 PA). His 176 wRC+ trails only Mookie Betts and Mike Trout (min. 150 PA). Last year in Triple A, he hit 12 HRs in 109 games. This year in the majors, Muncy has hit 13 through 46 games. But how is he doing this?

It’s deffinitley not on cutting strikeouts. In 2016 with Oakland, Muncy had a 18.0 K %. This year, 24.8 %. It is also not with walks. 15.0 BB% in 2016, 15.9 BB % this year. It’s not like he is chasing at less pitches. 20.5 O-swing  % compared to 19.4 %. So what gives?

What Muncy did do is decrease his groundball rate drastically. 2016, 51.2 %.  This year with the Dodgers 33.7 %. His average launch angle went from 10.4 degrees to 16.7.He is also crushing the ball tremendously more than he did with the A’s. 29.2 % hard hit rate compared to 45.7 % with the Dodgers. His average exit velocity has risen to a 91.9 mph from 82.3 mph. All these stats have combined to a  29.4 HR/FB %. and a .445 xWOBA.

What Muncy has really improved on, is crushing pitches he should crush. Below I have two charts of Muncy’s SLG. for each quadrant of the strike zone.

SLG in 2016

SLG in 2018

As you can see, he’s starting to destroy more middle-middle pitches in 2018

In conclusion, Max Muncy has not done anything with his strike outs and walks. But a combination of hitting the ball harder, hitting the ball in the air more, and mashing on pitchers mistakes. Has led to a break out season.

Sources:

Baseball Savant

Baseball Reference

Fangraphs

Follow us on Twitter

How to Win at Baseball

– The K Zone –

How to Win at Baseball, by Ian Joffe

April 17, 2018

With limited salaries and a finite number of high draft picks, teams are constantly forced to choose how, out of dozens of options, to build their team. Rosters can focus on hitting or pitching. They can look for power or on-base skills. They can make a core of speed and defense. A team might even try to build around leadership and personality traits. A roster with any kind of emphasis, or even a general well-roundedness, has the potential to be effective, but I want to figure out what teams are most effective. So, to do that, I turned to my Fangraphs spreadsheets and Python editor.

For data, I scraped information off all 480 teams from 2002-2017 (going back to 2002 because that’s when the pitching stats that I wanted became available). As the first step in seeing which skills are most effective to build around, I constructed a set of scatter plots that set each statistical category and team wins along the two axes. The categories I checked look at overall hitting (wRC+), on-base ability (OBP+), power (ISO+), speed (SB+), and two pitching metrics (xFIP+ and SIERA+), all of which, as you can see, have been normalized so that 100 is league average. In retrospect, I should have included at least one defensive statistic to look at, but I neglected to because given my process, it would have taken a long time to include that data, and now it’s too late. Here are the scatter plots for each stat, plus their Pearson correlation coefficients:

wRCcorrelation.pngOBPcorrelation.pngISOcorrelation.pngxFIPcorrelation.pngSIERAscatter.png

As we could have predicted, teams with good stats tended to win more games. Because they are only slight, the differences in P-Values doesn’t tell us much here given the fact that baseball wins are not highly controlled experiments, and everything is in the same ballpark. That is, every stat except one:

SBcorrelation.png

It turns out that steals had absolutely no correlation to wins, in fact, a set of 480 randomly dispersed points may have correlated even better. It’s possible that teams only run more because they have less power, but managers tend to keep the same strategy even when they move teams, so I would instead just say that in general, speed is not a key to winning at baseball. Sure, a steal now and then helps if there’s a high likelihood of reaching the base, but building a team around speed and hoping to win is a poor strategy, and historically has not worked.

To create a more telling story about which teams succeed and which teams fail, I looked at how teams that ended up in certain tiers were built. I defined a “playoff team” as a roster in the top 30%, a “Championship Series team” as one in the top 12%, and a “World Series champion” team as one in the top 3% (note that this has nothing to do with how the playoffs actually went, because the playoffs are essentially random). I then applied a label to teams based on whether they emphasized hitting or pitching by subtracting xFIP+ from wRC+. A team with a difference of 20+ has a “heavy hitting emphasis,” a team with a 10-20 differential has “some hitting emphasis,” a team with a value between 10 and -10 has “no significant emphasis,” a roster between -10 and -20 has “some pitching emphasis,” and finally a team with a difference under -20 is labeled with a “heavy pitching emphasis.” Here is the overall distribution of teams by emphasis:

hittingPitchingAll.png

As you can see, and potentially predict, most teams have no emphasis. More importantly, however, is that many more teams have some pitching emphasis than hitting. Keeping that in mind, let’s look at the distribution within each tier:

hittingPitchingPlayoffs.png

While the strength of the balanced team largely holds, we see an immediate dropoff in the number of teams who emphasize pitching, strongly or at all, and the number of teams who weight hitting is starting to grow.

hittingPitchingCS.png

As we move to the top 12% of teams, no rosters that emphasized pitching remain. And, nearly half of the teams emphasize batting.

battingPitchingChamp.png

And finally, as we reach the few elite teams, the vast majority have a hitting emphasis. Out of the 10 teams total that showed a heavy batting emphasis, all of them were playoff caliber and half of them were champion caliber. While teams with a hitting emphasis made up only 9% of total rosters, they comprise 42% of CS teams and 85% of championship teams. Meanwhile, not a single team who emphasized pitching made it to the top 12%, and despite being 31% of total teams, those who focused on pitching only made up 1% of the playoff teams overall. The lesson here seems clear: Build around hitting if you want success. When given the choice between two equally talented players in the free agent pool, or even more importantly the June draft, chose the hitter. There could be a few reasons for this. One reasonable theory may be the value of defense distracts and sets the value of the pitcher to, if you take an extreme stance, the point where pitchers become replaceable as long as the team retains a strong defensive cast. It’s also arguable that it’s easier to find good pitchers and more teams have been able to build pitching depth, as seen in the overall distribution. So, it would be harder to use pitching as a competitive advantage. Or, maybe because so many pitchers are used in today’s game, the value of each becomes diluted, therefore only when teams move to improve their hitting can they gain a competitive advantage. To be clear, I’m not saying that pitching doesn’t help a team; we saw from the correlation plots that it certainly does. However, given limited resources, ignoring hitting in pursuit of strong pitching – or even looking at the two in equal light – is not a recipe for success.

Now, let’s take a look at another potential difference in strategy: power vs. on-base skills. This one is a little harder to quantify because, while hitting and pitching make up almost all of the factors in a baseball game (minus defense), power and contact exist in a far less controlled experiment. But it’s worth a look anyways. I labeled the emphasis of teams in favor of power vs. on-base skills in a similar way I did with hitting and pitching (with the +20, -10, etc. differentials), except I used ISO+ and OBP+. Here is the initial distribution among all teams:

powerContactAll.png

It’s pretty similar to the full distribution among hitting and pitching, with a heavy spike in the middle. Here’s the distribution among playoff teams:

powerContactPlayoffs.png

It looks like power is winning out a little, although don’t read too much into the small sample of teams with heavy on-base emphasis. Still, the distribution doesn’t change too much.

powerContactCS.png

As we continue through the postseason, we see a continued normal percent loss in each category, about equivalent to the percent lost overall. PowerContactChamp.png

And the trend continues, with “some power emphasis” remaining as about 20% of teams throughout the playoffs and categories with smaller amounts to start off with being eliminated as a whole. Unlike with pitching vs. hitting, there is no clear story here. I wouldn’t even say that a balance is necessarily the best option, because it started so heavily weighted.  So, teams can go either way. As long as the focus is on hitting, they can win through a power-heavy strategy, contact-heavy build, or a balance.

There was one last thing I wanted to check out: a comparison of playoff teams to trends. It’s possible that while since 2002, power and contact have been equal, in certain mini-eras one has been more valuable. This would be because of a league trend. Perhaps the winning team is the one that’s ahead of the trend and really exaggerates it. Or, the winning teams could be the ones who zig while everyone else zags, finding bargains along the way. So, over the 16-year period, I graphed the league trends in ISO versus the median ISO+ of a playoff team, and applied a polynomial regression:

power over time.png

There is no clear pattern between the power-emphasis of winning teams and the league trend. If anything, the playoff teams look to be behind the curve (imagine shifting the green line over about four years to the right). This further goes to show the original point, that teams can build both power, contact, or a mix, and will still have the same ability to win, no matter what the rest of the league is doing.

While these findings certainly apply to all methods of roster-building (such as free agency, trades, and Rule 5), it seems most important during the amateur draft, given the wide diversity of players available and the fact that there is usually little clarity on the future potential/reality of drafted players. That especially goes for systems that already lean hurler-heavy. Teams should seriously consider taking batters over pitchers, even if the pitchers appear to have slightly more raw ability. Because, simply, it works.

 

Sources:

Fangraphs

Image Attributed to:

Dodger Nation

Ross Stripling Interview: Being A Part of a Special Team

The K Zone

April 14th 2018

Ross Stripling

Interviewed By Mike Duffy


image.jpeg


Ross Stripling is a part of one of the most historic franchises, the Dodgers. When Stripling made a move to the bullpen, his versatility made him a cornerstone of the Dodgers who would go to the World Series in 2017. This year the Dodgers look to win it all, and with their young talent, they will be a dominant team for years to come.


Mike Duffy: You made a big step last year when you became more versatile, moving to the bullpen to adapt to the Dodgers’ depth. Was it a tough process or were you surprised at how well it worked out?

Ross Stripling: I struggled when I first went to the bullpen. I had a hard time finding a routine that kept me fresh both mentally and physically. I didn’t know when to lift, how hard to condition, how much preparation and scouting I needed to do. Once I found a consistent routine, which wasn’t until a few months into the season, I was able to relax and really enjoy the bullpen role. It’s always different and way more intense so it’s a lot of fun.


Stripling-Crim.jpg


Mike Duffy: There is no doubt that the Dodgers have all the pieces to bring home a ring to Los Angeles. What has it been like to be one of those pieces along with other young guys like Corey, Cody, and Chris, and the wise mentors like Kershaw and Chase?

Ross Stripling: I’ve been totally spoiled so far in my big league career. A lot of wins and 2 deep playoff runs. It’s pretty special to be apart of a team like this, to think one day I’ll be able to tell my grandkids I played with Kersh, Seager, Bellinger, Kenley, etc. At first I just felt like such a small piece, but as you get more experience and more comfortable, you start to feel like you belong around guys like that. Especially since they’re all such great guys and teammates, friends I’ll have for life.


dodgers_nlcs_team_photo.jpg


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite baseball memory?

Ross Stripling: I have a few favorite baseball memories. I would say the no hitter I threw in college the day I was supposed to walk across the stage to graduate, with all my family in town, is maybe my favorite. My debut was obviously another one that I’ll remember forever.


ross-stripling-texas-am-getty.0.0.jpg


ross-stripling-major-league-debut-vs-giants.jpg


Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite player and role model growing up?

Ross Stripling: My favorite player growing up was probably Ken Griffey Jr. I was also a huge A-Rod fan when he was on the Rangers. A baseball role model was always Cal Ripken Jr., he was my older brothers favorite player and just a guy that played the game the right way.


BeFunky Collage.jpg


Mike Duffy: In what ways has playing in a World Series changed your life?

Ross Stripling: For one, I think the World Series kinda puts your baseball career into perspective. Nothing else will ever be as high pressured or as intense as those games. I pitched in those games and survived so I should be able to handle anything moving forward in my career. Also I was able to pitch in Houston in front of dozens of friends and family, something we’ll be able to remember and talk about for the rest of our lives which is pretty special.


world-series-dodgers-astros-baseball_24769373_504902.jpg


Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite movie?

Ross Stripling: My favorite Movie is Good Will Hunting.


good-will-hunting-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000.jpg


Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite TV show?

Ross Stripling: My favorite Tv show is Entourage.


maxresdefault.jpg


Mike Duffy: Who’s your favorite musician?

Ross Stripling: My favorite Musician is Garth Brooks.


garth_2.jpg


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Ross Stripling: My favorite hobby is trading on the stock market.


IMG_6222.jpg


BN-IE794_0501ma_G_20150501084356.jpg


Mike Duffy: Bucket-list item?

Ross Stripling: A Bucket list item would be to take a vacation with my wife/family every year.


IMG_2721.jpg


Mike Duffy: Do you have any advice for young kids playing the game?

Ross Stripling: I would just tell kids to play the game hard and have fun. It’s taken so serious these days with travel ball and baseball year round. Play the game with passion  and get better every time you take the field, and let the rest take care of itself. Everyone matures at different rates and ages, so just control what you can control and play the game because you love it.


hi-res-544e3ab885b201ef25ffd9db4b62cde4_crop_north.jpg


For more Interviews Click Here

For more updates on articles follow us on Instagram @thekzonenews

Comment below on how we can improve the articles!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Kenley Jansen can be the Best Closer for Years to Come

by Brandon Gutierrez

Last season, Kenley Jansen established himself as the best closer in baseball. In 68.1 IP he posted a 1.32 ERA, 1.31 FIP, 1.82 xFIP, 109 K, 14.36 K/9, .092 BB/9, .07 HR/9, 1.48 SIERA, WPA of 5.57. Kenley has made All Star appearances in the past two years and has won The Trevor Hoffman Award (best National League reliever award) back to back years.

Great in High Leverage Situations

How can you be the best closer if you cannot get outs in pressure? You can’t. In Jansen’s career in high leverage situations he’s been great. In 142 high leverage IP he’s posted a 2.17 ERA, 13.8 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, and .06 HR/9. More of the same in October: in 37 IP in the postseason he has posted a 2.19 ERA, converted 13 saves in 14 opportunities, 13.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, and 0.7 HR/9. Jansen has been able to handle the bright lights of the postseason well.

Throws A lot of Strikes

Since 2014 (age 26 season) Jansen has owned a BB/9 of 1.6. Last year Kenley Jansen broke the record for the most strikeouts without allowing a walk to start a season, striking out 51 batters before walking one. Jansen had 109 strikeouts last year, so he nearly struck out half of his season total before allowing a walk. It is obvious that Jansen is getting ahead and finishing his opponents.

Cutter Ages Well

Kenley Jansen’s bread and butter is his natural cutter. Many people have compared it to that of the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera’s cutter.

Others have said that Kenley Jansen is the closest thing since Mariano Rivera. Rivera’s natural cutter helped him dominate the 9th inning for 19 years. In his age 40- 43 season, Rivera posted a 1.95 ERA, 1.40 FIP, 1.4 BB/9, 7.8 K/9 and HR/9 of 0.45. It is still too son to say that Jansen will pitch into his 40s. Even if he does, him posting similar numbers to Rivera would be too much to ask for. Jansen pitching past 35 is more reasonable with his natural cutter.

Even an unnatural cutter has saved or made a pitchers career. The cutter does have a bigger role in the pen. For example C.C. Sabathia, Wade Davis. In 2015 CC Sabathia posted he posted in 167.1 IP a 4.73 ERA, 86 ERA+, 7.4 K/9, 2.97 BB/9, 16.6% HR/FB, 1.422 WHIP, 4.68 FIP,. He had a 29.1 Hard Hit %. In 2015 Sabathia threw his cutter only 3% of the time. In 2016 he threw his cutter 29% and in 2017 he threw it in 30% of the time and it worked. In 2016-2017 he posted a 3.81 ERA, 116 ERA+, 7.5 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.297 WHIP 4.38FIP. His Hard Hit % from 2015 -2016 dropped from 29% to 24. His GB % went form 45.9 to 50.1. A big reason why Sabathia was able to improve after an age 34 season was because of his cutter.

Wade Davis is a dominant closer who also used the cutter to his success. In 2013 he abandoned his slider and started throwing a cutter. He was a starter in 2013 and struggled. He threw the cutter 19 % of the time and in 135.1 IP he posted a 5.33 ERA. In 2014 he was moved into the pen where his cutter played a bigger role.

This was SLG. aginst the cutter in 2013 as a starter

This is CC Sabathia’s SLG against the cutter in 2016

SLG against the cutter in 2014. This time as a reliever.

Big difference on what the cutter can do in the pen. In 2014 Davis threw his cutter 20% of the time. He posted a 1.00 ERA, 2.29 FIP, 3.68 xFIP, 13.68 K/9, 2.28 BB/9, .00 HR/9, 1.61 SIERA, 3.81 WPA.

Jasen, unlike Sabathia is in the pen where his cutter will play a bigger role. Unlike Davis and Sabathia Jansen’s cutter is natural.

Lack of Injury History

Kenley’s only arm problem came in 2011 when he was put on the DL for right shoulder inflammation. He was also put on the DL in 2011 and 2012 for an irregular heartbeat, but that was not pitching related. He got surgery to fix the irregular heartbeat and bounced back from both injuries. The only other time he would need surgery was in 2015 to remove a growth from a bone in his left foot. A big reason Jansen has avoided any major arm concerns is because of his history.

Less Wear and Tear

Jansen has only been pitching for 9 years. Unlike Jansen, most of the relievers/closer in the big leagues today have been pitching since young ages. Jansen was signed as catcher out of Curacao on November 17, 2004. In 2009 he transitioned to a relief pitcher. Throughout his whole life, he has far fewer innings compared to other relief pitchers. He has a less chance of getting injured by wear and tear.

Jansen has been able to maintain his velocity. A list of his average velocity from 2010-2017

Jansen should be able to maintain this velocity due to his past history.

It’s hard to argue that Jansen is not the best closer in baseball. He gets big outs, throws strikes, limits walks. His natural cutter plays up and his history shows he should be able to stay on the field while maintaining his velocity.  If he can continue to limit his walks, he will be the best closer in baseball for years.

Sources: Baseball Reference, Fan Graphs, Baseball Prospectus, USA Today

 

Follow us on Instagram and Twitter! @thekzonenews

 

 

Tim Locastro; The Dodgers Speedster

-The K Zone-

October 4th  2017

Tim Locastro

Interview by Mike Duffy


cut.jpg


Mike Duffy: How’s the Dodgers clubhouse chemistry?

Tim Locastro: I mean I’ve only been here a few days but, I think the cool thing about the clubhouse is everyone has the same thing and same intentions on their mind and that’s to win whatever it takes.


Mike Duffy: What did it feel like when you were called up?

Tim Locastro: I was completely shocked, I didn’t have any idea what it was going to happen but at the same time I was excited for the opportunity.


usa_today_9605938.0.jpg


Mike Duffy: How did you use your speed to show the dodgers organization your value?

Tim Locastro: I’ve been stealing bases and using my speed my whole life. I showed it by when ever I was on base I was trying to steal. Always running out ground balls to get those infield hits and always trying to take the extra base.


Mike Duffy: I was wondering  when you go from high school, minor leagues, what was the biggest challenge when you reach each stage?

Tim Locastro: The biggest difference at each level isn’t so much the talent because every level you play at the talent is amazing. As you go up the ladder players start to learn how to use their talent. Also mentally the higher you go players are so much smarter and just know the game like the back of their hand.


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite thing about being a Dodger?

Tim Locastro: Knowing that every year you have a chance to win and your going to be put in a position to win every single year.


la-sp-dn-dodgers-open-kosher-food-stand-20150728.jpg


Mike Duffy: What was your favorite team growing up?

Tim Locastro: Being from NY, Growing up I was a big Yankees fan.


yankeeschampion.jpg


Mike Duffy: What are your favorite tv shows?


Tim Locastro: Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, and Seinfeld


friday night lights.jpg


Breaking-Bad.jpg


30188hiseinfeld1.jpg


Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto or a thing to do to get you out of a rough time?

Tim Locastro: “Everything happens for a reason” and in baseball I think a good saying is “only control what you can control” because there is so many factors in baseball that you cannot control so just go out there and compete.


Mike Duffy: When did you know you wanted to play professional baseball?

Tim Locastro: Ever since I received my first baseball bat and glove.


For more Interviews Click Here

For more updates on articles follow us on Instagram @thekzonenews

Comment below on how we can improve the articles!

Thanks for reading!

 

Jon Duplantier; Fishing & Pitching

 

-The K Zone-

September 29th  2017

Jon Duplantier

Interview by Mike Duffy



Mike Duffy: I was wondering when you go from high school, minor leagues, what was the biggest challenge when you reach each stage?

Jon Duplantier: The biggest challenge is being on your own. You have to grow up a lot and be a grown man when maybe some guys aren’t ready for the responsibility.


Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite thing about being apart of the Diamondbacks?

Jon Duplantier: My favorite part about being with the dbacks is I get to play the game I love for and organization that is respectful and supportive.


 


Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Jon Duplantier: I like to fish on my off days. Just relax and let my mind wander.



Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?

Jon Duplantier: My favorite player growing up was Roger Clemens.



Mike Duffy: What was your favorite team growing up?

Jon Duplantier: My favorite team was the Astros or Rangers. Anyone in Texas.



Mike Duffy: What was your favorite memory of this season?

Jon Duplantier: My favorite memory this season was being in the Futures Game.



Mike Duffy: What was it like knowing you were recognized for your great year on the MLB Pipeline team of the year?

Jon Duplantier: Being recognized for the team was awesome, because it brings attention to the dbacks farm system and all the work we’ve put in.


Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite stadium?

Jon Duplantier: My favorite stadium is Minute Maid.



Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite movie?

Jon Duplantier: My favorite movie is Space Jam.



Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto or a thing to do to get you out of a rough time?

Jon Duplantier: Just think about positive energy and count my blessings.


Mike Duffy: When did you know you wanted to play professional baseball?

Jon Duplantier: My mom said I first told her when I was young like 6 or 7.



Mike Duffy: What is your favorite thing about being a pitcher? Hardest thing about pitching? When did you start getting good at it?

Jon Duplantier: My favorite thing, is the one on one battle, the hardest thing, getting out of a bad streak, when I turned 20 I guess.


For more Interviews Click Here

For more updates on articles follow us on Instagram @thekzonenews

Comment below on how we can improve the articles!

Thanks for reading!

Tyler Watson; How I Met My New Team

The K Zone

August 31st 2017

Tyler Watson

Interviewed By Mike Duffy

 


screen-shot-2017-08-31-at-6-23-31-pm-e1504229255480.png


Mike Duffy: I was wondering  when you go from high school, minor leagues, what was the biggest challenge when you reach each stage?

Tyler Watson: The biggest obstacle even moving one level to the next is to understand that you got there for a reason and changing anything will not help. Be yourself.


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite thing about being a Twin?

Tyler Watson: I’ve met a lot of great teammates so far being a Twin.


images.duckduckgo-15.jpg


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Tyler Watson: I love to read, I guess the best thing I can do while playing baseball is try to educate myself anyway I can.


images.duckduckgo-19.jpg


Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?

Tyler Watson: I will always be a Big Papi fan.


images.duckduckgo-14.jpg


Mike Duffy: What was your favorite team growing up?

Tyler Watson: My dad is from Boston so I grew up a Red Sox fan.


Boston-Strong.jpg


Mike Duffy: Goals for this season?

Tyler Watson: This season I just want to learn from my mistakes and my successes. Never forget what got you there and never forget what didn’t work.


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite stadium?

Tyler Watson: My favorite stadium is probably Chase field because I grew up there!


images.duckduckgo-13.jpg


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite movie? What is your favorite tv show? 

Tyler Watson: My favorite movie is it’s a wonderful life! My favorite show is how I met your mother! 


images.duckduckgo-11.jpg


images.duckduckgo-12.jpg


Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto or a thing to do to get you out of a rough time?

Tyler Watson: Lord we know what we are but know not what we may be.


Mike Duffy: When did you know you wanted to play professional baseball?

Tyler Watson: I’ve always wanted to be a professional baseball player from day one.


Mike Duffy: What do you enjoy most about staying with host families during the season?

Tyler Watson: Staying with host families have given me connections and experiences that I’m extremely thankful for.  


Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 6.20.13 PM


Mike Duffy: For a shout out to your old teammates lol! What do you miss most about your time in the nationals organization?

Tyler Watson: Wow haha I think about my boys all the time. Still hasn’t sunk in that I won’t see them very often anymore but I’m so thankful that my best friend Blake Perkins lives in Arizona so I can still see him!


 

images.duckduckgo-10.jpg


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite thing about being a pitcher? Hardest thing about pitching? When did you start getting good at it?

Tyler Watson: I love being a pitcher because it’s so strategic, hardest thing about pitching and almost anything is not letting your head get in the way even though it’s a mental craft. I started getting good my senior year of high school once I realized I wasn’t as good as I thought I was!


For more Interviews Click Here

For more updates on articles follow us on Instagram @thekzonenews

Comment below on how we can improve the articles!

Thanks for reading!

 

Alex Robles; Beginning his journey with the Twins

The K Zone

July 19th 2017

Alex Robles

Interviewed By Mike Duffy

 

DCTqsorWAAICDWQ.jpg

Mike Duffy: I was wondering  when you go from high school, minor leagues, to the majors, what was the biggest challenge when you reach each stage?

Alex Robles: The hardest thing was each level, I came across more and more players with the same abilities as me, and I had to learn to out work them and work on the mental side of the game just as much as the physical side. The people that separate themselves from the pack are the ones who recognize that talent alone isn’t going to be what gets you to the next level, but dedication, hard work, and being mentally strong will.


Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite thing about being a Twin?

Alex Robles: My favorite part about being a twin is really having a chance to work through the the farm systems and make it up with the team that drafted me.


Twins.gif


Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Alex Robles: I love to just hang out with my friends in my off time, baseball takes up a lot of my time, but I love to go to the beach and relax with my small circle of friends


Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?

Alex Robles: My favorite player growing up was Alex Rodriguez, I loved the way he played and he was the biggest star that I could remember.


how-alex-rodriguez-the-highest-paid-player-in-mlb-history-makes-and-spends-his-400-million.jpg.png


Mike Duffy: What was your favorite team growing up?

Alex Robles: The Yankees were my favorite team growing up.


Mike Duffy: Goals for this season?

Alex Robles: My goals for this season is just to get better in every aspect of my game, and just work hard every single day and really dedicate myself to this game as much as I can.


unnamed-8.jpg


Mike Duffy: How did draft day feel?

Alex Robles: Draft day was amazing, my parents, my wife and her mom, and my friends were all just so happy that God gave me an opportunity to keep following my dream!


2017_draft_300_js5tp8o3-1.jpg


Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite stadium?

Alex Robles: Chase Field is probably my favorite stadium.


pool_suite_960x540_6ar2i2dm_xidstuvc.jpg


Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite tv show?

Alex Robles: I Love “How I met your Mother”


how-i-met-your-mother-banner.png


Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto or a thing to do to get you out of a rough time?

Alex Robles: A motto that I have is just to “Seize the Day” I don’t let things ever be too big, and I always try and find a way to fix something if something is wrong, or if everything is going good, I find a way to get better, either as a baseball player, or as a Person.


Mike Duffy: When did you know you wanted to play professional baseball?

Alex Robles: I knew I wanted to be a professional the moment I watched the 2001 World Series, the excitement that I saw when the the D backs won, I got chills, and I just knew I wanted to be part of something like that when I got older.


5032.gif


Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite thing about playing infield? 

Alex Robles: I’m playing some Infield and Outfield and hitting, I love to play every day, it’s hard to stay at 100% every day, but being able to help the team every day on the field and hitting is awesome.


For more Interviews Click Here

For more updates on articles follow us on Instagram @thekzonenews

Comment below on how we can improve the articles!

Thanks for reading!