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Jered Weaver, the surprise strikeout king

Oct 2, 2010, 12:06 PM EDT

Jered Weaver notched just four strikeouts over seven innings against the Rangers last night, however they were just enough to give him the major league lead in strikeouts (233) over Tim Lincecum (231) and Felix Hernandez (232).

Armed with a fastball that averages around 90 mph, Weaver entered the season averaging 7.3 K/9 over his first four seasons in the major leagues. This year he has fanned 233 batters over 224 1/3 innings, good enough for 9.3 K/9, fifth among qualified starters.

According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, Weaver could be the first Angels pitcher to lead the majors in strikeouts since Nolan Ryan struck out 341 in 1977.

“Changing speeds with every pitch has been a key,” Weaver said.
“Anything you can do to keep the hitters off-balance is good. When you
throw 91, you have to figure out ways to get people out.”

It’s a pretty simple way of describing his success, but not far off. I mentioned his early strikeout prowess way back in June and as the season has continued, we have seen that he has relied on his curveball more than ever before. The pitch has been nine runs above average this season according to Fangraphs, easily a career-high. This alteration in his repertoire has made his fastball — which had negative value over the past two seasons — a much more effective pitch.

You know, we have spent a lot of time lavishing praise on Felix Hernandez, and rightfully so, but the 27-year-old Weaver is another prominent example of a pitcher who is having a Cy Young-type season without the shiny win-loss record to match. By the way, he’s also 13-12, like King Felix.

Note: There’s still a chance that Weaver won’t lead the majors in strikeouts. If the Giants are forced to play a tiebreaker game on Monday, Lincecum would likely get the start. At the very least, Weaver has clinched the AL lead in strikeouts. 

  1. wrong em - Oct 2, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    Hey DJ – your writing is totally solid in general; however, it seems like you use the word “however” constantly and never, ever punctuate around it correctly. (See what I did there?) You’re treating it as a conjunction when it’s an adverb. Sorry to be that pedantic guy, but I’ve seen the same mistake in practically everything you’ve ever posted on this (again) generally quite well-written site. Keep on keepin’ on.

  2. D.J. Short - Oct 2, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    Thanks for the advice. I must have skipped English class for that lesson. I’ll try to keep it in mind moving forward.

  3. RichardInBigD - Oct 2, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    My comment has something to do with the English language, as well. Much more basic, though. All the way back to the alphabet, in fact. If tou take a look at the picture of Weaver posted here, you will notice that he is a practitioner of the “inverted W”, which will likely cause his career to be shorter than average, rather than longer. That being said, I’m glad that he’s getting a title while he can.

  4. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Oct 2, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    Correct me if i’m wrong, but isn’t the above picture what a pitcher is supposed to do? Isn’t the inverted W (technically a(n?) M), when the elbows are above the shoulders in the loaded position? The picture above shows a regular W doesn’t it?

  5. RichardInBigD - Oct 2, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    I see what you’re saying, but the angle of this photo doesn’t really show the height of the elbows. It’s kind of looking up at him from belly button level. I believe that, when viewed straight on, from shoulder level, you would see that his elbows are above his shoulders. Not as much as some others, but more than I would be comfortable with as a scout/coach/parent/GM.

  6. JBerardi - Oct 3, 2010 at 4:15 AM

    His hand is in the right position, which is what counts (note that his arms make a NON-inverted W). The inverted W indicates a timing problem; the pitching arm is lagging behind the motion of the pitcher’s body. I don’t see that in Weaver (in this image at least).

  7. Reflex - Oct 3, 2010 at 4:45 AM

    That image is not an inverted W. The elbows have to be above the shoulders and they clearly are not here. I don’t know if Weaver uses an inverted W or not, he may, but this image is not proof of that.
    Strasburg, however, does use the inverted W, and as such is never likely to be healthy for any length of time without a serious mechanical change.

  8. BC - Oct 4, 2010 at 9:37 AM

    I see a picture like this and I wonder how ANY pitcher stays healthy for any length of time.

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