Sunday Rockpile: DINGERZ Olivo to the All-Star game? 2010 second half starts today after first one ends on sour note

Happy Independence Day, Purple Row:

UPDATE: Olivo gets robbed by his fellow players. TIME FOR VENGEANCE. WE SHOULD LAY WASTE TO THE NL.

Jimenez needs company on all-star team - The Denver Post- Miguel Olivo, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki all have chances to be named to this year's NL squad, but as the Denver Post link suggests, Olivo's case seems to be the strongest. Many of us, myself included, would have thought that if any Rockies backstop was an All-Star this season it would have been the one that's currently able to walk out of a paper bag but not really hit out of one, but even though Chris Iannetta's breakout/rebound has yet to materialize, the Rockies did get a surprising breakout from a player experiencing what we hope to be a career renaissance.

It's not a frequent occurrence that a player will find value in their 30's that wasn't there in their mid to late 20's, but it does happen, and as is the case with Olivo, when it does, it will usually be accompanied by a move to a more ideal situation for the player, not only terms of park, but also lineup opportunities and general attitude. Luis Gonzalez going to the Diamondbacks would be the ultimate recent example, but we've also seen it with players like Mark Grudzielanek or Marco Scutaro to bring up another contemporary example.

It seems what's driving Olivo's success is the fact that he's finally figured out what to do with off speed pitches:


FB SL CT CB CH SF
2007 -14.5 2.1 0.6 -5.5 -3.5 -1.2
2008 -4.1 -0.8 -0.2 -2.6 0.9 -0.4
2009 4.0 -5.2 2.7 0.9 -2.4 -0.8
2010 5.2 2.6 3.9 -2.2 4.5 -1.9

In this chart of his run value by pitch type (stats courtesy of FanGraphs) you can see that Olivo first had a turnaround with hitting fastballs while with the Royals, even though he was losing ground on breaking pitches, notably sliders. Since coming to Colorado, Olivo's kept his improvement vs. fastballs, but also regained his ability to hit the slider and what's most pertinent to why he's having the year he is, would be the way he's now valuable when hitting change-ups. Curveballs are still a problem area, but the move to the NL, and particularly to Colorado means he's going to be seeing less of them as a general rule.

The second big change for Olivo would be a more patient, selective approach. Olivo's taking more pitches than he did while with Kansas City, who seemed to actually be pushing him to be overly aggressive. From 2007-2009, Olivo swung at 43.2% of pitches outside the strike zone, dropping that number to 35.4% in 2010. Notably, he's also cut back considerably on pitches he swings at within the strike zone, going from 81.2% in 2008, to 74.2% last season to the 71.5% figure he's at in 2010. As a result his walks are up, but because he's waiting for and eventually getting his pitch, so are his hits.

Is this sustainable? I don't know, I would think as long as he maintains bat speed, it would be to an extent. His .381 BABIP definitely suggests that he's going to give some back to regression, but keep in mind that BABIP is high at least in part because of that increased selectivity. It's clear this is not the same player that Olivo was in Kansas City, and I would suggest therefore, that he's not really that likely to drop back to that level of production even when he does eventually regress.

At any rate, as Matt Daley to the Colorado Springs Gazette points out, "you don't ever want to get on his bad side." I would suggest that Olivo's peers take note of that when they decide his All-Star fate.

More links after the jump:

 

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