Huston Street, Colorado Rockies closer, immortalized in a random North Hollywood neighborhood. If only 10600 meant anything.
Here's the entire article summed up in the first sentence: Huston Street, the closer for the Colorado Rockies, suffered through the 2nd worst season of his MLB career, largely due to offseason shoulder inflammation (which he just shrugged off and claimed was just normal soreness), switching almost exclusively to a 2-seam fastball, and getting hit in the junk with a line drive off of the bat of Ian Stewart.
Piece by piece, let's look at Street's season:
1. After signing a 3-year, $27M contract to stay with Colorado, Street promptly got all sore, hurt, injured, whatever, and forced the Rockies to close with Franklin Morales. Every other day the status reports came in on Street, that he was throwing, that he was doing better, that he was getting close, that he was shut down temporarily, that he was resuming baseball activities, that he was close... here is an exhaustive list of pitchers who pitched more than Street in Spring Training, 2010: Al Alburquerque, Aaron Cook, Andy Graham, Andrew Johnston, Craig Baker, Chris Gissell, Chaz Roe, Damian Moss, Edgmer Escalona, Esmil Rogers, Franklin Morales, Greg Smith, Joe Beimel, Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, Jeff Francis, Jimmy Gobble, Jason Hammel, Juan Nicasio, Juan Rincon, Justin Speier, Kurt Birkins, Matt Belisle, Manny Corpas, Matt Daley, Matt Reynolds, Nick Bierbrodt, Rick Bauer, Rafael Betancourt, Randy Flores, Sam Deduno, Shane Lindsay, Scott Rice, Tim Redding, Ubaldo Jimenez.
Ok, yeah, everyone gets it, but I just kind of wanted to paste all the pitchers who pitched for Colorado in Spring Training. Oh, sad times too: Justin Speier never did sign on with anyone in a Major League capacity. Sounds like he retired.
Anyhow, nagging injuries. Street couldn't stay healthy during the first 2 1/2 months of the season.
But wait, there's more!
2. According to Fangraphs' Pitch F/X, Street seemed to have abandoned the 4-seam fastball in favor of a 2-seam fastball. Well, according to those same Pitch F/X, the 2-seam fastball was about as fast as the 4-seam fastball from 2009 (~91.5 mph), roughly the same horizontal movement (about 7.3 in) and roughly the same vertical movement (around 5.7 in). But let's get real here. Street's already throwing wiffleballs out there, I don't think it matters if we call it 4-seam, 2-seam, sliding, running, waffling, perplexing, nailbiting, prankdialing, freestyling, it's a fastball that moves a whole bunch and is hard to hit.
The actual fastball name or movement or whatever wasn't really a problem. The problem really came with his slider. I think. His slider lost about an inch of sink as compared to 2009 (and honestly, it's been steadily losing sink since 2007). What was weird about his slider is really when he threw it. 2009, he threw the slider in more 1-strike counts than he did in 2010. He also threw it in like 60% of 2-strike counts in 2010, as compared to like 48% of 2-strike counts in 2009. He threw his slider marginally more (but not really significantly more) in 2010 than 2009, but he used it as his finishing move more in 2010 than in 2009.
Funny story, he also struck out about 1.7 less men per 9 innings in 2010 than he did in 2009.
As far as pitch selection goes, the real story of Street's 2010 is that he more fully embraced the 2-pitch pitcher thing more than ever. He threw less than 5% changeups, and if Fangraph's pitch values are to tell us anything, it was probably a good thing he threw it so little (worth -6.80 runs per 100 changeups). He threw 65% fastballs, 30% sliders, 5% changeups. 2009, 53% fastballs, 30% sliders, 17% changeups. A likely summary is probably just "Street was hurt so much in 2010 that he never got his secondary pitches together".
3. Finally, the real crux to Street's painful 2010: On July 27th, Huston Street took a batting practice line-drive off of the bat of Ian Stewart square in the "inner pelvic area". Seriously, hit square in the crotch.
Yeah, if you forgot about this, it really happened. I'm still waiting on this clip to reach America's Funniest Home
I hear the ball broke.
No, the BASEba- Shut up.
Seriously speaking, this isn't funny. It's the big joke in teen comedies and awful sitcoms that guys getting hit in the groin is a funny thing because it temporarily cripples them and then there's helium-voice jokes and someone makes a reference to the Vienna Boys Choir. WELL IT ISN'T FUNNY. It's some scary stuff. I'm glad it only took him off of the field for a short time.
Now that I'm done being serious, HOLY CRAP HUSTON STREET SURVIVED GETTING RACKED BY A BALL THAT IAN STEWART HIT.
What this amounts to in baseball terms is pretty obvious via the splits:
June ERA/FIP: 4.15/4.23 - Rusty
July ERA/FIP: 2.13/2.84 - Getting it together
August ERA/FIP: 6.06/4.85 - Oof.
Sept/Oct ERA/FIP: 1.93/1.86 - Ah, there we go.
Final numbers: ERA/FIP = 3.61/3.37; K/BB = 4.09; 20SV, 47.1IP.
Final Grade: A+
Seriously, if I took a BP ball from Ian Stewart in the jewels, I don't think I'd come out of my bedroom until Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. But Huston Street not only left his room, AND his house, he returned to pitch MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL. No really, Huston Street is the manliest man to ever grace the Coors Field mound. Unless we count Miguel Olivo during a mound visit.
Serious Final Grade: B-
Much as Street didn't really contribute as much as Colorado would have liked in 2010, first, injuries were a problem, but he didn't hide them (well, the shoulder ones he didn't try to hide - it's hard to hide the "SMACK Groan /collapse"), and it's not really his fault that his shoulder was all inflamed and stuff. Second, while the 8.56 K/9 isn't his best work, it's not far off of his career numbers, his BB/9 was only 2.09, and he only allowed a .274 BABIP. To say the least, during Street's 47IP, he was a very effective reliever. 0.9 fWAR is nothing to sneeze at from a reliever, and if we extrapolate that value to his 2009 inning load, it looks like roughly 1.2 fWAR (don't lean on that number, it's just for illustration).
STAY HEALTHY, HUSTON
No, seriously. That's all I can ask. If Street can shake off the rust during, you know, Spring Training like everyone else and be ready and firing in 2011, he's going to meet that 1.6 fWAR mark again (well, maybe). Basically, even if you nerf his K/9 from 2010 a bit due to league adjustment, Street's still likely to post a 9+ K/9 when you consider how strikeout happy this division is. If healthy, the 9th inning in 2011 shouldn't be a problem for Huston Street.