Warne: Twins closer Glen Perkins has a unique perspective on scouting
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MINNEAPOLIS -- It's quite well documented that Minnesota Twins closer Glen Perkins has an affinity for the mathematical and analytical side of the game. In fact, if he wasn't pitching in the big leagues, he says he'd probably be a math teacher.
All you have to do is get him talking about X's and O's or pitch selection, and it's clear he can hold his own in the field of sabermetrics.
"I mean what have I thrown, 100-something fastballs this year?" said Perkins, thinking back on his April outings. "I've probably thrown under 10 two-seamers for sure."
Or some of the "zone rate" numbers from websites like Fangraphs. Perkins is keenly aware of what he's doing in terms of throwing pitches in the zone, or out of the zone in an attempt to induce bad swings.
"With my (strike) zone percentage going down, I would imagine that means that (hitters) are chasing pitches. I know that this year, the thing I've noticed is that the amount of pitches opposing hitters have swung at has gone up -- I think they want to get me earlier in the count -- but I know that this year at least the pitches out of the strike zone, or my chase percentage, hasn't been as high. My slider hasn't been great, I said that the other day. So I haven't got as many chases out of zone on that as I will when it warms up."
Perkins is very much in tune mentally with advanced metrics and data from tools such as Pitch F/X -- a sophisticated pitch tracking system used to measure velocity, break, angle and other nuances.
But when it comes time to step on the rubber, Perkins leaves most of that data right where he found it.
"To be honest with you, I don't really use either. For a pitcher in a game, Pitch F/X and advanced metrics aren't really a scouting tool for a player. I guess I don't really do scouting reports, because I'm going to pitch to my strengths.
"I mean if a guy's a first pitch fastball hitter, I might throw him a first pitch slider. But at the same time, I might try to throw him a good fastball in and beat him early in the account. I don't particularly follow scouting reports."
It really is an approach which makes a lot of sense. As a closer, Perkins isn't likely to face a multitude of hitters all that often. And sometimes, despite the best of intentions, Perkins says it's unlikely a late-inning reliever can prepare for specific hitters anyway, because of the one inning window and the potential for pinch hitters.
"In the past six innings, I've probably seen five pinch hitters," Perkins said. "So it's hard to prepare that way too. When you don't know, I think scouting reports are more pertinent for a starter. A guy who is going to go through a lineup three times. I mean I can try to pay attention to a couple guys, but there's only a 33 percent chance I'll face them."
In essence, it boils down to Perkins being a stat-head from the respect that he knows why he's done what he's done, but it isn't directly a part of how he approaches individual outings.