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A closer look at Huston Street

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His poor performance in stretches of 2015 and 2016 have been well-noted, but can he still be an effective reliever?

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Minnesota Twins-Game One Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Huston Street is no stranger to different situations. He’s been traded three times in his career: once by the A’s, once by the Rockies, and once by the Padres. Considering all that, he’s been subject to a lot of losing — but now the tables have turned. Street, now entering his age-33 season and coming off a poor one, will attempt to have a bounce-back campaign and help the Halos get back to their winning ways.

He probably won’t be a closer thanks to other options (Cam Bedrosian!), but we hope he will be closer to his reliable self (no pun intended). In some regards, Street is still an Angel thanks to his $9 million commitment for next season and the organization hopes he can provide a lift to what currently looks like a below-average bullpen.

We do know that Street had a high ERA, FIP, and WHIP, but in order to foreshadow what he will do, we need to take a look at the cause of his inflated numbers.

Velocity and Movement

Brooks Baseball

Thanks to Brooks Baseball, we can observe Street’s average velocity over each month of his career.

Street’s fastball velocity, in both 2015 and 2016, has declined approximately by one mph, which makes it easier for hitters to square up a fastball. What makes this particularly worrisome is that there is no precedent for such a drastic decline; even though he has always started slow, Street has never had this low of an average velocity before.

And since his slider’s and changeup’s effectiveness is based on his fastball’s, it is hard to see those pitches improving anytime soon unless he gains some velocity on the fastball.

It feels like Street is in a similar situation as Weaver: two crafty veterans whose decreased velocity forces them to have pinpoint command more than ever before. As a result, every marginal mistake is magnified — pitching to your defense is smart, but fully relying on fielders to convert every line drive into an out is ridiculous.

Pitch %

Fangraphs

This is Street’s pitch percentages from the 2011 to 2015 seasons when he was largely effective, outside of a poor second half in 2015. Compare this to the next image, Street’s 2016.

Fangraphs

The 2016 Street pounded the strike zone more, while painting the corners (and the first tier outside of the strike zone) significantly less. Why? One can speculate that this is because hitters are being fooled less often on pitches outside the zone, which further points to the notion that his pitching is becoming less effective.

Take a look at opposing batters’ swing percentages from 2011-2015 and 2016.

Brooks Baseball
Brooks Baseball

Overall, the 2011-2015 Street elicited a higher swing percentage than in 2016, and therefore was more effective at fooling hitters into swinging and missing.

What the swing percentage chart doesn’t take into account, though, is the results of these swings. Hitters were fooled less, and when they did swing out of the zone, they made better contact to the ball. All this resulted in more line drives, harder-hit balls, and home runs.

Injuries?

Street had two reported injuries during the season: an oblique, which led to a stint on the 15-day disabled list, and a right knee injury which knocked him out for the season. However, given Street carries an old-school mindset of playing through pain, it’s not entirely impossible that he was playing through nagging injuries most of the season. If so, then that could partially explain the decline in effectiveness.


I truly hope that injuries is what sapped Street of his velocity, but given that these issues stretch all the way back to the second half of 2015, I’m not convinced that Street can rebound to his reliable form.

I hope he proves me wrong.


If anyone has any article suggestions, then please specify them in the comments section. At this point in the offseason, the pickings are pretty slim.