(Yeah, I take a late lunch.)
I've been thinking about V a lot lately, mainly because new pieces are intriguing to me, as are reclamation projections. V is a little bit of both.
A lot of Yankee fans have been uninspired by his return coming off a career year in the NL with the Braves. I agree, anecdotal, there are several red flags there. But I'm big on facts and numbers, so that's what I've been looking at. I'm trying to get inside his first round with the Yanks so I can understand how he can avoid a repeat.
V's BABIP is pretty steady, and 2004 was actually a good year in that department- his 2004 LD% was the second lowest of his career and his infield flies were a career high. In some ways, it's hard to believe that he pitched as badly as we remember, but I believe that's because we're discounting how good his first half was. Opponents hit .233/.289/.404 before the All-Star Break, but .286/.350/.495 in the second half.
His shoulder hurt, and his control was gone.
Unable to establish his fastball he gave up 13 of 33 homers within the first 2 pitches.
The injury might have also robbed him of his fastball's late life, because in 2004 V's fastball (usually 2 runs above average) was -14.6 runs below average. His slider was even worse, but because he threw it less, it was less damaging. I blame the injury, but pitch selection (by Jorge or Joe Torre) could be to blame.