Throughout his Yankee career, Boone Logan has been the recipient of (what is, in my opinion) a disproportionate amount of criticism, not only for his performance, but also for his handling. Much of the disappointment with the failed Javy Vazquez trade (version 2.0) seems to have been projected upon Logan, a talented albeit limited pitcher who was not always deployed optimally by Joe Girardi (facing too many righties, in particular).
While people with selective memories like to remember the times where Logan has failed, the fact is that throughout his Yankee career, Logan has been a very effective reliever. How effective? In 91 career innings for the Yankees, Logan has surrendered 30 earned runs (good for an ERA just below 3), struck out 97 (9.6 k/9), and walked 38 (3.8 per 9). These are very good numbers for any reliever, much less a guy who is never more than the 4th or 5th option for setup duty.
Over his career Logan has become not only an useful piece of the Yankee bullpen, but a major asset. He has been absolutely dominant in 2012. Though Logan has faced same-handed hitters more frequently, he has improved against righties to the point where he can be adequate against them. On the season, Logan has given up just 1 run on 6 hits and 5 walks, with a whopping 13 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings. His k/9 of 12.54 on the season is approaching David Robertson territory, and while his walk rate is higher than you would like to see (4.82/9), it is not a deal-breaker if he is able to keep limiting the number of hits and home runs he allows and keeps the strikeout rate up. Obviously it’s a small sample size and one or two bad outings could change his numbers dramatically, but Logan’s performance in 2012 has been very impressive.
How has he been getting it done this year? As in the past few years, he has primarily used a fastball touching the mid-90′s (averaging 93-94) and a slider in the low-80′s. One thing that is noticeably different is Logan’s pitch mix. Boone threw the heater 67 percent of the time in 2010, and 62 percent of the time in 2011. In 2012, that number has dropped to just 48 percent. He has replaced most of those fastballs by throwing more sliders, which are easily his best secondary offering. So far he has used the slider 46 percent of the time, compared to 36 percent in 2011 and 26 percent in 2010. The increased featuring of the slider could explain why Logan is striking batters out at such a high rate this year. Logan is also using his changeup more than in previous years, up to over 7 percent of pitches (compared to about 5 percent in 2011, and 2 percent in 2010).
His pitches, according to pitch f/x, don’t appear to be very different as far as velocity and movement go, but perhaps their combination is responsible for Logan’s dominance this year. Boone’s whiff rate (per Brooks Baseball) is noticeably higher for his secondary offerings than it has been in previous seasons. The whiff rate on Logan’s slider jumped from 23 to about 30 percent between 2011 and 2012, and the changeup from 19 to 33 percent over the same span.
It may be a lot to ask for Boone Logan to maintain his current level of performance, but given his body of work over the last 2+ seasons, he should continue to be a valuable contributor to the Yankee bullpen. He can be frustrating to watch at times, but because of his track record of success in a Yankee uniform, I will continue to defend him to the naysayers on Twitter who bash him for giving up a leadoff single. He is not the best reliever on the Yankees, but as lefty relievers go, there aren’t too many that have been better than Logan over the past 2+ years.
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