Late yesterday, Greg Johns wrote a little bit about Brendan Ryan, and the adjustment he says he's having to make to the American League. It's nothing thorough and in-depth, nor was it intended to be, but Ryan talks about how he isn't seeing many fastballs anymore at the plate, and a few things in the story stood out to me as things that I ought to address.
(1) According to Fangraphs, Ryan saw 59% fastballs last year with the, and has seen 63% fastballs so far with the . According to PITCHfx, the approximate breakdown is more like 58% last year and 59% this year. Sure, Ryan didn't see as many heaters as he would've liked against Texas, but he sure saw them in Oakland.
(2) Ryan says he asked Jack Wilson about the adjustment, and Wilson told him "to prepare for a noticeable change," and to "get ready to hit offspeed stuff." In 2009, when Wilson was traded, he saw 61% fastballs in his time with the , and 69% fastballs in his time with the Mariners. He saw 64% fastballs a year ago, which is the exact same area he'd previously been over his entire career. I literally have no idea what Jack Wilson is talking about.
(3) Ryan was questioned after playing four games and seeing a grand total of ten pitchers on two teams. Ryan can opine on a pitch approach league adjustment after four games like I can opine on the quality of a street burrito after peeling the wrapper.
(4) Of the four pitches he's regularly seen over the course of his career, Fangraphs says that Ryan has had the least success against fastballs anyway, and the most against changeups.
So, I don't know. Ryan says that he wants more fastballs, and he insists that he's seeing fewer of them than he has in the past. Wilson seems to suggest the same thing about himself. But if that's actually true, it's not showing up in the numbers. I don't doubt for a second that there is some sort of league switch adjustment that has to be made, and pitching approach might be a part of it, but I'm not seeing any evidence that such an adjustment has anything to do with overall fastball frequency. I think the biggest part of the adjustment is getting used to the fact that the American League logo has a bitchin eagle with a thing in its mouth. The American League eagle is badass.