2014 Fantasy Baseball: 50 Interesting Pitcher Stats to Start the Season
Well, I am back!!! I am finally out of college, having graduated in late April. Since then, I have been gathering lots of data from Brooks Baseball, and beyond, as I look to figure out what players are doing so far this season. There are lots of interesting stats from struggling pitchers and hitters, as well as surging pitchers and hitters. Let’s get right down to it. This is a meat and potatoes article, that should be read like a list. Enjoy!
Fun Facts and Stats
**Writers note – Research for this article began on Monday, May 12, so some of these stats may not be perfectly up-to-date, but they are all so extreme that none of them should change that much at all.
1. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price has a 4.53 ERA, a 3.02 xERA, a .360 Batting Average on Balls in Play and a
69% strand rate, and his home run per fly ball rate is 16%.
2. Right-handed batters are hitting 10-for-19 on changeups in the strike zone, thrown by David Price in 2013-2014. That full season number last year was 16-for-67 (.238 avg).
3. Price allowed between 24 and 25 percent hard hit balls from 2009-2012. Last year and this year, that number is 29% and 30% respectively.
4. Right-handed hitters are currently batting .079 / .108 / .095 with 2 strikes off Chicago Cubs starter Jason Hammel — (5-for-63 with 28 strikeouts)
5. San Diego Padres starting pitcher Ian Kennedy has gained a full mile per hour of velocity on his fastball and sinker.
6. Despite some recently un-Felix like starts, Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez has actually got some incredible improvements going on, from last season. He’s gained a full mph of velocity on his fastball and sinker, and his whiff/swing rates on his slider and changeup are both over 50%.
7. Right-handed batters are hitting 1-for-26 with 23 strikeouts against Felix Hernandez’s changeup with two strikes — that one hit, a home run.
8. In 2012, Cleveland Indians pitcher Justin Masterson had a whiff/swing of 39.50% against his slider. He has defied the odds, and has increased that to 42% in 2013, and now 44% this year. In the past two years, right-handed batters are combining to hit 5-for-111 against two-strike sliders (.045 avg) with three singles, two doubles, and 85 strikeouts.
9. Despite a 53% ground ball rate, a 10% line drive rate, a 7% pop-up rate, and a 39% whiff/swing rate, right-handed batters are hitting Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco ‘s slider to the tune of a .378 average. That’s a .482 BABIP. He throws that pitch to righties, more than any other pitch against them.
10. Boston Red Sox hurler Felix Doubront is actually throwing a pretty darn good cutter this season. Using the same heavy cutter/fastball combination that teammate Jon Lester is using, Doubront is getting right-handed batters to hit just 14-for-71 (.197 avg) off his three combined most-used pitches to righties — fastball , changeup, cutter. Is he a home-run limiting lesson away from figuring it out? — Still needs more command though, too.
11. Marco Estrada of the Milwaukee Brewers is continuing to have severe reverse splits. Much like last year when he had a .300 wOBA vs. righties, and a .281 vs. lefties, Estrada has really honed his changeup — garnering 39% whiff/swing on the pitch last year, and 34% this year. That number was just 24% in 2012, and 31% in 2011.
12. Left-handed batters are just 5-for-50 against Estrada with two strikes this season.
13. Houston Astros starter Dallas Keuchel is not fluking his way through the season so far, as he now boasts two secondary pitches with whiff/swing rates of 40% — slider, and changeup. Velocity issues on his fastball will remain a problem, and a 45% line drive rate on the slider raises a lot of red flags, but he’s a lot better than many are giving him credit for.
14. Batters are hitting .111 / .179 / .111 off Stephen Strasburg ‘s changeup (4-for-36 — four singles), .212 / .235 / .242 against his curveball (7-for-33), but are hitting .313 / .376 / .455 against his fastball (31-for-99)
15. The first time through the order, batters are hitting .324 off Strasburg, .238 the second time through, and .216 the third time through.
16. When Strasburg is ahead in the count, batters are hitting .075 / .086 / .113. When the count is even, they are hitting .397 / .391 / .544, and when Strasburg is behind in the count they are hitting .432 / .596 / .568. This .381 BABIP cannot be simply written in as a fluke. Strasburg’s fastball has to get better.
17. Fun with small sample sizes? Pitchers are 3-for-10 (.300) off Bronson Arroyo this season. All non-pitchers are hitting .289 off him.
18. Oakland Athletics starter Drew Pomeranz has gained a mile per hour on his fastball.
19. When Jacob Turner throws a strike, and it’s put in play, batters are hitting .514 and are slugging .886. It’s safe to say that he is struggling mightily.
20. Ryan Vogelsong is much better pitching out of the stretch. With zero outs, batters are hitting .345, with 1 out, .244 , and with two outs, .147. Further, the numbers are similar in Low/Medium/High leverage situations, with Vogelsong being at his best in high leverage, second best in medium leverage, and worst in low leverage.
21. Vogelsong has allowed four hits on fly balls. All have been home runs.
22. Batters are hitting .077 with three singles on groundballs against Vogelsong (3-for-39).
23. On line drives, batters have a 2.121 OPS vs Vogelsong.
24. Justin Verlander has a 2.67 ERA and a 4.27 expected ERA. in 42 High-leverage at-bats, hitters have just a .156 Batting Average on Balls in Play, this despite a 1.80 SO/BB ratio in those situations. That 79% strand rate is coming down folks.
25. Los Angeles Angels pitcher Garrett Richards is averaging over 96.50 miles per hour on both his fastball and sinker — both up from last year by a full mile per hour.
26. Richards is using said sinker more often than his four-seam fastball now — 42% usage vs. 31% for the four-seam fastball. Last year he used his four-seam 38% of the time, and his sinker 30% of the time.
27. Arizona Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy has gained two miles per hour on his fastball, and it now is sitting at 94 mph.
28. Corey Kluber is excellent, but continues to struggle when behind in the count. When ahead in the count, his sOPS+ (sOPS is
OPS+ adjusted for league splits) is only 25! Batters are hitting .138 / .148 / .163. But when he’s behind in the count batters are hitting .318 / .456 / .545.
29. Batters are hitting .392 / .433 / .546 off Kluber’s two-seam fastball (which he throws significantly more often than his four-seam — this is in all counts.
30. New York Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka uses four pitches in approximately equal distribution, however, both of his fastballs are being hit hard. He has thrown 161 four-seam fastballs, and in 38 at-bats, batters are hitting .318 / .381 / .632 off the pitch, with only six strikeouts.
31. Tanaka has thrown his two-seam fastball 172 times, it’s being hit to the tune of .326 / .356 / .558 in 43 at-bats with two strikeouts
32. Tanaka has thrown 147 sliders, and in 29 at-bats, batters are hitting .172 / .172 / .276 with 15 strikeouts
33. Tanaka has thrown 184 split-finger fastballs and in 64 at-bats, batters are hitting .141 / .156 / .219 with 33 strikeouts…..
34. After being his best pitch last year, the slider of San Diego Padres pitcher Tyson Ross is being hit to the tune of a .322 / .365 / .559 by right-handed batters.
35. Minnesota Twins pitcher Phil Hughes leads Major League Baseball with “most 0-2 counts”.
36. Hughes’s strike percentage is 71% — the highest in the majors.
37. Much like Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, Hughes has turned into a fastball / cutter guy, with those two combining for 85.7% of his pitches against left-handed batters. Said batters are hitting .143 / .200 / .238 off his four-seam fastball, and .191 / .261 / .191 off his cutter.
38. In 68 at-bats against right-handed batters, Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz has an 11:2 K:BB ratio yet they are hitting .397 / .408 / .603.
39. In 90 at-bats against left-handed batters, Buchholz is allowing only .278 / .350 / .367 slash line despite a 16:9 K:BB ratio.
40. A .375 Batting Average on Balls in Play rate for Buchholz suggests he’s getting unlucky, but a 34% hard-hit ball rate, throws that theory out the window.
41. Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo seems to be making a conscious effort to reduce his home-runs, but with it comes the strikeouts. His swinging strike rate has gone from 10% in 2011, to 8% in 2012, 7% in 2013 and 6% this year.
42. Concurrently, Gallardo’s home run per nine rate has gone from 1.2, down to 1.1, then to 0.9, and now 0.7 in those four years respectively.
43. Chicago Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija ‘s hard hit ball rate is just 20% this year, after being 28% and 30% in 2013 and 2012 respectively.
44. Samardzija’s ground-ball rate is at a career-high 52% rate.
45. Seattle Mariners pitcher Chris Young thinks sabermetrics are for losers — figuratively speaking of course. He of the 14% line drive rate, 12% K-Rate, 10% walk rate, and the 86 mph medium-ball, which he is throwing 85% of the time by the way.
46. Young has an ERA of 2.86.
47. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller is giving up 38% hard-hit balls on the season, that number was 35% last year — which is also too high.
48. Left-handed batters are hitting .250 / .400 / .607 in two-strike counts off of Shelby Miller
49. Shelby Miller has a strikeout to walk ratio right now of 1.20, and his swinging strike rate is 7%.
50. OPINION SPECIAL: Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal need to switch roles.