All Hail Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke is about half way through the 2009 MLB season and to date he has been worth 5.5 wins. He is roughly on pace to accumulate 11 wins. As a pitcher. In the last four years, no pitcher has broken past the eight win mark. Since 2002, the first year our win values start, the highest recorded mark is Randy Johnson’s 9.9 wins in 2004.

In fact, aside from Grienke’s fabulous season, Tim Lincecum is also on pace to better Johnson’s mark. With 5.1 wins so far, he is set up to squeak by with 10.2 wins in total, but that is another time and post. From 2004-7, Greinke averaged about a 7.2% swinging strike rate. He improved that to 9.0% last year and is at 10.1% so far in 2009. Those extra missed bats have allowed Greinke to significantly raise his strikeout rate, up above 25% of all batters faced this year.

Amazingly, despite batters swinging less often than ever recorded before against Greinke and Greinke missing the strike zone significantly more often than ever recorded before, Greinke’s walk rate is down to a minuscule 4%. That gives Zack a tremendous 6.3 strikeout to walk ratio.

Greinke’s batted balls are not significantly different from past years, but his home run rate has unsustainably dipped to just 3.3%. All in all, Greinke is missing more bats this year, but he is also throwing fewer strikes overall. Somehow he has reduced both his walks and his home runs allowed to depress his FIP to 1.98, but going forward you would expect that to be a lot closer to his 3.56 from last season. Still, with half a season banked, Greinke has a serious shot at being FanGraphs’ first 10 win pitcher.




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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

4 Responses to “All Hail Zack Greinke”

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  1. Costa Galanis says:

    As great as Greinke is, if I had to put my money on only one of them breaking the barrier, I’d feel more comfortable betting on Lincecum.

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    • Alireza says:

      I wouldn’t be so sure. Greinke has done this despite a .321 BABIP. His fastball is almost Lincecum’s equal and his secondary pitches are much better.

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  2. rob says:

    How can you not mention Greinke’s 4 plus ERA since the calendar turned to June? Are his peripherals that good to overlook this?

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  3. ecp says:

    Greinke’s ERA since June 1 is 3.97, not 4 plus (yeah, I know, close to 4 plus). Not great, but not exactly horrible either. Looks like normal expected regression to me, so now his numbers begin to approximate something more human. And yeah, his peripherals continue to be great, so he looks like he could keep it up.

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