Archive for Edge%

More on Called Strikes on the Edge

When we last left our discussion of Edge% we were looking at the differences in the rate of called strikes based on the count. Generally speaking, umpires were less likely to call strikes on the Edge in pitcher-friendly counts and more likely to give those calls in hitter-friendly counts.

While we learned a bit from that analysis, it was really just the tip of the iceberg. There are a number of additional ways to cut the data, and that is the focus of this article. Count is just one dimension when we are thinking about what might influence the likelihood of close called strikes. There are a number of additional dimensions we can layer onto count, and that’s precisely what I show in the (admittedly large) table below.

Read the rest of this entry »


Getting Strikes on the Edge

The last time I wrote about Edge% it was in the context of the Tampa Bay Rays using it to get their pitchers into more favorable counts on 1-1. But now I want to take that topic and drill a little deeper to understand how often edge pitches are taken for called strikes.

Overall, pitches taken on the edge are called strikes 69% of the time. But that aggregate measure hides some pretty substantial differences. Going further on that idea, I wanted to see how the count impacts the likelihood of a pitch on the edge being called a strike.

Here are the results:

Read the rest of this entry »


How the Rays Leverage the Edge

In Sports Illustrated’s 2013 baseball preview, Tom Verducci wrote a great profile of the Tampa Bay Rays and their approach to optimizing the performance of their pitching staff.

One topic that was especially interesting to me was the apparent importance the Rays place on the 1-1 count. Verducci recounts how pitching coach Jim Hickey described the organization’s focus on getting opposing batters into 1-2 counts:

The Rays believe no pitch changes the course of that at bat more than the 1-and-1 delivery. “It’s almost a 200-point swing in on-base percentage with one ball and two strikes as opposed to two balls and one strike,” Hickey told the pitchers.

Read the rest of this entry »


Edge%: It’s Baaaack

A while back, Jeff Zimmerman and I introduced the concept of Edge% — a metric that attempted to quantify the extent to which a pitcher worked the edges of the strike zone. Jeff initially looked at how this applied to Tim Lincecum and how his performance depended to some extent on his ability to pitch to the edges of the plate. I followed up with a high-level piece that compared the performance of pitchers at an aggregate level depending on how extreme their Edge% was in a given season.

While the findings were interesting, they were also a little inconsistent. That’s because Jeff and I independently created two distinct metrics. We decided to combine our efforts (as we have been known to do) and settle on a single, consistent formula.

And that’s the focus of this article.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Difference Pitching on the Edge Makes

Note: I found some errors in the data. Data below has been corrected, as well as some conclusions — BP

Yesterday, Jeff Zimmerman examined how Tim Lincecum‘s performance has depended to some extent on his ability to pitch to the edges of the plate. Last year, Lincecum was one of the worst starters in the game in terms of the percentage of his pitches thrown to the black. Coincidently (or not so coincidently), Lincecum suffered through his worst season as a professional.

As with many things, Jeff and I happened to be investigating this issue of the edge simultaneously. Of course, we were not the first to dabble in this area. Back in 2009, Dave Allen noted that differences in pitch location–specifically horizontal location–led to differences in BABIP.

Like Dave, I was curious about the overall impact that throwing to the edges–or the black–has on overall performance. My thinking about pitchers throwing to the edges naturally led to some hypotheses:

  1. Throwing a higher percentage of pitches on the edges leads to lower FIP.
  2. Throwing a higher percentage of pitches on the edges leads to lower ERA.
  3. Throwing a higher percentage of pitches on the edges leads to lower BABIP.
  4. Throwing a higher percentage of pitches on the edges is associated with lower four-seam fastball velocity.

I think the first three hypotheses are intuitive, but the last one stems from the idea that as a pitcher ages and loses zip on their fastball they cannot remain successful unless they increase their avoidance of the heart of the strike zone.

Read the rest of this entry »