Missing More than is Called

Thanks to a reader, who pointed this out to me. Did you know that Mike Wuertz is currently accomplishing a somewhat rare feat, that of generating more swinging strikes than called strikes. Through 727 pitches to date, Wuertz has caused batters to swing and miss 144 times while getting a called strike 134 times.

Achieving this level is quite difficult to do. Among pitchers with at least 500 pitches thrown this year, only four have done it so far. Along with Wuertz, there is Russ Springer (92 swinging strikes to 81 called strikes), Brandon League (94 swinging strikes to 83 called strikes) and Rafael Betancourt (66 swinging strikes to 61 called strikes).

All four of these are relievers, which is to be expected since relief pitchers have, on average, a higher swinging strike rate than starting pitchers. It takes a really rare starter to accomplish that feat. Rich Harden last year such a starter, compiling 363 missed bats against 351 called strikes.

In general, there are usually less than ten pitchers per year that manage to out pace their called strikes with swinging strikes. And aside from Rich Harden, who also did it in 2006 and is close (222 swinging strikes, 223 called) to doing it again this year, no starting pitcher has managed to do it since 2003.

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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.

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Yay, more fuel to the League-for-closer bandwagon. The man has found his control and his pitches are still deadly as ever. If gameday calls your 87 mph slider a curveball, you know its nasty.