The Contact Tales: 2005

Starting Pitchers (Min IP: 100)

The Best:
Jake Peavy 73.7%
Johan Santana 74.2%
Jason Schmidt 74.5%
Rich Harden 74.8%
A.J. Burnett 75.5%

Schmidt’s career arc is one of the oddest in recent baseball history. After toiling for years with the Pirates as a decent starter, Schmidt was traded to the Giants (alongside John Vander Wal) for Armando Rios and Ryan Vogelsong. It’s just as the Pirates luck: Schmidt would immediately turn into a well above average starter, posting xFIP of 3.57, 3.24, and 3.21 over 2002-04. Injuries would slow Schmidt down beginning in 2007 and he would throw fewer than 15 innings on average over the past three years.

The Worst:
Carlos Silva 91.1%
Kirk Saarloos 89.7%
Ryan Drese 89.3%
Shawn Estes 89.1%
Aaron Sele 88.9%

Saarloos has started nearly 75 games in the Majors and appeared in an additional 90 as a reliever. Even still, his career HR/FB% is 13% despite throwing most of his 509 innings within the snuggly confines of the Oakland Coliseum. Truth be told, his career 4.87 FIP isn’t too bad all things considered. Baseball-Reference’s most similar pitcher is Gary Glover. I’d say that fits.

Relief Pitchers (Min IP: 40)

The Best:
Rudy Seanez 58.7%
Brad Lidge 59.6%
Mike Wuertz 59.9%
Joe Nathan 66.7%
Ugueth Urbina 67.2%

Over his career, Seanez appeared in the Majors with nine different teams. His career contact rate was just shy of 70% and he did it mostly with a ferocious slider. Nearly one-third of the pitches Seanez threw outside of the strike zone were swung at during 2005.

The Worst:
Paul Quantrill 91.2%
Jesse Crain 88.3%
Dan Kolb 87.8%
Travis Harper 87.7%
Jason Christiansen 87.5%

Mostly names previously covered. Crain has impressively improved the amount of swings and misses he induces ever since.

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8 Responses to “The Contact Tales: 2005”

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  1. Kevin says:

    Schmidt was unquestionably a steroids guy.

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    • NEPP says:

      On what basis? Because he moved to a great pitcher’s park and had the greatest season of his life? Its not as if he was great for a long time and its not as if he wasn’t injured a lot in Pittsburgh either.

      I’m not saying he wasn’t a juicer but its kinda iffy to just toss out accusations like that.

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      • DL80 says:

        The fact that his K rate increased from mid-6.0s at age 26 to 10.0 at age 31 is at least suspicious. I mean, most pitchers are starting to lose K rate around that time. Plus, depending on how much we trust the 2002 data (the first year available), it looks like his fastball, curve, and change may have all suddenly gained 2 mph in his age 30 season. Granted, 2002 is a small sample size, so that may just be statistical noise. But I find it suspicious that a guy suddenly gains a huge increase in K rate and pitch speed at age 29-30 after nearly 1000 IP. Then his body falls apart 3 years later. It’s not definitive, but to paraphrase George Carlin, “It’s suggestive as hell.”

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      • NEPP says:

        Oh, I’m not saying he wasn’t a juicer I’m just saying that there’s no real proof other than on-field performance.

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  2. Bradley says:

    Ooh. 90% on Silva? Geez, that’s what Cubs fans have to look forward too? :(

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    • NEPP says:

      When your option is Silva or bringing back a guy like Bradley, its not really a choice, is it?

      Maybe he’ll give them some 5th Starter production…stranger things have happened.

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    • Bryz says:

      One might like to point out that 2005 was the year that Silva pitched 188.1 IP with only 9 BB. With his 71 K, that came to a 7.89 K/BB. Also, in terms of ERA and FIP, this was Silva’s best year as a starting pitcher.

      As for Crain, this was the year he put up a great ERA (2.71) with a poor K/BB ratio (25/29, or 0.86).

      Thank you Rick Anderson and teaching how to pitch to contact! Maybe if the Twins had some more money to spend, they’d chase after Joel Pineiro.

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  3. Kirk says:

    Could you do a lead in piece on why contact rate is important other than the obvious that it leads to a better K rate (the numero uno peripheral)?

    Is there a relationship to it being able to predict fluky K rates or is it something else? That would be interesting and useful.

    And you seem to have a certain amount of doomsday when you talk about high contact rate pitchers? yet Buerhle isn’t far from the this leaderboard each year along with a couple of other pretty decent pitchers. What these guys have in common is that they don’t give free passes and control the GB/FB aspect of the game well. I’ll certainly take the strikeout pitcher every day but there are ways to overcome contact.

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