Turning the Dial to Ridiculous

Carlos Marmol has great stuff. Carlos Marmol effectively uses that great stuff to strike out a lot of hitters. Neither of those two statements is shocking or relatively unknown, even to casual fans. Carlos Marmol has been a big component of the Chicago Cubs bullpen for the past few years and he’s consistently racked up impressive strikeout totals.

In 2007, it was 96 strikeouts in 69.1 innings or 33.7% of all batters faced. In 2008, Marmol punched out 114 over 87.1 innings with what was actually a slightly lower rate at 32.8% of all batters faced. 2009 seemed like a bad omen as the strikeouts slipped to 93 in 74 innings and just 27.8% of hitters.

I think we can put that bad omen to rest. Marmol finished today having faced 103 batters on the season. He’s sent 49 of them back to the dugout with a strikeout. That’s an absurd 47.6% strikeout rate. Given that he’s recorded 24.2 innings pitched, the strikeout rate on the more well known K/9 scale registers a you-have-to-be-kidding-me 17.9.

For every inning that Carlos Marmol has pitched, he’s averaged two strikeouts. Do I even need to put that in perspective for you or can you intuitively grasp how insanely dominant that is?

Of course, Marmol is also a bit wild, yielding about 5.5 walks per nine innings as well. For out of this world comedy when it comes to skewed pitching lines, take a gander at Jonathan Broxton‘s 30 strikeouts, two walks and zero home runs allowed over 20.1 innings. Broxton’s resulting FIP of 0.45 and xFIP of 1.59 are both league leaders as is his 15.0 strikeout to walk ratio.

Broxton has been more valuable, but I’m not sure that what he’s accomplished thus far is more impressive than Carlos Marmol‘s strikeout rate.




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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.


23 Responses to “Turning the Dial to Ridiculous”

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  1. Circlechange11 says:

    Marmol’s one of those guys that could not pitch to contact even if he wanted to. His slider just moves that much. I would not be surprised at all if he just aims “down the middle” and let’s the movement carry it to the corner.

    I haven’t looked at pitch data, but I’m wondering if batters would be better off just not swinging at his slider? Of course I doubt it’s very easy to recognize it early enough to lay off, especially when his fastball is nothing to laugh at.

    Of couse he can deliver a 3 walk 2 HBP inning at any moment. But given his stuff and release point, he could at some point in his career bust out with a K-Rod season … Provided the Cubs were in the lead enough times.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      After watching more Marol “Strikeout Highlights”, I still come back to the idea of hitters just NOT swinging at the slider. It ends up 10 inches (or more) outside, and the swings take on it would not produce anything more than a weak ground ball.

      I would make him start it inside so that it ends up over the plate (moving toward the barrel of a RHB).

      The fact that batters still chase it likely indicate the Marmol’s fastball/slider combo is deadly, and that by the time you pick up the slider, it’s too late b/c you were already swinging at the fastball. Combined with his funky and explosive delivery, he must be hell to try and hit (duh).

      Either way … he’s damn impressive.

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  2. Steven Ellingson says:

    I don’t really think the FIP equation works at crazy extremes like Broxton and Marmol. But I agree that Broxton has probably been more valuable.

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  3. GG says:

    Based on H/9 with a career minimum of 150 IP, Marmol is the most difficult pitcher to hit in baseball history. By a mile.

    WHY IS NO ONE DISCUSSING THIS?

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    • Jon says:

      Because the general public is fretting over his walks.

      meanwhile, in his big-league career, his WHIP in order, from 06-09:
      1.69, 1.10, 0.91, 1.46, 1.14.

      1.46 last year was due to his 7+BB/9. Other than that, he’s averaged about a 4.5BB/9.

      While WHIP isn’t the best stat to use for a reliever, you know what this tells me? Baserunners aren’t getting on because they are hitting him all that often. Supporting your point =P

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    • Bill says:

      Probably because despite being incredibly difficult to hit, he’s also really wild?

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  4. Circlechange11 says:

    Marmol’s is even more oustanding when the organization isn’t screwing with his mind.

    Cards and Cubs this weekend. Hoping Marmol gets 3 days off.

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  5. Ray says:

    ..is there a reason why we use k/9 by default instead of k% of all batters faced? K/9 tells me how many k’s make up a pitcher’s production of outs…k% lets me know how likely a batter striking out is

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  6. dexterfowlerfan666 says:

    Through 5/27, Marmol has as many strikeouts as Johan freakin’ Santana in about 1/3 the innings.

    His BABIP is .367 but his BAA is .163.

    Batters have a 58.8% contact rate against him, including a hilarious 36.4% outside the zone, both easily the lowest in the league.

    Out of the 451 pitches he’s thrown this season, batters have only made contact with 100 (22.17%) of them. In the season so far, he’s faced 103 batters. Think about that for a second. On average, batters make contact with LESS THAN ONE pitch per at bat!

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  7. Patrick says:

    That is COMPLETELY INSANE. I wish I got Cubs games so I could see him do it.

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  8. Kel says:

    Marmol Said Knock You Out.

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  9. He also struck out 3 more yesterday

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  10. Brandon says:

    Marmol has been using his slider A LOT this year, and has essentially eliminated his curveball. 56 percent of his pitches have been sliders this year, compared to 43 percent last year and 31 percent thee years ago. His slider is setting up his fastball, or in some cases, just another slider!

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  11. Hoeler says:

    I’m going to go with Broxton’s as more impressive because as a batter, if they do not put the ball in play… they’re pretty much helpless.

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  12. Doogolas says:

    Hoeler that makes no sense. Batters are putting the ball in play much less frequently vs Marmol than vs Broxton. Marmol has a 13% walk rate and 48%K rate, that means the ball is only in play 39% of the time. Broxton just has next to no walk and a very good K Rate himself. Broxton has a 39% K rate and 2.5%BB Rate. That means balls are going in play about 58.5% of the time. So if you think not putting the ball in play makes one feat superior to another, you’d have to go with Marmol.

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    • darienkd says:

      I think what he’s saying is that a batter who doesn’t put the ball in play against Broxton is helpless, since Broxton isn’t going to walk him. Whereas a batter who doesn’t hit Marmol — which is all the batters, since Marmol’s a crazy man — still has a good chance of getting on base either on a BB or a HBP.

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    • Hoeler says:

      I’m going with whatever his BABIP is off that 58.5% of the time with the 2.5% BB rate, over Marmol’s, albeit ridiculous K rate, still too high BB rate.

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  13. Ivdown says:

    Broxton has been better, because he’s striking a lot of people out and not walking anyone. He’s also allowing only 16 hits in 20.2 innings. Marmol has been downright filthy, but because of the walks he’s still not as valuable as Broxton. 1.2 WAR for Broxton and 1.1 for Marmol. That’s pretty incredible for both, though.

    The Dodgers have 5 pitchers with a 1.1 WAR or better, and Broxton’s been more valuable than Billingsley thus far. Crazy.

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  14. bballer319 says:

    I’m surprised by the added control Broxton has had. The idea to drop a few mph off the fastball for added feel has made its mark. I trust the 4mph drop is intentional…

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  15. Cidron says:

    Nuke LaLoosh is alive and well in ChiTown in a lil burg named Wrigleyville.

    He is either gonna strike you out, or hit and kill the mascot.

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  16. Circlechange11 says:

    “I don’t know where it’s goin’. Swear to God.” — Crash Davis

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