Pitch Win Values for Starting Pitchers – July 2014

Introduction

A couple months back, I introduced a new method of calculating pitch values using a FIP-based WAR methodology.  That post details the basic framework of these calculations and  can be found here .  The May and June updates can be found here and here respectively.  This post is simply the July 2014 update of the same data.  What follows is predominantly data-heavy but should still provide useful talking points for discussion.  Let’s dive in and see what we can find.  Please note that the same caveats apply as previous months.  We’re at the mercy of pitch classification.  I’m sure your favorite pitcher doesn’t throw that pitch that has been rated as incredibly below average, but we have to go off of the data that is available.  Also, Baseball Prospectus’s PitchF/x leaderboards list only nine pitches (Four-Seam Fastball, Sinker, Cutter, Splitter, Curveball, Slider, Changeup, Screwball, and Knuckleball).  Anything that may be classified outside of these categories is not included.  Also, anything classified as a “slow curve” is not included in Baseball Prospectus’s curveball data.

Constants

Before we begin, we must first update the constants used in calculation for Jule.  As a refresher, we need three different constants for calculation: strikes per strikeout, balls per walk, and a FIP constant to bring the values onto the right scale.  We will tackle them each individually.

First, let’s discuss the strikeout constant.  In July, there were 47,449 strikes thrown by starting pitchers.  Of these 47,449 strikes, 4,585 were turned into hits and 13,750 outs were recorded.  Of these 13,750 outs, 3,725 were converted via the strikeout, leaving us with 10,025 ball-in-play outs.  10,025 ball-in-play strikes and 4,585 hits sum to 14,610 balls-in-play.  Subtracting 14,610 balls-in-play from our original 47,449 strikes leaves us with 32,839 strikes to distribute over our 3,725 strikeouts.  That’s a ratio of 8.82 strikes per strikeout.  This is exactly the same as our from 8.82 strikes per strikeout in June.

The next two constants are much easier to ascertain.  In July, there were 26,244 balls thrown by starters and 1,328 walked batters.  That’s a ratio of 19.76 balls per walk, up from 19.36 balls per walk in June.  This data would suggest that hitters were slightly less likely to walk in July than previously.  The FIP subtotal for all pitches in July was 0.52.  The MLB Run Average for July was 4.17, meaning our FIP constant for May is 3.65.

Constant Value
Strikes/K 8.82
Balls/BB 19.76
cFIP 3.65

The following table details how the constants have changed month-to-month.

Month K BB cFIP
March/April 8.47 18.50 3.68
May 8.88 18.77 3.58
June 8.82 19.36 3.59
July 8.82 19.76 3.65

Pitch Values – July 2014

For reference, the following table details the FIP for each pitch type in the month of July.

Pitch FIP
Four-Seam 4.06
Sinker 4.20
Cutter 4.42
Splitter 3.50
Curveball 4.08
Slider 3.87
Changeup 4.79
Screwball 3.58
Knuckleball 3.97
MLB RA 4.16

As we can see, only three pitches would be classified as below average for the month of July: sinkers, cutters, and changeups.  Four-Seam Fastballs and curveballs also came in right around league average.  Pitchers that were able to stand out in these categories tended to have better overall months than pitchers who excelled at the other pitches.  Now, let’s proceed to the data for the month of July.

Four-Seam Fastball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Ian Kennedy 0.6 180 Brad Peacock -0.3
2 Clayton Kershaw 0.6 181 Jake Odorizzi -0.3
3 Jose Quintana 0.6 182 Jason Hammel -0.3
4 Drew Hutchison 0.5 183 Edwin Jackson -0.3
5 Jacob deGrom 0.5 184 Chris Young -0.3

Sinker

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Brandon McCarthy 0.4 167 Chase Whitley -0.2
2 Roberto Hernandez 0.4 168 Andrew Heaney -0.2
3 Doug Fister 0.4 169 Jon Niese -0.2
4 Hisashi Iwakuma 0.4 170 David Buchanan -0.2
5 Wade Miley 0.3 171 Nick Tepesch -0.3

Cutter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Josh Collmenter 0.3 77 Brandon McCarthy -0.2
2 Jon Lester 0.3 78 Drew Smyly -0.2
3 Kevin Correia 0.2 79 Brandon Workman -0.2
4 Jarred Cosart 0.2 80 Dan Haren -0.3
5 Adam Wainwright 0.2 81 Hector Noesi -0.4

Splitter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Hisashi Iwakuma 0.3 27 Daisuke Matsuzaka 0.0
2 Hiroki Kuroda 0.3 28 Ubaldo Jimenez 0.0
3 Jake Odorizzi 0.2 29 Tim Lincecum -0.1
4 Alex Cobb 0.2 30 Doug Fister -0.1
5 Tim Hudson 0.2 31 Clay Buchholz -0.1

Curveball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Sonny Gray 0.3 155 Hiroki Kuroda -0.1
2 Clay Buchholz 0.2 156 Josh Tomlin -0.2
3 Jesse Hahn 0.2 157 Kevin Correia -0.2
4 Adam Wainwright 0.2 158 Eric Stults -0.3
5 Jose Quintana 0.2 159 Josh Beckett -0.3

Slider

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Garrett Richards 0.5 125 Jair Jurrjens -0.1
2 Tyson Ross 0.4 126 Jason Lane -0.1
3 Jake Arrieta 0.3 127 Jake Buchanan -0.1
4 Brett Anderson 0.3 128 Matt Cain -0.1
5 Kyle Lohse 0.3 129 C.J. Wilson -0.1

Changeup

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Cole Hamels 0.3 156 Rubby de la Rosa -0.2
2 David Price 0.3 157 David Holmberg -0.2
3 Chris Sale 0.2 158 Mike Minor -0.2
4 Zack Greinke 0.2 159 Jeff Locke -0.3
5 James Shields 0.2 160 Drew Hutchison -0.4

Screwball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Trevor Bauer 0.0
2 Julio Teheran 0.0
3 Hector Santiago 0.0

Knuckleball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 R.A. Dickey 0.4

Overall

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Cole Hamels 1.0 187 Jair Jurrjens -0.4
2 Jacob deGrom 0.9 188 Erik Bedard -0.4
3 Tyson Ross 0.9 189 Jason Hammel -0.4
4 Jose Quintana 0.9 190 Brad Peacock -0.4
5 Chris Sale 0.9 191 Nick Tepesch -0.4

Pitch Ratings – July 2014

Four-Seam Fastball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Drew Hutchison 59 83 Jake Odorizzi 38
2 Jose Quintana 59 84 Jake Peavy 38
3 Cole Hamels 58 85 Josh Tomlin 36
4 Mark Buehrle 58 86 Brad Peacock 35
5 Tim Lincecum 58 87 Jason Hammel 34

Sinker

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Travis Wood 58 73 Kevin Correia 36
2 Scott Kazmir 57 74 John Danks 36
3 Matt Garza 57 75 Jeff Samardzija 35
4 Brandon McCarthy 57 76 Dan Haren 32
5 Doug Fister 57 77 Nick Tepesch 25

Cutter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Marcus Stroman 58 32 Mike Minor 33
2 Jon Lester 58 33 Tim Hudson 33
3 Daisuke Matsuzaka 57 34 Brandon McCarthy 32
4 Phil Hughes 57 35 Dan Haren 28
5 Franklin Morales 57 36 Hector Noesi 20

Splitter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Tim Hudson 57 8 Jorge de la Rosa 53
2 Kyle Kendrick 56 9 Alfredo Simon 53
3 Hisashi Iwakuma 56 10 Jeff Samardzija 53
4 Kevin Gausman 56 11 Alex Cobb 52
5 Hiroki Kuroda 56 12 Tim Lincecum 42

Curveball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Jacob deGrom 59 65 Franklin Morales 38
2 Felix Hernandez 59 66 Chase Anderson 38
3 Clay Buchholz 58 67 Jered Weaver 37
4 Brandon McCarthy 58 68 Kevin Correia 26
5 David Phelps 58 69 Josh Beckett 20

Slider

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Jordan Zimmermann 59 55 Zack Wheeler 44
2 Brett Anderson 59 56 Miles Mikolas 43
3 Wei-Yin Chen 58 57 Miguel Gonzalez 42
4 Kyle Lohse 58 58 Carlos Martinez 40
5 Corey Kluber 58 59 Yu Darvish 39

Changeup

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Chase Whitley 60 65 Jeff Locke 30
2 Cole Hamels 59 66 Joe Kelly 27
3 Chase Anderson 59 67 Rubby de la Rosa 26
4 Hector Santiago 58 68(t) Drew Hutchison 20
5 Jered Weaver 57 68(t) Mike Minor 20

Screwball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Trevor Bauer 52

Knuckleball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 R.A. Dickey 52

Monthly Discussion

As we can see, Cole Hamels takes the top for this month due to the  strength of his overall repertoire.  Hamels was classified as throwing five different pitches in July (Four-Seam, Sinker, Cutter, Curveball, and Changeup) and managed to earn at least 0.1 WAR from all five.  The most valuable pitch overall in July was Ian Kennedy’s Four-Seam Fastball.  The least valuable was Drew Hutchison’s Changeup.  As far as offspeed pitches, Garrett Richards’s 0.5 WAR from his slider lead the way.  The least valuable fastball was Hector Noesi’s cutter.

On our 20-80 scale pitch ratings, the highest rated qualifying pitch was Chase Whitley’s changeup.  The lowest rated pitches were the changeups thrown by Drew Hutchison and Mike Minor, Hector Noesi’s cutter, and Josh Beckett’s curveball.  The highest rated fastball was Drew Hutchison’s four-seam fastball.

Pitch Values – 2014 Season

Four-Seam Fastball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Ian Kennedy 1.9 247 Masahiro Tanaka -0.4
2 Jose Quintana 1.7 248 Dan Straily -0.4
3 Phil Hughes 1.6 249 Nick Martinez -0.4
4 Jordan Zimmermann 1.6 250 Juan Nicasio -0.4
5 Clayton Kershaw 1.5 251 Marco Estrada -0.7

Sinker

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Charlie Morton 1.5 236 John Danks -0.3
2 Felix Hernandez 1.3 237 Wandy Rodriguez -0.3
3 David Price 1.1 238 Vidal Nuno -0.3
4 Chris Archer 1.1 239 Nick Tepesch -0.4
5 Cliff Lee 1.1 240 Andrew Heaney -0.4

Cutter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Madison Bumgarner 1.2 110 Dan Haren -0.2
2 Adam Wainwright 1.2 111 Felipe Paulino -0.2
3 Corey Kluber 1.2 112 Hector Noesi -0.3
4 Jarred Cosart 1.2 113 C.J. Wilson -0.3
5 Josh Collmenter 1.0 114 Brandon McCarthy -0.5

Splitter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Masahiro Tanaka 0.8 32 Jake Peavy -0.1
2 Alex Cobb 0.6 33 Franklin Morales -0.2
3 Hisashi Iwakuma 0.6 34 Miguel Gonzalez -0.2
4 Hiroki Kuroda 0.6 35 Danny Salazar -0.2
5 Tim Hudson 0.4 36 Clay Buchholz -0.4

Curveball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Sonny Gray 1.1 210 Homer Bailey -0.2
2 A.J. Burnett 0.9 211 Alfredo Simon -0.2
3 Brandon McCarthy 0.8 212 Felipe Paulino -0.3
4 Adam Wainwright 0.7 213 Franklin Morales -0.3
5 Jose Fernandez 0.6 214 Eric Stults -0.4

Slider

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Garrett Richards 1.3 179 Roberto Hernandez -0.2
2 Tyson Ross 1.1 180 Liam Hendriks -0.2
3 Kyle Lohse 0.8 181 Erasmo Ramirez -0.3
4 Corey Kluber 0.8 182 Danny Salazar -0.3
5 Ervin Santana 0.8 183 Travis Wood -0.4

Changeup

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Felix Hernandez 0.9 232 Wandy Rodriguez -0.4
2 Stephen Strasburg 0.6 233 Matt Cain -0.4
3 Cole Hamels 0.6 234 Jordan Zimmermann -0.5
4 Chris Sale 0.5 235 Drew Hutchison -0.6
5 Roberto Hernandez 0.5 236 Marco Estrada -0.6

Screwball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Trevor Bauer 0.1
2 Alfredo Simon 0.0
3 Hector Santiago 0.0
4 Julio Teheran 0.0

Knuckleball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 R.A. Dickey 1.2
2 C.J. Wilson 0.0

Overall

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Felix Hernandez 3.5 254 Felipe Paulino -0.5
2 Adam Wainwright 3.2 255 Juan Nicasio -0.5
3 Garrett Richards 2.9 256 Nick Martinez -0.6
4 Corey Kluber 2.9 257 Wandy Rodriguez -0.8
5 Jose Quintana 2.7 258 Marco Estrada -1.2

Year-to-Date Discussion

If we look at the year-to-date numbers, AL FIP and MLB WAR leader Felix Hernandez still sits in the top spot.  Current MLB FIP leader Clayton Kershaw ranks ninth.  The least valuable starter has been Marco Estrada.  On a per-pitch basis, the most valuable pitch has been Ian Kennedy’s four-seam fastball.  The most valuable offspeed pitch has been Garrett Richards’s slider.  The least valuable pitch has been Marco Estrada’s four-seam fastball.  The least value offspeed pitch has been Marco Estrada’s changeup.  Needless to say, it’s been a rough year for Marco.  Qualitatively, I feel fairly encouraged by the year-to-date results so far.  The leaderboard is topped by two no-doubt aces, both of whom currently in the top two in their respect leagues in FIP, and Marco Estrada comes in at the bottom after posting the highest FIP among qualified starters so far.  For reference, the top five in the year-to-date overall rankings are currently 1st, 12th, 10th, 2nd, and 9th on the FanGraphs WAR leaderboards respectively.




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Stats All Folks is a frustrated former Little League pitcher that knows if he could have only been taller, stronger, more athletic with more velocity on his fastball, better offspeed stuff, and improved control, he could have been the first overall pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft. Alas, it was not in the cards for him.


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