Pitch Win Values for Starting Pitchers – June 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 update can be found here.  This post is simply the June 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 June.  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 June, there were 50,861 strikes thrown by starting pitchers.  Of these 50,861 strikes, 4,837 were turned into hits and 14,888 outs were recorded.  Of these 14,888 outs, 3,981 were converted via the strikeout, leaving us with 10,907 ball-in-play outs.  10,907 ball-in-play strikes and 4,837 hits sum to 15,744 balls-in-play.  Subtracting 15,744 balls-in-play from our original 50,861 strikes leaves us with 35,117 strikes to distribute over our 3,981 strikeouts.  That’s a ratio of 8.82 strikes per strikeout.  This is down from 8.88 strikes per strikeout in May.  Hitters were slightly easier to strikeout in June than they were in May.

The next two constants are much easier to ascertain.  In June, there were 28,442 balls thrown by starters and 1,469 walked batters.  That’s a ratio of 19.36 balls per walk, up from 18.77 balls per walk in May.  This data would suggest that hitters were slightly less likely to walk in June than previously.  The FIP subtotal for all pitches in June was 0.57.  The MLB Run Average for June was 4.16, meaning our FIP constant for May is 3.59.

Constant Value
Strikes/K 8.82
Balls/BB 19.36
cFIP 3.59

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

Pitch Values – June 2014

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

Pitch FIP
Four-Seam 4.16
Sinker 4.14
Cutter 4.00
Splitter 4.43
Curveball 3.98
Slider 4.03
Changeup 4.64
Screwball 3.24
Knuckleball 6.30
MLB RA 4.16

As we can see, only three pitches would be classified as below average for the month of June: splitters, changeups, and knuckleballs.  Four-Seam Fastballs and Sinkers 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 June.

Four-Seam Fastball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Jordan Zimmermann 0.8 171 Marco Estrada -0.3
2 Brandon Cumpton 0.6 172 Masahiro Tanaka -0.3
3 Clayton Kershaw 0.6 173 Juan Nicasio -0.3
4 Matt Garza 0.5 174 Edwin Jackson -0.3
5 Nathan Eovaldi 0.5 175 Nick Martinez -0.3

Sinker

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Tanner Roark 0.5 160 Wei-Yin Chen -0.2
2 Chris Archer 0.5 161 Andrew Heaney -0.2
3 Charlie Morton 0.5 162 Jake Peavy -0.2
4 Alfredo Simon 0.4 163 Jered Weaver -0.2
5 Brandon McCarthy 0.4 164 Dan Haren -0.4

Cutter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Jarred Cosart 0.6 73 Chris Tillman -0.1
2 Madison Bumgarner 0.4 74 Brandon McCarthy -0.1
3 Corey Kluber 0.3 75 Mike Minor -0.1
4 Adam Wainwright 0.3 76 Brad Mills -0.1
5 Josh Collmenter 0.3 77 Scott Feldman -0.2

Splitter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Alex Cobb 0.3 26 Tim Hudson -0.1
2 Masahiro Tanaka 0.3 27 Charlie Morton -0.1
3 Tim Lincecum 0.2 28 Jake Peavy -0.1
4 Kyle Kendrick 0.2 29 Ubaldo Jimenez -0.2
5 Alfredo Simon 0.2 30 Miguel Gonzalez -0.3

Curveball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Jered Weaver 0.2 150 Vance Worley -0.1
2 Edinson Volquez 0.2 151 Christian Bergman -0.1
3 Roenis Elias 0.2 152 Alfredo Simon -0.2
4 Collin McHugh 0.2 153 Marcus Stroman -0.2
5 A.J. Burnett 0.2 154 David Price -0.3

Slider

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Garrett Richards 0.4 113 Aaron Harang -0.2
2 Ervin Santana 0.4 114 Wily Peralta -0.2
3 Chris Archer 0.3 115 Wei-Yin Chen -0.2
4 Homer Bailey 0.3 116 Juan Nicasio -0.2
5 Tyson Ross 0.3 117 Vidal Nuno -0.3

Changeup

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Felix Hernandez 0.3 154 Ervin Santana -0.2
2 Jeff Locke 0.3 155 Mark Buehrle -0.2
3 Henderson Alvarez 0.3 156 David Buchanan -0.3
4 Jeremy Guthrie 0.2 157 Hyun-Jin Ryu -0.3
5 Jason Vargas 0.2 158 Scott Kazmir -0.3

Screwball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Trevor Bauer 0.0

Knuckleball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 C.J. Wilson 0.0
2 R.A. Dickey -0.4

Overall

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Jordan Zimmermann 1.0 177 Dan Haren -0.4
2 Felix Hernandez 1.0 178 Miguel Gonzalez -0.4
3 Chris Archer 0.9 179 Joe Saunders -0.4
4 Clayton Kershaw 0.9 180 Juan Nicasio -0.5
5 Matt Garza 0.9 181 R.A. Dickey -0.6

Pitch Ratings – June 2014

Four-Seam Fastball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Drew Smyly 60 80 Samuel Deduno 36
2 Drew Hutchison 59 81 Wade Miley 34
3 Matt Garza 59 82 Nick Martinez 34
4 Hector Santiago 59 83 Tony Cingrani 33
5 J.A. Happ 59 84 Ricky Nolasco 33

Sinker

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 J.A. Happ 61 62 Andrew Heaney 38
2 Jeff Samardzija 59 63 Jered Weaver 38
3 Jake Arrieta 59 64 Tommy Milone 35
4 Jesse Hahn 58 65 Jake Peavy 32
5 Felix Hernandez 58 66 Dan Haren 24

Cutter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 David Price 59 28 Brandon Workman 46
2 Corey Kluber 59 29 Mike Bolsinger 44
3 Jarred Cosart 57 30 Scott Feldman 40
4 Mike Leake 57 31 Dan Haren 39
5 Phil Hughes 57 32 Mike Minor 34

Splitter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Masahiro Tanaka 59 12 Dan Haren 42
2 Doug Fister 58 13 Wei-Yin Chen 40
3 Kevin Gausman 58 14 Jake Odorizzi 40
4 Alfredo Simon 58 15 Tim Hudson 36
5 Alex Cobb 57 16 Ubaldo Jimenez 25

Curveball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Stephen Strasburg 60 63 David Phelps 42
2 Erik Bedard 59 64 Aaron Harang 38
3 Drew Pomeranz 59 65 Alfredo Simon 34
4 Collin McHugh 59 66 Marcus Stroman 28
5 Josh Tomlin 58 67 David Price 20

Slider

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Jeff Samardzija 62 50 Zack Greinke 37
2 Max Scherzer 60 51 Matt Cain 32
3 Tanner Roark 59 52 Wei-Yin Chen 30
4 Vance Worley 59 53 Aaron Harang 29
5 Jhoulys Chacin 59 54 Vidal Nuno 27

Changeup

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Gio Gonzalez 61 58 Scott Kazmir 24
2 Jeff Locke 59 59 Drew Hutchison 22
3 Jeremy Guthrie 58 60 Ervin Santana 22
4 Josh Collmenter 58 61 T.J. House 22
5 Sonny Gray 58 62 Hyun-Jin Ryu 20

Screwball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Trevor Bauer 54

Knuckleball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 R.A. Dickey 41

Monthly Discussion

As we can see, Jordan Zimmermann takes the top for this month most due to the  quality of his Four-Seam Fastball.  Zimmermann was classified as throwing five different pitches in June (Four-Seam, Sinker, Curveball, Slider, and Changeup) and managed to earn at least 0.1 WAR from the Four-Seam, Curveball, and Slider.  The most valuable pitch overall in June was Zimmermann’s Four-Seam Fastball.  The least valuable was R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball.  As far as offspeed pitches, Garrett Richards’s 0.4 WAR from his slider lead the way.  The least valuable fastball was Dan Haren’s sinker.

On our 20-80 scale pitch ratings, the highest rated qualifying pitch was Jeff Samardzija’s slider.  Somewhat surprisingly, the lowest rated was David Price’s curveball.  The highest rated fastball was J.A. Happ’s sinker, and the lowest rated fastball was Dan Haren’s sinker.

Pitch Values – 2014 Season

Four-Seam Fastball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Jordan Zimmermann 1.5 228 Nick Martinez -0.3
2 Phil Hughes 1.3 229 Dan Straily -0.4
3 Ian Kennedy 1.3 230 Doug Fister -0.4
4 Michael Wacha 1.2 231 Juan Nicasio -0.4
5 Jose Quintana 1.2 232 Marco Estrada -0.6

Sinker

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Charlie Morton 1.4 216 Vidal Nuno -0.3
2 Felix Hernandez 1.2 217 Dan Straily -0.3
3 Chris Archer 1.1 218 Jake Peavy -0.3
4 Cliff Lee 1.0 219 Erasmo Ramirez -0.3
5 Justin Masterson 1.0 220 Wandy Rodriguez -0.3

Cutter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Madison Bumgarner 1.2 102 Cliff Lee -0.2
2 Corey Kluber 1.0 103 Felipe Paulino -0.3
3 Adam Wainwright 1.0 104 Johnny Cueto -0.3
4 Jarred Cosart 0.9 105 C.J. Wilson -0.3
5 Josh Collmenter 0.7 106 Brandon McCarthy -0.3

Splitter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Masahiro Tanaka 0.7 32 Charlie Morton -0.2
2 Alex Cobb 0.4 33 Franklin Morales -0.2
3 Tim Lincecum 0.4 34 Clay Buchholz -0.2
4 Hisashi Iwakuma 0.3 35 Danny Salazar -0.3
5 Hiroki Kuroda 0.3 36 Miguel Gonzalez -0.3

Curveball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Sonny Gray 0.8 197 J.A. Happ -0.2
2 A.J. Burnett 0.7 198 Erasmo Ramirez -0.2
3 Jose Fernandez 0.6 199 David Price -0.2
4 Brandon McCarthy 0.6 200 Franklin Morales -0.2
5 Stephen Strasburg 0.5 201 Felipe Paulino -0.3

Slider

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Garrett Richards 0.8 159 Jered Weaver -0.2
2 Tyson Ross 0.6 160 Liam Hendriks -0.2
3 Jason Hammel 0.6 161 Travis Wood -0.3
4 Ervin Santana 0.6 162 Erasmo Ramirez -0.3
5 Corey Kluber 0.6 163 Danny Salazar -0.4

Changeup

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Felix Hernandez 0.7 211 Jordan Zimmermann -0.3
2 Henderson Alvarez 0.6 212 Tony Cingrani -0.3
3 Stephen Strasburg 0.6 213 Matt Cain -0.3
4 Francisco Liriano 0.5 214 Wandy Rodriguez -0.4
5 John Danks 0.5 215 Marco Estrada -0.6

Screwball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Trevor Bauer 0.0
2 Alfredo Simon 0.0
3 Hector Santiago 0.0

Knuckleball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 R.A. Dickey 0.7
2 C.J. Wilson 0.0

Overall

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Felix Hernandez 2.8 235 Dan Straily -0.4
2 Adam Wainwright 2.5 236 Felipe Paulino -0.5
3 Chris Archer 2.1 237 Juan Nicasio -0.5
4 Corey Kluber 2.1 238 Wandy Rodriguez -0.8
5 Garrett Richards 2.1 239 Marco Estrada -1.0

Year-to-Date Discussion

If we look at the year-to-date numbers, MLB FIP and WAR leader Felix Hernandez still sits in the top spot.  Current NL FIP leader Adam Wainwright ranks second.  The least valuable starter has been Marco Estrada.  On a per-pitch basis, the most valuable pitch has been Jordan Zimmermann’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 their respective 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, 6th, 23rd, 3rd, and 7th 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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