Pitch Win Values for Starting Pitchers – May 2014

Introduction

A few weeks 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.  This post is simply the May 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 last month.  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” (here’s looking at you, Yu) is not included in Baseball Prospectus’s curveball data.

Constants

Before we begin, we must first update the constants used in calculation for May.  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 May, there were 52,100 strikes thrown by starting pitchers.  Of these 52,100 strikes, 5,005 were turned into hits and 15,110 outs were recorded.  Of these 15,110 outs, 4,058 were converted via the strikeout, leaving us with 11,052 ball-in-play outs.  11,052 ball-in-play strikes and 5,005 hits sum to 16,057 balls-in-play.  Subtracting 16,057 balls-in-play from our original 52,100 strikes leaves us with 36,043 strikes to distribute over our 4,058 strikeouts.  That’s a ratio of 8.88 strikes per strikeout.  This is up from 8.47 strikes per strikeout in March and April.  Hitters were slightly harder to strikeout in May that the previous two months.

The next two constants are much easier to ascertain.  In May, there were 29,567 balls thrown by starters and 1,575 walked batters.  That’s a ratio of 18.77 balls per walk, up from 18.50 balls per walk in March and April.  This data would suggest that hitters were slightly less likely to walk in May than previously.  The FIP subtotal for all pitches in May was 0.75.  The MLB Run Average for May was 4.32, meaning our FIP constant for May is 3.58.

Constant Value
Strikes/K 8.88
Balls/BB 18.77
cFIP 3.58

 

Pitch Values – May 2014

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

Pitch FIP
Four-Seam 4.43
Sinker 4.29
Cutter 4.13
Splitter 4.03
Curveball 4.01
Slider 4.13
Changeup 4.80
Screwball 2.56
Knuckleball 3.38
MLB RA 4.32

As we can see, only two pitches would be classified as below average for the month of May: four-seam fastballs and changeups.  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 May.

Four-Seam Fastball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Phil Hughes 0.7 185 Vidal Nuno -0.3
2 Ian Kennedy 0.6 186 Doug Fister -0.3
3 Jose Quintana 0.6 187 Wei-Yin Chen -0.3
4 Tom Koehler 0.5 188 John Danks -0.3
5 Lance Lynn 0.5 189 Mike Minor -0.4

Sinker

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Mike Leake 0.5 171 Brandon Maurer -0.2
2 Dallas Keuchel 0.4 172 Wandy Rodriguez -0.2
3 Tyson Ross 0.4 173 Tom Koehler -0.2
4 Charlie Morton 0.4 174 Kyle Lohse -0.3
5 Chris Archer 0.4 175 Edinson Volquez -0.6

Cutter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Corey Kluber 0.5 74 Shelby Miller -0.1
2 Josh Collmenter 0.4 75 Kevin Correia -0.1
3 Adam Wainwright 0.4 76 Hector Santiago -0.1
4 Jarred Cosart 0.4 77 Brandon McCarthy -0.2
5 Madison Bumgarner 0.3 78 Cliff Lee -0.2

Splitter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Masahiro Tanaka 0.3 27 Alfredo Simon -0.1
2 Hisashi Iwakuma 0.2 28 Franklin Morales -0.1
3 Hiroki Kuroda 0.2 29 Clay Buchholz -0.1
4 Jake Odorizzi 0.2 30 Jorge De La Rosa -0.1
5 Ubaldo Jimenez 0.2 31 Danny Salazar -0.2

Curveball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Sonny Gray 0.3 160 Clay Buchholz -0.1
2 Brandon McCarthy 0.2 161 Tyler Lyons -0.1
3 Ryan Vogelsong 0.2 162 Dan Straily -0.1
4 Tyler Skaggs 0.2 163 Yordano Ventura -0.1
5 Collin McHugh 0.2 164 Franklin Morales -0.2

Slider

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Jason Hammel 0.4 120 Robbie Erlin -0.1
2 Ricky Nolasco 0.3 121 Kyle Gibson -0.2
3 Garrett Richards 0.3 122 Julio Teheran -0.2
4 Bud Norris 0.3 123 Johnny Cueto -0.2
5 Edwin Jackson 0.3 124 Yovani Gallardo -0.3

Changeup

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Felix Hernandez 0.3 165 Josh Collmenter -0.3
2 Stephen Strasburg 0.3 166 Jake Peavy -0.3
3 Francisco Liriano 0.2 167 Danny Duffy -0.3
4 Henderson Alvarez 0.2 168 Drew Smyly -0.3
5 Eric Stults 0.2 169 Marco Estrada -0.7

Screwball

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

Knuckleball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 R.A. Dickey 0.6
2 C.J. Wilson 0.0

Overall

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Felix Hernandez 1.2 192 Edinson Volquez -0.3
2 Mike Leake 1.1 193 Alfredo Simon -0.3
3 Jason Hammel 1.0 194 CC Sabathia -0.3
4 Dallas Keuchel 1.0 195 Franklin Morales -0.4
5 Masahiro Tanaka 0.9 196 Marco Estrada -0.7

Pitch Ratings – May 2014

Four-Seam Fastball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Jason Hammel 60 86 Brandon Maurer 38
2 Aaron Harang 60 87 John Danks 36
3 Phil Hughes 59 88 Trevor Bauer 35
4 Yordano Ventura 59 89 Rafael Montero 35
5 Jose Quintana 59 90 Mike Minor 28

Sinker

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Jeff Samardzija 58 71 Alfredo Simon 41
2 Jake Arrieta 58 72 Kyle Lohse 39
3 Aaron Harang 58 73 Ricky Nolasco 37
4 Blake Treinen 58 74 James Shields 37
5 Matt Shoemaker 57 75 Edinson Volquez 22

Cutter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Josh Tomlin 60 26 Ryan Vogelsong 46
2 Corey Kluber 60 27 Josh Beckett 45
3 Franklin Morales 59 28 Dan Haren 44
4 David Price 58 29 Kevin Correia 41
5 Jorge De La Rosa 58 30 Jesse Chavez 40

Splitter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Jake Odorizzi 60 10 Ricky Nolasco 54
2 Masahiro Tanaka 59 11 Tim Lincecum 53
3 Wei-Yen Chen 58 12 Kyle Kendrick 46
4 Ubaldo Jimenez 57 13 Dan Haren 43
5 Alex Cobb 57 14 Jorge De La Rosa 40

Curveball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Felix Hernandez 60 61 Roenis Elias 42
2 John Lackey 59 62 Tommy Milone 41
3 Collin McHugh 58 63 Wei-Yen Chen 40
4 Jose Fernandez 58 64 Yordano Ventura 36
5 Mike Minor 58 65 Scott Carroll 35

Slider

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Yu Darvish 61 46 Jeremy Guthrie 40
2 Jhoulys Chacin 61 47 Homer Bailey 38
3 Corey Kluber 60 48 Julio Teheran 35
4 Edwin Jackson 60 49 Yovani Gallardo 31
5 Gavin Floyd 59 50 Kyle Gibson 30

Changeup

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Stephen Strasburg 59 59 Hector Noesi 33
2 Wade Miley 58 60 Cesar Ramos 30
3 Justin Verlander 58 61 Josh Collmenter 26
4 Francisco Liriano 57 62 Ian Kennedy 23
5 Anibal Sanchez 57 63 Marco Estrada 20

Screwball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 Alfredo Simon 57
2 Hector Santiago 56
3 Trevor Bauer 56

Knuckleball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Rating
1 R.A. Dickey 55

Monthly Discussion

As we can see, Felix Hernandez ascended to the throne for this month riding the overall quality of his entire repertoire.  Hernandez was classified as throwing five different pitches in May (Four-Seam, Sinker, Curveball, Slider, and Changeup) and managed to earn at least 0.1 WAR in each category.  His best two pitches were his Sinker (0.4 WAR) and Changeup (0.3 WAR).  The most valuable pitch overall in May was the Four-Seam Fastball thrown by Phil Hughes.  The least valuable was Marco Estrada’s changeup.  As far as offspeed pitches, R.A. Dickey’s 0.6 WAR from his knuckleball lead the way.  Excluding Dickey’s knuckleball due to the sheer number of times it was thrown, the most valuable offspeed pitch was Jason Hammel’s slider.  The least valuable fastball was Edinson Volquez’s sinker.

On our 20-80 scale pitch ratings, the highest rated qualifying pitch was Yu Darvish’s slider.  Unsurprisingly, the lowest rated was Marco Estrada’s changeup.  It’s difficult to generate -0.7 WAR with a single pitch unless it was just awful.  The highest rated fastball Jake Odorizzi’s splitter, and the lowest rated fastball was Edinson Volquez’s sinker.

Pitch Values – 2014 Season

Four-Seam Fastball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Ian Kennedy 1.0 210 Doug Fister -0.3
2 Phil Hughes 1.0 211 Marco Estrada -0.3
3 Michael Wacha 0.9 212 Eric Stults -0.3
4 Jose Quintana 0.9 213 Dan Straily -0.4
5 Lance Lynn 0.7 214 Mike Minor -0.4

Sinker

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Cliff Lee 1.0 195 Mike Pelfrey -0.3
2 Charlie Morton 0.9 196 Edinson Volquez -0.3
3 Felix Hernandez 0.8 197 Erasmo Ramirez -0.3
4 Dallas Keuchel 0.8 198 Dan Straily -0.3
5 Justin Masterson 0.7 199 Wandy Rodriguez -0.3

Cutter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Madison Bumgarner 0.7 88 Shelby Miller -0.2
2 Adam Wainwright 0.7 89 Brandon McCarthy -0.2
3 Corey Kluber 0.7 90 Felipe Paulino -0.2
4 Clay Buchholz 0.5 91 Johnny Cueto -0.3
5 Josh Collmenter 0.4 92 C.J. Wilson -0.3

Splitter

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Masahiro Tanaka 0.5 27 Jorge De La Rosa -0.1
2 Tim Hudson 0.3 28 Alfredo Simon -0.2
3 Hisashi Iwakuma 0.2 29 Franklin Morales -0.2
4 Hiroki Kuroda 0.2 30 Clay Buchholz -0.2
5 Wei-Yin Chen 0.2 31 Danny Salazar -0.3

Curveball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Jose Fernandez 0.6 182 Ivan Nova -0.1
2 Sonny Gray 0.6 183 Bronson Arroyo -0.2
3 A.J. Burnett 0.5 184 Clay Buchholz -0.2
4 Brandon McCarthy 0.5 185 Franklin Morales -0.2
5 Stephen Strasburg 0.4 186 Felipe Paulino -0.3

Slider

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Edwin Jackson 0.5 139 Yovani Gallardo -0.2
2 Bud Norris 0.5 140 Tim Lincecum -0.2
3 Jason Hammel 0.4 141 Jeremy Guthrie -0.2
4 Aaron Harang 0.4 142 Erasmo Ramirez -0.2
5 Garrett Richards 0.4 143 Danny Salazar -0.4

Changeup

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Stephen Strasburg 0.5 191 Matt Cain -0.2
2 Francisco Liriano 0.5 192 Danny Duffy -0.3
3 Felix Hernandez 0.4 193 Drew Smyly -0.3
4 Eric Stults 0.4 194 Wandy Rodriguez -0.4
5 John Danks 0.4 195 Marco Estrada -0.6

Screwball

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

Knuckleball

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 R.A. Dickey 1.1
2 C.J. Wilson 0.0

Overall

Rank Pitcher Pitch Value Rank Pitcher Pitch Value
1 Felix Hernandez 1.8 216 Franklin Morales -0.4
2 Adam Wainwright 1.7 217 Dan Straily -0.4
3 Corey Kluber 1.6 218 Felipe Paulino -0.5
4 Aaron Harang 1.5 219 Marco Estrada -0.7
5 Jeff Samardzija 1.5 220 Wandy Rodriguez -0.8

Year-to-Date Discussion

If we look at the year-to-date numbers, Felix Hernandez still sits in the top spot.  Current AL and NL FIP leaders Corey Kluber and Aaron Harang rank third and fourth respectively.  The least valuable starter has been Wandy Rodriguez.  On a per-pitch basis, the most valuable pitch has been R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball, which should be the case for much of the season due to the heavy pitch totals.  Other than Dickey, the most valuable pitch has been Ian Kennedy’s four-seam fastball.  I guess there’s something to the idea of throwing a lot of fastballs in an extreme pitcher’s park after all.  The most valuable offspeed pitch has been Jose Fernandez’s curveball.  The fact that he still tops this list even after being injured and missing starts is simply astounding.  Get healthly Jose, we all miss your brilliance.  The least valuable pitch has been Marco Estrada’s changeup.  The least value fastball has been Mike Minor’s four-seam.  Qualitatively, I feel fairly encouraged by the year-to-date results so far.  The leaderboard is topped by two no-doubt aces, with the current FIP leaders coming in right behind them.  For reference, the top five in the year-to-date overall rankings are currently 1st, 6th, 2nd, 14th, and 22nd on the FanGraphs WAR leaderboards respectively.  Please feel free to provide feedback in the comments section.




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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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