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Sabathia’s Strong June

Posted By Josh Weinstock On June 28, 2010 @ 10:44 am In Player Analysis | 1 Comment

CC is having his best month so far this year. In June he has a 2.48 ERA, 3.13 FIP, and a 3.46 xFIP, all excellent numbers. His improved numbers have come mainly by way of improved strikeout numbers. His K/9 this month is 8.69, over 1.4 more strikeouts per nine than any other month, a huge jump. He is punching out more batters this month because of nastier secondary pitches:

March-May (SL = slider, CH = changeup, CU = curveball):

Type Count Selection Strike Swing Whiff Foul In Play
FF 504 48.6% 63.3% 38.1% 4.6% 16.7% 16.9%
CH 188 18.1% 64.9% 54.8% 16.0% 18.1% 20.7%
SI 175 16.9% 69.7% 54.3% 8.0% 13.1% 33.1%
SL 141 13.6% 56.7% 41.1% 15.6% 12.8% 12.8%
CU 27 2.6% 66.7% 33.3% 7.4% 14.8% 11.1%
FA 3 0.3% 33.3% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%

June:

Type Count Selection Strike Swing Whiff Foul In Play
FF 252 60.1% 63.1% 40.9% 4.4% 16.7% 19.8%
CH 54 12.9% 68.5% 57.4% 25.9% 13.0% 18.5%
SI 46 11.0% 52.2% 47.8% 8.7% 17.4% 21.7%
SL 34 8.1% 73.5% 50.0% 32.4% 5.9% 11.8%
CU 33 7.9% 63.6% 51.5% 24.2% 15.2% 12.1%

As you can see, his secondary pitches are being swung through quite often now. What’s also really important here is that in June, he has thrown his slider for a strike way more often than earlier in the year, suggesting improved command. When looking at the movement of his pitches, one can see that his breaking ball(s?) especially have sharpened up:

March-May

Type Count Selection Velocity (mph) Vertical (in) Horizontal (in)
SL 141 13.6% 80.4 -0.63 -5.75
CU 27 2.6% 78.5 -3.85 -2.03

June

Type Count Selection Velocity (mph) Vertical (in) Horizontal (in)
SL 34 8.1% 80.8 -1.27 -2.96
CU 33 7.9% 80.9 -3.10 -0.88

In June he has lost a considerable amount of horizontal movement, but gained vertical movement (assuming that his curveball and slider are basically the same pitch). This indicates that his slider/curve was a little flat earlier in the year, and he has since added more tilt to the pitch.

His release points also look a little tighter:

March-May                                                                                               June

sabathia_release_points_march-maysabathia_release_points_june

*obviously the march-may chart is going to be more crowded (than the June chart) because of more pitches thrown during that time-period. Additionally, the horizontal changes in release point  may have more to do with changes in where Sabathia stands on the rubber than actual release point differences. I also apologize for the changing color of the pitches from chart to chart.

It certainly looks like Sabathia has found his secondary pitches, particularly his slider/curve. He’s throwing his slider/curve with better tilt and much better command. This improvement can also be seen by looking at linear weight values, found on Fangraphs:

wSL/C
March/April 2.71
May 1.17
June 3.46

As a result of his improved secondary pitches, batters are chasing balls and swinging through Sabathia’s pitches more often:

0-swing SwStr%
March/April 29% 10.5%
May 29.7% 6.8%
June 34.2% 11.2%

It is quite clear that his secondary pitches are better this month than previously in the year (march-april), yet for some reason Sabathia is actually throwing fastballs more often.

fastball + sinker %
March-May 65.8%
June 71.1%

*this article originally appeared on www.pendingpinstripes.net/


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