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Underthrown Pitches And The Pitchers Who Underthrow Them: Vol. 3 Sliders and Changeups

Welcome back to the third and penultimate installment of Underthrown Pitches and the Pitchers Who Underthrow Them. Over the last several weeks, we’ve identified high performing four-seamers, sinkers, cutters, and curves and the pitchers who should consider throwing them more often. We’ve defined “high performing” based on a Pitch Score that factors an offering’s proclivity towards inducing whiffs, ground balls, and pop-ups. We’ve also defined the degree that a pitch is “underthrown” using a simple measure of pitch score to frequency.

For a more detailed recap of the results and methodology to-date, check out the previous installments linked below.

Vol 1: Four-seamers and Sinkers

Vol 2: Cutters and Curves  Read the rest of this entry »


Three Arms With Under 40 Percent Ownership – Gsellman, Biagini and Bailey

The pitching landscape isn’t what it has been in recent years, as Paul Sporer noted here and here when touting some widely available starting pitchers who can help fantasy gamers. Quality pitching is in demand for fantasy gamers, so I’m going to offer some more widely available arms to turn to for help. Read the rest of this entry »


Underthrown Pitches And The Pitchers Who Underthrow Them: Vol. 2 Cutters and Curves

Two weeks ago, I went searching for some of the league’s underthrown pitches. Which offerings by virtue of their paucity, despite excelling at inducing whiffs and weak contact, should be thrown more often? We’ve seen it so many times in the past, when a pitcher of whom we think a known quantity, suddenly leans on one pitch just a little more heavily and reinvents himself. Last week, we looked at the league’s underthrown four-seam fastballs and sinkers. This week, we turn to cutters and curves.

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Ottoneu SP Projections – June Update

Last month, I went through pitchers who had improved their projections the most since the start of the season. It was May 5th, so we were looking at close to a months worth of games. To revisit the methodology, I wanted to look at pitchers who had improved their projections the most from the start of the season, while also examining their underlying skills.  What I specifically was considering was pitchers who were inducing less contact in the zone – the area where batters are more likely to make contact – while also seeing if they were throwing in the zone more or less than they had previously. I was using zone contact rate in conjunction with frequency of pitches in the zone as a proxy for improved stuff. Of these two variables, improvement zone-contact rate being the more important.

Over the first month, this list would have been small: Chris Sale, Danny Salazar, Jeff Samardzija, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers, Michael Pineda, and Ivan Nova were the only starters who improved in both capacities. If we expanded the bounds on zone frequency, we would add Jacob deGrom, James Paxton, Zack Greinke, Taijuan Walker, and Carlos Martinez to the list. Not a bad list of pitchers if you’re trying to look for SP who are on everyone’s radar, but also could be showing real improvements in 2017.

Today, I want to revisit this exercise. However, I will only be looking at improvements over the last month. Over the last month, here are all SP who have improved their Ottoneu FGpts projections by more than .05 points per inning. (If you don’t play Ottoneu, this should be generalize enough to help you in standard leagues). Read the rest of this entry »


Exit Velocity and xOBA Outliers

Over the past few days something very odd has happened in baseball. Somehow, some way, Zack Cozart has become the active fWAR leader. Okay, this may not be as big a surprise this afternoon as it may have been when you first heard about this, but it is still pretty crazy, right? Or maybe you saw him sneaking up the leaderboards over the past few days or weeks. Either way, it has happened. He’s now number one amongst the active players, and perhaps he’ll soon overtake Trout for first amongst all players.

In terms of fantasy, WAR doesn’t carry much weight, of course. Especially for a guy like Cozart who generates a solid chunk of his value through defensive excellence. Even still, Cozart is posting numbers at a rate that far exceeds his career numbers. He currently stands with a .351 batting average and a 1.059 OPS, up from his career .254 average and .704 OPS.

Zack Cozart has below average exit velocity, only 84 mph. We’re not talking a touch below average, either, he’s more than a full standard deviation below with a z-score of -1.37. All this made me curious about where exactly he sat on the exit velocity spectrum, whether there are other similar outliers, and if there is anything we can learn from them. Read the rest of this entry »


Joc Pederson’s Less than Ideal Batted Balls

Last week, I examined a list of hitters who were near the top of the league in exit velocity, while also lagging behind their peers in terms of expected results on their batted balls. For reference, I showed the following chart to explain how batters have performed during 2017 (updated for current games over the past week):

Exit Velocity Z-Scores
z-score Avg xOBA Avg EV
0.00 0.346 89.32
1.00 0.374 91.68
1.50 0.391 93.01
2.00 0.406 93.96
All 0.326 87.28
SOURCE: xstats.org
Over 30 BIP
n=395
Average EV = 87.28
Variance = 7.12
Std Dev = 2.67

I didn’t do well at explaining this chart, last week. To reiterate, at the footer of the table you can see see that there are currently 395 players with over 30 balls in play in 2017. The numbers shown in each z-score row, display the average metrics for all players with exit velocities in excess of that performance level. For example, those with an exit velocity z-score in excess of 2 have average an exit velocity of 93.96, with an expected OBA of .406 (on same scale as wOBA). Please let me know if any confusion surrounds this chart.

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Tipping Pitches: How Good is Chase Anderson?

Chase Anderson has been an interesting arm through two months. He posted a 2.10 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in five April starts with 20% K and 8% BB rates before sputtering to open May. In his first four starts of the month, he went more than five innings just once and it was only 5.3 IP at the Padres. The opposition ran him up to a 7.71 ERA and 2.09 WHIP in 18.7 IP with 18% K and 11% BB rates. He has bounced back from that lull with two major gems, including a long no-hit bid against the Diamondbacks on May 27th (14 scoreless IP, 18 K, 4 H, and 4 BB in the two starts).

Add it all up and he’s got a 3.30 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 23% K rate, and 0.7 HR9 – all career-bests – in 62.7 innings of work. What’s going on with Anderson and should we buy into him as a reliable arm? Here is what I found:

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Prospect Stock Watch: Jansen, Kelly, Stubbs

Today at the Prospect Stock Watch we’re taking a look at the value of three catching prospects from around the minor leagues. One has long been considered a top catching prospect, while the other two have come on quickly and are trying to shake the label of “future back-up backstop.”

Danny Jansen, C, Blue Jays: Drafted out of high school by the Jays in 2013, Jansen showed a lot of promise in rookie ball before injuries basically wiped out his 2015-16 seasons. Healthy again (and playing with glasses), Jansen has re-discovered his stroke and earned a promotion to double-A after just 31 games in high-A ball. He has solid defence and the offensive uptick has Jansen looking like a future first-stringer and eventual replacement for Russell Martin. The 34-year-old incumbent still has two years remaining on his deal after 2017 so Jansen likely won’t see regular at-bats until 2019 (if Martin starts playing more infield) or 2020. In his prime, the catching prospect should hit for a solid average with gap power and make lots of contact.

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Who is Dinelson Lamet, and Should You Roster Him?

Dinelson Lamet has made two starts in The Show. In those two starts he’s pitched 10 innings allowing three runs (all earned) on eight hits and three walks while striking out a whopping 16 batters. The surface stats are intriguing, and the underlying stats are quite good, too — more on them to come. Still, you can be forgiven if you know very little about Lamet. Read the rest of this entry »


Underthrown Pitches And The Pitchers Who Underthrow Them

Identifying pitching breakouts as they happen can be hard. Anticipating them, even harder. Savvy readers of sites such as this rely on plate discipline metrics, batted ball data, and other indicators designed to tease out luck from results in order to uncover which performances have staying power and which are fleeting. And while we’ve arrived at the point in the season when most pitching rates have stabilized, a simple change in pitch mix can render those indicators obsolete. Think Matt Shoemaker and his splitter, Jake Arrieta and his cutter, Max Scherzer and his curveball, or Sonny Gray and his slider.

If you can spot a pitcher pulling unexpected arrows from his quiver as he does it, then cheers to you. But it’s difficult to do that at scale. While trying to anticipate a change in pitch mix before it happens may seem futile at times, doing so is a bet on potential. And what we talk about when we talk about “stuff,” is really potential. One of the components upon which that potential relies, aside from command and health, is an optimal pitch mix.

To identify which pitchers could benefit by throwing their more effective offerings a little more frequently, we have a number of tools at our disposal. Today, we’ll use some of those tools to identify the league’s underthrown four-seam fast balls and sinkers and the pitchers who underthrow them.
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