All In on Odorizzi

By now I think everyone is aware of Thing 1 and Thing 2, the splitter/change-up pitch currently used by Tampa Bay Rays starters Alex Cobb and Jake Odorizzi. (If you are unaware of them you can read up on it here.) An oblique injury limited Odorizzi to 169.1 innings over 28 starts in 2015, but the signs of a potential big-time pitcher were present throughout most of the campaign.

I took Odorizzi’s 2015 season with Thing 2 now in his arsenal and compared it to seasons that some of the top starters in the league have had early on in their careers. Here is what I found:

Jake Odorizzi 2015 (age 25) K% 21.4  BB% 6.6  Hard hit rate 26.7%  Soft hit rate 19.4%

Johnny Cueto 2010 (age 24) K% 17.7  BB% 7.2  Hard hit rate 30.2%  Soft hit rate 19.6%

Zack Greinke 2008 (age 24) K% 21.5  BB% 6.6  Hard hit rate 27.8%  Soft hit rate 19.6%

Jake Arrieta 2012 (age 26) K% 22.0 BB% 7.1 Hard hit rate 25.6%  Soft hit rate 20.5%

Max Scherzer 2010 (age 26) K% 23.0  BB% 8.8%  Hard hit rate 29.6%  Soft hit rate 19.1%


Now I know the rest of these pitchers didn’t add their own version of a Dr. Seuss-named pitch, or any pitch for that matter. However all of these pitchers continued to make a leap in their following season. Cueto’s 2011 saw his contact rates make almost a complete flip (27.7% soft 21.3 hard). Greinke took a huge leap winning the AL Cy Young in 2009. Arrieta’s 2013 saw him get traded to the Cubs and begin his trend upwards leading to the NL Cy Young in 2015. Max Scherzer had his walk percentage drop to 6.7% and his hard and soft hit rates move to almost even with each other(23.5% and 22% respectively).

You can see that Odorizzi’s K% and BB% are very similar to all four pitchers (especially Greinke’s), and also his hard and soft hit percentages are right in the middle of this data sample. Odorizzi was able to accomplish these batted ball rates, despite having the lowest groundball percentage of the five. Odorizzi’s ground ball percentage was 37.3% last season. Cueto, Greinke, Arrieta and Scherzer all had a groundball percentage higher than 40% with Scherzer being the lowest at 40.3%.

If Thing 2’s development stunts or the command issues that have plagued Odorizzi at different times in both the majors and minors crop up, then Odorizzi’s 2015 ratios (as listed above) line up extremely close to Aaron Harang’s career ratios — and that’s not a world that I’m ready to live in. I’m betting on the fact Odorizzi still has age and development time on his side, as he won’t turn 25 until right before the 2016 season starts. Along with Tampa’s relatively positive history of developing starting pitching and their use of defensive shifts and alignments, there are plenty of reasons to get excited about Odorizzi’s short term and long term future.

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mario mendoza
mario mendoza

I’m excited. I’d be a little more excited if you did a lookup for similar stats, and the search returned those names, rather than looking up names and returning the stats. But I’m not a wiz at those things and not sure where to start.