A Baseball Weblog

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Quick f/x: Max Scherzer

Max Scherzer is cool.  He throws hard, has two different-colored eyes, and uses PITCHf/x data to help improve his game.  He'll square off against Freddy Garcia tonight at Comerica with the series tied at one win apiece.  Since I've got the data right here (seriously, right here!), I'll start this off with some metrics for Scherzer's three pitches last year:

#%Swing Whiff Zone Chase Watch Ball GB pERApxERA

I used pitch ERA and expected pitch ERA in a THT post last week; I'm still fiddling around with them.  It's just run values formatted to look like an ERA, but the adjustment values are a somewhat off and I'm not sure how much it adds intuitively anyway.  Still, I'm going to be trying out some run value variants for a while.

Scherzer throws from a three-quarters motion that generates a lot of movement in on righties (about 7 and a half inches on his 93 mph fastball and about 9 and a half inches on his 83 mph changeup).  His low-to-mid 80s slider, despite being thrown the least of his three pitches, may actually be his best offering.  Batters saw over 50% fastballs in each count last year:

Another thing you may notice about Scherzer is that he'll really mix up the speed on his fastball.  He averaged just under 92 mph on 0-0 counts last year but 94.3 on 0-2.  According to my method of finding fastball velocity variability, Scherzer's fastball is one of the more inconsistent, velocity-wise, heaters in the game (average difference of 0.65 doesn't make the top ten list on the THT article, but it's solidly on the "inconsistent" side of the spectrum).  So if you see him in the low 90s early in the count, don't be surprised to see him an mph or two or three once he's ahead.

Scherzer's allowed a few extra flyballs and home runs this year (most of those homers coming in his season debut against the Yankees) and has also seen an increase in both his walk and strikeout rates.  Given the fly-balling ways of his fastball, he will give up a fair share of homers, but he's got the stuff to pick up a strikeout when he wants to.   

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