A Baseball Weblog

Friday, May 6, 2011

Yankees pitch metrics, early 2011 edition

Somehow, we're already five weeks into the season.  I've re-classified all of the pitches thrown by Yankees up to this point - or, more accurately, those that were picked up by the PITCHf/x cameras (only a handful of pitches are missing).  Some pitchers have pitches that cluster pretty easily - for example, Mariano Rivera only throws two pitches, one that cuts and one that tails, so it's easy to distinguish his pitch types.  Joba Chamberlain and Lance Pendleton, who have both shown four pitches this year, also have pretty easy pitch clusters.  But other pitchers, like Freddy Garcia and Rafael Soriano, are not so easy to work with.  Garcia's extremely difficult as his four-seamer runs in with his two-seamer, his change looks like his split, and some splits might be labeled as sliders.  For Soriano, his four-seam fastball blends in with his cut fastball.  So, remember that there are always going to be some classification issues, though I do feel pretty confident in most of my IDs here.  With that in mind, I'd like to roll out some early season pitch data for the Yankees.  First off, average fastball velocities (minimum of 10 pitches to avoid small-sample calibration errors):

RankPitcherPitch Typemph
1Rafael SorianoSinker94.0
2Joba ChamberlainFastball93.8
3A.J. BurnettSinker92.8
4CC SabathiaFastball92.8
5Bartolo ColonFastball92.6
6A.J. BurnettFastball92.4
7Boone LoganSinker92.1
8David RobertsonFastball92.0
9Rafael SorianoFastball91.8
10CC SabathiaSinker91.8
11Luis AyalaFastball91.7
12Boone LoganFastball91.7
13Ivan NovaFastball91.6
14Luis AyalaSinker91.4
15Mariano RiveraSinker90.9
16Bartolo ColonSinker90.7
17Mariano RiveraCutter90.5
18Phil HughesFastball89.2
19Buddy CarlyleFastball89.1
20Lance PendletonFastball88.4
21Freddy GarciaSinker87.1
22Freddy GarciaFastball86.7

Who's been throwing the ball over the plate?  The minimum for this strikezone% leaderboard is 60 pitches:

RankPitcherPitch TypeZone Rate
1Bartolo ColonSinker.594
2Boone LoganFastball.576
3David RobertsonFastball.510
4Joba ChamberlainFastball.504
5CC SabathiaFastball.500
6Freddy GarciaSinker.487
7A.J. BurnettFastball.475
8CC SabathiaSlider.472
9Rafael SorianoSlider.471
10Rafael SorianoFastball.464
11Mariano RiveraCutter.462
12Phil HughesFastball.460
13Freddy GarciaSlider.444
14Ivan NovaFastball.440
15CC SabathiaChangeup.427
16Bartolo ColonFastball.418
17Freddy GarciaFastball.408
18Ivan NovaCurveball.357
19Joba ChamberlainSlider.352
20CC SabathiaSinker.341
21Freddy GarciaSplitter.299
22A.J. BurnettCurveball.270

Remember, sometimes it's good to not be in the strikezone.  I like seeing Burnett's curveball at the bottom of this list because when A.J.'s right, he's keeping his curveball low and getting empty swings.  Conversely, I don't like seeing the Sabathia and Soriano sliders so high on this list.  In a similar vein, the next leaderboard shows ball% (called balls per pitch), which factors in the hitter's ability to take pitches out of the zone.  This one's sorted from lowest to highest:

RankPitcherPitch TypeBall Rate
1Joba ChamberlainSlider.268
2Mariano RiveraCutter.277
3Bartolo Colon Sinker.288
4CC SabathiaSlider.299
5CC SabathiaChangeup.321
6David RobertsonFastball.325
7A.J. BurnettFastball.332
8Boone LoganFastball.333
9Phil HughesFastball.336
10CC SabathiaFastball.345
11Rafael SorianoFastball.348
12Freddy GarciaSlider.361
13CC SabathiaSinker.371
14Rafael SorianoSlider.371
15Freddy GarciaSinker.395
16Ivan NovaFastball.402
17Freddy GarciaSplitter.403
18Bartolo ColonFastball.408
19Joba ChamberlainFastball.412
20Ivan NovaCurveball.429
21A.J. BurnettCurveball.454
22Freddy GarciaFastball.461

Well, it looks A.J. isn't getting batters to swing on that curveball out of the zone as much as we might like.  Joba's slider has the good combination of both a low ball rate and a low zone rate (lots of chases out of the zone).   

And to wrap this up with my favorite metric, a look at the whiff rates (swinging strikes per swing) on the team, with a modest minimum of 25 swings:

RankPitcherPitch TypeWhiff Rate
1Joba ChamberlainSlider.475
2Freddy GarciaSplitter.447
3A.J. BurnettCurveball.395
4CC SabathiaChangeup.382
5CC SabathiaSinker.296
6Bartolo ColonFastball.271
7CC SabathiaSlider.271
8Freddy GarciaSlider.265
9David RobertsonCurveball.258
10A.J. BurnettChangeup.207
11Ivan NovaCurveball.207
12Rafael SorianoSlider.188
13Rafael SorianoFastball.179
14Boone LoganFastball.143
15Mariano RiveraCutter.142
16David RobertsonFastball.132
17CC SabathiaFastball.129
18Lance PendletonFastball.120
19Joba ChamberlainFastball.118
20A.J. BurnettFastball.103
21Ivan NovaFastball.099
22Phil HughesCutter.080
23Bartolo ColonSinker.072
24Freddy GarciaSinker.071
25Phil HughesFastball.036
Joba's slider looks really, really good.  Also, hello Freddy Garcia!  That pitch (labeled here as a splitter, though there may be changeups or sliders included in this group as well) has done a very good job at fooling hitters so far this year.

For context, refer to this post with league averages for these metrics by pitch type.

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