Monday, March 4, 2024

Baseball Trivia: 2019: A Pitching Oddity and Contest Giveaway!

GIVEAWAY CONTEST! We are going to offer up a one-year subscription – a $20 value! – to the Leaderboards and app! Here are the rules; they’re simple, but you can be disqualified if you do not follow them. When this goes live to the site and is tweeted out, the first person to respond with the correct answer by tweeting their answer to @MSportingStudio and trivia author @Rev_Gabelicious will be the winner. I repeat, you must tweet the correct answer to BOTH handles, in a single tweet, and if you are the first, by time codes on tweets, then you will be the winner! Enjoy!

During the 2019 season, three starting pitchers qualified for today’s trivia StatHead filter game. They had to have a minimum of 140 strikeouts, a K:BB of 3.50 or higher, and six or less individual victories. Got it? Good. Two of the three happen to be left-handed pitchers and played in the American League in 2019.

Their names are Chris Sale and Blake Snell; kinda sounds like a 50s Blue Eyed Soul duo. The other guy on the list is the only one to qualify while pitching in the National League and is right-handed, so he’s a beautiful and unique flower. The game at hand is basically just a guessing game based on some numbers and infographics. Let’s dig in, shall we? How about a graphic right out the gate. This is our pitcher’s zone profile of Isolated Power (ISO) against all hitters for the entire 2019 season.

Author Screen Capture/Brooks Baseball

The second course is a medium appetizer of 2019 stats courtesy of Baseball Reference. His 11.5 K/9 were third in the league and while his 4.09 K:BB is nice, it didn’t qualify for the top 10. He was worth 2.5 fWAR and 3.3 bWAR. He surrendered a career-high 40.8% Hard Hit percentage (HH%), a second-worst career opponent slugging of .411, as well as career second-worst 108 ERA+. Here’s a batted ball spray chart for 2019 from FanGraphs.

Author Screen Cap/FanGraphs

Now to the main course! Lets dig our teeth into some Baseball Savant numbers.

His Average Exit Velocity (AEV) of 88.6 mph was not an outlier for his career average of 88.3 mph, but that betrays some underlying numbers, such as that career-high HH%. Additionally, he was in the bottom 6th percentile of Max Exit Velocity, at a scorching 115.5 mph. Couple that with 18 of his home runs going for 105 mph EV or higher and yeah, he was gettin’ smacked around at moments that certainly didn’t serve him or his team very well. When hitters got the ball into or out of the outfield, they slashed .573/.563/1.145 against him and slugged an equally ridiculous 1.047 on fly balls. The hardest home run he coughed up (in 2019) was clocked at 115.5 mph off of Michael Conforto‘s bat to right-center and 436 feet away. I’d embed the video, but then you wouldn’t have to guess at all. Need an infographic break? Here’s his ’19 Savant profile!

Author Screen Cap/Baseball Savant

Now that we’ve had that snort of whisky to wash down the first half of the main course, let’s gorge again. Now, I know that pitches and their effectiveness cannot live in a vacuum from a cornucopia of variables, not limited to, but including ball-strike count, base-out situations, hitter handedness and zone propensities, and many more. However, sometimes you look at a pitch’s effectiveness in comparison to others in a pitcher’s repertoire and wonder if they should’ve relied more heavily on it. Well, for 2019, this hurler may have benefitted from throwing more sliders and splitters. Respectively, he threw them 13.8% and 3.8% of the time, but they both had the highest Whiff% (39.2%) of any pitch he threw more than 100 times. Granted, he had an 80.0% Whiff% on his changeup, but he only threw 12 of them. The slider was also his top PutAway% offering at 31.5%.

Let’s wrap up with dessert. His K% and FB Spin were in the 88th and 96th percentiles, respectively. Yet, he had a dismal year in ISO (44th percentile), Barrels (17th), and xSLG (56th). Beyond just the Exit Velos on those homers I mentioned, 63.6% of all of his homers were No Doubters. Ouch. Lastly, his fastball and breaking velos were down 2.5 and 2.6 mph respectively.

Don’t forget to tweet that answer to @MSportingStudio and @Rev_Gabelicious in a single tweet and we’ll reveal the winner ASAP!

If you aren’t the winner and would still like some information on purchasing a pass to the site leaderboards, please direct your attention here!

Thanks and have fun everybody!