Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Q&A about "putaway pitches'
By Ryan McCrystal, ESPN Stats and Info
Earlier this morning we took a look at the best "putaway pitches" in the game. We only listed the top seven fastballs, sliders, curves and changeups, so a few of you had questions about specific players that didn't show up among the leaders. Here are our answers to those, and feel free to keep the questions coming.
Redbird8 asks… Where does the "best curveball" as previously called by TMI stand? (that would be the one owned by Adam Wainwright) Is it just beaten into the ground for outs more than a strikeout? or what's the case?
Wainwright's curve isn't the best putaway pitch, but it still rates very highly. His curve has a 25.5 putaway rate, which ranks 15th out of 50 pitchers. The main reason it isn't higher is that his curve is actually fairly hittable, but hitters just aren't making good contact. When hitters offer at his two-strike curve, they whiffed only 28.3 percent of the time - compare that to Tommy Hanson's 52.2 miss percentage. He does, however, have great success getting hitters to chase his curve out of the zone - 47.7 percent of the time - which ranks 2nd behind only Chris Volstad (52.6 pct).
Garangeist asks… Zumaya's curve seems to have returned to 2006 form. Has he just not used it enough?
While Zumaya has certainly returned to form this season, it's actually due to his fastball. Believe it or not, opponents are hitting .500 against his offspeed pitches this year. Although to be fair, that comes from a very small sample size - Zumaya has thrown 332 fastballs this season and just 62 offspeed pitches (according to Inside Edge). In two-strike counts he continues to rely on his fastball, which yields a 27.2 putaway rate. While he didn't qualify for our study, he would certainly rate very highly if we expanded the qualifications. Perhaps at a future date we'll run the numbers for relievers only.
Robertgold asks… I'm curious to know where Johan Santana's changeup ended up, as everyone used to rave about it, though it's apparently lost effectiveness.
Santana's change is still very good. Opponents are batting just .189 against it (league avg: .226). However, it's not a dominant putaway pitch. His putaway rate with his change is 16.2 which ranks 36th out of the 50 pitchers we included in our study. In two-strike counts, Santana actually relies slightly more on his fastball, which he throws 48.6 pct of the time with a 15.1 putaway rate. 24 of his 49 strikouts have been recorded with the fastball, 18 with the changeup and seven with his slider.
Have more questions? Post them in the comments and we'll try to track down an answer for you.