Saturday, December 03, 2011

Michael Pineda's First Season Was Impressive

After another woeful season, the Seattle Mariners showed once again that they simply couldn't hit the baseball. The shame of that sad fact hides another terrific season by their starting pitching. Felix Hernandez wasn't as dominating as he was the year before, but he was pretty darned good. Doug Fister showed how good he was once he was traded to the Tigers and rookie, Michael Pineda, somewhat quietly set the world on fire with his rookie season. And Pineda's numbers, no matter how deep you dig, are simply outstanding. How good can this kid be?

Pineda was so good for the Mariners in their 2011 Spring Training, that he forced his way on the major league roster after only 60+ innings in Triple A. The Mariners used him very well and he pitched 171 innings a year after tossing 141 in the minors the year before. At face value, his 9-10 record with a 3.74 ERA doesn't seem that spectacular. His ERA+ was only 103 if you look at that statistic. But you simply can't look at that and call him a league average pitcher.

Michael Pineda threw three pitches in 2011: fastball (62.2 percent), slider (31.5 percent) and a change up (6.3 percent) and they all rated above average. His fastball was 9.3 runs above average, his slider was 9 runs above average and his change up was a half a run above average.  Here is his ranking in some other categories:

  • Contact percentage: tied for the fifth lowest among starters.
  • Swinging strike percentage: Best of all starters at 11,8 percent.
  • First pitch strike percentage: 13th highest among all starters
  • Strikeouts per nine innings: 7th highest among all starters.
  • Strikeout per walk percentage: 3.15 good enough for the top 25 percent of all starting pitchers.
  • Batting average against: fourth lowest in baseball among starters at .209.
  • SIERRA: 17th lowest among starting pitchers.
  • O-Swing: Which is the ability to get batters to swing at pitches outside the strike zone. Pineda was 15th.

That's some pretty darn good pitching. Pineda was especially dominant against right-handed batters whose OPS against him was a paltry .587. Left-handed batters fared a little better with an OPS against of .653 but even that is way below league average.

Michael Pineda struggled mightily in July and again some in August. But he finished strong despite not getting any wins down the stretch. He's only 23 years old in 2012 and if his rookie season is any indication, Pineda is going to be a terrific pitcher if he stays healthy. This observer can't wait to see what he does, especially if the Mariners can find a way to improve their offensive output.

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