Saturday, February 16, 2013

Relievers by pitch value - Craig Kimbrel is the bomb

I took a look yesterday at qualifying starting pitchers using PitchF/X pitch values to find the top ten and bottom ten values using repertoire as criteria. In other words, if you put together the value of all their pitches, which pitcher had the deadliest set of pitches. Kershaw came out on top with Verlander a close second. Nova came in dead last among the 85 qualifiers with Ricky Romero right ahead of him. These findings were not surprising. Today, I want to put that same test to relievers who qualified. There are more qualifiers with relievers and unlike the starters, the results did not always jive with other standard measures of rating pitchers.

Okay, here is how it works. I took each qualifying relief pitcher and added up the value PitchF/X assigned for each of the pitches each threw. That gave me a total value of all the pitcher's pitches. For example, Jonny Venters of the Braves had a two-seam fastball value of -0.3 runs below average. His sinker was worth -2.6. His slider was worth 3.1 runs above average and his change-up was worth 0.5. Add them all up together and you get a total value of 0.7 runs above average for all his pitches. With 135 relievers qualifying, Venters finished 103rd. This is a bit of a disconnect compared to his finish with fWAR, which was 94th.

Anyway, here are the results, starting with the top ten:
  1. Craig Kimbrel:  27.7   devastating fastball   devastating slider
  2. Fernando Rodney:  26.5    his change-up was the second deadliest pitch among relievers.
  3. Aroldis Chapman:  23.4   His two-seam fastball was the deadliest pitch
  4. Brad Ziegler:  20.2   A bit of a surprise. His sinker is killer.
  5. Grant Balfour:  19.6   The surprises continue.
  6. Ryan Cook:  18.4
  7. Kenley Jansen:  18.3   The best cutter since Rivera
  8. Jake McGee:  17.4   Great fastball
  9. Jim Johnson:  15.6   Throws everything well
  10. Jason Motte:  15.6     Motte the Hoopla
Those results are surprising. The top three are not. The rest, definitely.

Okay, now the ten worst:
  1. Rhiner Cruz:  -11.6
  2. Phil Coke:  -9.2   Except for the ALCS when he looked untouchable. 
  3. Livan Hernandez:  -8.9   How does he keep getting a job?
  4. Matt Reynolds:  -8.5
  5. Jeff Gray:  -8.3
  6. Kameron Loe:  -7   His sinker sunk him.
  7. Chad Qualls:  -5.4
  8. Heath Bell:  -4.3
  9. Chris Resop:  -3.9
  10. Clay Hensley:  -3.7
As I said yesterday, I am not advocating that we rate pitchers by looking at their pitch values. I just find it interesting and an alternative way of looking at pitching results.

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