Now that we’re one-third of the way through the season, sample sizes have become larger and data from 2016 carries more weight (Robin Ventura, this means you can take Jimmy Rollins’ .618 OPS and stick it on the bench). Plate appearances for regulars are creeping above 200 and almost every starting pitcher has broken the 50 IP mark.
Statistical sites like Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, and Baseball Savant are incredible resources for baseball fans. In fact, sometimes I wonder how many hours a day I would spend browsing these sites if I didn’t have a job, wife, and newborn son. As an excuse to spend more time rummaging through baseball data over the weekend, I present to you the first installment of The Stat Dozen, brought to you by Casey's Donuts. Just kidding, but they do have amazing donuts.
*All stats through May 31 (min. 10 IP)
Most fastball-dependent pitcher
|Player||Kenley Jansen, LAD||93.6|
|2015||Jake McGee, TBR||92.7|
After nearly getting demoted from his closer role in the off-season because of the Dodgers attempt to acquire Aroldis Chapman, Jansen has continued dominating in 2016. He has a 1.35 ERA in 20 IP, while only surrendering 10 hits (and just one home run). What makes his dominance all the more impressive is that, similar to Mariano Rivera, opposing batters know what pitch is coming.
Least fastball-dependent pitcher
|Player||R.A. Dickey, TOR||9.5|
|2015||Steven Wright, BOS||10.4|
Dickey, after a terrible April, has pitched slightly better in May. His numbers still don’t strike fear in opponents (11 starts, 66 IP, 4.64 ERA, 1.23 HR/9 IP). Dickey’s hesitancy to throw his fastball is nothing new for him, as he has consistently relied on his knuckleball over the course of his career (70.7%), and even more so in the last 5 years (over 85% every season since 2012).
Fastest average fastball
|Player||Noah Syndergaard, NYM||98.1|
|2015||Aroldis Chapman, NYY||99.5|
With Betances, Miller, and Chapman closing games, it’s not surprising to see the Yankees atop the leaderboard as the hardest throwing team in 2016. It’s quite impressive to see Syndergaard, a starter, come in as the hardest individual thrower (that is until Chapman gets the minimum amount of innings necessary). The Mets right-hander has been sensational this year, posting a 1.84 ERA in 63 IP while striking out 81 batters.
Slowest average fastball
|Player||R.A. Dickey, TOR||81.5|
|2015||R.A. Dickey, TOR||81.5|
Coincidentally, the Blue Jays traded the hardest thrower in baseball (Syndergaard), for the softest thrower (Dickey), a deal that looks worse with each passing year for Toronto.
Pitcher that induces the softest contact
|Category||Player||Soft Contact %|
|2016||Tanner Roark, WSH||31.3|
|2015||Dallas Keuchel, HOU||25.2|
Fangraphs categorizes batted ball velocity into 3 categories (soft, medium, hard). The former Fighting Illini pitcher has had a solid start to 2016, posting a 2.70 ERA through 70 IP.
Pitcher that gives up the hardest contact
|Category||Player||Hard Contact %|
|2016||Patrick Corbin, ARI||39.9|
|2015||Ian Kennedy, SDP||35.2|
Similar to Matt Harvey, Corbin is struggling the year after coming back from Tommy John surgery. Prior to the elbow injury, Corbin looked like a future star. Not the case thus far in 2016: 72 hits in 65 IP and a 4.96 ERA. In his start on Tuesday night, Corbin gave up 7 ER and couldn’t make it out of the 4th inning.
Most 1st pitch strikes
|Player||Hahn (OAK), Cueto (SFG), Hendricks (CHC)||71.4|
|2015||Max Scherzer, WSH||71.3|
Our older brother Kevin's philosophy of always taking a pitch in high school would be ill-advised against this group. Hahn, Cueto, and Hendricks all throw first pitch strikes to more than 70% of the batters they face.
Least 1st pitch strikes
|Player||Kris Medlen, KCR||42.9|
|2015||Alfredo Simon, CIN||55.7|
The 30-year old Medlen has been brutal for the defending champs this year: 24 IP, 30 hits, 18 K/20 BB, and a 7.77 ERA.
Most swing and misses
|Category||Player/Team||Swing and Miss %|
|2016||Clayton Kershaw, LAD||15.4|
|2015||Clayton Kershaw, LAD||15.9|
What more can be said of Kershaw? He is the most efficient pitcher in baseball, while also compiling a 100 K/5 BB ratio and a 1.56 ERA in 2016. He is the greatest pitcher of our generation.
Least swing and misses
|Category||Player/Team||Swing and Miss %|
|2016||Justin Nicolino, MIA||3.7|
|2015||Mark Buehrle, TOR||5.2|
After a decent rookie campaign in 2015, the 24-year-old Nicolino has gotten off to a rough start in 2016: 41 hits in 40 IP and a 4.50 ERA.
Least runs allowed
The Cubs rotation has been dominant so far this year. Arrieta gets the headlines, but Hammel, Lester, Lackey, and Hendricks all have ERAs below 3.50.
Most runs allowed
The Reds have already used 10 different starting pitchers in 2016. My personal favorite is Alfredo Simon. What’s not to love about a 9.60 ERA, 2.06 WHIP, and over 2 HR per 9 innings?