King Felix The Great

The King commands his subjects to put yo hands in da air

Have you continued reading a series preview here lately? Or perhaps noticed some of the times that I post a game thread instead of Jeff? If you answered no to both questions, this could be a total surprise to you! Also, I hate you. If yes to either then you probably have seen the pitcher charts that I generate, the ones that rank each hurler's pitches on a scouting scale.

Well, I noticed a bit of a problem last week before Jeff and I went out and conquered a conical pile of rocks* in that my data source to make those charts was stale. The reason is technical and not interesting to anyone unless you are interested in just how much work I have done making StatCorner in which case, why? The result is that I had to do some tweaking and once I started doing that I decided to do a mini-overhaul of the presentation as well.

*Note to self: sounds way less impressive phrased this way

That was driven in part because I wanted to speed their creation up (no, these are not simple to make) and in part because while I think we're all softly familiar with the 20-80 scouting scale, what it actually maps to is blurrier. I'm not fond of such imprecision when actual values are available and so I seized this opportunity to replace the scale with a true one, standard deviations.

Here is Felix Hernandez depicted with the old chart and the new.

Felix Hernandez

old chart new chart
chart chart

If you are unfamiliar with a σ, it's a lower case Greek symbol sigma. Please go study. The world needs all of us to be more versed in STEM subjects and many of us to be much more. I've limited the axis to +/- 2 deviations for each pitch, but in cases where the actual value is beyond that scope, it can be found by hovering your mouse over.

It may be underwhelming to not see Felix busting off the chart all over the place. Rest assured this if awesome was the y-axis then Felix would be his own marker. But it's not and here he doesn't even eclipse one standard deviation in any overall category. He does register as above average in all three and it is really difficult to do that. You might be skeptical of how much plaudits to offer for such a feat. Well, here is the complete list of pitchers, meeting a reasonable sample size, who have managed to be above average in contact rate, strike rate and ground ball rate:

Roy Halladay, Andy Pettitte, Jaime Garcia, Cole Hamels, CC Sabathia, R.A. Dickey, Adam Wainwright, Joe Blanton,James Shields, Felix Hernandez, Madison Bumgarner, Anibal Sanchez, Roy Oswalt, Matt Garza, Ricky Nolasco, Chris Carpenter, Carlos Carrasco, and David Price. There are 18 in total and a solid majority of them in the National League.

So Felix's graph may not look dominating, but that's probably a matter more of your expectations than of his greatness. You're so selfish! Average is not an insult. Above average is good and above average everywhere is very difficult and very special. This isn't little league.

By the way, not that you should, but if you weight all three categories equally, then relatively the best starting pitcher in baseball over the past two years is Roy Halladay (no surprise) and the worst is Brad Hand, which, no wonder. You can't be a good pitcher with just a hand, Brad. Blake Arm has you outmatched. Also really bad was Scott Kazmir.

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