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Putaway Counts, Part 2

Part 1 is here; now on to part 2, pitch types and location. What about pitch types? This is the juicy stuff.

Player Pitches Fastball Changeup Curveball Slider Other
LEAGUE 28,454 48.5% 12.0% 15.2% 18.1% 5.2%
Batista 135 26.7% 8.1% 0.0% 60.7% 4.4%
Bedard 195 72.3% 0.5% 25.1% 0.5% 1.5%
Hernandez 242 59.1% 12.0% 11.2% 14.5% 3.3%
Silva 193 68.4% 25.0% 0.5% 14.5% 1.6%
Washburn 167 58.1% 18.0% 14.4% 9.6% 0.0%
Table 4: Pitch types thrown on 0-2/1-2 counts, Mariner SP

These types come from MLBAM's algorithm so take them with a bit of a grain of salt. I have done some editing based on results found by Mike Fast to better group the pitches. In general, it recognizes fastballs and curveballs well, does a reasonable job on sliders and an okay job on changeups.

Now, the league averages here aren't going to be as useful as previously because not all possible outcomes are available to each pitcher. It's not really noteworthy that Erik Bedard throws way less than average sliders and way more than average curveballs because, well, he throws a curve and doesn't throw a slider.

However, the comparison is useful for one pitcher in particular and it's why I included it: Felix. Felix has all four of these pitches at his disposal and all four are plus or better pitches. So with a vast array of weapons to choose from, someone, for the love of Hermes, please tell me why he's chucking fastballs up there nearly 60% of the time? No, you know what? I don't care why he's doing it, just make him stop.

The other revelation to me, although I know I knew this subconsciously, is that all the other starters are essentially two-pitch pitchers. Batista has a slider, Bedard a curve, Silva a change and Wash a changeupy sort of thing. For all the talk we've heard over the years from the M's brass about a pitcher needing a third pitch to survive two or three times through a lineup they've managed to assemble a rotation by choice (meaning FA sign or trade) that is 100% composed of two-pitch pitchers. These people cannot get fired fast enough. Lets move on to the league as a whole. Just the top five this time because the bottom wouldn't make any sense.

Player Fastball Player Change Player Curve Player Slider Player Other
Pettitte, Andy
86.7% Santana, Johan
44.4% Floyd, Gavin
62.3% Batista, Miguel
60.7% Wakefield, Tim
Cabrera, Daniel 76.3% Shields, James
42.2% Sheets, Ben
50.0% Wellemeyer, Todd
43.8% McGowan, Dustin 18.1%
Bedard, Erik
72.3% Looper, Braden
39.2% Burnett, A.J.
49.0% Eveland, Dana 43.8% Harden, Rich
Feldman, Scott
71.5% Haren, Dan
35.7% Wainwright, Adam
45.6% Litsch, Jesse
42.3% Vazquez, Javier
Padilla, Vicente 70.7% Moyer, Jamie 33.0% Zito, Barry
45.2% Snell, Ian
40.8% Haren, Dan
Table 5: Pitch types thrown on 0-2/1-2 counts, all SP

Johan is basically just fastball-changeup and he throws his fastball less often than Felix. Learn from your countryman Felix. Not in the giving up grand slams part (!!!), but in the pitch mixture part. Bedard really seems like he would benefit from more curveballs and I ponder if his various injuries might be encouraging him to go with fastball more often to avoid extra twisting in the back and hip areas.

Wakefield is obvious, but I'm not sure what is comprised under the Other category for the other pitchers. I'm pretty sure Rich Harden is a fastballl-changeup guy 90% of the time so I think it's just MLBAM's algorithm choking on changeups, but I cannot be sure without doing an in depth look into it which I don't plan on doing.

Finally, a look directly at where these pitches are going. The league (with the Ms subtracted out) first. Against LHB on the left, against RHB on the right:

Figure 1: League vs LHB
Figure 2: League vs RHB

An unsurprising pattern to both sides, but still some special areas to point out. Left handed batters face an odd umpire bias that has pitches off the outside part of the plate often called a strike. It's a prevalent and well-documented bias so it would not surprise me in the least if pitchers were aware of it and were trying to paint that area, causing the biggest red splotch that you see in Figure 1. Beyond that, we also see some notions of going up and in to lefty hitters and in general staying out of the down-and-in wheelhouse.

The right-handed plot is far more focused with pitchers staying completely away from the inside half and trying to go outside. I would have thought there would be more vertical variance than there is, pitchers trying to get hitters to chase up or low, but instead it seems they try to stay at the same eye level and get the hitter to swing at pitches they cannot reach.

And here's for the Ms

Figure 3: Ms vs LHB
Figure 4: Ms vs RHB

Figure 3, against LHB, is just a dimmer representation of what we see for the entire league. However in figure 4 we see a bit of a difference with a relatively higher concentration of pitches going for the inner half. We'll have to check back at the end of the year when we have a bigger sample, but could this be a manifestation of the always annual pitching coach mantra that "this year we're going to pitch inside!"?