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A Thought

Kris Benson has thrown 212 pitches this year. Hitters have swung and missed at six of them.

Benson throws two different breaking balls, a changeup, and two different fastballs, with his four-seamer topping out around 90mph.

Ordinarily we'd use Benson's swinging strike rate as evidence that he's bad. And it's true - relative to the rest of the pitchers in the league, Benson's a pile of shit. But you can also look at this as evidence of just how obscenely talented Major League hitters really are. Most regular people tend to struggle in the batting cage against 60mph and 70mph fastballs. A lot of people who played in high school will suffer against 80mph heat. And that's when they know exactly what's coming, and have a general idea of where it's going to be. Major Leaguers, meanwhile, have gone up against Benson and missed exactly six times out of 212 chances despite his velocity, unpredictable location, and repertoire breadth.

That's crazy. The fact that there are dozens of guys who throw 90+ with three pitches and survive as pitch-to-contact's easy to lose sight of sometimes, but now that I sit down and really think about it, that blows my mind. Maybe even more mind-blowing is the fact that the best swinging strike rate in baseball last year was 15.4%. The best. That's crazier. Major League hitters are fucking good. I might make fun of Yuni all the time, but I'm not going to challenge him to home run derby at the lake.

It's also interesting to me that a guy like Jo-Jo Reyes can throw basically the same stuff as Benson and manage to miss four times as many bats. I mean, I get how it happens - there's a lot more that goes into pitching than velocity and pitch variation - but think about how small and subtle the differences must be that lead to such divergent results. If it comes down to simple things like grip and delivery, why can't Benson change to be more like Reyes? Why are we forced to accept that he's Kris Benson and will always be Kris Benson, instead of someone way better?

It's been a weird day for my brain.

Another thought:

Carlos Silva gets hit all the time.

Carlos Silva's most hittable pitch is his fastball.

Carlos Silva could miss more bats if he threw more offspeed pitches.

Carlos Silva has chosen instead to do the opposite and throw way more fastballs.

Carlos Silva therefore doesn't want swinging strikes and would prefer instead to have the ball put in play as often as possible.

When the ball's been put in play against Silva, bad things have happened.

Carlos Silva either stubbornly believes that his luck will eventually turn around, or he is incapable of recognizing patterns.

Therefore, either Carlos Silva is aware of things like BABIP and statistical unsustainability, or he's a moron.

However, a pitcher who always allows a ball in play in every at bat will have something like a .330/.327/.518 batting line against, good for a .370 wOBA.

Therefore, Carlos Silva is a moron.