FanGraphs is great, and it just keeps getting better. Just a few weeks ago they added a feature showing the Linear Weights Run Value (explained here) for each pitcher and their pitches. In short, it expresses the actual effectiveness of each pitch by comparing the change in expected number of runs scored after the pitch to before the pitch. It’s similar to how WPA is calculated for individual players, but each event is a pitch rather than a plate appearance.
Anyway, with the off day I figured it was a good time to take a look at the best (and worst) individual pitches on the Yankees staff. Each value is expressed in runs saved per 100 pitches; big numbers are good, small and negative numbers are bad.
Three Best Sliders: AJ Burnett (21.62), Joba Chamberlain (3.47), CC Sabathia (1.42)
Three Worst Sliders: Phil Coke (-3.97), Jon Albaladejo (-3.70), Chien-Ming Wang (-0.84)
Three Best Curveballs: Al Aveces (3.45), AJ Burnett (1.79), Jon Albaladejo (1.77)
Three Worst Curveballs: CC Sabathia (-3.48), Phil Hughes (-0.45), Jose Veras & Andy Pettitte (both 0.64)
Three Best Changeups: CC Sabathia (3.07), Phil Coke (2.85), Al Aceves (2.71)
Three Worst Changeups: Jon Albaladejo (-70.05), Chien-Ming Wang (-8.21), Joba Chamberlain (-3.79)
I limited the data to guys with at least 20 IP to eliminate the Anthony Claggetts and Nick Swishers of the pitching gene pool. For comparison’s sake, the best and worst value for each kind of pitch in the league generally registers around 3.70 and -3.70, respectively. Some of the big numbers – Burnett’s slider, Albaladejo’s change – are sample size issues, meaning the data came from a sample of like, two pitches. If you want to see the data for the entire Yanks’ staff, click here.
As cool as this data is, it’s far more interesting to look at the team values. For example, the staff with the most effective fastball belongs to the Giants (0.58), and the worst belong to … drumroll please … the Yankees! Yep, with a pitch value of -0.90, the Yanks’ staff has thrown the least effective heaters in the game. They do rank middle of the pack when it comes to sliders (0.70, 14th overall) and changeups (0.49, 11th), and are near the top with curveballs (1.04, 7th), but why do the Yanks rank so poorly with the heater? I don’t know, but it’s kinda troubling when you have power arms like Sabathia, Burnett and Chamberlain on the staff.
Any theories? If so, drop ‘em here. If not, then talk about whatever you want and use this as an open thread. The Brewers face the Indians on ESPN, and Arkansas plays LSU in the College World Series on ESPN2. Other than that, there’s not much going on in the world of sports tonight. Anything goes here, just be nice.