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Position Players Pitching Newsbeat

Friday, April 30, 2021

Position Players Are Suddenly — and Probably Fleetingly — Decent at Pitching

As a percentage of all relief appearances, the position player pitching (PPP) rate is up about 38% over last year. It’s nearly four times the rate of 2017, and nearly double the rate of ’18, the year that the phenomenon really took off. Over a full 162-game schedule, this year’s rate projects to 126 PPP appearances, 51 more than in 2019. That’s about five per week.

Particularly as their usage has proliferated, we’ve seen just how bad position players generally are at this, to the point of allowing nearly a run per inning. This year they’re actually pitching comparatively effectively, mainly by avoiding home runs, which on a per-game basis are down 11.5% from last year (perhaps due to the new ball). So far, the Angels’ Anthony Bemboom is the only one to serve up a long ball (to the Astros’ Kyle Tucker, in case you need to know). Because they’ve actually gotten batters out, the rate of PPP appearances as a percentage of batters faced (0.62%) is only up about 16% relative to last year.

The sudden success of the PPPs probably isn’t velocity, unless that means the lack of same. Via a very quick and dirty Baseball Savant study, the average pitch velocity of this year’s PPP appearances — and here I’m lumping all pitches together because classifying these guys’ offerings is rather ambiguous — is 67.5 mph, down more than three clicks from last year and seven clicks from 2018, the earliest year I checked. By that I’d guess, and this is just a guess, that we’ve gradually seen more curves, eephuses and knuckleballs than batting-practice fastballs from these guys, which to these eyes adds to the entertainment. If the phenomenon continues, I swear on a stack of Billy Ripken ****face cards that I’ll apply for a MacArthur Fellowship grant to study the phenomenon more diligently.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 30, 2021 at 12:23 PM | 47 comment(s)
  Beats: position players pitching



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