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Zack Britton Newsbeat

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Zack Britton Isn’t A One-Pitch Pitcher Anymore

One of the most exciting and maddening things about baseball is its unpredictability. A guy who fell to the 25th pick of his draft turns out to be the greatest player of his generation? Sure. A 36-year-old returns from a major achilles injury to have his best offensive season ever and hits the decisive home run of the World Series? Of course. One of baseball’s richest teams goes from winning the World Series to claiming it’s out of money, firing the guy who put the championship roster together, and trading away its superstar player to cut costs in the span of 18 months? That… well, we probably should have seen that coming.

Baseball is a game without sure things, which means the few precious certainties we get tend to stand out. One of those certainties, for the past five years, has been that if Zack Britton is pitching to you, he’s going to throw you a sinker. No need for guesswork, or a chess match, or an ear trained toward a nearby trash can. Since he switched from starting to relieving in 2014, 88% of the pitches Britton has thrown have been sinkers. Not a lot of pitchers can get by on just one pitch — so few, you can probably name them off the top of your head right now — but Britton’s been so successful, no one’s called it into question. That’s because the pitch every hitter knows is coming is still a 94 mph bowling ball thrown at their knees, and virtually no one can get a barrel to it. Because of that, Britton’s made 349 relief appearances, and owns a 1.81 ERA and 2.94 FIP over that span, with two All-Star selections and some MVP and Cy Young votes for his trouble. He’s one of the great relievers of his time, and it’s all because of one pitch.

That’s the Britton I know, you know, that everybody knows. Trouble is, that description might no longer be accurate. From 2014-18, Britton didn’t throw a non-sinker offering even 10% of the time over a given season. In 2019, however, he threw his breaking ball 13.6% of the time. That might sound like only a slight bump year-to-year, but this was no gradual change. This was Britton using the second half of 2019 to try something he’d never done before

 

QLE Posted: February 06, 2020 at 01:13 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: zack britton

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Did last year’s MLB free-agent class live up to the money?

The 2018 free-agent period was highly anticipated until it actually happened.

In comparison, this offseason already looks like it’s going in fast forward. We’re days away from the 2019 Winter Meetings but Yasmani Grandal (Chicago White Sox) and Zack Wheeler (Philadelphia Phillies) cashed in on deals that were larger than all but three of the free-agent pacts that were signed last offseason.

Although it was slow to develop, there were still a number of big-money deals signed before last opening day. But they weren’t all winners. In fact, the bargain bin proved to be quite productive, as six of the eight players to lead the 2018 free-agent class in bWAR did not sign the top-10 biggest deals of the offseason.

Here is a look at those that did, reviewing the player and the deal after the first year.

A consideration of last year’s free-agent class, as this year’s class begins to be signed.

 


 

 

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