Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Sullivan: Baseball’s Hardest Thrower Gets the Second-Fewest Strikeouts

Most counterintuitive observation of the day?

Or ever?

Part of this is easy to understand. Why doesn’t Hicks strike more batters out? Just look at the walks. He’s wild. Been better lately, but still wild. Hicks’ overall strike rate ranks in the sixth percentile. Batters are better when they’re not behind in the count. If you don’t have command, you want to at least have control.

Another factor here is that Hicks doesn’t throw a hard four-seamer. Rather, he throws a sinker, and while it’s a hard sinker, sinkers in general are more hittable. This year, four-seamers at 95 or harder have allowed a contact rate of 76%. Meanwhile, sinkers and two-seamers at 95 or harder have allowed a contact rate of 81%. Not all sinkers are created alike, and, of course, someone like Zach Britton can get whiffs on a sinker all day long, but the movement tends to just be more contact-friendly. We know that because it’s what the numbers have always suggested. A rising four-seamer can appear to be deceptive. Sinkers are thrown lower, and they drop closer to the bat path.

As you’d imagine, there’s still another factor. Hicks doesn’t exclusively throw his fastball — he also has a breaking ball around 85. But it’s not a slider he controls very well. I looked at pitcher swing rates, league wide, when they throw non-fastballs. The swing rate against Hicks’ non-fastballs ranks in the 1st percentile. Almost the lowest rate in the game. Which could be a good thing, if Hicks could reliably spot his slider around the zone edge. Instead, Hicks has been a fastball pitcher without a pitch for hitters to chase. As noted earlier, major-league hitters are exceptionally good, and they can time any existing fastball provided they don’t have to worry about anything else.

It seems bizarre for Hicks’ strikeouts to be where they are, just given his arm strength. And yet we should remember we’ve seen hints of this. Chapman has forever been a strikeout machine, because he’s paired his four-seam fastball with a dangerous slider. Yet Brian Ellington averaged almost 100, and he posted underwhelming strikeout rates. Ditto last season’s Joe Kelly. Ditto 2016’s Mauricio Cabrera. Cabrera’s fastball actually averaged over 100. He struck out 19.8% of opponents. Josh Collmenter struck out more batters than that. Hicks is the most extreme data point in both directions, but baseball has been telling us for a while that velocity doesn’t equal punch outs. Not, at least, at the velocity levels we’ve observed.

 

Stormy JE Posted: May 23, 2018 at 06:32 AM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, fastballs, jordan hicks, strikeouts, velocity

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. . . . . . . Posted: May 24, 2018 at 01:32 PM (#5678986)
Hicks just seems like an obvious guy to teach a splitter. Easiest off-speed pitch to learn and plays best with velocity.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Dingbat_Charlie
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogJudge: Len Dykstra’s reputation is so bad it’s legally impossible to libel him
(15 - 9:08pm, Jun 01)
Last: Never Give an Inge (Dave)

NewsblogEmpty Stadium Sports Will Be Really Weird
(4577 - 8:57pm, Jun 01)
Last: Never Give an Inge (Dave)

NewsblogOT – NBA CoronaThread 2020
(3161 - 8:29pm, Jun 01)
Last: Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim

NewsblogNationals’ Max Scherzer signals union’s rejection of MLB’s proposed salary cuts
(11 - 8:04pm, Jun 01)
Last: McCoy

NewsblogMLB owners sending latest plan to MLBPA that includes sliding pay scale for players
(93 - 5:09pm, Jun 01)
Last: Mayor Blomberg

NewsblogSon of Agassi, Graf could be a future ace
(41 - 5:07pm, Jun 01)
Last: dejarouehg

NewsblogA's Tell Minor Leaguers They Won't Be Paid for the Remainder of the Season
(44 - 4:56pm, Jun 01)
Last: Ron J

NewsblogMLB Network to celebrate Derek Jeter's career with 64 consecutive hours of Jeter programming
(45 - 4:50pm, Jun 01)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogRoy Steele, the A’s ‘Voice of God,’ dies
(5 - 4:37pm, Jun 01)
Last: Khrushin it bro

Hall of Merit2021 Hall of Merit Ballot Discussion
(282 - 4:35pm, Jun 01)
Last: kcgard2

NewsblogOT - Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (June 2020)
(10 - 2:51pm, Jun 01)
Last: Greg K

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 6-1-2020
(28 - 12:30pm, Jun 01)
Last: Eric J can SABER all he wants to

NewsblogMLB teams release hundreds of minor league players, per report
(9 - 10:01pm, May 31)
Last: Ron J

NewsblogOT Soccer Thread - Spring 2020
(247 - 8:01pm, May 31)
Last: Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert

NewsblogNot in Missouri anymore: Royals move legal home to Delaware
(7 - 9:30pm, May 30)
Last: Zach

-->

Page rendered in 0.2449 seconds
46 querie(s) executed