Some Pirates’ Numbers, Good and Bad

Brooksbaseball.net is a great site.  One of the features I like is the hitter- and pitcher-at-a-glance.  It’s not a scouting report, but a summary of what the stats show for the current season, with standardized verbal phrases showing you where the player stands relative to his peers.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Sometimes you get a pretty striking and graphic description of a player.  Like these Pirate hitters (everything here is current through Tuesday’s game against the White Sox):

Gregory Polanco

Against Fastballs (287 seen), he has had an exceptionally aggressive approach at the plate (-0.17 c) with a disastrously high likelihood to swing and miss (42% whiff/swing).

Against Breaking Pitches (142 seen), he has had an aggressive approach at the plate (-0.08 c) with a disastrously high likelihood to swing and miss (58% whiff/swing).

Against Offspeed Pitches (63 seen), he has had an exceptionally aggressive approach at the plate (-0.69 c) with a high likelihood to swing and miss (44% whiff/swing).

Josh Bell

Against Fastballs (346 seen), he has had an exceptionally aggressive approach at the plate (-0.19 c) with a disastrously high likelihood to swing and miss (30% whiff/swing).

Against Breaking Pitches (141 seen), he has had an aggressive approach at the plate (-0.06 c) with an exceptionally high likelihood to swing and miss (44% whiff/swing).

Against Offspeed Pitches (135 seen), he has had a steady approach at the plate (-0.20 c) with an exceptionally high likelihood to swing and miss (50% whiff/swing).

Bryan Reynolds

Against Fastballs (319 seen), he has had a very aggressive approach at the plate (-0.10 c) with an above average likelihood to swing and miss (21% whiff/swing).

Against Breaking Pitches (176 seen), he has had a steady approach at the plate (0.08 c) with a high likelihood to swing and miss (43% whiff/swing).

Against Offspeed Pitches (113 seen), he has had an aggressive approach at the plate (-0.35 c) with a below average likelihood to swing and miss (26% whiff/swing).

Graphic enough for you?  No real mysteries here, but this shows that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the approach these guys are taking, especially Polanco and Bell.  This isn’t bad luck, except to some extent with Reynolds, whose BABIP (.244) is over 100 points below his career norm.  It’s just guys who are seriously screwed up.

On a Happier Note

Something obviously is going pretty well in the Pirates’ bullpen.  That’s especially true considering all the time missed by Keone Kela, Kyle Crick, Nick Burdi and Clay Holmes.  Here’s some info:

Richard Rodriguez

His fourseam fastball generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, has essentially average velo and has slight armside run. His curve generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ curves, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ curves, has little depth, is slightly harder than usual and has primarily 12-6 movement.

This one’s pretty simple.  Rodriguez is throwing his curve twice as often as last year and he’s getting whiffs on it 50% more often.  Opponents slugged .432 against the pitch last year.  This year, it’s .235.

Geoff Hartlieb

His sinker generates a very high amount of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, has slight armside run, has slightly above average velo and has some natural sinking action. His slider sweeps across the zone, has exceptional depth and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ sliders.

Hartlieb’s pitch mix has changed drastically from his difficult debut last year.  He’s dropped his four-seamer and throws a sinker exclusively.  He’s also throwing his slider more than twice as often.  On both pitches, he appears to have sacrificed velocity for movement.  His ground ball rates on both pitches are up drastically and opponents’ slugging has gone from .726 against the sinker and .632 against the slider to .216 and .379, respectively.

Sam Howard

His slider has less than expected depth. His fourseam fastball generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers and has essentially average velo.

Howard has always thrown a lot of sliders, but he’s increased its usage this year so that he’s throwing it nearly two-thirds of the time.  Maybe that accounts for the frequent swings and misses on the fastball.  Opponents are slugging just .241 against the slider, but .500 against the fastball.

Nik Turley

His fourseam fastball generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, has less armside movement than typical and has well above average velo. His curve has an exceptional bite, has sweeping glove-side movement, generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ curves and results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ curves.

This summary probably gives us an idea why the Pirates stuck with Turley through two years in which he couldn’t pitch.  His four-seam usage is about what it was back in 2017, which was his last stint in the majors.  He used to be a four-pitch pitcher, but he’s junked everything else for the curve, which he’s throwing 41% of the time.  He’s throwing the fastball 94.4 mph on average and opponents are batting only .128 against it, which is nice for a lefty.

Chris Stratton

His fourseam fastball generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, has less armside movement than typical, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, has some natural sinking action and has essentially average velo. His slider generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ sliders, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sliders, is much harder than usual and has some two-plane movement. His curve has sweeping glove-side movement, is slightly harder than usual and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ curves. His change generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ changeups, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ changeups, is slightly firmer than usual and has some natural sink to it.

This is interesting because it’s a starter’s repertoire.  Stratton, like much of the staff, has cut his fastball usage, in his case by about 20%.  He uses all the other pitches regularly, featuring the slider the most.  That pitch, though, is easily his least effective.

Analysis

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