Zack Greinke Sinks His Way to Success

Polishing off classifications for Zack Greinke's PITCHf/x data was interesting.   The man's been through some changes (no pun intended).  Out of the bullpen for good, he's got some real separation on his change-up and, most of all, a love for the sinker.

Adding the sinker in 2008, and using it more and more since then, isn't the only thing different.  From pitch mix to velocity to speed differentials, Greinke's small sample bonanza has plenty to offer.  This post is just a start, I'm afraid.

This speaks for itself, Greinke's pitch mix by season.

Pitch 2007 2008 2009
All 872 3181 632
Change 6.7% 7.7% 5.7%
Curve 6.9% 11.5% 16.8%
Sinker 0.5% 5.2% 13.1%
Fastball 67.8% 56.3% 43.0%
Slider 18.2% 19.2% 21.4%

 

There's also been a big change in velocity on Greinke's circle change

Greinke1_medium

The error bars are set to one standard deviation plus and minus.  Notice how close the distributions are in 2007.  You might wonder if the change-up has gone past the point of being truly effective in terms of speed differential, but it's doing just fine.

On that note, he increased use of the sinker has been incredibly effective. 

Let's take a step back first. 

I'm using run value per 100 pitches (rv100; lower is better for pitchers) along with Whiff, nkSLG (total bases divided by all fair balls), Chase (swing rate out of the zone) and IWZ (strike zone frequency, with a 2 ft. wide plate and batter-by-batter top/bottom).  Data included is up to 4/29/09, his latest start is not in here.

If anything, Greinke is throwing less strikes, not more (.55 .53 .52).  Batters are chasing pitches out of the zone less (.31 .27 .28).  Still, without getting guys going out of the zone more often, Greinke has increased his whiff rate (.24 .20 .29) and decreased the quality of the hits he's given up (nkSLG .42 .53 .38).  Going by rv100, he's about 2.8 runs tougher (5.6 6.1 3.3).  Not bad, not bad at all. 

Here are the details by pitch type.  I'll leave you with those and a couple notes.

  • Greinke's change-up is actually his worst pitch, but even that's improved.
  • The sinker is fantastic so far in 2009. 
    • First appearance was in September of 2007, maybe just a data error. 
    • He rarely used it in early 2008, not at all or just 1-3% of his pitch count. 
    • Suddenly, on July 5, 2008, 19% of 113 pitches were sinkers.
    • It's been part of the mix since
  • The slider is better than the curve year after year, and this year it's his best pitch
  • He's really freaking good, but no one is this good for too long
year pitch # rv100 Whiff nkSLG IWZ Chase
2007 Change 58 11.3 0.424 0.600 0.466 0.452
2008 Change 246 9.1 0.281 0.667 0.447 0.228
2009 Change 36 7.3 0.333 0.167 0.694 0.273

 

year pitch # rv100 Whiff nkSLG IWZ Chase
2007 Sinker 4 -1.6 1.000 0.250 0.333
2008 Sinker 166 8.8 0.091 0.489 0.530 0.321
2009 Sinker 83 2.6 0.057 0.250 0.458 0.267

 

year pitch # rv100 Whiff nkSLG IWZ Chase
2007 Fastball 591 5.0 0.168 0.374 0.538 0.293
2008 Fastball 1790 6.6 0.145 0.595 0.560 0.249
2009 Fastball 272 4.2 0.174 0.326 0.549 0.179

 

year pitch # rv100 Whiff nkSLG IWZ Chase
2007 Slider 159 5.0 0.400 0.565 0.585 0.318
2008 Slider 612 3.3 0.331 0.370 0.500 0.356
2009 Slider 135 1.9 0.543 0.526 0.452 0.459

 

year pitch # rv100 Whiff nkSLG IWZ Chase
2007 Curveball 60 7.3 0.375 0.375 0.650 0.333
2008 Curveball 367 5.4 0.213 0.432 0.520 0.239
2009 Curveball 106 5.3 0.364 0.526 0.585 0.341

 

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Beyond the Box Score

You must be a member of Beyond the Box Score to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Beyond the Box Score. You should read them.

Join Beyond the Box Score

You must be a member of Beyond the Box Score to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Beyond the Box Score. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker