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Checking In: Whiffs in 2011

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It's time for a look at 2011 whiff rates.  Granted, it's still pretty early, but it's confidence-inspiring that many of the names on the lists below are well-established bat-missers.  And there are the surprises, which are really fun.  Anyway, I will split these up by pitch type - the league averages are from Harry Pavlidis's recently updated article on pitch type benchmarks.  I'm lumping into two different groups with different sample-sizes, one to highlight starters and the other to highlight relievers (but there is some inter-mingling).  Also note the larger swing minimum for fastballs.  Enough talking; let's go!

                                                                    FASTBALLS 
                                                                   .164 whiff rate


                                                                   75-149 swings


Pitcher Whiff Rate
1 Vinnie Pestano .513
2 Antonio Bastardo .346
3 Tyler Clippard .338
4 Michael Dunn .322
5 Koji Uehara .320

 

                                                                 150+ swings
Rank Pitcher Whiff Rate
1 Brandon Morrow .273
2 Ernesto Frieri .270
3 Brandon Beachy .249
4 David Price .247
5 Michael Pineda .213

 

                                                             SLIDERS 
                                                            .319 whiff rate


                                                             75+ swings

Rank Pitcher Whiff Rate
1 Mat Latos .489
2 Matt Garza .479
3 Jhoulys Chacin .440
4 Ervin Santana .424
5 Daniel Hudson .423


                                                                        40-74 swings

Rank Pitcher Whiff Rate
1 Al Alburquerque .580
2 Ramon Ramirez .565
3 Sergio Romo .500
4 Aaron Crow .488
5 Joba Chamberlain .483

 

                                                                    CHANGEUPS

                                                                   .297 whiff rate

                                                                    75+ swings
Rank Pitcher Whiff Rate
1 Cole Hamels .529
2 Francisco Liriano .474
3 Edinson Volquez .471
4 Ricky Romero .464
5 Jaime Garcia .456

 

                                                           40-74 swings
Rank Pitcher Whiff Rate
1 Ryan Madson .575
2 Aaron Heilman .535
3 Tim Lincecum .515
4 Joaquin Benoit .449
5 Joe Blanton .390

 

                                                              CURVEBALLS
                                                             .280 whiff rate

 

                                                               75+ swings
Rank Pitcher Whiff Rate
1 A.J. Burnett .409
2 Yovani Gallardo .322
3 Gio Gonzalez .317
4 Chris Carpenter .313
5 James Shields .312

 

                                                                         40-74 swings
Rank Pitcher Whiff Rate
1 Jose Veras .511
2 Sean Marshall .440
3 Roy Halladay .439
4 Jonathan Sanchez .414
5 Mark Melancon .404

 


No tables for cutters (.214 average) and splitters (.324) due to classification issues/not enough pitchers throwing them consistently.  Jeff Samardzija (.391) and Chris Carpenter (.358) have the best cutter whiff rates of the two groups.  For splitters, Koji Uehara (.418) and Jonathan Sanchez (.384) top the lists.

 

A few things that I found interesting:

 

  • Once again, Cole Hamels's changeup is the best pitch from a qualified starter.  Last year, it led the league with a rate of 48%.
  • Despite not having overwhelming velocity, Tyler Clippard is back to his fastball dominance from last year.  His changeup is also great at missing bats (.367), so he's basically a strikeout demon any way you look at it.
  • Speaking of dominant fastballs, uh, Vinnie Pestano!  That's not a misprint - Pestano's four-seam fastball (he also throws a heavy sinker) has been thrown 78 times, and batters have missed on 40 of those swings.  Just to outline how ridiculous this number is for a fastball, I kept lowering the minimum number of swings and didn't find another rate as high as 40% until I had reached 15 swings (that number belonged to Mike Adams as of Sunday's games).  
  • Mat Latos is struggling somewhat this season, but his slider is better than it was last year (43%).  
What caught your eye here?

PITCHf/x data are from MLB Advanced Media and here are courtesy of Joe Lefkowitz's tool.