Interpreting Pitching Stats from 2010


#1

In preparation for the upcoming varsity baseball season, I’ve been reviewing our pitching staff’s 2010 stats. I was not part of the program in 2010, but am just trying to get a feel for the kids. Anything pop out?

Over the course of 21 games the varsity pitching staff threw 2636 pitches.
1605 were strikes
1031 were balls.
64% were strikes

In that same period of time we faced 772 hitters.
We threw a first pitch strike 58%
Hitters avg’d 3.41 pitches per at bat.

Opposing Leadoff hitters:
Reached base successfully 73 times out of 173.33 innings. 42% of the time over the course of the season the opponent reached base to start the inning.

Here is a breakdown of the 73
40 were by hits
17 by BB/HBP
16 by errors

Of the 17 BB/HBP 8 scored.
Of the 40 hits 24 scored.
Of the 16 errors 8 scored.

So 55% of the time a runner reached base to start an inning he scored.


#2

I think 58% first-pitch strikes might be too low. I don’t have the stats at hand right now to back this up quantitatively but I think that for most levels of baseball, considering all of the possible pitch counts, the batting average for balls put into play on 0-0 is the lowest BA, or very close to it, of all of them.

If true, that suggests that hitters usually need to look at the first pitch in a typical AB. If that first pitch is usually a strike then the pitcher is usually “pitching ahead”…generally a good thing.


#3

[quote=“Steven Ellis”]Anything pop out?
[/b]Hitters avg’d 3.41 pitches per at bat.[/quote]

To me, 3.41 pitches per at bat sound pretty good.
Averaging 9-12 pitches per inning isn’t that bad.
What I’ve been told is that pitchers should try to keep their number of pitches in an inning under 12.


#4

[quote=“Steven Ellis”]In preparation for the upcoming varsity baseball season, I’ve been reviewing our pitching staff’s 2010 stats. I was not part of the program in 2010, but am just trying to get a feel for the kids. Anything pop out?

Over the course of 21 games the varsity pitching staff threw 2636 pitches.
1605 were strikes
1031 were balls.
64% were strikes[/quote]

That’s a tremendous strike percentage. I’d be real careful about messing with anything that would affect it much at all. Of course, it could be that somehow the pitches weren’t being correctly counted, but that’s easy enough to verify.

[quote]In that same period of time we faced 772 hitters.
We threw a first pitch strike 58%
Hitters avg’d 3.41 pitches per at bat. [/quote]

That’s almost 38 batters per game. That sure seems like a very very high number of ABs per game.

The FPS is pretty much normal, and the number of pitches per batter seems pretty good too. I’m just wondering how the additional 17+ batters more than the minimum per game were spread around. That’s an average of more than 2 runners per inning, and that’s scary.

[quote]Opposing Leadoff hitters:
Reached base successfully 73 times out of 173.33 innings. 42% of the time over the course of the season the opponent reached base to start the inning.

Here is a breakdown of the 73
40 were by hits
17 by BB/HBP
16 by errors

Of the 17 BB/HBP 8 scored.
Of the 40 hits 24 scored.
Of the 16 errors 8 scored.

So 55% of the time a runner reached base to start an inning he scored.[/quote]

The 55% seems to be average. I can’t say for sure about the normal of the different categories, but from what I can see, they seem pretty average as well.

I can’t tell without being there to witness the person who scored those games, but assuming s/he did a good job of judging hits/errors, and without having access to quite a few other metrics, I’m gonna guess your team would make its biggest gains by working on defense. Here’s my reasoning: if the team averages well over 2 runners per inning, the very last thing they want to do is allow that 1st batter to get on, and the easiest way to help the pitchers is by helping the defense.

I’ve never looked at it for our guys, but my guess is the pitchers who do the best at keeping LO hitters off the bases, are the one’s who consistently force the hitters to swing at the ball early in the count, and of course that means throwing lots of strikes to stay away from 3 ball counts. In general, it also likely means fewer HBP’s because there’ll be less nibbling.

So how does one get the pitchers to do that? The only way I know, is to simply have them become much more aggressive about challenging the hitters. Since LO hitters are only batting .231 why not challenge them some more? Isn’t it better to have them get a hit or reach on an error earlier in the count, than to have them walk later on? At least if they put the ball in play, there’s some chance it gets turned into an out.

The trick is twofold. One is definitely to get the pitchers to have the challenging mindset. They’ll have to really believe they’re going to go right the hitters, and that they’ll win the battle. They’ll also have to be fully confident that if they do go after the hitter, they’re not gonna get jerked out of the game.

My personal opinion is, the best way to create the kind of mindset in a pitcher that he’s in control of the situation, is to allow him to determine the pitch and location he wants to use. Of course that means coaches get out of the calling pitches from the bench business, and I seriously doubt that’s gonna happen on a wide scale basis.:wink: But, there’s an alternative. In the preseason scrimmages and early games with no league implications, let the kids go! Give them the opportunity to screw up. If they prove they can’t handle the task, its easy enough to take over.

The other part of the trick is to determine whether or not the pitchers really do have the ability to hit spots with the precision you believe they can. FI, its pretty stupid to call for a FB low and inside if the chances that it might end up over the middle at the waist are pretty good. In order to make that determination, one has to make a real effort to find the truth.

[l]Assuming you have a video camera and a tripod, bring it with you to the bullpens. Assuming there’s room to set it up somewhere behind the pitchers where the catcher can be clearly seen, do that. Then zoom in until the catcher pretty much fills the frame.

Then have them throw their pen, making sure you speak loudly enough so the camera mic will pick it up, and announce where the pitch is intended to go, and say if you thought that spot was hit, and if it was missed, by how much. Do not look at the vid at the field!!!

Take it home, and when you have lots of time to look at it and study it, do that. When you do, make sure you have a tablet handy, and mark down how accurately each pitch type was thrown. FI, 2 seam FB attempt low away to RHB, missed 6” up and in. CU attempt middle and down, missed 1’ low. Curve, attempt high backdoor to RHB, missed 9” outside and low.

It shouldn’t be too difficult if you use the catcher’s mitt as a target. I suggest you have an asst or a friend “score” the pitches along with you.

I may be very wrong, but I suspect you’re gonna learn something about your pitchers that will help you a lot![/i]


#5

Steven, I am assuming that you are well aware of how to use a pitching chart. Do you keep charts on your pitchers and go over the charts after the appearance with both the pitcher and catcher? This might be a good way to track the progress of pitchers throughout the season this year, and it would give you the opportunity to find the weak points of each individual pitcher and work with him on it.


#6

CSO, I wouldn’t ask a lot of people this question, but you seem to be pretty calm and non-combative, so I’ll risk it. :wink:

The way I interpreted the original post, I saw a coach new to the position on this particular team trying to get a handle on players he wasn’t real familiar with based on their last year’s numbers, not asking for ways he could coach this upcoming season.

Be that as it may, the advice was sound, and having been a pitcher in pro ball, I have little doubt he’ll do that to at least some degree. But what I’m wondering is, do you have no faith in past stats for HS players and therefore believe they’re a waste of time trying to interpret, or is it that you didn’t see any stats he provided that you felt could tell anything worth knowing?


#7

CSO, I wouldn’t ask a lot of people this question, but you seem to be pretty calm and non-combative, so I’ll risk it. :wink:

The way I interpreted the original post, I saw a coach new to the position on this particular team trying to get a handle on players he wasn’t real familiar with based on their last year’s numbers, not asking for ways he could coach this upcoming season.

Be that as it may, the advice was sound, and having been a pitcher in pro ball, I have little doubt he’ll do that to at least some degree. But what I’m wondering is, do you have no faith in past stats for HS players and therefore believe they’re a waste of time trying to interpret, or is it that you didn’t see any stats he provided that you felt could tell anything worth knowing?[/quote]
SK, the stats that he provided us are sound to a degree, while stats at the HS may be greatly (or slightly) off of the true values, I simply feel that for each individual pitcher there is a more important aspect that need to be worked on.

Let’s say that Pitchers A, B, and C are the usual three pitchers that start, they are the good ones we like to use.

Pitcher A, he is the Ace. He has a hell of a fastball for high school, and he obtains this with a high leg lift, and has an average first strike % lying at 80%. Most people don’t get on base with him pitching, yet when they do, this could be where the most amount of stolen bases come from. Why? Well because of the high leg lift, it makes it easier for a runner to steal. With this being said, the runner can advance to scoring position very easily for this pitcher, and thus when a base runner gets on, he scores 70% of the time.

Pitcher B could have something different. He might be the middle throwing guy with a good fastball and some junk, he is the average player according to these stats, and nothing really changes.

Pitcher C however is your typical lefty son of a gun that throws a knuckleball, curveball, spit ball. Anything that makes it tough to get a hit. He works deep in the count, and thus there are more balls, he typically walks more batters, and also is slow to home plate.

Pitcher A you would need to find a way to make him quicker to home, it is simple.
Pitcher B, you have to read the stats and the find what you want to fix first.
Pitcher C, is a byproduct of his true nature as a pitcher, and the only emphasis you can have on him is just more strikes, and telling him to work quicker.

I may not have provided the most solid case, but I assume that you get the gist of what I am trying to say here. Simply put each pitcher may have something he needs to emphasis to them, as everyone has a strength and weakness.

Yet you are right, you can look at these stats and find some thing to work on for everybody. This obviously brings up the questions of how they compare to other teams in their school size, their league, and all of high school in general. Use these stats to find what weaknesses need to be worked on, but not only that, but make sure to use what the pitchers do best as a primary weapon as well.

You of all people do know however that there are outliers. Statistics can be great, but all it takes is one person to throw off a curve. Mark Twain once said, “There are lies, damn lies, and there are statistics.”

I don’t for one second think that I am a better coach or player than he is/was, I simply meant the post to be food for the thought.

Just don’t forget that each pitcher is a person, and within that person is a different pitcher. :wink:


#8

Prolly the most important part of your post was in the very 1st sentence, and I doubt a lot of people would have caught it. There are many more stats than those he provided, and without them, its really difficult for anyone to come to any kind of valid conclusion. But what I find interesting about things like this is, it gives me a much clearer picture of the person asking the question.

Its very clear to me that Steven is much more concerned with the little things that can help pitchers, rather than the gaudy things like K’s and ERA that capture the attention of most.

I do get what your meaning was, and its been something I’ve preached as long as I can remember. Pitchers are not all the same, and therefore shouldn’t be treated the same or told to do the same things. Each is unique, so while there are some things generally true for all, each has to be handled differently.

Here’s where things get very muddled. While I keep some very detailed stats for our players, not many teams do that. Most keep stats to some degree, such as the “old time” normal things, but very few do the kinds of stats that Steven posted for his team, and most of those that do don’t make it easy to find them. That makes any kind of “in depth” comparison with other players or teams difficult indeed.

It doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem comparing teams or players in a league because basically all of the teams will be playing teams of similar strength, but one really has to be careful. FI, comparing all D1 or the equivalent teams or players to at least a few of those teams here would provide very skewed results. Like even in the ML, there are very good and very bad teams throughout the leagues, but the “spread” in HS is much much further. What that does is make it much harder to compare players or teams.


#9

[quote=“scorekeeper”]Prolly the most important part of your post was in the very 1st sentence, and I doubt a lot of people would have caught it. There are many more stats than those he provided, and without them, its really difficult for anyone to come to any kind of valid conclusion. But what I find interesting about things like this is, it gives me a much clearer picture of the person asking the question.

Its very clear to me that Steven is much more concerned with the little things that can help pitchers, rather than the gaudy things like K’s and ERA that capture the attention of most.

I do get what your meaning was, and its been something I’ve preached as long as I can remember. Pitchers are not all the same, and therefore shouldn’t be treated the same or told to do the same things. Each is unique, so while there are some things generally true for all, each has to be handled differently.

Here’s where things get very muddled. While I keep some very detailed stats for our players, not many teams do that. Most keep stats to some degree, such as the “old time” normal things, but very few do the kinds of stats that Steven posted for his team, and most of those that do don’t make it easy to find them. That makes any kind of “in depth” comparison with other players or teams difficult indeed.

It doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem comparing teams or players in a league because basically all of the teams will be playing teams of similar strength, but one really has to be careful. FI, comparing all D1 or the equivalent teams or players to at least a few of those teams here would provide very skewed results. Like even in the ML, there are very good and very bad teams throughout the leagues, but the “spread” in HS is much much further. What that does is make it much harder to compare players or teams.[/quote]SK, you are right once again. He is looking at the little details of pitching stats and trying to see how to get a better feel for what the pitchers need to work on. If I were in his position I would be doing the exact same thing.

The little things are important. People take a look at the big things and think that is what wins game, and it can, but if you win the small battles each and every time, you will see that together they are a great contributor to winning the big things.

So we unfortunately are stuck with poor stats, not necessarily because of not trying, but a simple lack of resources. Once again, I am not saying Steven didn’t think of this, however I am saying that this is a factor to think about, as many coaches are posed with the same issues.

Comparisons can be both good and evil, it shows that there is a lot of room for growth for some people, and then others look and choose to settle for what they are. Make sure your pitchers compete is just my word of advice, but once again, you know that.


#10

I really don’t understand any new coach who would do anything else. Like my friend tells me over and over again, coaching is more about watching and understanding the various players, so when given a chance to offer advise, it would be what would most benefit that particular player. To one it might be his timing, for another it might be his leg kick, and to another, it might be something else.

Remember the old saying, Worry about the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves? To me this is much the same thing. Usually it will be that the team which best executes the most basic fundamentals, is the team that will come out ahead.

You bet! And there could be a variety of reasons. In my case, it took this coach a couple of years to fully realize all he had to do was ask if he wanted something, and I’d find a way to get it for him. He has to put up with a few of my “quirks”, but in essence if he thinks there’s something I can provide him and he asks, he’s gonna get it.

I think most volunteer scorers would do that as well. The problem though, is that not all scorers have a lot of experience doing the kinds of things that provide stats outside of the “normal” stuff. There’s also a problem that not all coaches have the kind of experience that allows them to understand there are stats outside of the “normal” ones that might help them, and a lot of it depends on their philosophies.

Its just a matter of experience. The more you have, the more you know what will help you accomplish what you believe is important. :wink:

As you might guess, I do a whole lot of lookin’ at the numbers. I look at ‘em every which way but loose too, but its very seldom I make judgments about the players. To me the numbers are simply telling me what’s taking place, no more and no less. But, because I look at them purely as numbers, many times those numbers make me look for reasons I’m seeing what I’m seeing, and that’s the part that I enjoy. It’s the search to find reason in chaos. :wink:

And anyone can do it, if they have the resources.