Strike Percentage Expectations?


#1

My son is 9 y.o.(will be 10 in 2 mos.). What percentage of strikes would you expect at his age. He throws a fastball avg. of 52 mph-timed by a clock last week.


#2

I don’t reallly have an idea. but, come on 9 years old is young you shouldnt be worrying about is strike percentage. i susspose it would be a round over 50%. i remember on my team we had a hard time finding people who could throw strikes. so it was just me and this other kid.if he throws over 50 thats pretty good.

do you mean actual pitches in the strike zone or are you counting strikes swinging even though it was defiantly a ball


#3

Dodgerfan3, I was curious to hear from others who have been there with this age group. When I refer to strikes I mean pitches that are in the zone or close/hittable balls. I have just come off a year of travel ball with my son and I was very impressed with the quality of pitching at the 9u/10u level.


#4

Expect? That usually means there’s some way to compute the “average” strike percentage. Here’s the bad news. The lower the level, the worse the record keeping, and even if the record keeping were up to MLB standards, trying to compute an average from the huge range of skills in the lower levels, “average” still wouldn’t mean a great deal.

But, don’t let that bother you, because you keeping meticulous records would give you a very good basis to judge your son. IOW, you’ll always know what his “average” strike percentage is at any point in time, so you’ll always be able to compare any performance or group of performances to his average.

That means you’ll be able to chart his progress. I would expect at that age, he’d show a slow but steady improvement up to the time he went to a larger field. I assume that right now he’s throwing on a 46/60 field, and chances are his next field size will be 54/80. When he changes field sizes, its completely natural for pitchers to look as though their control suffers, and by pure numbers, it does.

But in reality, his control may well not have changed, but rather what was a strike on the small field, now misses the strike zone. Here’s how it works. Let’s say a pitcher throws a ball from 46’ that barely touches the strike zone on the side or the bottom. Add 8’ to the distance, and the ball will have dropped out of the strike zone simply because gravity had more time to work on it. Also, the additional 8’ will have allowed the ball to move away from the strike zone as well. The result it, even though everything was done exactly the same, the ball will reach the plate in a different position.

What will happen though, is that with improved skills and practice at the new distance, a pitcher will generally regain his ability to throw strikes, and thus usually regain his previous strike percentage. Then the same thing will happen when moving to the 60/90 field. What ends up happening, is that the pitchers have to gain some velocity to keep the ball from falling out of the strike zone, and their horizontal precision must improve as well.

While most pitchers end up being ok, some never do attain the same level of precision, and sooner or later it will cause them to be culled from the group or have to develop something else to make up for it.


#5

Two years ago I reviewed data from LL World Series regional playoff games and came to the conclusion that a skilled 12 y/o pitcher in our region can be expected to throw just over 60% strikes under game conditions.

Based on what I have seen in LL majors and minors games around here, I think it could be adjusted slightly for age, say 55% for 11 year olds and 50% for 10 year olds.

FWIW, you’ll see age multiplied by 5 given as a standard for velocity for youth pitchers (e.g., an above average 11 y.o. will throw 55 mph and an above average 12 y.o. will throw 60 mph) I think it is a good rule of thumb for stike percentage, as well (e.g., 11 y.o. should be able to throw 55% strikes in game conditions, a 12 y.o. should be able to throw 60% strikes).


#6

Doublebag, I think you’re looking for a rule of thumb that doesn’t exist. There’s way too many variables at that that age, one being that a lot of the poorer hitters will literally swing at anything, or swing at absolutely nothing.

For kids that age, I honestly hate to see them compared to some portion of the group, but rather simply just be judged as to whether they’re improving or not, and that can be done by just looking at their own numbers.


#7

Doublebag, I like that analogy. As Scorekeeper said it may not be accurate. But before the season it helps. The main concern I have is that as my son’s speed has increased, a greater number of batters are not swinging or freezing up.


#8

Some youth league umpires will call a tighter zone for a faster pitcher, too. Then it gets real tough. :?

Scorekeeper, I agree that 10 (typical LL minors age) is young to be keeping close track of this stuff, but 60 mph and 60% in-game strikes by 12 y.o. is a realistic goal.


#9

NCCY
My son turned 10 in August and has pitched the past two years. Our top pitchers will throw 56-58% strikes, and others in the low 50%
This is based off actual game pitching records, you will occasionally have a kid swing at a bad pitch that gets counted as a strike but hey, thats baseball and thats the way MLB keeps records.
I also think that game pressure percentages are what count. We have one pitcher that can hit the glove every time during bullpen sessions but does not do well with a batter at the plate.
I have also found that the higher velocity pitchers have to throw more strikes than the slower pitchers. My top two pitchers throw 55-59mph and a lot of batters will not swing and just hope for a walk. If one of my slower pitchers can get it close to the plate they can draw a swing out of most batters.


#10

In major league circles that is known as “throwing pitches that look like strikes”. My pitching coach of long ago—he was an active major league pitcher—used to do that a lot, and batters would be fooled by it and go after it and miss by a mile or hit a weak grounder to an infielder or even back to the box.
If in Little League you have a couple of pitchers who can do this—throw pitches that look like strikes—they are definitely ahead of the game and the batters. Even umpires, at whatever level, who are used to calling a tight strike zone, will often give the pitcher the strike. Frankly, I don’t think there’s any real point to figuring out percentages or averages of strike calls with pitchers under 12, so why not simply rejoice in every strike, called or swinging, you get from them? There’s time enough to start doing that math. :slight_smile:


#11

I don’t think any age is too young to keep close track of it, but I want to be very very clear that the reason for tracking it makes all the difference in the world. Using stats to compare players at that age is just ridiculous. What does it matter if Billy has a 61% strike percentage and Tommy has only 58%? It literally has no meaning.

But, if Billy was at 61% at the end of last season and shows maintains that or general improvement this season, that’s fine. But if Tommy was 58% last season and is not maintaining that or generally dropping this season, it might be a reason to be concerned.

Stats are good for two things. Measuring one’s performance against himself, or measuring one’s performance against one’s peers. What conceivable reason could the there be for worrying about how players perform relative to their peers at 10YO? Now at 16 or 17, its quite conceivable that will change, but until there’s something like a contract, a scholarship, or even making the HSV team at stake, other than for Dad’s feeling good and bragging rights, its really immaterial.

And, 60% strike percentage is a very reasonable goal for a 12YO. My boy was at 67% at that age, and we had another boy on the team at 64, so its not at all unreasonable. :wink:


#12

Well, two years ago, when my son was 10, he pitched in four 9-10 Little League All Star games and had some success. That summer he took an interest in pitching and I thought I could try and help him improve. Since I had no understanding of what a “good” 10 y.o. pitcher was, I had no real way to compare his performance to other 10 year olds or to measure his improvement. In your words, I couldn’t measure his performance against himself or his peers because I had nowhere to start.

I actually came here to LTP to find some help. My first post at LTP in July 2008 was titled “Realistic Expectations?” At the end of the post, I stated, "Is it reasonable to expect [my son] could throw 90% strikes consistently when we are practicing? I have no clue what to expect. Thanks! " Obviously, I was pretty clueless. Maybe I still am.

Those who replied were very helpful and indicated that 50-60% strikes was a good ratio for a 10 y.o. I later found the Little League data I mentioned earlier (I think they were box scores from the New England and Mid Atlantic region games) and with a calculator and pencil I did the math. From what I could figure, those pitchers averaged just over 60% strikes against some of the region’s best hitters in pressure conditions. I figured that most of these boys probably were probably 12, though some might be 11 and a few might be 13. For my purposes, it confirmed what I was told here at LTP.

Based on other information that folks had shared, I came up with a practice plan of throwing three sets of 15 pitches once or twice a week, trying to throw at least 9 strikes (the goal of 60% strikes). Two years later (now 12 y.o.) we still use this format but the goals have gotten higher both in terms of number of strikes and number of sets. Whereas 9 strikes out of 15 was the goal two years ago, it was the starting point when we started throwing again this winter. He can also throw 7 sets of 15 pitches once a week without any discomfort. His present goal (and it is his goal, not mine) is to throw 7 sets of 15 pitches (105 pitches) a week and average 13 strikes out of 15 (87%). I don’t know if he will get there by April, but he’s making progress every week.

I can report that my son’s control has improved signficantly using this approach. It really helps him focus in practice, he can reliably measure his his performance, and he enjoys trying to get that extra strike across the plate. Last year he had a great time playing Majors baseball and some super success on the mound. Baseball is his favorite sport and he takes great pride in his pitching ability. I hope your son does as well. All of this being said, I’ve never kept track of my son’s in-game strike percentage and I won’t this coming season. You are right that it matters not that 10 y.o Billy has a 61% strike percentage or that Tommy is at 58%. Nor, in my opinion, does it matter at 12.


#13

Doublebag,

Yes, you were clueless, but that’s true for everyone when they 1st get started in youth baseball. Even those you’d think should know, ex-pros or those who played at high levels, really don’t because there’s such a huge difference from the highest levels to the lowest.

But even experienced folks like myself should be real careful about just throwing numbers out there as “average” or “normal”. The reason is, all most people can really say for sure is what their experience finds true, not everyone’s experience, but everyone’s experience is what it takes to even make a guess at what’s “normal” or “average”.

Then you have to factor in that most people participating in forums such as this one, aren’t gonna be the parents or coaches of the run-of-the-mill player. In my case, my son was an extremely successful pitcher from 10 thru college, so everything I look at will of course be compared to him. It’s the same for the kids I score for now, and that’s why I’m very careful to show ALL the players, warts and all, so as not to give the wrong impression of what “normal” or “average” is.

You found out how difficult it was to get information on younger kids when you had to resort to looking for numbers in the paper. But while it gave you something to shoot for, I hope you realize those numbers can in no way be considered “average” or “normal”. Those are supposedly the very best players in their leagues, which by definition means they are far above “average” or “normal”.

This is just a personal opinion, but I’ll state it FWIW. The level of competition should never color one’s perception as to the strike percentage a pitcher should throw. In fact, if anything a pitcher’s strike percentage probably should be better against better competition to keep from falling behind hitters, which is almost always not a good thing to do.

I won’t comment on your/his practice plan. To me it isn’t nearly as important what he does, as it is that he does it with purpose. Well, I will make a small comment. To me, throwing 100 pitches or more a week in the winter just isn’t necessary. But that’s only MO.

I think your approach and attitude in general, are very sound. I would make this suggestion however. Do keep track of his in game numbers. Its unlikely they’ll approach his practice numbers, but that’s only natural.

You don’t have to track everyone’s numbers, but you should certainly track his. The reason is, he may well improve or reach his goals in practice, but unless it somehow translates to games, it doesn’t do him any good. :wink:


#14

[quote=“scorekeeper”]

This is just a personal opinion, but I’ll state it FWIW. The level of competition should never color one’s perception as to the strike percentage a pitcher should throw. In fact, if anything a pitcher’s strike percentage probably should be better against better competition to keep from falling behind hitters, which is almost always not a good thing to do. [/quote]

Ditto.

Again, ditto. We’re enjoying the nice CA weather and went to the LL field to threw the baseball for the first time since October. It felt wonderful to be out with my sons again and talking about Lincecum, Cain, Wilson, Bumgarner, Sanchez, Lee, Halladay, etc. My youngest (now 11) let a few fly hard, and his ball moved with the same action as last year but with greater velocity and ease. Being away from baseball for three months did not hurt him in any manner.

[quote=“scorekeeper”]
I think your approach and attitude in general, are very sound. I would make this suggestion however. Do keep track of his in game numbers. Its unlikely they’ll approach his practice numbers, but that’s only natural. [/quote]

I remind my son what you do in practice you’ll do in a game. In basketball, if he sits outside the 3-point line and throws up bricks, he’ll have problems in the game hitting the open 10-footers, or making the uncontested layup. But if he takes seriously in practice the short shooting drills and the layup drills, when game time comes, he’ll be ready to make those shots in the game. I think it’s the same for pitching. If he disciplines himself to hit his spots during BP sessions, then in the game, when he needs one on the outside corner he’ll be able to withdraw from his practices and get the corner. If he throws BP without any purpose or reason, then he’ll have nothing to withdraw from in pressure game situation.