Dewan: Throwing strikes

From SABR member John Dewan at ACTA Sports on January 20, 2014:

Several of 2013’s superlative pitching performances came from pitchers who had exceptional control. Koji Uehara was fourth in line to be the Red Sox closer when the year started, but he ended up with the best ERA (1.09) of all qualified relievers. He had just seven unintentional walks in 74.1 innings. Another example is Adam Wainwright. He has always been a great pitcher, but he cut his ERA by a full run from 2012 to 2013 as he reduced his walks per nine from 2.4 to 1.3. Bartolo Colon had a 2.65 ERA, the sixth-best of qualified starters. That was despite his 5.5 strikeouts per nine, sixth-lowest of the group. Colon issued just 29 walks in 190.1 innings.

Colon may be the most fascinating case. In his prime, Colon was an elite pitcher with tremendous stuff. Now, he is in his 40s and averages less than 90 mph on his fastball. However, rather than shy away from his diminished fastball, Colon has relied on the pitch more and more. In 2013, he threw it 86 percent of the time. Despite the frequency and slowness of the pitch, Colon enjoyed the best ERA of his career.

Colon is an extreme case of a pitcher who relies entirely on control—he threw more than 50 percent of his pitches in the strike zone in 2013—and it works for him. How important is control overall and how well does it correlate with performance?

Read the full article here:

Originally published: January 20, 2014. Last Updated: January 20, 2014.