Edwards: What Statcast teaches us about pitchers and contact management

From Craig Edwards at FanGraphs on August 17, 2017:

While there are certain events (like strikeouts, walks, and home runs) over which a pitcher exerts more or less direct control, it seems pretty clear at this point that there are some pitchers who are better at managing contact than others. It’s also also seems clear that, if a pitcher can’t manage contact at all, he’s unlikely to reach or stay in the big leagues for any length of time.

Consider: since the conclusion of World War II, about 750 pitchers have recorded at least 1,000 innings; of those 750 or so, all but nine of them have conceded a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .310 or less. Even that group of nine is pretty concentrated, the middle two-thirds separated by .029 BABIP. The difference between the guy ranked 125 out of 751 and the guy ranked 625 out of 751 is just three hits out of 100 balls in play. Those three hits can add up over a long period of time, of course, but it still represents a rather small difference even between players with lengthy careers. For that reason, attempting to discern batted-ball skills among pitchers with just a few seasons of data is difficult. Thanks to the emergence of Statcast, however, we have some better tools than just plain BABIP to evaluate a pitcher’s ability to manage contact. Let’s take a look at what the more granular batted-ball data reveals.

Read the full article here: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/what-statcast-reveals-about-contact-management-as-a-pitcher-skill/

Originally published: August 18, 2017. Last Updated: August 18, 2017.