Neyer: What we talk about when we talk about ground-ball pitchers

From SABR member Rob Neyer at Baseball Nation on March 27, 2012:

As I’ve mentioned at least three or a hundred times already, recently I was lucky enough to engage Brandon McCarthy in a public discussion, under the auspices of the first SABR Analytics Conference (excerpts and audio here). And the next day, I was part of a panel that included FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron. At one point, I asked Cameron a fundamental question that, oddly (or inexcusably), had never occurred to me before: What is a ground-ball pitcher?

Dave answered and he answered well. But I wasn’t really paying attention. I rarely am. So let’s work through it together, just me and you …

We know, roughly speaking, what a power hitter is. You hit 30 homers and you’re a power hitter.

We know, roughly speaking, what a power pitcher is. You strike out eight or nine batters per nine innings and you’re a power pitcher.

We know what a lead-off man looks like, and a good-field/no-hit shortstop. We know a crafty left-hander when we see one (raise your hand, Jamie Moyer). We know a junk-baller, and a pure hitter. We see those types of players in our minds.

Or, let me rephrase … we see the statistics of those players in our mind’s eye. Sure, we have images, too. But we can attach numbers to those images. It occurred to me that I didn’t know which numbers go with ground-ball pitchers.

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Originally published: March 27, 2012. Last Updated: March 27, 2012.