Sarris: Does a pitcher’s command age better than stuff?

From SABR member Eno Sarris at The Athletic on July 24, 2018, with mention of SABR member Matt Swartz:

A strike​ is a strike,​ no matter how you get it.​ That​ sounds like a truism​ you could​ hear from any​ grizzled​ baseball​​ veteran. But the beauty — and struggle — of baseball is that are very few subjects that are black and white. The further you dig into something you believe to be true, the more you tend to find nuance.

It is true that, in terms of predicting a pitcher’s strikeout rate, called and swinging strikes are about equal. Which is to say, if you’re projecting a pitcher’s strikeout rate, adding called and swinging strike rates doesn’t make your projections any better.

That’s what Matt Swartz found in 2010, and it’s stuck with me ever since. Swinging strikes are slightly more sticky year to year, but if neither really makes our projections more effective, why should we differentiate much between the two?

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Originally published: July 24, 2018. Last Updated: July 24, 2018.