Sarris: What’s more important for a pitcher, command or stuff?

From SABR member Eno Sarris at The Athletic on March 4, 2020:

It’s a backfield, barstool argument that has gone on for years: What’s more important, stuff or command? What matter more: sharp, hard pitches with plenty of bend, or the ability to put those pitches in the right places?

Early on, we didn’t quite have the statistics to answer the question. We could look at things like strikeout rate and walk rate, but then we’d find that combining the two provided us with perhaps the best in-season estimate of a pitcher’s talent. And, anyway, neither of those statistics cleanly captures the skills we’re talking about. It takes command to get strikes, and you can have a low walk rate without command, for example.

But statistics have improved, and we’ve got a couple of new ones that might finally capture command and stuff separately. And if that’s true, we might be able to settle this argument.

From STATS Perform, we have Command+. In order to produce a number that hopes to assess a pitcher’s ability to do exactly with his pitches as he intends to do, STATS’ stringers at baseball games look at the catcher’s signs, the catcher’s target, the pitcher’s heat maps, and the hitter’s heat maps. They’ll then assign a target for that pitch and consider how far from that target the pitch ended up.


Read the full article here (subscription required):

Originally published: March 4, 2020. Last Updated: March 4, 2020.