It is the greatest moment in the game, the opponent’s best bat is on the plate and the thrower has to make his best offer. What is he throwing? Throwers and catchers have folders full of scouting reports that give them that answer. But with a handful of the best in baseball
It is the greatest moment in the game, the opponent’s best bat is on the plate and the thrower has to make his best offer. What is he throwing?
Throwers and catchers have folders full of scouting reports that give them that answer. But with a handful of the best baseball boppers, there really isn’t a great choice.
Who is in this group? There are dozens of ways to pick the best all-around baseball players, but for this exercise MLB.com comes in lead data architect Tom Tango Run the value formula to find the real cream of the crop. This formula (explained here) evaluates the decisions and results of the clubs on a pitch-by-pitch basis, taking into account the running expectations from the number of outs in the inning, the number of balls / strikes and the runners on the basis.
Today we’re going to focus on Baseball Savant’s pitch arsenal ranking, which uses this formula to answer the question:
When it comes to pitch guys who don’t have hitters any Holes in their game?
In other words, which stars have shown they can handle any pitch – from fastballs to breaking balls to making changes – without a drop off? There are fastball hunters and there are those who love the “junk” places. However, when the data was collected at the beginning of the 2019 season, a group of just four players – a current “Mount Rushmore” – turned out to be the ones who seem to love everything. Out of a group of 134 qualified batters who rated at least five runs (+5) above average against at least two main types (fastballs with four seams, sinkers, cutters and sliders, curveballs, exchanges and splinters), this quartet was the only ones who did so well against all five.
As for the identity of these four bolts? We think you will recognize them.
Juan Soto, national
+15 Runs against curveballs
+15 Changes / splinters
+14 against four-seamen
+13 Slider / cutter
+12 against boards
You didn’t have to come here to learn that Soto with the bat is historically special. It might even be better than any of us realize. But here’s another way to highlight the magical Childish Bambino: he’s the only batsman in the last two seasons to have scored at least 10 runs above average for each pitch type.
Much has to do with Soto’s supernatural eyes, of course. Last year, Soto, Freddie Freeman, and Marcell Ozuna were the only players who scored at least five runs above average in all four regions of the Statcast Strike Zone (their “heart,” shadow areas, pursuit zone and non-player waste area) – competitive pitches). But there is more: In 2020, Soto did not release his bat for a single shot in this waste zone. In 19, Soto swung a total of five times, or just two percent, of the pitches he saw in that area.
So there is Soto’s elite pitch recognition and just the fact that he is still developing into his power. Especially against sliders, Soto’s hit rate increased from 34.8 percent (and a running value of -1) in 2019 to 63.8 percent (+6 running value) in 20.
Mike Trout, angel
+24 runs against boards
+23 against four-seamen
+11 Slider / cutter
+11 Changes / splinters
+8 against curveballs
Do you remember when there was a “book” about trout? “Throw him high fastballs” was the thought after winning his first American League MVP award in 2014. he closed that hole within months. He was known to take first place, then just got more aggressive and attacked early.
One thing has always been clear: you can’t throw anything near Trout’s knees and expect to get away with it. So it’s not surprising that he crushes Sinker and changes that Drop the “cookie jar”. Of course, you don’t overwhelm him with a straight four-seater either.
Perhaps the only pitches that Trout had “problems” in 2020 were sliders (35 percent strike rate, 29 percent hit rate, +1 running value), but that’s probably a mirage. Forelle has not done worse than +8 against Slider in a full season since ’17.
Anthony Rendon, angel
+33 runs against boards
+13 against four-seamen
+12 Slider / cutter
+10 against curveballs
+5 Changes / splinters
We touched on that last year, but don’t throw Rendon into a sinker. He finished seven off-field runs against Sinker in 2019 (Trout was runner-up), and his +27 run total was tied for the second best performance of the year by any batsman against any pitch type.
Rendon was again strong against Sinker (+6) in 2020, but the pitch that went surprisingly well against him was the classic four-seater (-4), which kept Rendon at a slugging percentage of 0.189. But Rendon finished a scorching +17 against four-sailors (.600 slugging percentage) and +21 against them in ’17 (.621) in 2019. So, as with Trout, we brave every pitcher to see if these “fights” continue beyond a 60-game trial.
Numbers like these are why Rendon and Soto drove the Nationals to a World Cup, why the Angels paid Rendon $ 245 million to move west, and why the Halos – with Trout, Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani – need to find a way to get around claim your lineup is this stacked.
Alex Bregman, Astros
+19 Runs against four-seamen
+10 against boards
+9 against curveballs
+6 Changes / splinters
+5 Slider / cutter
Bregman was far from the only MLB star struggling with the weird atmosphere and format of 2020, but he struggled (0.242 average, six homers, 116 OPS +) – at least by his high standards . Much of these sturdy run totals came from Bregman’s 19 campaign when he gave Trout a solid run for AL MVP.
Sliders were a thorn in Bregman’s side last year when he hit them with a gentle hit rate of 26.3 percent .107 (-2 run value). But he didn’t see more sliders than usual on an rate-based basis, and he handled that pitch in 2019 (+9) and hit it in 18 (+16). Throwers could attack Bregman early and often with sliders to start this season, but the safe bet would be that the Astro’s cerebral and overconscious star adjusts quickly.
Even in a bad year, Bregman ended up in the top 10 percent of hitters for whiff rate and chase rate. These basic skills are a great way to ensure you never get stuck on a funk for long.
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