We often hear swinging strike rate thrown around as a pitch-by-pitch based measure of a pitcher's "filth quotient," if not his overall effectiveness. However, I prefer to use what I call "good strike rate"--swinging strikes and called strikes--as a quick-and-dirty pitch-based measure. After all, called strikes are just as good as swinging strikes. You can calculate good strike rate from a Fangraphs spreadsheet as:
((Strikes/Pitches) - Swing%) + SwStr%
The metric has higher r2 values when predicting any overall effectiveness metric (ERA, FIP, xFIP, tERA, SIERA) than SwStr% does, sometimes more significantly than others. Of course, as the level of defense-independence ratches up, the metric has a higher r2 value, starting around .2 on ERA and moving up to .55 on SIERA.
I thought it'd be interesting to break things down a little more than simply reporting each A's pitcher's GoodStr%, and I went back through their Pitch F/X data (again, thanks to the awesome Baseball Savant database for this) and figured out the GoodStr% for each pitch type of the A's staff that's been thrown more than 50 times, to see which have been most effective in this fashion (Before anyone asks, yes, I did check the pitch categorizations on each pitch and revised them when necessary). And without further ado, here are the results:
A few thoughts:
- Largely, I think this is consistent with what we'd expect. Jarrod Parker throws the best changeup on the A's. Sean Doolittle throws the best fastball on the A's. Ryan Cook and Pat Neshek have filthy sliders. And so on.
- Dan Straily's slider being the best pitch on the staff is a bit of a surprise. His changeup is also one of the worst. Remember when he came up last year and the pitches were billed as being about the same quality? It doesn't seem that that's the way things have shaken out so far in his young career. It is refreshing to see him at the top of the list with something though, given how up-and-down he's been at times.
- And look at Jesse Chavez's breaking ball at #2! He's also got the cutter well above 30%. Not bad for a guy with a career -1.4 WAR entering this season. Perhaps he can stick after all.
- The top of the list is filled with offspeed pitches--Chavez's cutter is the first "fastball" that appears, at #8, and Doolittle's heater is the first true "#1" that shows up, at #11. The bottom nine spots on the list are taken by some sort of fastball or changeup. Of course, fastballs usually generate fewer swinging strikes than offspeed offerings, but I would've thought they'd generate enough called strikes to largely, if not completely, make up for it. It doesn't seem so here, though perhaps that's a quirk of an Oakland pitching staff that doesn't have a lot of true fireballers.
- Doolittle and Balfour are mostly two-pitch guys, and both of their offerings are well in the upper half. No wonder they're such a good bullpen tandem.
- A lot of people thought A.J. Griffin's curve would be higher on the list, but all of his four pitches cluster tightly together in the middle of the list. Heck, Tommy Milone's curve is almost as effective as Griffin's, despite being a much less impressive pitch to the eye. That's probably one of the bigger surprises.
- Last week, I looked at Ryan Cook and offered some clear reasons why his sinker nearly takes the bottom spot here.
- Speaking of the bottom spot, poor Dan Otero. He's only got one pitch that qualifies for the list, and it's easily the worst. Not exactly the best sign going forward, though maybe his offspeed stuff makes up for it?
- Anyone else surprised Bartolo Colon's fastball grades out so badly here? The sinker's okay, but it's interestingly the slider that's his most effective pitch by this metric. Of course, that's likely just the element of surprise playing (like with Doolittle's slider), but still. Milone has a better fastball and sinker than Colon and a curve almost as good as Griffin's? That's surprising. Of course, Colon's style of dominance is so unique that maybe it's just an outlier when you assess pitches in this fashion.
- Unlike Doolittle's slider and Colon's slider, Parker's change and Straily's slider grade out tremendously in spite of some pretty heavy usage, making them stand out all the more prominently.
- Both of Parker's fastballs grade out quite poorly. It seems the offspeed stuff is the only thing keeping him running at a moderately successful rate this year.
- Credit Milone for finding a way to get all five of his pitches above 25% here. Obviously, none of them have much eye-test punch, so turning them each into workable-to-good offerings is a pretty impressive feat.
- Maybe Jerry Blevins should look to that big curve more when he goes offspeed. It's been way better than the change or slider, and it really does pass the eye test, doesn't it?