WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE

 

When I analyze a starting pitcher, one of the first things I look for is the difference in velocity from the highest to lowest velocity pitch in his repertoire.

Obviously, command of the strike-zone, different types of pitches, and movement (especially late-life) are key, but in my opinion .. the overall variance in speed is a huge factor, and for the most part many times overlooked by the Yankees.

What I have noticed is that almost all elite starters have a difference of at least 13 mph (some as much as 20 mph) difference from their FB to slowest off-speed. Also, the slowest pitch is many times in the low 80’s or even as slow as 70 mph.

Here are some examples (FanGraphs )

STEPHEN STRASBURG :

Career stats show FB avg 95.1 mph – CB 81.2 mph . A difference of 13.9 mph

Season Team FB% SL% CT% CB% CH% SF% KN% XX%
2010 Nationals 57.8% (97.3) 25.5% (82.4) 16.7% (89.7) 1.1%
2011 Nationals 73.4% (95.8) 13.5% (79.5) 13.1% (89.1) 0.3%
2012 Nationals 64.9% (95.7) 19.0% (80.6) 16.1% (88.8) 0.0%
2013 Nationals 61.0% (95.3) 22.9% (80.0) 16.1% (88.1) 0.2%
2014 Nationals 60.9% (94.8) 1.4% (86.4) 17.2% (79.9) 20.5% (88.2) 0.4%
2015 Nationals 63.4% (95.4) 0.5% (89.6) 22.4% (81.9) 13.7% (88.4) 0.1%
2016 Nationals 57.2% (94.9) 17.1% (89.2) 12.6% (81.5) 13.1% (88.8) 0.2%
2017 Nationals 51.9% (95.6) 6.8% (90.2) 22.5% (82.4) 18.9% (88.7) 0.7%
2018 Nationals 51.9% (94.5) 8.6% (87.7) 19.6% (81.7) 19.9% (88.1) 0.3%
2019 Nationals 48.3% (93.9) 0.4% (87.9) 30.6% (81.3) 20.7% (87.8) 0.5%
Total – – – 57.4% (95.1) 3.7% (88.9) 21.3% (81.2) 17.6% (88.4) 0.3%

 

GERRIT COLE :

When you look at Cole’s career pitch types you see his FB averaged 96.1 , and his Curve Ball career avg. is 82.3 mph. That’s a difference of 13.8. It is interesting to note that Gerrit’s FB velocity went up when he got to Houston, where he took his game to another level. In 2019 his FB avg. was 97.2 mph and his slowest off-speed pitch was his curve ball at 82.6. That creates a speed differential of 14.6 mph.

Season Team FB% SL% CT% CB% CH% SF% KN% XX%
2013 Pirates 64.8% (96.1) 15.0% (89.1) 12.4% (83.4) 7.8% (88.0) 0.1%
2014 Pirates 66.7% (95.5) 12.1% (86.5) 16.2% (83.7) 5.0% (86.8) 0.2%
2015 Pirates 67.1% (95.6) 21.2% (87.1) 8.0% (81.7) 3.6% (88.2) 0.2%
2016 Pirates 66.7% (95.2) 17.9% (87.7) 10.0% (81.1) 5.4% (88.1) 0.6%
2017 Pirates 60.1% (96.0) 17.2% (88.3) 12.2% (80.4) 10.5% (88.7) 0.2%
2018 Astros 56.3% (96.6) 19.9% (88.8) 19.3% (82.5) 4.5% (87.8)
2019 Astros 54.0% (97.2) 23.2% (89.3) 15.4% (82.6) 7.4% (88.6)
Total – – – 61.4% (96.1) 18.7% (88.2) 13.5% (82.3) 6.4% (88.2) 0.1%

 

Zack Greinke: Zack is an excellent example.His career speed differential is 19.0 mph! Greinke’s FB avg. velocity id 91.9 mph, his slowest velocity pitch is his curve ball at a career average 72.9 mph. And check out his 2019 velocity for his curve … 70.2 mph !!

Season Team FB% SL% CT% CB% CH% SF% KN% XX%
2004 Royals 56.1% (89.1) 10.2% (82.6) 3.0% (85.6) 18.4% (70.6) 12.2% (78.6) 9.2%
2005 Royals 62.8% (89.8) 10.2% (81.8) 0.7% (85.6) 15.4% (72.0) 11.0% (80.9) 6.7%
2006 Royals 49.4% (92.8) 28.9% (87.0) 8.4% (77.6) 13.3% (85.4) 11.7%
2007 Royals 66.2% (94.0) 19.1% (84.7) 7.5% (77.1) 7.2% (84.0) 2.2%
2008 Royals 61.5% (93.3) 18.8% (85.3) 12.0% (74.4) 7.7% (82.0) 1.5%
2009 Royals 59.4% (93.7) 20.2% (86.1) 14.3% (73.8) 6.1% (84.1) 1.5%
2010 Royals 60.7% (93.5) 15.5% (86.9) 10.7% (74.3) 13.0% (85.2) 1.2%
2011 Brewers 56.0% (92.5) 18.7% (84.5) 16.8% (73.1) 8.5% (84.9)
2012 2 Teams 52.6% (92.4) 13.3% (83.2) 10.7% (89.3) 16.7% (73.4) 6.6% (85.6) 0.1%
2013 Dodgers 55.1% (91.7) 2.7% (82.2) 17.1% (86.4) 12.9% (72.8) 12.2% (86.5) 0.2%
2014 Dodgers 53.8% (91.9) 19.4% (84.9) 10.4% (71.9) 16.5% (87.2) 0.2%
2015 Dodgers 50.7% (91.8) 19.3% (86.9) 9.1% (73.6) 20.9% (88.5) 0.1%
2016 Diamondbacks 48.2% (91.3) 20.6% (85.3) 10.4% (74.5) 20.8% (87.7) 0.4%
2017 Diamondbacks 48.2% (91.0) 22.6% (84.2) 13.3% (74.1) 15.8% (87.4)
2018 Diamondbacks 48.7% (89.6) 17.2% (83.4) 13.4% (70.5) 20.8% (86.6) 0.3%
2019 2 Teams 46.5% (90.0) 16.1% (83.7) 15.4% (70.2) 22.1% (87.3) 0.2%
Total – – – 54.9% (91.9) 16.4% (84.8) 2.1% (87.5) 13.1% (72.9) 13.5% (86.0) 1.4%

 

Chris Sale: Career average .. Fast Ball 93.6 – Slider 79.3 mph. Differential = 14.3 mph.

Season Team FB% SL% CT% CB% CH% SF% KN% XX%
2010 White Sox 62.8% (96.3) 29.7% (82.8) 7.4% (87.1) 0.5%
2011 White Sox 51.9% (95.3) 36.4% (82.1) 11.7% (86.8) 1.2%
2012 White Sox 60.1% (91.6) 26.2% (78.6) 13.7% (82.1) 0.6%
2013 White Sox 51.4% (93.1) 29.6% (78.5) 19.0% (82.8) 0.2%
2014 White Sox 52.9% (93.8) 18.4% (79.8) 28.6% (84.7) 0.2%
2015 White Sox 52.5% (94.5) 19.8% (78.9) 27.7% (85.8)
2016 White Sox 59.2% (92.8) 24.9% (78.6) 0.1% (75.0) 15.7% (85.8) 0.2%
2017 Red Sox 49.2% (94.4) 32.9% (79.7) 17.9% (86.6)
2018 Red Sox 50.2% (94.7) 34.5% (79.8) 15.3% (86.9)
2019 Red Sox 46.4% (93.2) 38.4% (79.0) 15.2% (85.2) 0.0%
Total – – – 53.1% (93.6) 28.2% (79.3) 0.0% (75.0) 18.7% (85.1) 0.2%
Max Scherzer: Career average Fast Ball 93.8 mph – Curve Ball 78.1 mph. Differential = 15.7 mph.
Season Team FB% SL% CT% CB% CH% SF% KN% XX%
2008 Diamondbacks 72.5% (94.2) 17.0% (84.4) 10.5% (84.7) 0.6%
2009 Diamondbacks 71.0% (93.6) 12.4% (85.0) 16.7% (84.3) 0.7%
2010 Tigers 65.0% (93.1) 15.2% (84.1) 19.8% (83.5) 1.3%
2011 Tigers 61.4% (93.1) 18.3% (82.7) 20.3% (82.5) 0.4%
2012 Tigers 60.8% (94.2) 19.5% (85.7) 19.7% (85.5) 0.4%
2013 Tigers 56.0% (93.3) 15.2% (85.1) 7.8% (77.9) 20.9% (84.7) 0.0%
2014 Tigers 55.1% (92.8) 13.6% (84.9) 10.3% (77.4) 21.0% (83.9) 0.2%
2015 Nationals 59.4% (94.2) 18.8% (86.2) 0.6% (89.5) 8.1% (79.6) 13.2% (84.9) 0.2%
2016 Nationals 55.4% (94.3) 22.2% (86.2) 2.3% (88.9) 8.0% (77.9) 12.1% (85.3) 0.2%
2017 Nationals 48.7% (94.1) 28.9% (86.2) 8.3% (77.4) 14.1% (84.7) 0.2%
2018 Nationals 50.3% (94.4) 16.4% (85.2) 9.8% (88.6) 7.7% (78.4) 15.7% (84.0) 0.3%
2019 Nationals 48.3% (94.9) 20.5% (85.6) 8.1% (89.8) 8.7% (78.6) 14.5% (84.3) 0.3%
Total – – – 57.8% (93.8) 18.2% (85.3) 1.8% (89.1) 5.3% (78.1) 17.0% (84.3) 0.4%

 

Justin Verlander: Career avg. Fast Ball 94.4 mph- Curve 79.6 mph Differential = 14.8 mph

Season Team FB% SL% CT% CB% CH% SF% KN% XX%
2005 Tigers 64.4% (95.5) 0.6% (81.0) 22.2% (78.3) 12.8% (80.9) 1.1%
2006 Tigers 66.7% (95.1) 16.1% (78.4) 17.2% (81.8) 1.4%
2007 Tigers 62.3% (94.8) 18.9% (80.2) 18.8% (82.7) 1.4%
2008 Tigers 63.6% (93.6) 20.6% (81.0) 15.8% (83.7) 1.8%
2009 Tigers 67.9% (95.6) 2.3% (87.9) 19.9% (80.3) 9.9% (84.1) 2.3%
2010 Tigers 58.6% (95.4) 6.9% (87.2) 19.6% (79.6) 14.9% (85.7) 1.2%
2011 Tigers 57.0% (95.0) 8.4% (85.9) 18.3% (79.3) 16.3% (86.4) 0.0%
2012 Tigers 55.9% (94.3) 11.9% (84.4) 14.9% (79.2) 17.3% (85.5) 0.2%
2013 Tigers 56.0% (93.3) 13.2% (86.0) 13.9% (79.0) 16.9% (84.0) 0.1%
2014 Tigers 55.8% (92.3) 15.1% (85.6) 15.9% (79.1) 13.2% (83.4) 0.1%
2015 Tigers 58.6% (92.8) 16.5% (85.8) 15.6% (79.5) 9.2% (84.3) 0.1%
2016 Tigers 57.3% (93.5) 18.3% (88.0) 15.9% (78.7) 8.5% (85.3) 0.1%
2017 2 Teams 58.2% (95.2) 21.6% (88.2) 0.2% (91.7) 15.9% (80.5) 4.0% (87.5) 0.4%
2018 Astros 61.2% (95.1) 22.2% (86.5) 0.6% (91.2) 14.4% (79.6) 1.5% (87.4)
2019 Astros 49.9% (94.7) 28.4% (87.6) 17.5% (79.5) 4.2% (87.0)
Total – – – 59.2% (94.4) 11.7% (86.8) 0.1% (91.3) 17.0% (79.6) 12.1% (84.5) 0.7%

So .. when you look at Strasburg, Cole, Greinke, Sale, Scherzer & Verlander above and you take the career average stats of those 6 elite pitchers, which is a large-sample-size  based on an average career of 11.6 years here is what you come up with ..

Average Career Fast Ball = 94.30 mph

Avg Career slowest off-speed = 78.95 mph

Avg. Career speed differential = 15.35 mph

All 6 elite pitchers have been-to or won the World Series in the last 3 seasons. Interesting to note that other than Strasburg they all were acquired via FA or Trades in the last five seasons. Pitching, specifically elite pitching, and in this case, elite starting pitching wins championships.

Now, let’s take a look at 2 top-of-the-rotation starters for the Yankees that were relied-on for much of the decade that just ended ..

Michael Pineda: Career Average FB = 93.5mph – Slider 84.9 mph

Differential = 8.6 mph

Season Team FB% SL% CT% CB% CH% SF% KN% XX%
2011 Mariners 62.2% (94.7) 31.5% (84.1) 6.3% (87.6) 0.3%
2014 Yankees 55.2% (92.5) 34.0% (83.9) 10.8% (87.7) 0.1%
2015 Yankees 54.1% (92.8) 34.5% (85.6) 11.5% (88.2)
2016 Yankees 51.3% (94.1) 41.3% (85.6) 7.4% (88.3) 0.1%
2017 Yankees 48.8% (93.9) 37.6% (85.1) 13.6% (89.0) 0.1%
2019 Twins 55.3% (92.6) 29.6% (83.9) 15.1% (87.2) 0.3%
Total – – – 54.8% (93.5) 34.9% (84.9) 10.3% (88.0) 0.2%

 

Luis Severino: Career Average FB = 97.1 mph – Change-Up 87.9 mph

Differential = 9.2 mph

Season Team FB% SL% CT% CB% CH% SF% KN% XX%
2015 Yankees 51.6% (95.3) 34.2% (89.3) 14.1% (88.0)
2016 Yankees 55.9% (96.1) 34.2% (88.3) 9.9% (88.9) 0.4%
2017 Yankees 51.4% (97.6) 35.1% (88.4) 13.5% (87.3)
2018 Yankees 50.4% (97.6) 36.0% (88.1) 13.5% (88.1)
2019 Yankees 56.6% (96.1) 26.9% (84.1) 16.4% (88.3)
Total – – – 51.9% (97.1) 35.0% (88.3) 13.1% (87.9) 0.1%

 

When you compare the average speed differential of the 6 Elite pitchers ..

94.30 mph Fast Ball

78.95 mph Slowest Off-speed

15.35 mph Difference

and compare it to the average of “Pinederino”

95.30 mph Fast Ball ( 1mph better/faster than the Elites)

86.4 mph Slowest Off-speed ( ** compared to 78.95 above ** )

8.9 mph Difference (** compared to 15.35 mph above **)

**You now know why I wrote the most amount of columns on my website dedicated to this subject !! **

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