By Jeff Sullivan @ Baseball Nation
Sometimes, a writer gets a good idea for something to write about. An idea he can explore and flesh out at length, producing something he thinks will be readable and entertaining. Sometimes, a writer can’t find one good big idea, but stumbles across a bunch of worse, littler ones. Articles like this are often the result.
Below, I highlight five pitchers and five plate-discipline stats. I don’t think any of these are worth writing about for 800 words apiece, or at least I’m not feeling that inspired, but I do think they’re interesting enough as bite-size nuggets. These are statistical facts I consider worth knowing. I couldn’t come up with one really fascinating topic, so hopefully by slapping together a handful of lesser-fascinating topics I can approximate the same reader sensation.
Off you go now!
Before the 2011 season, Drabek was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 29 prospect in the league. 23 years old, Drabek started 14 games for the Blue Jays. Over those 14 starts, he threw 1,370 pitches, and just 54.6 percent of those pitches were strikes. Among all starters to throw at least 50 innings last year, Drabek’s strike rate was the lowest by a good margin. He was demoted to the minors, and returned in September to work out of the bullpen.
This year, given another chance, Drabek has started 11 games for the Blue Jays, throwing 1,115 pitches. Just 54.4 percent of those pitches have been strikes. Among all starters with at least 50 innings this year, Drabek’s strike rate is the lowest by a good margin.
Baseball people are always going on about the importance of consistency. It isn’t enough to just be consistent. You could say that Kyle Drabek is very consistent.
Jackson has always been incredibly talented, and he’s still just 28 years old. Do you know what can happen for a talented 28-year-old? Almost anything can happen, including a breakthrough, and Jackson’s posting the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of his career with the Nationals. Between 2009-2011, Jackson generated 2.5 strikeouts per unintentional walk. In 2012, he’s sitting at 3.5.
There’s probably more than one secret. But among them, there is this one, which is now no longer a secret: Jackson’s throwing a lot more first-pitch strikes than ever. Last year, 58 percent of his first pitches were strikes. The year before that, 57 percent, and the year before that, 55 percent. This year, he’s up to 64 percent, which is not extraordinarily high, but which is very high for Edwin Jackson.
Jackson’s also been better this year after getting ahead, so there’s more than one thing going on. But by getting more of those early strikes, he’s put himself in position to have greater success.
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