Author Archive

Constructing the Perfect Right-Handed Pitcher

The pitching talent in the major leagues has never been as good as it is at this very moment.

Strikeout rates have risen in 13 straight seasons, hitting an all-time high of 23.4% in 2020. When pitch tracking started in 2002, the average fastball velocity was 89 mph. That figure was up to 93.1 mph in 2020. Every other pitch has followed suit, whether it’s the slider (84.1 mph in 2020), change-up (84.5 mph), or curveball (79.2 mph). Despite these massive gains in swing-and-miss stuff, walk rates haven’t gotten worse. The walk rate in 2000 (9.6%), for example, was higher than the walk rate in 2020 (9.2%).

While some of this may be due to a shift in approach from batters, mainly a wider acceptance of strikeouts and a fly-ball heavy mindset, pitchers are undoubtedly better than ever at this current moment. Pitching staffs are loaded with velocity, movement, and specialization that makes hitting harder than it’s ever been. When looking at the landscape of major league pitching, there are so many names and pitches to choose from. But which pitchers and pitches stand out the most? Read the rest of this entry »

Examining Mike Trout’s Perfect Swing

Sir Isaac Newton’s second law of gravity tells us exactly how much an object will accelerate based on the given net force.

For baseball hitters, this is directly applicable considering the goal to hit baseballs as hard and far as possible. And when it comes to generating net force against baseballs, Mike Trout is an expert. He has been crushing baseballs with the league’s elite since he became a full-time regular at age 20 in 2012. Trout’s offensive production, in particular, has gone to another level over the course of his career. The following table breaks up his career into two distinct parts. The numbers show Trout’s production compared to league average, with a mark of 100 denoting exactly average.

A Tale of Two Trouts
Years wRC+ BB%+ K%+ Pull%+ Cntr%+ Oppo%+ FB%+ GB%+
2011-15 170 159 115 93 100 112 110 89
2016-19 180 222 91 100 102 98 121 78

Trout has always produced elite offensive numbers, but he’s at an entirely different level now. He has transformed into baseball’s best hitter by walking more, striking out less, and pulling more hard-hit baseballs in the air. Trout is both barreling up more baseballs and raising the launch angle of his batted balls. Unsurprisingly, he had baseball’s second-best sweet-spot percentage in 2019. Trout has talked about a gap-to-gap approach in the past but recent trends show him moving away from hitting balls the other way. Read the rest of this entry »