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How Sticky Are Walk Rates After Velocity Changes?

An increasingly popular strategy for drafting pitchers is taking ones with plus control and underwhelming fastballs, with the idea being that the club’s player development team can coax out a velocity jump. Intuitively, this makes sense since it is relatively easy to develop velocity and relatively difficult to improve control. Being able to get a pitcher from control-only to one with above-average stuff and plus control, and suddenly you have a solid rotation arm out of an org-depth pitcher.

However, skill improvement does not happen in a vacuum, and there are potential side effects to this strategy, namely that control might end up getting worse as velocity increases. In general, these end up being fine tradeoffs since we are in a power-oriented offense, but investigating these effects is important in evaluating how valuable this strategy is, which is what I do in this article. Read the rest of this entry »