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Stats Perform’s Pitch-Type Awards for July

By: Stats Perform

We may have a new name – Stats Perform – but the rules for our monthly pitch-type awards remain the same.

We use four of our proprietary metrics to determine the winners, and winners from the previous months are disqualified. As a quick refresher, here are the advanced analytics created by our team that we use for the analysis:

Command(+):  How well a pitcher hits his spots, according to Stats Perform’s revolutionary Pitch Intent data

Discipline(-):  How well a pitch forces a bad choice by the hitter (swinging at a ball/taking a strike)

Whiff(+):  How well a pitch generates swings and misses

BIP(-):  How well a pitcher is at limiting quality contact

These metrics were selected because they evaluate the effectiveness of various aspects of pitching. League average for each of these categories is set at 100. For Whiff+ and Command+, the value above (or below) 100 indicates the percent better (or worse) than league average. The reverse is true for BIP- and Discipline-, where values less than 100 indicate better performance.

Based on those numbers, here are the Stats Perform Pitch-Type Awards for July.

Four-Seam Fastball: Madison Bumgarner (SF)

It was a strange month for the four-seam fastball. Usually, we value Whiff+ the most of any of our statistics, especially fastballs. But in July, all of the pitchers with the best Whiff+ really struggled in other areas. Bumgarner ended up getting the nod because he led the league in BIP- at -20, meaning that his fastball generated poor contact 120% better than the league average. He also still had a strong 131 Whiff+ too.

Watch him blow one by Robinson Cano of the New York Mets:

Runners-Up: Lance Lynn (TEX), Shane Bieber (CLE)

Lynn had the second-best Whiff+ of the month as he caused swings-and-misses 103% more often than the average pitcher, but he was just barely above average in every other category. Bieber led the four-seam fastball category in Command+ for July, which is good enough to get him a runner-up spot in this confusing group.

Two-Seam Fastball: Zack Britton (NYY)

It was a much clearer choice in this category. Britton gave up a home run to Miguel Sano in an epic 14-12 win at Minnesota on July 23. Besides that, zippo. In his nine other appearances, he only allowed five hits and zero runs. Outside of Milwaukee Brewers left-hander Josh Hader (who would have won this award every month so far if he wasn’t disqualified), Britton led all two-seam pitchers with a Whiff+ of 213 or 113% better than the MLB standard.

This one leads to a whiff from Yandy Diaz of the Tampa Bay Rays:

Runners-Up: Cal Quantrill (SD), Noah Syndergaard (NYM)

Quantrill’s two-seamer was the best at inducing poor contact and third-best at causing poor decisions by the hitter. However, a below-average Whiff+ cost him the award. Syndergaard’s combination of Whiff+ and Command+ trailed only Britton for the month.

Cutter: Asher Wojciechowski (BAL)

This was the easiest pick of the month. Wojciechowski’s cutter not only led the league in Whiff+ at 220, but the next closest was all the way down at 160 (Arizona Diamondbacks’ Alex Young). Oh, and by the way, he was also second in Command+ and third in Discipline-.

Wojciechowski fools Toronto Blue Jays rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with a cutter in this clip:

Runners-Up: Anthony DeSclafani (CIN), Ryan Yarborough (TB)

DeSclafani’s cutter caused the poorest decisions from hitters (Discipline-) and was third in Whiff+. DeSclafani might have had a chance if Wojciechowski wasn’t so dominant. Yarborough’s BIP- was 116% better than normal.

Slider: Noah Syndergaard (NYM)

This was an extremely close call between the hard-throwing Syndergaard and left-hander Patrick Corbin. We ultimately gave Syndergaard the award because he finished No. 1 with a 185 Whiff+. He was also 50% better than the average pitcher at causing poor contact.

No wonder it rates so well when it comes in at 91 mph on pitches like this one:

Runners-Up: Corbin (WAS), Will Smith (SF)

Corbin would have won this award in a lot of months. He was third in Whiff+ and his 37 Discipline- was the top mark for July. He just lost by a hair or two to Thor (get it?). Smith was Corbin-lite, finishing directly behind him in Whiff+ and Discipline-.

Curveball: Zack Greinke (ARI)

Greinke’s signature slow curveball is now on display in Houston, but it was his July performance with the D-backs that earned him the award. His curveball ranked first in BIP- (-17), sixth in Whiff+ (139) and tied for fourth in Command+ (120).

This Greinke curve to fellow pitcher Antonio Senzatela of the Colorado Rockies was clocked at just 59 mph:

Runners-Up: Bieber (CLE), Domingo German (NYY)

Bieber receives his second runner-up award this month, mostly because his curveball’s Whiff+ was 64% better than league average (3rd). German had the best Whiff+ in July, but he also had a curiously poor BIP+ of 166 – 66% worse than average.

Changeup: Tommy Kahnle (NYY)

Kahnle is just another Yankee reliever who had a crazy good July. The right-hander gave up one run all month over 12 appearances. Why? His changeup was devastating, leading MLB in Whiff+ and placing fifth in BIP-.

It has Rowdy Tellez (great nickname) swinging out of his shoes on this one:

Runners-Up: Mike Leake (SEA), Stephen Strasburg (WAS)

Leake commanded his changeup better than any pitcher this month with a Command+ of 164. To put that in perspective, Astros left-hander Wade Miley’s change was second-best at 137. Strasburg’s was 116% better than normal at causing poor contact and fifth in Whiff+ in July.