The Only Change in Sonnanstine's Gameplan: His Change

H/T to RaysParty for the handy 2008 season data.

First, the pitch types and Gameday-reported velocities:

Velo 2008 2009
FA 86.9 87
FC 87.2 86.7
SL 80.3 82.3
CV 73.6 75.3
CH 81.8 82.1

 

FC stands for cutter, CV for curve, and so on. There's minimal change: his slider and curve went slower last year, no idea why or if it was/is a conscious effort. Now his swinging strike rates per pitch.

Year Pitches SwStr %
2008 1246 95 7.62
2009 1653 113 6.84

 

This is overall, I tried syncing up the amount of pitchers pretty evenly -- using half of Sonnanstine's starts from last year -- but it didn't work out quite to a 1:1 ratio.

Year FA SwStr %
2008 391 11 2.81
2009 225 12 5.33

 

Sonny had more swinging strikes in ~170 less non-cutter fastballs this year. Last year the pitch was extremely hittable.

Year FC SwStr %
2008 298 14 4.7
2009 650 37 5.69

 

Notice the increased usage in his cutter? It came with more whiffs too. I'm not sure what to think of his reliance on it quite yet.

Year CV SwStr %
2008 291 47 16.15
2009 327 31 9.48

 

Say what you want about his overall arsenal, but very, very few pitches can be thrown 300 times in a season and whiffed at more than 15% of the time. Sonny's curveball is easily his best pitch. Easily.

Year SL SwStr %
2008 127 11 8.66
2009 406 31 7.64

 

His slider might be his second best pitch. Increased usage, decreased whiff rate.

Year CH SwStr %
2008 137 12 8.76
2009 33 1 3.03

 

Here's the mystery. His change-up would be the only non-two-seamer pitch that runs towards righties, yet he dumped it. This after the buzz about a "new and improved" version of the pitch in spring. Why did he dump it? FanGraphs run values weren't too kind to the pitch, but those are defensive dependant. My inner scout chirps about dumping a presumably somewhat deceptive pitch. Maybe it was a confidence thing.

Now, let's look at where Sonnanstine is throwing the baseball within the zone versus last year.

Sonny1_medium

Notice much of a difference? Yeah, there doesn't appear to be one. Some slight percentage changes on the right side, but otherwise Sonny's locational gameplan appears to be the same. How about against right-handed batters though?

Sonny2_medium

Again, some minimal shifting.

I may end up digging deeper into the location bag -- say, by pitch, maybe by count, etc. -- but for now, there's not a lot of smoke coming from this fire.

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