July 24, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Fernando Rodney (56) celebrates after the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Rays defeated the Orioles 3 - 1. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
A few days ago Fangraphs came out with a cool new feature I encourage everyone to check out: Pitch f/x pitch type splits. You can now see how many times a pitcher has thrown a certain pitch and the results against it. Everything from batting average to OPS to wOBA to batted ball and plate discipline data is included. Pitch classification can be a tricky at times but for the most part they get it right.
Did you know that opposing batters hit .227 against David Price's two-seam fastball but are at just .193 this year? No, you probably didn't. Did you care to know? Debatable. BUT, now that information is right at your fingertips. Let's hand out some awards among Rays pitchers, shall we?
These two can share the award, their pitches have been that bad. It's Cobb's least thrown pitch (143 times) which is good. The .407 average and .430 wOBA against are bad. Unsurprisingly, Cobb's only pitch with a sub .330 wOBA against is his changeup (.253). It's safe to say he needs to make some adjustments.
As for Shields, his two-seam fastball has never been a great pitch for him but it's never been .485 wOBA, 225 wRC+ bad, either.
The award for the best pitch goes to: Fernando Rodney's changeup
You were expecting something else? This pitch is not only the best on the Rays' staff, it may be the best in baseball. I don't know of an easy way of looking up the lowest wOBA against for other pitchers around baseball but Rodney's .094 has to be up there near the top of the list. Think about this; he's thrown it 216 times and has allowed four hits. He's getting hitters to swing at it outside of the strikezone 46% of the time. Simply amazing.
The award for the groundballing-est pitch goes to: David Price's curveball
We've seen Price's confidence in his secondary pitches rise this season and the curveball may be the biggest example. He's generating groundballs 70.4% of the time with it. Last season it was nearly twenty percent lower. James Shields curve came in a close second at 68.8%.
The award for highest swinging strike rate goes to: Fernando Rodney's changeup
26.9%. It's a really good pitch.
The runner-up for highest swinging strike rate category goes to: Wade Davis' slider
Last year? 9.2%. This year? 23.3%. He's thrown it less often but has added two miles per hour, which we've seen across the board. The Davis-the-reliever experiment has worked out pretty well thus far.
Sites like Fangraphs and BaseballProspectus are always striving to make advances like this for the general public. There's a lot to be explored.