A short story about two sinkers

Jason Hammel picked-up (and/or emphasized) a two-seam sinker this year for the Orioles. Across the continent, Brandon McCarthyas we all know—likes sinkers, too.

While Hammel’s has flown under the radar, it shouldn’t for much longer. And perhaps McCarthy should look into the SI cover effect.

In 2012, there are 54 pitchers with 110 or more sinkers/two-seam fastballs thrown. That’s 8437 total pitches, with a collective ground ball percentage of 55% and a whiff rate of .11 (that’s misses divided by swings). We all understand that this a pitch a starter will often throw to contact, hence the low whiff rate, and the ball usually has some “sink” (hence the name) and thereby more grounders.

Hammel ranks 10th in whiff rate. Hammel’s ground ball rate on his sinker is an impressive 69%, good enough for 6th place. Good job, Jason. There’s a little bit of consternation to be found in Brandon’s numbers. His ground ball percentage is just 37% and his whiff rate .05. Those put the SI feature subject 49th and 47th in these ranking, respectively. Combined, using these two metrics, you can put Hammel in the top five and McCarthy in the bottom five. Who had that picked before the season started?

Here are the full rankings. All pitch classifications are by the author and are shown on the Brooksbaseball.net Player Cards.

Pitcher Sinkers GB % Whiff
Drabek, Kyle 136 74% .240
Masterson, Justin 204 70% .253
Niemann, Jeff 114 74% .204
Wilson, C.J. 132 68% .182
Hammel, Jason 143 69% .164
Westbrook, Jake 261 77% .140
Gonzalez, Gio 114 75% .116
Kuroda, Hiroki 155 67% .123
Cahill, Trevor 207 63% .158
Detwiler, Ross 134 66% .119
Saunders, Joe 154 66% .111
Garcia, Jaime 147 61% .127
Doubront, Felix 141 58% .159
Gee, Dillon 124 57% .164
Samardzija, Jeff 125 58% .141
Wolf, Randy 129 54% .167
Blackburn, Nick 121 54% .167
Rodriguez, Wandy 154 50% .212
Harrell, Lucas 248 63% .103
Medlen, Kris 125 60% .111
Greinke, Zack 139 62% .102
Miley, Wade 123 52% .154
Veras, Jose 112 47% .171
Price, David 193 63% .088
Harrison, Matt 148 53% .122
Alvarez, Henderson 230 65% .061
Pelfrey, Mike 124 59% .092
Cueto, Johnny 162 58% .096
Richard, Clayton 242 54% .110
Arrieta, Jake 127 36% .200
Porcello, Rick 192 59% .088
Hughes, Jared 134 57% .098
Lee, Cliff 118 64% .042
Moyer, Jamie 117 57% .087
Bedard, Erik 110 43% .121
Marquis, Jason 165 61% .049
Wainwright, Adam 120 50% .102
Swarzak, Anthony 151 45% .116
Lowe, Derek 268 55% .058
Kendrick, Kyle 113 32% .119
Holland, Derek 141 38% .108
Capuano, Chris 185 40% .099
Volstad, Christopher 151 48% .083
Pavano, Carl 216 46% .074
Weaver, Jered 211 41% .086
Guthrie, Jeremy 112 52% .020
Dolis, Rafael 125 50% .038
Hunter, Tommy 134 44% .066
Millwood, Kevin 163 39% .081
Leake, Mike 128 31% .094
Colon, Bartolo 252 48% .036
McCarthy, Brandon 156 37% .050
Haren, Dan 137 36% .048
Hernandez, Felix 170 37% .016

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Comments

  1. Detroit Michael said...

    Looking at the bottom of the rankng, Bartolo Colon is doing fine so far in 2012 and Haren and Felix Hernandez are established as top pitchers.

    While I’m not at all questioning your work, it seems like the correlation between having a good sinker and overall success must not be very high.  Colon in particular has tended to get a very high called strike % during 2011-12.

  2. Harry Pavlidis said...

    Right, it all depends on the pitcher. For example, Felix may be wasting his sinker, because he has a few other pitches he can destroy guys with.

  3. John D. said...

    I’m surprised not to see Roy Halladay on this list.  But maybe he doesnt throw a sinker?

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