A Series: Emerging Pitches For 2020 Part 2 - Two-Seam Fastballs
For the second article of this series, we will be talking about two-seam fastballs. Two-seam fastballs can be lethal with the right kind of movement and have been proven to be a viable pitch. If you would like to see part one of this series which looks at three pitchers curveballs you can check it out here.
This pitch is so good and the crazy thing is, it might get better. Let’s look at the surface stats of this pitch first. It put up a .241 BAA, 0.50 ISO, 67 wRC+ and 60 GB%. All great especially for a fastball. When it comes to plate discipline it produced a 31.3 O-Swing%, 56.9 Zone%, and 8.9 SwStr% which was fifth highest for two-seam fastballs. Overall it was an awesome pitch that he utilized really well (10.1 pVAL).
To show how it could be even better next year lets lay down some more groundwork. For the entire year, his two-seam had a .266 xwOBAcon (1st), 1.2 Barrel% (2nd), and 72.9 Weak% (5th). Now if you take out the month of April here is what his two-seam produced: .233 xwOBAcon (1st), 0.0 Barrel% (T-1st), and 78.1 Weak% (1st). What caused this? Well with each month the velocity went up and he also increased the usage. This two-seam fastball is just dominant and it causes weak contact and swings and misses. If he can keep the velocity up and if he can use utilize it well again, this pitch can become unstoppable in 2020.
It’s funny that Adrian Houser and Woodruff are on the same team as they both feature stellar fastballs. Houser’s isn’t as good as Woodruff’s but it certainly is close. With a nice -8.6 horizontal movement, Houser’s two-seam is a very difficult pitch for hitters to make quality contact with. Last year it produced a 68.8 GB% which was the fifth-highest of any two-seam fastball in the league. Hitters also only produced a 3.4 Barrel rate when going up against it, showing that it is one of the better weak contact pitches in the game.
With a respectable .242 batting average against it came with an expected batting average of .221 and BABIP of .293. His two-seam had a wOBAcon of .323, but it came with an xwOBAcon of .284 which was second-best in the league. With solid movement and what seems like bad luck last year I really think this pitch can take another step forward.
Marcus Stroman’s two-seam fastball doesn’t look that great from the outside. In 2019 it put up a .315 average against, 136 wRC+, and a measly 24.8 O-Swing%. It wasn’t very good last year and he also had trouble utilizing it well (-4.8 pVAL).
When it comes to underlying stats though, they tell a different story! His .315 BAA came with a .276 xBA and .342 BABIP. His RPM’s on the pitch was the sixth highest in the league and his .367 wOBAcon came with a .327 xwOBAcon. All good things, all good things. Just like Houser he also provided weak contact putting up a 61.6 GB% and 3.0 Barrel%. Hopefully, the putrid Mets defense doesn’t hurt this pitch too much next year and we can see Stroman bring it up to another level.