Unlucky Pitches From 2019
Ever since I was a young padawan I have always love pitches. I believe seeing a great pitch is one of the best aspects of baseball. If you disagree let me ask you two questions. Is there anything better than seeing a beautiful 12 to 6 curveball? The answer is no. Is there anything better than a hitter dropping to their knee after completely whiffing on a pitch? Again, no. When I start to dive into a pitcher I love to look at their pitching repertoire. Just like everything else in baseball, pitches can be lucky or unlucky. In this article, we look at some underperforming pitches based on their wOBAcon and xwOBAcon.
Mitch Keller’s Four-Seam Fastball
Mitch Keller has been a very popular name this offseason. With a lethal slider and a lot of bad luck, he is getting a lot of love from fantasy baseball analysts. Keller’s weak point last year was his four-seam fastball. Interestingly enough his fastball’s wOBAcon to xwOBAcon difference if the biggest in the league at .199. It also had a BA of .461 with an xBA of .324. While clearly an unlucky pitch it still isn’t a very good one. His expected numbers on his BA and wOBAcon are both still below average. The main issue here is his command as he had solid control since he hits the zone 60% of the time. But he leaves it in the middle of the plate way too much, which is the reason it produced a -10.4 pVAL. The key to his 2020 season is getting command over this pitch.
Homer Bailey’s Knuckle Curve
Did you know Homer Bailey had 3 pitches with positive pVAL’s? Don’t worry he still isn’t good. The difference between his wOBAcon and xwOBAcon was the third highest in the league. Unfortunately while unlucky, it still wouldn’t have been a good pitch. With an xBA of .271, a 27.3 O-Swing%, and a 7.4 SwStr% his curveball is a very underwhelming pitch. His ISO on the pitch was a .382 which is insanely high. Bailey’s curveball is the fourth pitch in his arsenal and he probably should stop using it.
Spencer Turnbull’s Curveball
Spencer Turnbull is one of those players that I like and I don’t know why. His curveball is his fourth pitch and he throws it 12.1% of the time. He places it well as he aims for the bottom right portion of the zone. When looking at his surface stats this pitch looks below average, but his .370 xwOBAcon and .199 xBA say otherwise. I expect the -5.0 pVAL to be better in 2020 mainly because of his decent 33.5 O-Swing%, 31.4 Zone%, and 12.1 SwStr%. This curveball should be a good breaking pitch for Turnbull.
Noah Syndergaard’s Curveball
When most people think of Noah Syndergaard they think of his fastball, sinker, changeup, and slider. But his curveball is a great breaking pitch as well and it makes me think he should throw it more often. His xwOBAcon of .281 is well below the average of .371. With a solid 32.4 O-Swing%, 39.9 Zone%, and 18.1 SwStr% this pitch looks pretty great. Tack on the .125 ISO and 2.5 pVAL and you have a pitch that certainly underperformed last year.
Tyler Beede’s Changeup
Tyler Beede has been gaining some steam as a potential sleeper for 2020. His changeup is his second most used pitch behind his four-seam fastball. I am a little torn on if I like this pitch or not. Its xwOBAcon is about average but the xBA of .209 is good, plus his 18.3 SwStr% bodes well. What determines if this pitch will be better in 2020 is his command. It was a slight issue for him as he does leave it in the middle of the plate. This might be the pitch that ultimately decides his fate in 2020, look to see if he has better command early in the season.
Kyle Gibson’s Changeup
Kyle Gibson threw his changeup 413 times in 2020 and produced a 46.0 O-Swing (wow), 27.4 Zone% and 20.2 Swstr%. I would like to see a higher Zone% but he places it really nice in the bottom left part of the zone. While this pitch proved to be unlucky I think it will perform the same in 2020 as a strikeout pitch where a lot of hitters will swing and miss but if they make contact they will make quality contact. Gibson is an interesting player for fantasy in 2020, he has high strikeout upside but the mediocre history of ERA is worrisome.
Martin Perez’s Changeup
Perez’s changeup is a main staple in his repertoire and it could become a really good pitch in 2020. His xwOBAcon is well below average (.337) and with an xBA of .230 you can expect hitters to have a hard time dealing with this pitch. The command was a little spotty at times but with a .120 ISO he seemed to be in control majority of the time. Plus the 40.3 O-Swing% and 16.6 SwStr% are pretty nice as well.