This is my favorite column every year because it is all-inclusive. Numbers in baseball can overwhelm. Data can anthropomorphize into a scary monster. Acronyms can get so silly that I can list four (SIERA, SNLVAR, GORP, lgRFG) that look too absurd to be real when three of them actually are.
1. This year alone, 98 players have popped out more than Joey Votto has his entire career.
In 496 at-bats this year, Jimmy Rollins has 33 pop outs. In 315 at-bats, Brendan Ryan has 26. The jester list will soon reach triple digits.
3. Nobody makes contact with balls in the strike zone quite like Ben Revere.
[Related: Three Rays minor leaguers suspended 50 games after testing positive for meth]
Cook can take solace in not losing his title of ignominy this year. The next-worst rate is Derek Lowe at 3.42.
6. Aroldis Chapman has generated more swings and misses than Jered Weaver.
And Roy Halladay, Dan Haren, Matt Harrison, Jeremy Hellickson, Josh Beckett, Erik Bedard, Kyle Lohse, Ryan Vogelsong and more than 100 other starters. Chapman has thrown 1,036 pitches this season. Hitters have swung at 508. They have missed 211. That 41.5 percent miss rate is 7 percent better than the next-best pitcher, Joaquin Benoit.
Herrera also threw the single hardest pitch in baseball this season at 102.8 mph. Chapman just missed that title at 102.7.
10. Billy Hamilton has more steals than the top four stolen-base artists in the major leagues – combined.
11. The player leading the National League in steals also is the UZR champion.
UZR is Ultimate Zone Rating, one of the two most well-known defensive metrics, along with Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). Neither is particularly renowned for its accuracy, though both tend to agree that Michael Bourn is mighty good in center field for the Atlanta Braves.
In fact, UZR has a Bieber-level crush on the entire Braves outfield. Bourn ranks first in baseball with 17.2 runs saved this season, Jason Heyward is second with 16.8 runs and Martin Prado is 12th with 10.3 runs.
12. The Colorado Rockies, on the other hand, make UZR and DRS want to vomit.
While UZR and DRS can clash, both have the Rockies as the worst-fielding team by far, with UZR at -37.1 and DRS at -73. Yikes.
Second: We are about to delve into something called Pitch-Type Linear Weights. This is where FanGraphs assigns a win probability to every pitch a player sees. If he takes a ball on a fastball, his fastball score improves slightly. If he hits a home run off a curveball, his curveball score jumps. If he grounds into a double play on a slider, his slider score drops. And so on.
In other words, take these numbers for what they are: rock candy for the baseball mind.
The single best score among hitters is McCutchen with 32.1 runs off fastballs. The leaders in the other categories:
Slider: A.J. Pierzynski, 9.4 Cutter: Josh Hamilton, 8.0 Curveball: Prince Fielder, 10.6 Changeup: Buster Posey, 10.7 Splitter: Ryan Zimmerman, 3.8 Knuckleball: Freddie Freeman, 3.9
Clint Barmes, conversely, cannot touch a fastball. He is -16.8 runs. The rest of the chumps:
Slider: Delmon Young, -10.3 Cutter: Sean Rodriguez, -5.5 Curveball: Chris Davis, -10.1 (which is the lowest recorded number) Changeup: Jeff Francoeur, -8.8 Splitter: Danny Espinosa, -3.1 Knuckleball: Bryce Harper, -2.1
And, by no weaknesses, we mean neutral or positive pitch-type values. Joining him are some of the expected (Josh Hamilton, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez), plenty more from the next tier of hitter (Josh Willingham, Adrian Beltre, Paul Goldschmidt, Ben Zobrist), a few surprises (Dexter Fowler, Alex Rios, David DeJesus) and one web scion (Melky Cabrera).
Among pitchers, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Stephen Strasburg, Chris Sale, R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez make sense. And then there are three rookies: Wade Miley, Jarrod Parker and Matt Moore.
Also quite impressive: Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus, who is 7 for 7 on bunt-for-hit tries.
His 23.4 runs with the heater tops the chart of pitch-type values for pitchers. The others:
Slider: Madison Bumgarner, 20.6 Cutter: Scott Atchison, 10.3 Curveball: A.J. Burnett, 11.7 Changeup: Jason Vargas, 16.6 Splitter: Jeff Samardzija, 9.3 Knuckleball: R.A. Dickey, 22.9
Slider: Rick Porcello, -14.9 Cutter: James Shields, -9.1 Curveball: Randy Wolf, -10.8 Changeup: Mike Leake, -12.0 Splitter: Jason Frasor, -4.2 Knuckleball: R.A. Dickey, 22.9
19. Bartolo Colon ate more meatballs, threw more fastballs than R.A. Dickey does knuckleballs.
Actually, before his PED suspension, Colon threw the second most fastballs of any starters since data collection began at 89.2 percent. The most? Him in 2009 at 90 percent.
Cutter: Dan Haren, 37.7 percent Curveball: A.J. Burnett, 33.3 percent Changeup: James Shields, 29.4 percent (and almost more than the fastball, which, at 31.
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