So, I already had a post published today that talks about the struggling Rich Hill. Here it is! That includes just about everything I have to say. There’s one fact, though, that I wish I’d slid in, but it eluded my notice. I only stumbled upon it while talking about Hill this morning on Effectively Wild. Let’s stop beating around the bush.
Rich Hill is all about the curveball, right? Throws it all the time. Or, at least, throws it close enough to half of the time. Between 2015 and 2016, when Hill re-emerged, he had baseball’s third-highest curveball rate. No one didn’t know about that, and, of course, the curveball rated well, in terms of being an effective pitch. You are probably aware of our pitch-type run values. Between those two seasons, Hill had baseball’s fifth-most valuable curveball, by raw value. Focusing on all the pitchers who threw at least 100 innings, and then converting that curveball value to a rate stat, Hill ranked in third place. Nothing here is surprising. Hill threw the curveball a lot because the curveball was good. It’s a big part of what allowed him to occasionally resemble an ace.
Turn now to 2017. Hill has thrown 37% curveballs. That’s down, but it’s still very high. Hill has still been throwing plenty of curves. And yet, let’s look at the pitch-type run values again. Here are baseball’s least-valuable curves to this point:
Rich Hill: last place. Last place, even, by a couple of runs. The run values are by no means perfect measurements, but they do generally point you in the right directions — good pitches tend to get good values, and bad pitches tend to get bad ones. Rich Hill’s curveball has been horribly unsuccessful, the very most unsuccessful, after starring as a nearly unparalleled weapon. Hill won’t be right until his curveball is right. Said curveball has too often been wrong.
This doesn’t so much change the analysis. It’s still a problem of location, which is still a problem of either injury or mechanics. That’s what the Dodgers have to figure out, and these numbers don’t really help to shed light on what’s going on. The Dodgers already knew that something was awry. But still, this manages to tell a heck of a story. Rich Hill’s world-beating breaking ball has completely abandoned him. You could say that life has really thrown Rich Hill a curveball. Do not say that, though. It’s stupid.
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.
Pitch solutions has Hill breaking out a slider more last year and it being up to 10% this year, along with his average velocity on it (75.1) coming closer to the average velocity on his Curve(73.4). Is there anyway that could be effecting his curve’s effectiveness at all?
Eno said in a chat earlier that the pitches classified as sliders are probably curves thrown from Hill’s lower arm slot.
Ah ok, thank you!
And incidentally, in case this is true: by the PITCHf/x pitch-type run value measurements, Hill still shows up as having the least-valuable curve in the game. And that blends both the SL and CU into one, thrown 48% of the time.