Pitcher Pace (Time Between Pitches)

I’ve added a new stat to the PitchF/x section, “Pace”, inspired by this post over at Beyond the Box Score, which shows how much time each pitcher takes in between his pitches.

The way I calculate Pace, is by taking the difference between the start time of the first pitch in the plate appearance, and the end time of the last pitch in the plate appearance. I then divide by the number of pitches in that plate appearance (minus 1). Pickoff attempts are considered just another pitch, since they don’t have time stamps of their own. Anything that looks like a game delay between pitches is thrown out. The average pace is about 21.5 seconds.

My numbers didn’t come out exactly the same as the Beyond the Box Score post, but the ordering of fast/slow pitchers is quite similar. I’m not entirely sure what is the cause of the differences.

The slowest 5 pitchers are:

Daisuke Matsuzaka – 25.9 sec.
Matt Garza – 25.8 sec.
Josh Beckett – 25.2 sec.
Clay Buchholz – 24.6 sec.
CC Sabathia – 24.6 sec.

And the 5 fastest are:

Mark Buehrle – 16.4 sec.
Mike Leake – 17.6 sec.
John Danks – 17.6 sec.
Joe Blanton – 17.6 sec.
Clayton Richard – 17.7 sec.

As noted in the original article, pace seems like an organizational thing, which could certainly be the result of coaching. Buehrle, Danks, and Richard all started their major league careers with the White Sox and pitching coach Don Cooper. Even Jake Peavy trimmed 1.5 seconds off his pace with the White Sox this year. I’d say it’s worth researching further.

David Appelman is the creator of FanGraphs.

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13 years ago

Oh look, all five of the slowest pitchers are in the AL East.

Anyone else STUNNED by this development?

13 years ago
Reply to  Kirsh

Indeed, it’s not clear how one would separate out the effect that constantly facing slow, methodical hitters would have on a pitcher’s “pace.”

13 years ago
Reply to  delv

Not quite the same thing, but a small sampling of starters who changed teams:

Millwood: 22.1 with BAL, 23.0 elsewhere*
Lackey: 20.8 with BOS, 20.2 elsewhere
Sabathia: 24.7 with NYY, 22.9 elsewhere
Vazquez: 23.6 with NYY, 22.6 elsewhere
Garza: 25.6 with TB, 24.0 elsewhere
Kazmir: 22.5 with TB, 20.9 elsewhere**
Halladay: 21.0 with TOR, 18.9 elsewhere
Morrow: 22.3 with TOR, 22.1 elsewhere

Average: 22.8 in AL East, 21.8 elsewhere

Millwood sped up compared to 2007-09 but slowed down compared to last year’s 21.5. Kazmir’s 2009 was not included as splits aren’t available.

13 years ago
Reply to  Kirsh

Except that only 1 of those 5 pitchers was actually developed by an AL East team…

11 years ago
Reply to  Scooter

That part of the argument isn’t relevant to the AL East point. The pitcher wouldn’t need to have been developed in the AL East for the more methodical batting approaches in that division to have an impact on the pitcher once he began pitching in the division. Who developed the pitcher isn’t critical to that argument.

As a Rays fan, and I’m just speculating with no evidence, the Yankees and Red Sox are absolutely the most glacial hitters in the world. Derek Jeter, Kevin Youkilis, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, all have intricate rhythms in between pitches, and all have high pitch counts. Part of the effect is that you’re dealing with a cast of better hitters to begin with. Fewer divisions have the depth of payroll (and resulting power) that the AL East possesses. As a result, you get longer, more patient ABs, better ability to defensively foul off two-strike pitches to extend said ABs, better eye on borderline pitches.

Again, nothing concrete behind this argument, just observation; games in the AL East are longer than games outside the division. A large portion of that impact has to be due to the batters. And if that can be empirically verified, it would be likely that the pitcher’s origin within the division would not be as critical as merely pitching in the division.