The Buccos and Stuff

The Pirates and Dodgers played a matinee inside of a mostly barren, occasionally damp, but always beautiful PNC Park today.

Paul Maholm started for the Pirates. He’s a nice enough pitcher. His FIP last season was sub-4 for the first time in his career. He’s not an ace by any means and his game is all about groundballs. His fastball averages a little under 90 miles per hour. I was talking with Marc Normandin during the game and raised this question: Has any team been more stuff averse than the Pirates over the last few seasons? The only mainstay Pirates’ arm since Oliver Perez left that had good stuff is Ian Snell.

Curious and having plenty of time to do some SQL fiddling, I punched a query into the Baseball Databank and found that, since 2000, the Pirates have had three seasons where a pitcher topped 100 innings and also had a K/9 over 8. The top non-Perez and Snell entrees on the query were Kris Benson (in the year 2000) and Kip Wells. That’s just no good for Pirates fans who double as tools whores.

I wanted to test my claim a little more though, and began punching through other teams, using that arbitrary 8 K/9 number as the baseline and 2000-2008 (I don’t have the latest release of the Databank yet) as the timeframe. Here’s what I found:

Team Total
STL 1
SEA 1
TEX 1
ATL 2
COL 2
OAK 2
BAL 3
PIT 3
DET 4
LAA 4
TBA 4
TOR 4
CHA 5
WSN 5
CIN 6
MIL 6
CLE 7
HOU 7
MIN 7
PHI 7
NYN 8
NYA 9
SFG 9
SDP 10
FLA 11
LAD 11
ARI 12
BOS 13
CHN 18

Close, but not quite. Of course, you could argue that strikeouts per nine is not the best way to judge stuff, and you’d have a point. Still, it seems that a team like the Pirates under previous management would’ve surrounded flame-throwing starters like moths around … well, flamethrowers. Evidently not so.

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newest oldest most voted
poodski
Member

Its shocking the Cardinals only have one.

PeteJohn
Guest
PeteJohn

I would guess that it has something to do with Dave Duncan’s preferences. He likes guys who throw a ton of strikes into big parts of the zone and who can sink their fastballs. Guys who try to gas it up or snap off tons of breaking balls, doing neither with command, usually don’t last with the Cardinals.

I would argue that cutting this off at 8 k/9, while perfectly understandable, hurts the Cardinals too because they have Chris Carpenter. His stuff is as nasty as anyone in baseball’s, but he’s kind of a sinkerballer and as such doesn’t whiff as many batters as one may expect, though often dominating all the same.

Now, look at the Red Sox and especially the Cubs. They have large numbers of stuff guys, as defined by this cut point. That Sox bullpen could be pretty scary w/ Papelbon, Okajima, Bard, and Delcarmen (if he can regain his ’08 form), which falls in behind that potentially excellent rotation.

GZ
Guest
GZ

Slightly fluky… Morris, Kile and Carpenter have had six seasons between 7.4 and 8 k/9 during that period. Plus Ankiel struck out 10/9 in 2000. I guess “since 2000” doesn’t include 2000 (Wainwright 2009 also did it).