January 23, 2017
New Year's Resolutions: Control
One of the reasons we’re excited about the pitching metrics we’re introducing this week is that they allow us to answer new questions. Who had the best control among ERA qualifiers in 2016, measured by Called Strike Probability (CS Prob)? Bartolo Colon, for whom 52.1 percent of his pitches were called strikes, followed by Jimmy Nelson and Hisashi Iwakuma. Who had the best command, measured by Called Strikes Above Average (CSAA)? That’d be Zach Davies, who got 3.5 percent more called strikes than average, followed by Josh Tomlin and Kyle Hendricks.
But it’s not just that CS Prob and CSAA give us answers to new questions. They allow us to ask new questions, too. This month, I’ve been looking at pitchers who changed something about their approach in 2016, as if they had made a New Year’s resolution. In this article, I examined pitchers who induced more or fewer grounders. Last week, I considered pitchers whose plate discipline (measured by inducing swings outside of the strike zone and avoiding them in the zone) improved or declined.
Now I can ask a new question: Which pitchers had the greatest change in control from 2015 to 2016? (And you can probably guess what question I’m going to ask later this week.)