Zack Greinke: Stathead

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Not only did Zack Greinke claim a victory for statheads everywhere by winning the AL Cy Young yesterday despite only 16 wins, afterward he outed himself as a believer in sabermetrics thanks to stathead teammate Brian Bannister:

I’m also a follower … of sabermetric stuff and going into details of stats about what you can control. That’s pretty much how I pitch, to try to keep my FIP as low as possible.

FIP stands for Fielding Independent Pitching, which is a stat that you’ll see me and the rest of the Circling the Bases crew quoting in this space frequently. It attempts to separate pitching from defense by focusing on the things that a pitcher can specifically control: strikeouts, walks, and homers.
Bannister explained that not only has Greinke become a believer in the value of FIP and similar stats, he’s actually used them to improve his pitching:

He’s extremely bright, and he’s really picked up on using all the information out there to make his game better. He’s always had the talent. His confidence level, which is extremely high, combined with his knowledge of the numbers behind the game now, definitely makes him one of the best pitchers in the world. David DeJesus had our best zone ratings, so a lot of times, Zack would pitch for a fly ball at our park instead of a ground ball, just because the zone rating was better in our outfield and it was a big park.

Max Scherzer of the Diamondbacks has previously talked about his interest in sabermetrics and modern baseball analysis, so the statheads are building a pretty nice rotation with Greinke, Scherzer, and Bannister. Something to think about the next time you see someone dismiss the impact and value of sabermetrics. We’re not all non-athletes who live in our parents’ basements. Some of us win Cy Young awards, marry ex-Cowboys cheerleaders, and live … well, somewhere in Kansas City.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: