Source: Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference. Fangraphs stats accurate as of 4:54 AM ET, May 7, 2014. Baseball-Reference stats accurate as of 7:17 PM ET, May 7, 2014.
A few days ago it came to my attention that Bronson Arroyo, of the Cincinnati Reds, has not thrown 100 pitches or more in a game since September 14, 2012. This stretch totals 11 starts (Last 3 starts of 2012, first eight starts of 2013).
I personally dislike how pitchers are coddled in today’s game, and believe they should be able to throw a lot more innings and pitches. If a pitcher has not shown any major injury concerns and has shown durable they should be able to throw 120-130 pitches if need be. Heck, Baseball-Reference does not even have the pitch count of Nolan Ryan’s s game log until 1988! That season, my math says Ryan threw 108.6 pitches per game.
That being said, the mythical “100 pitch count” has become more than just an arbitrary number. It has become the standard. A standard, which promotes pitchers just pitching through the sixth inning many times – depending on pitch efficiency and batter patience.
But I doubt even the people who believe that the 100 pitch count is a good thing for Major League Baseball see much of a difference between a pitcher throwing 97 and 100 pitches on a given start; just in terms of the number itself. The only difference is how the given pitcher executes those three extra pitches. *Side note: I am in favor of some sort of pitch count for kids playing Little League.*
I make the point of 97 vs. 100 pitches because while I relate it all back to Arroyo, he has come close to throwing 100 pitches a couple times. It is also the National League he is pitching in, so pinch hitting and game scenarios could lead him to exiting a game where an American League pitcher would not.
While I do not believe in the “100 pitch count” the point being made did spark my curiosity. It led me into wanting to look further into what Arroyo has been doing; which I will do now:
Bronson Arroyo’s average pitch count per game with Cincinnati:
- 2006: 109.9 (35g, 240.2ip)
- 2007: 100.8 (34g, 210.2ip)
- 2008: 101.0 (34g, 200.0ip)
- 2009: 103.2 (33g, 220.1ip)
- 2010: 98.7 (33g, 215.2ip)
- 2011: 103.2 (32g, 199.0ip)
- 2012: 92.4 (32g, 202.0ip)
- 2013: 89.6 (8g, 52.2ip)
There has definitely been a drop off in terms of pitches thrown per start by Arroyo. Keep in mind Arroyo was around the age where many players are hitting their peak, 29, to start the 2006 season. He has started the 2013 season at age 36.
Stat Dump Time….
Bronson Arroyo has pitched 1,541,9 innings and thrown 25,165 pitches since the start of 2006. Both rank sixth in the MLB over that time span. Arroyo’s career total of 2,129.3 innings pitched ranks 12 among active pitchers.
Arroyo has made the All-Star game once, 2006.
Arroyo has a career .971 fielding percentage. League average is .956 for pitchers since the start of Arroyo’s career through today.
Arroyo has a career .129 batting average with 6 home runs and 29 RBI. He has grounded into 7 double plays over his career and stole 1 base.
Arroyo has a 1-0 record with a 4.60 ERA in postseason play over a career 29.1 innings pitched. Most of the struggle was with Boston, because he has only allowed 1 earned run in 12.1 innings, in 2 postseason starts with Cincinnati.
Arroyo has a career 4.22 ERA while winnings 127 games and losing 119. He has pitched 13 career complete games, 5 being shutouts.
He has led or tied for the league lead in the following categories, in the following seasons:
- 2004: 20 batters hit.
- 2006: 35 starts, 240.2 innings pitched.
- 2008: 34 starts.
- 2009: 2 shutouts.
- 2011: 112 Earned Runs and 46 home runs allowed.
Arroyo has a career 71.9 percent left on base and a 23.4 total Fangraphs WAR. His best Fangraphs WAR in one season was 4.1 in 2006.
Arroyo has intentionally walked 56 batters in his career, the most being 7 in 2006. He has also hit a 94 career batters, 21.2 percent of those being his 20 hit batters in 2004. He has balked 4 times in his career and thrown 38 wild pitches.
Arroyo has thrown a career first pitch 62.7 percent of the time. He has a career 7.4 swinging strike percentage.
Source: Fangraphs & Baseball-Reference. Stats as of Wed. May 15, 2013 5:58 AM ET
Two Tigers outfielders, Tori Hunter and Austin Jackson lead the MLB with 24 hits each.
Braves OF, Justin Upton leads the MLB with 8 home runs. He didn’t hit his first home run of the season in 2012, until April 23. It took him 365 plate appearances and until July 20, to hit his eighth home run in 2012. He currently sits at 57 PA for the 2013 season.
Mets catcher, John Buck is doing his best to try to keep prospect Travis d’Arnaud in the minors. Buck is tied for MLB lead with 19 runs batted in. He had 18 RBI last season through June 26. So in terms of batting runners home he is about 41 games ahead of his 2012 pace in Miami. Buck also already has 6 home runs, a plateau he did not reach until June 24 last season.
Reds 1B, Joey Votto has walked in 1/3 of his 63 plate appearances in 2013. Votto did not qualify for the batting title in 2012 due to injuries, but among players with at least 450 PA in 2012 Joey Votto led the MLB with a 19.3 percent walk rate.
Starlin Castro has had 58 plate appearances in 2013 and walked ZERO times.
Braves 3B, Chris Johnson leads the MLB with a .500 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play). Braves OF, Jason Heyward has the second worst BABIP among qualified players sitting at .091.
Two players in the MLB currently have a .500 On-base percentage, or better. They are Joey Voto with a .556 OBP and Lance Berkman with a .500 OBP.
The best fielder in the MLB thus far has been Matt Dominguez according to the fielding leaderboard on Fangraphs. For what it’s worth, I will say that defensive sabermetrics are something I do not completely buy into. However it is hard to argue against the fact that the same leader board rates Ryan Zimmerman and Shin-Soo Choo as the worst two fielders in the majors thus far in 2013.
Speaking of Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, he has been hit by seven pitches already in 2013. No team, other than Choo’s team the Reds, has been hit more than seven times as a whole.
Royals 2B Chris Getz, has seen the highest percentage of pitches being fastballs, 76.1 percent, in the MLB. Pirates 3B Pedro Alvarez, has seen the lowest percentage of pitches being fastballs, 39.9 percent, in the MLB.
Reds 1B Joey Votto, has swung the bat on pitches outside of the zone 13 percent of the time, the lowest rate in the MLB. Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval, has swung at 46.9 percent of pitches outside the zone, the highest rate in the MLB. Overall Sandoval is swinging the bat at 60.6 percent of the pitches he has seen, also the highest rate in the MLB. Mets OF Lucas Duda, beats Voto here, in terms of swinging at the least percentage of pitches seen – 29.9 percent.
Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons and Brewers OF Carlos Gomez each have been in a 0-1 count at the highest rate in the MLB, each seeing a first pitch strike 76.1 percent of the time.
Pirates 3B Pedro Alvarez has a 19.7 percent swinging strike percentage to lead the MLB. And maybe the statistic that sticks out to me most in this whole post is the fact that in 51 plate appearances in 2013 Marlins 3B, Placido Polanco, has a swinging strike percentage of 0.0 percent, according to Fangraphs. This is just phenomenal bat control, and even though it really sticks out to me I am going to trust Fangraphs is right, like usual. I mean that is just crazy to think about, he has seen 176 pitches in 2013 against some of the best pitchers on the planet and he has not swung and missed at any of those pitches.
Source: Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference. Stats through April 17, 2013 games.