Who's the Filthiest?
Dirty. Nasty. Wicked. Sick. Filthy. Whatever the lingo maybe on the field some pitches will simply leave opponents muttering to themselves on the way back to the dugout following a foolishly empty swing. In June 2007 Stats Inc analyzed Boof Bonser's WHIFF profile to find that through that month of the season, Bonser had the necessary pitches that made some batters feel shame. To that point Bonser's curveball had a .388 WHIFF average - making batters swing and miss nearly 40% of the time. His slider boasted a .310 WHIFF average. As the season progressed and his pitch totals increased his ability to maintain that WHIFF average decreased. Bonser witnessed his WHIFF average on his curve plummet to .247 while his slider dropped to .204. Up until June 27th when the Stats articled was penned Bonser had been striking out 21% of batters faced (83 of 379) but the rest of the season Bonser's strikeout rate dropped to 13% (53 of 393 batters faced). This may because of advance scouting recognizing Bonser's pitch sequencing or simply that his curve and slider lost their bite as the season wore on. Conversely, Johan Santana's December 2007 WHIFF profile indicated that his change-up, as obvious as it is to Twins fans that spent years watching it be delivered, had a WHIFF average of .399 - a well-above average rate on a change-up (.277 MLB change-up average) that he sustained all season long. For the 2007 season, the righty Bonser and the lefty Santana finished with a 17.6% and 26.8% strikeout rates, respectively.
This year's rotation is not a strikeout rotation. Currently the team's starters boast a collective strikeout rate of 13%. This is below the American League average (16%) as a staff for the first time in three years. In 2007, the Twins had a 17% strikeout rate as the league had a 16% strikeout rate. Prior to that in 2006, the Twins had a 18% strikeout rate as the league maintained a 15% strikeout rate. Needless to say it does not hurt when your rotation has Johan Santana and his .399 WHIFF average change-up. In 2006 the Twins not only had Johan Santana, but also had a healthy Francisco Liriano and Brad Radke interspersed with Matt Garza, Boof Bonser and Scott Baker. Who on the 2008 Twins staff has the pitch that is generating the most swing and misses so far this season?
|Top 5 in the Rotation||Pitch||Usage||Thrown||WHIFF|
|Nick Blackburn||Change-Up|| |
|Top 5 in the Bullpen||Pitch||Usage||Thrown||WHIFF|
|Jesse Crain||Splitter|| |
Matt Guerrier has the honor of having the best WHIFF pitch in the entire stable of very good arms. When the Twins bandied the notion of life without Joe Nathan during this past offseason, Guerrier's name was one on the top of the list. "With his big breaking ball," Gardenhire said, "as a starter he'd get through two times through the lineup. But now you put him in the pen and let him go through the lineup once, and he eats them up." The accolade was for the curveball, as it is the most visually prominent of his pitches with its textbook 12-6 break, but it is his slider that has benefited him to most. That isn't to say that his curveball isn't very good. In fact, the curveball (.167) has been far inferior to his slider (.439) yet it would be the 5th best pitch among those in the rotation. Guerrier has seen his strikeout rate slip for a high of 19% last season to 14% this year which could have something to do with his fastball. He is throwing his fastball in the k-zone less than 50% of the time (42%) which is a problem since he is using it nearly 70% of the time. Logically enough, his walk rate has increased from 6% in 2007 to 10% in 2008.