Is 2010 the “year of the pitcher?”
June 11th, 2010 by czar

One thing that seemed (anecdotally) interesting to me was that it seemed starting pitchers were throwing more pitches and going deeper into games this year. After a quick glance at B-R, I’m now aware this is mainly because Sox SP lead the league in P/GS at 105, up from 99 last year and 96 in 2008 (a 10% jump in 2 years!). So at least I’m not crazy on that front.

That said, I did find it interesting that the average P/GS for MLB as a whole is the highest it’s been since at least 1988, possibly earlier (that’s as far back as B-R’s pitch counts go back). If you bin these P/GS, you find there has not really been an increase in pitchers throwing a TON of pitches, but an explosion (+10% in 2010) of pitchers in the 100-119 range.

The results aren’t startling by any stretch, but it’s interesting to ponder. Is a part of the decrease in league-average ERA due to good pitchers are being allowed to go deeper into games (thereby taking IP way from bad pitchers)? Are SP being allowed to work out of more jams? Is it a chicken or the egg problem; where P/GS is going up BECAUSE pitchers are pitching better? There is a small uptick in IP/GS relative to the last few years (6.0 vs. 5.8ish) but not nearly the trend in P/GS — are pitchers NOT going deeper into games (innings-wise) but using more pitches to induce swings/misses or weaker contact?

Like I said, there almost certainly isn’t a lot to this; but I already had the data queued up in Excel, so there really was no reason not to post it as “food for thought.” There’s been a lot of talk about how pitchers aren’t allowed to throw as many IP now as they did decades ago, but it’s clear that over the last 20 years, there has been a steady decrease in the standard deviation of P/GS across the league– and while IP may have gone down since 1988, P/GS has actually flatlined, and interestingly, is on the rise in 2010.

Posted in Message Board Ramblings

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  • Traversing the land that is known as Red Sox Nation, The Czar Who Wears Red Sox is an attempt at compiling a repertoire of my ever-so-sexy forum posts (when I'm too lazy to write my own damn entry) and other random baseball thoughts that strike. For those whose posts serve as the inspiration of my epiphanies and rants, do not be angry, but merely, be honored that you have achieved such status. Names will never be revealed. Feedback appreciated, as this is a work in progress.

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