I'm all about the pitcher in this installment of Advanced Stats by Pat. Run Value and Movement are great tools to research how effective a pitchers repertoire is. These two advanced metrics are often overlooked, compared to the new Spin Rate revolution. Let's take a look!
Gerrit Cole's fastball, Corbin Burnes' cutter, and Charlie Morton's curveball are all pitches that have been splattered over Pitching Ninja's page because of how nasty they are. Run value assess a value of a pitch based off of runners on base, outs, including ball and strike counts and the result of that pitch during the at bat. Basically, how many runs does the pitch give up or save?
Let's use Gerrit Cole's fastball as an example. It ranks in the top 90th percentile in velocity and spin. He throws it 46.7% of the time, allowing a .203 batting average on 1,166 pitches. His run value on his fastball is -22. This means Cole has saved 22 runs by throwing his fastball because the outcome usually results in an out.
On the opposite end, Jake Arrieta's sinker has a run value of 19. He's allowed a .369 batting average and a .631 slugging. Simply put, Arrieta's sinker has given up 19 runs this year.
Here's your top and bottom five on the most effective pitches this year, sorted by run value:
Top Five Run Value Pitches
Bottom Five Run Value Pitches
Vertical and Horizontal Movement
At the face of it, vertical and horizontal movement should be as easy as how much a pitch moves down or side to side (at least that's what I thought). While the direction is certainly a big part of the measurement, there's this pesky science called physics that has to be taken into account.
I'll try not to make this as dry as I see it. Every pitch is affected by gravity (which is why a pitch can never rise, more on that another time). That means the slower the pitch is, the more it's susceptible to drop vertically. Here's a great visual from back in 2019 when Statcast revealed the vertical and horizontal movement leaderboard:
What Statcast does is compares the drop of the pitch to the speeds of comparable pitches. For example, if the average pitch at 80mph drops 10 inches, that would be the baseline vertical drop for every changeup within 2mph. This creates a ton of data for Statcast, but shows the effectiveness of the pitches.
Let's look at sinkers; The player that has the most vertical movement on their sinker is Adam Cimber with 45.4 inches of drop. This isn't shocking given his release point creates a great amount of vertical drop:
Although he leads the league in average vertical drop, his sinker speed (87mph) nestles him into a category where that 45.4 vertical movement is only 0.9 inches over the average. In order to bust this leaderboard you have to increase the break the faster you throw it.
César Valdez would be the winner this year with a 84.9mph average sinker with 40.2 inches of vertical movement which would be 9.9 inches above the average, which is a big reason why he's tops in chase rate:
What's the craziest pitch that is thrown this year? There are two candidates, both leaders in vertical and horizontal break above average:
Alex Reyes Curveball (11" of Vertical Movement Above Average)
Aaron Bummer (10.3" of Horizontal Movement Above Average)