Carp’s not the only pitcher in the big leagues who’s been dominant this year, of course. I just mentioned a couple of other great pitchers but there’s also Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander. These guys are aces – the pitchers that every team wants on the mound for game 1 of the big playoff series. They’re the guys that are counted on to stop losing streaks. But what is it that makes them dominant? One thing, of course, is the ability to consistently throw strikes and throw the ball where they want it thrown – that is, not right down the middle. Isn’t one measure of dominance though having several above average offerings that the pitcher’s willing to throw to any batter in any count? It seems to me that having 3 pitches that are among the most effective in baseball is one way to measure dominance or, at least, one trait that helps to make a pitcher dominant.
In order to determine the pitches’ effectiveness, I’m using (what else?) fangraphs’ leader boards for the various offerings. The numbers indicate the number of runs above (or, if negative, below) average each pitch has been this year for the pitcher. In order to qualify, however, a pitch must make up at least 5% of a pitcher’s repertoire and be at least 5 runs above average w/ 3 different pitches. The table does not include the pitches that are below average pitches or don’t qualify b/c they’re less than 5 runs above average.
Dominance. Only 7 pitchers in major league baseball have three pitches that, to this point in the season, have been as many as 5 runs above average. (Yes, I know Carp’s cutter is labeled a slider. Doesn’t matter. Still a great pitch!) Is it coincidence that they’re all NL pitchers (though Lee spent most of the season in the AL)? The NL is certainly the weaker league and they’re facing pitchers, etc. Anyway, if you have 3 great pitches, and can throw them to anyone in any count, and throw them for strikes, throw them past hitters and get outs, you’re dominant.