St. Louis Cardinals Pitchers: Groundballers, Flyballers, & the In-Betweeners

Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals are a groundball pitching staff overall. But which individual pitchers are groundballs, flyballers, and strikeout pitchers? Which are somewhere in between?

Earlier today, we looked at how the St. Louis Cardinals' pitching profile has changed under manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist since they took over for Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan. The Cardinals have been one of the top groundball-inducing pitching staffs since the regime change in St. Louis while increasing their strikeout rates. I thought it would be interesting to follow up by taking a look at the profiles of individual Cardinal pitchers, to see who are groundballers, flyballers, strikeout pitchers, and in-betweeners

Here is how the Cardinals pitching staff as a whole compared to the MLB averages in 2013:


K%

BB%

LD%

FB%

GB%

IFFB%

HR/FB

STL

20.5%

7.4%

20.1%

31.4%

48.5%

7.8%

8.5%

MLB

19.9%

7.9%

21.2%

34.3%

44.5%

9.7%

10.5%

Diff.

+0.6

-0.5

-1.1

-2.9

+4.0

-1.9

-2.0

The following chart compares the profiles of individual St. Louis pitchers to the MLB averages for strikeout rate (K%), walk rate (BB%), line-drive rate (LD%), flyball rate (FB%), and groundball rate (GB%). The pitchers are listed from most innings pitched to least. I chose 20 IP as the cutoff for the bottom of the chart.

Pitcher

K%

+/-

BB%

+/-

LD%

+/-

FB%

+/-

GB%

+/-

Wainwright

22.9%

+3.0

3.7%

-4.2

23.4%

+2.2

27.5%

-6.8

49.1%

+4.6

Lynn

23.1%

+3.2

8.9%

+1.0

22.5%

+1.3

34.4%

+0.1

43.1%

-1.4

Miller

23.4%

+3.5

7.9%

+/-0

20.3%

+0.4

41.3%

+7.0

38.4%

-6.1

Kelly

14.9%

-5.0

8.3%

+0.4

20.7%

+0.8

28.2%

-6.1

51.1%

+6.6

Westbrook

8.4%

-11.5

9.6%

+1.7

20.4%

+0.5

23.3%

-11.0

56.3%

+11.8

Rosenthal

34.7%

+14.8

6.4%

-1.5

19.3%

-0.6

36.3%

+2.0

44.4%

-0.1

Wacha

25.0%

+5.1

7.3%

-0.6

16.7%

-3.2

39.1%

+4.8

44.3%

-0.2

Mujica

18.0%

-1.9

2.0%

-5.9

16.1%

-3.8

38.7%

+4.4

45.2%

+0.7

Maness

14.1%

-5.8

5.2%

-2.7

19.2%

-0.7

12.4%

-21.9

68.4%

+23.9

Garcia

18.4%

-1.5

6.4%

-1.5

14.5%

-5.4

22.5%

-11.9

63.0%

+18.5

Lyons

19.3%

-0.6

7.2%

-0.7

19.2%

-0.7

33.3%

-1.0

47.4%

+2.9

Siegrist

32.9%

+13

11.8%

+3.9

24.4%

+4.5

36.6%

+2.3

39.0%

-5.5

Choate

19.9%

+/-0

7.8%

-0.1

11.6%

-8.3

20.0%

-14.3

68.4%

+23.9

Martinez

19.4%

-0.5

7.3%

-0.6

18.6%

-1.3

29.1%

-5.2

52.3%

+7.8

Salas

18.6%

-1.3

5.1%

-2.8

14.9%

-5.0

52.9%

+18.6

32.2%

-12.3

Butler

18.8%

-1.1

12.9%

+5.0

19.3%

-0.6

56.1%

+21.8

24.6%

-19.9

One of the most interesting facts revealed to me when putting this chart together was Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller's FB% vs. GB%. Both of the young righties induce flyballs at a rate above the league average. While Wacha's GB% was about average last season, Miller's was well below average. This made me wonder if general manager John Mozeliak acquired Peter Bourjos, one of the game's top defensive outfielders, with an eye on his young aces' flyball rates.

In the post earlier today, I quoted several paragraphs from the Sports Illustrated article on the Cardinals. The quoted portion dealt with Duncan's philosophy and how Adam Wainwright bought into it. This was even more true in 2013, two years after Duncan stepped down. Wainwright issued barely any walks, induced grounders at an above-average rate, and allowed flyballs at a rate below average. Duncanism is alive and well in the Wagonmaker, even if he also displayed a fascist streak with his K%.

Another interesting tidbit that I noticed when compiling this chart: The 2014 Cardinals rotation could have four pitchers with strikeout rates well above the MLB average. If Wainwright, Miller, Wacha, and Lynn make the rotation out of spring training, the St. Louis starting five could be a bunch of pitching fascists and Garcia or Kelly, the pitching democrats.

The St. Louis relief corps has a couple of hardcore groundballers: LOOGY extraordinaire Randy Choate and righthander Seth Maness. Both of their groundball rates were absurd last season. Later today, Joe will analyze Maness's sinker and how he leveraged the pitch into a successful 2013 campaign in relief.

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