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The fourth Jordan Hicks update - A Hunt and Peck

Jordan Hicks keeps improving and we have proof.

San Diego Padres v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

You may remember back on May 21 I vowed to track the performance of Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks. Hicks was a curiosity at the time. The twenty-one-year-old threw some of the fastest pitches on record, and yet the swing and miss was ever elusive. He had more walks against him than strikeouts recorded and he was giving up a lot of contact, but the eyes told a different story than the stats. There was a lot to work with and Hicks and pitching coach Mike Maddux reportedly worked on it. We tracked those changes and the results seemed to immediately improve. We looked again and things were still trending well for young Jordan. Now, for our fourth installment.

Data via Fangraphs

Since our last update, Hicks gave up his first dinger, but the strikeouts have climbed rapidly. He will still walk a man every once in a while, but that line is getting flatter by the inning (innings pitched are the x axis).

Now, let’s look at what is driving these results.

Via Fangraphs

These have been the most compelling graphs so far. I was not confident before, but I believe it may be time to say the increase in four-seam fastballs and sliders, as opposed to Hicks’ previous method of relying heavily on two-seamers, is generating more swings and misses, particularly at pitches out of the zone. This is causing the strikeouts to climb.

The kid looks good. Check out his appearance from Monday night:

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Author’s note:

I will be on vacation the rest of this week, for those loyal H&P readers (all three of you :), but I’ll be back Monday, hopefully relaxed and not nearly as cantankerous as I am now!