46|www.maplestreetpress.comTHE 2011 NEW YORK YANKEES
whis and more walks with an uptick in his ground ball rate.Sabathia didn’t miss as much lumber as usual. Accordingto
he got a swinging strike on 9.4% o the pitcheshe threw. That’s comortably above the 8.5% major leagueaverage, but alls short o his 10.7% average since 2002 (thefrst season or which
has data). But CC’s ground-ball rate spiked. During the course o his career, Sabathiahas been neutral in terms o grounders—his ground ballrate going back to 2002 is 45%, one percentage point abovethe major league average. In 2010, though, Sabathia burned worms 50.7% o the time.How did he get those extra ground balls? Table 1 showsSabathia’s ground ball rates by pitch type over the past threeseasons, courtesy o PITCH/x data rom Joe Lekowitz’s website and pitch type averages rom Harry Pavlidis o the
Sabathia induced more ground balls this year on all threeo his main pitches—astball, slider and change-up. Groundballs are a positive or a pitcher—it’s pretty hard or a batterto get an extra-base hit on a Baltimore Chop, and runnersthat do get on base might be eliminated by another grounder.Sabathia’s double play rate (the percentage o the time he gota twin-killing with a runner on frst base and less than twoouts) was 16% last season, the highest mark o his career and well above the major league average o 11%.
PETTITTE POUNDS THE ZONE, PITCHES OUTOF DANGER
Lethander Andy Pettitte turned 38 last season, though you wouldn’t have known it by watching him on the mound. Samepiercing stare toward home plate, eyes just over his glove.Same wicked pick-o move. About the only thing indicatinghis graybeard status was the pulled groin and elbow inam-mation that limited him to 129 innings pitched.Pettitte posted a 3.28 ERA in 2010, his lowest fguresince his Astros days, and punched out 7.05 batters per nineinnings pitched, while showing solid control by walking ewerthan hal as many (2.86 per nine innings). He didn’t blowhitters away, getting swinging strikes just 7.6% o the time,but Pettitte pounded the strike zone. New York’s 22nd-roundpick two decades ago got a frst pitch strike 63.3% o the time,handily outpacing the 58.8% major league average. Pettittepeppered home plate with his astball, cutter, and curveball. The astball and curve got a whi about as oten as Nick Swisher rowned, but the cutter was a dierent story. Table 2shows the strike and whi rates on Pettitte’s pitches, based onPITCH/x data rom the
website. While Pettitte was eective yet again in 2010, he gota little help rom his riends and beneftted rom someHoudini-like escapes with runners on base, as witnessed by his ERA being ar better than his 3.85 FIP.Pettitte’s .295 batting average on balls in play was 20points lower than his career average. This is at least partially due to the Yankees’ excellent deense: New York rankedsecond in the majors in Deensive Efciency, the percentageo balls put into play that are converted into outs. He alsostranded 77.3% o the base runners he allowed, considerably better than the 70–72% major league average and his careermark o 71.6%. While better pitchers do strand more runners,Pettitte’s 2010 strand rate was very high and is likely to drop.
PHIL HUGHES EMERGES
Ever since the Yankees selected him in the frst round o the 2004 amateur drat, ans have closely ollowed Hughes’scareer as he has gone rom top prospect, to young big leaguercutting his teeth in the rotation, to dominant reliever, andnow to starter once again. New York shited Hughes back
U p p e r p h o t o o n p r e v i o u s p a g e : S t e p h e n D u n n / G e t t y I m a g e s P h o t o t h i s p a g e : A l B e l l o / G e t t y I m a g e s
Table 1: CC Sabathia Ground Ball Rate by Pitch Type
2008 45.7 48.4 502009 41.5 40.2 51.92010 48.8 52.8 52.6MLB Avg. 42.0 45.0 50.0
Table 2: Andy Pettitte 2010 Pitching
PitchStrike %MLB Avg.Whiff %*MLB Avg.
Fastball 64.8 60-64 2.6 5-6Cutter 65.8 68.3 22.9 8.8Curveball 67.0 58.0 6.1 10.5Change-up 52.8 60.9 9.7 12.1
*Whiff % is calculated from total pitches thrown, not just pitches swung at.
Andy Pettitte’s pick-off move is as devastating today as it was in his rookie year, 1995.