This post was spurred from a tweet sent by Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLBTR (though it sounds like he dusted off his old fangraphs hat for this one) in which he pointed out that the pitching staff of the Toronto Blue Jays is worst in baseballs heaved, having already thrown over 1,000 more pitches this year than the Royals (and so have the Astros, but it raises eyebrows when it's a team that was actually supposed to be good). That's roughly 30 more pitches per game than the Royals are getting away with.
Naturally, I didn't stop here. I wanted more.
Turns out Toronto is also the worst in strike efficiency: 61.54% of those pitches are strikes... which may account for the staff being required to throw more often.
Okay, great, but this is a Braves blog... so how is Atlanta doing? Turns out pretty darn well.
Pitch count is one thing, but pitches per inning (PPI) is a better measure of efficiency. Here's the top three teams:
- Seattle: 15.61 PPI
- Cincinnati: 15.66
- Atlanta: 15.67
3rd best in baseball - for comparison, the three worst are Houston (17.65 - yeah, 2 pitches per inning worse), Boston (17.16), and yes, the Blue Jays (16.93). The National League tends to do better here - likely due to the DH - but not exclusively so, since we see the Mariners in the #1 position.
Strike Efficiency: just how often does a team throw strikes (ratio of strikes to all pitches thrown)?
- St. Louis: 65.34% (4% better than last place Toronto)
- Atlanta: 64.95%
- Detroit: 64.71% (Cincy is a close 4th)
Detroit's position on this list may be influenced by their schedule, having already seen both the Braves and Astros (strikeouts on a 2-for-1 sale), but we'll let that go for now.
Walk Efficiency: Walks per 9 innings pitched
Team WHIP: (Walks+Hits per Inning Pitched):
- Atlanta (1.17)
- Detroit (1.18)
- Cincinnati (1.19). I imagine that this one just went up a couple of ticks. :D
But wait, there's more: LOB% (percentage of runners Left stranded On Base):
- Atlanta (78.4%). This represents a really large lead. Good since the team is actually in the middle of the pack in team fielding (despite Simmons' heroics)
- Texas (77.2%)
- Arizona (77.1%)
The Braves' staff is also 3rd in team ERA (3.29, behind St. Louis (3.10) and Texas (3.22). This despite being in the middle of the pack in GB/FB ratio (yes, we have some fly ball pitchers, but they're more-or-less still keeping the ball in the park).
Friday 5/10 Add-on: This is something I simply forgot to add, and Mark Bowman reminded me in one of his blog pieces. The ultimate efficiency, in my view, is seen in how much work the bullpen is required to undertake. The answer, thus far, is agreeably little.
Fewest Reliever Innings Pitched:
- KC Royals - 81.1
- ST Louis, Tampa Bay (tie) - 84.0
- Chi Cubs (surprise) - 90.2
- Atlanta - 92.2 (Nats, Phils, Rangers, ChiSox all close behind)
The worst team so far? Yeah - Houston (139.0 innings), followed by the Blue Jays and Rockies... with sizable gaps in between.
Oh, and in terms of that total pitch count thing: Atlanta is 3rd best in baseball. These guys are doing pretty well, and clearly keeping the team in almost every game.