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Fun With Fastballs: The Value Of Velocity

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Just for fun, I took a look at two stats:

Average Fastball Velocity (FBv)

Wins Above Replacement (WAR)

I was curious to see if pitchers who threw their fastball harder scored a higher WAR score. I reviewed the 2009-2011 seasons to see if the numbers were consistent.

Let's take the jump and have a look at the data...

I broke pitchers into the following groups based on how hard they throw:

Above 93 MPH
92.9-92.5 MPH
92.3-91.2 MPH
91.1-90 MPH
Below 89.9 MPH

I only used pitchers who qualified for the ERA title each year, and the above categories provided a pretty even split among the pitchers. The numbers you'll see are the average WAR of the group.

Here are the results (I've included links to the Fangraphs pages with the specific filter used, in case you'd like to play around with the numbers yourself). You'll find the number of pitchers in the sample group in parenthesis next to the category:

2011

Above 93 MPH (16): 4.54
92.9-92.5 MPH (18): 2.71
92.3-91.2 MPH (18): 3.52
91.1-90 MPH (16): 3.62
Below 89.9 MPH (26): 2.03

2010

Above 93 MPH (17): 4.50
92.9-92.5 MPH (10): 3.70
92.3-91.2 MPH (19): 3.38
91.1-90 MPH (17): 2.93
Below 89.9 MPH (24): 2.37

2009

Above 93 MPH (16): 5.23
92.9-92.5 MPH (6): 3.42
92.3-91.2 MPH (16): 3.43
91.1-90 MPH (18): 3.71
Below 89.9 MPH (21): 2.37

Take what you will from this. Just looking at these numbers, and these numbers alone, pitchers with plus velocity consistently earn a much higher WAR value.

Just for fun, let's take a look at the potential 2012 Yankees starting pitchers and their velocity from last season:

Michael Pineda: 94.7 MPH

CC Sabathia: 93.8 MPH

Ivan Nova: 92.6 MPH

Hiroki Kuroda: 92.0 MPH

Phil Hughes: 91.3 MPH

Freddy Garcia: 87.2 MPH

Feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments. Personally, I'm pretty happy the Yankees have a rotation of hard throwers heading in to the season.