A few weeks ago, Baseball Prospectus unveiled a number of useful new metrics to evaluate pitchers: Power, Command, and Stamina. There’s a lot that goes into each of these metrics, and it’s worth reading through BP’s explanation to really wrap your head around what they’re measuring.
In short, Power Score tries to quantify how much of a “power pitcher” a pitcher really is. Power Score is mainly determined by how often a pitcher throws his fastball, the velocity with which he throws it, and how hard he throws his secondaries.
Command Score attempts to pin down a pitcher’s ability to hit his spots. It builds upon BP’s CSAA and CSProb metrics to evaluate how well a pitcher can consistently paint the edges of the zone and how often he can throw strikes in general.
Stamina Score is a measure of a pitcher’s durability. It takes into account how many pitches a pitcher typically throws in a game, as well as how many batters he faces and how much rest he requires between outings.
One of the interesting things about these metrics is that pitchers that appear high on their leaderboards aren’t necessarily “good” or “bad.” There’s no implied virtue in simply being a power pitcher or having lots of stamina. These metrics are only trying to help describe a pitcher’s performance, rather than putting a value to it.
This fact allows us to draw our own conclusions. Let’s take a look at how the Yankees pitchers measured up based on BP’s new toys, starting with the starting pitchers:
Yankees Starters in 2017
These numbers don’t mean much without some context. Each score is calculated on a scale from 0 to 100. I pulled the scores for the 91 starters in MLB that started at least 25 games in 2017, so the rank listed in the table represents that pitcher’s rank among those 91. Within that sample, the average Power Score was 45, the average Command Score was 52, and the average Stamina Score was 73.
The first thing that jumps out is that the Yankees starters figures in general don’t actually jump out at you. The group’s average in each score (43 for Power, 49 for Command, 71 for Stamina) was actually just below average in each category.
In fact, Luis Severino’s Power Score is the only number that genuinely stands out. Only three pitchers profiled more as a power pitcher than Severino, which makes intuitive sense. Per Brooks Baseball, Severino threw has fastball over half the time, clocked in at about 98 mph, and threw his slider at a very hard 89 mph. That fits the description of a power pitcher to a T.
Also of note is where the Yankees rate especially low. In particular, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, and Jordan Montgomery make up one of the least powerful starting trios in the game. Of the three, only Tanaka really has the capability of regularity hitting the mid-90’s with his fastball, and all three mostly rely on deep repertoires of soft secondary pitches to turn over lineups.
Interestingly, the lowest ranking is Montgomery’s 87th slot in the Command category, which seems odd. Montgomery doesn’t have overpowering stuff, and was generally regarded as having fine command in the minors. He didn’t yield an egregious number of walks or homers in the majors either, so Montgomery’s low ranking is a bit of a surprise, and perhaps something to keep an eye on entering 2018.
Moving on to the relievers, I pulled the scores for the 150 pitchers in baseball that recorded at least 50 innings in relief in 2017. Here’s how the Yankees’ bullpen fared:
Yankees Relievers in 2017
The average Power Score in the sample was 54, the average Command was 50, and the average Stamina was 49. As one would expect, the pitchers in this sample pitch with more power and less command and stamina than do the starters.
Also as expected, there is no pitcher that throws with more power than Aroldis Chapman. He is the hardest thrower in history, and his slider is also a fairly hard offering, as well as one that he rarely opts for in favor of the heat.
Less expected is how highly Tommy Kahnle rates in terms of power. Kahnle’s name shows up next to downright fire-breathers like Craig Kimbrel and Kelvin Herrera, likely thanks to his reliance on his fastball. Brooks Baseball shows that Kahnles hurls his 97 mph heater two-thirds of the time.
Of all the Yankees relievers, Chad Green might show the best here. He rates highly in each metric, demonstrating his versatile set of skills. Green works with power, has shown fine command, and the ability to work multiple innings with frequency, a potent combination for a fireman reliever.
Overall, the Yankees simply have a powerful bullpen, which is hardly a shock, given the Yankees’ pitching corps made headlines for the incredible velocity they showed in last year’s playoffs. Again, rating highly in these metrics isn’t strictly a good thing, but it seems right that the Yankees have both one of the league’s most powerful relief corps as well the relief corps that projects to be easily the league’s best in 2018.
This is just a top-level view of these metrics what they tell us about the Yankees pitchers, as we can splice these numbers a million different ways. In fact, I would encourage you to do so at BP’s pitching leaderboards. In any event, it will be interesting to monitor how the Yankees’ staff fares in terms of these metrics going forward.