The following table is a breakdown of the 2009 Yankees’ collective numbers for their starting pitching staff with regards to overall pitch selection and pitch effectiveness. The numbers are then ranked in relation to the rest of the American League. All data – pitch type and pitch type value – was provided by FanGraphs.

Fastball — The Yankees have a staff of guys who throw the fastball hard – 2nd in the AL – and, therefore, in 2009, they chose to throw the fastball frequently (4th in the AL). However, Joba Chamberlain (-21.0), Chien-Ming Wang (-16.5), and A.J. Burnett (-13.0) really hurt the team’s collective fastball effectiveness, as their offerings were well below average. In fact, of the Yankees’ staff of starting pitchers, only CC Sabathia posted a positive number (13.6 runs above average).

Best — CC Sabathia (+13.6)
Worst — Joba Chamberlain (-21.0)

Changeup — The Yankees didn’t throw the changeup much this past season – 12th in the AL – however, when they did, the average velocity was 84.5 mph – 1st in the AL – and it proved to be an effective pitch for them (2nd in the AL). Still, the positive rating/ranking was mainly the result of Sabathia, who had the most effective changeup in the AL (+22.5) and the second most effective changeup in baseball behind Tim Lincecum (+35.0). Outside of that, none of Sabathia’s rotation-mates had a very impressive change.

Best — CC Sabathia (+22.5)
Worst — Andy Pettitte (-4.4)

Curveball — Like the fastball, the Yankees utilized the curveball fairly frequently – 4th in the AL – and the team’s average velocity (79.5 mph) with the offering was tops in the AL. The pitch proved to be a dangerous weapon for the Yankee staff – 18.7 runs above average – as the team was first in the league with regards to curveball effectiveness. This was primarily due to A.J. Burnett’s curve (+15.4), although Andy Pettitte’s bender was also notably above average (+4.4).

Best — A.J. Burnett (+15.4)
Worst — Phil Hughes (-1.7)

Splitter — Not much to write for the split-finger fastball. Chien-Ming Wang, according to FanGraphs’ data, was the only starter to employ the pitch and it accounted for only 4.0% of his pitch selection (0.2% of the staff’s overall selection). The splitter, which he threw relatively hard – 84.3 mph, 4th in the AL – was an average offering for Wang in terms of its effectiveness (-0.1) and it was fairly average, league-wise, as the team’s splitter effectiveness (i.e., Wang’s splitter effectiveness) ranked 6th in the AL .

Best — Chien-Ming Wang (-0.1)
Worst — na

Cutter — Collectively, the Yankees didn’t use the cutter as often as other teams – 7th in the AL – and the pitches’ average velocity of 85.0 mph was pretty low – 11th in the AL – however, the cutter was still extremely effective for the team, as they ranked 3rd in the league in that regard (+14.9). Though the pitch was well above average for them, the Yankees’ ranking was mainly based on Andy Pettitte’s season, for his cutter was 15.5 runs above average (and he threw it the most). No one else had a positive cutter rating as a starter.

Best — Andy Pettitte (+15.5)
Worst — Alfredo Aceves (-0.4)

Slider — Even with the addition of CC Sabathia, who is known for his slider, the team’s use of the slider was surprisingly below average. They didn’t throw it much – 11th in the AL – and when they did, the velocity was fairly low (11th in the AL). Everyone on the staff threw a slider outside of Aceves and Hughes, though no slider, in particular, was as effective as Sabathia’s changeup, Burnett’s curveball, or Andy Pettitte’s cutter. They were all decidedly average, including Sabathia’s, which was worth only 1.1 runs above average after being 33.9 runs above average in 2008. Joba Chamberlain’s slider was the best on the staff at 7.5 runs above average. Therefore, though the team’s collective use of the pitch was below average, no one had a terrible slider (other teams were just more effective in their use of the pitch).

Best — Joba Chamberlain (+7.5)
Worst — Sergio Mitre (-0.1)

Any thoughts on the numbers?

4 Responses to “A closer look at the rotation’s pitch selection in 2009”

  1. crazy that AJ’s fastball was so bad considering he’s really a two pitch pitcher  (Quote)

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  2. So the Yankees staff had a below average year, by these standards?

    -64.3 + 15.6 + 18.7 – .1 + 14.9 + 11.9 = -3.3  (Quote)

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  3. Really surprised Joba ‘s fastball was so bad. I thought that was his best pitch.  (Quote)

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  4. Posada.  (Quote)

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