On WHIFFs and Patience

by enosarris on July 8, 2010

You may notice that we’ve got a new widget on this page. On the bottom right you’ll find the beginnings of a new project for the Playing Field.

That widget represents the hard work of Niv Shah to date, and right now it shows the leading pitches by WHIFF rate. In other words, Manny Corpas owns the most-missed-on pitch in the major leagues right now. Though his overall arsenal produces a mix that only strikes out about 6.24 guys per nine innings career (which is slightly below average for all pitchers and decidedly below-average for relievers), his curveup is so filthy that more than a third of the swings against the pitch find air.

The Playing Field isn’t aiming to join the statistical fray out there – obviously. Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, Baseball-Reference and the like are all great websites that are at the frorefront of statistically-minded baseball analysis. They will remain so long after the Playing Field has laughed our way to greatness, or hasn’t.

No, we are about fun here. We think it’s a fun thing to know which single pitch pretzles up the batters best. Want to know which batter swings and misses against which pitch more than anyone in baseball? Bzang. Want to know which pitcher has the whiffiest curveball? Bzing. Want to know which single pitch gets the best WHIFF rates for a single pitcher? Bzoom. Want to know which pitch really kills your favorite batter? Bzam.

You’ll be able to sort the leaderboard by pitcher, by batter, by pitch, and and by WHIFF rate. We’ve decided that batters should have seen at least eight pitches per game played, and ten of any given pitch, before they show up on the leaderboard. On the pitching side, pitchers will have had to put in five appearances minimum, and thrown at least ten of any pitch before they show up on the leaderboard.

Of course, much of this is still hypothetical, and that’s where the patience comes in. Your patience. Because for now, we just have an un-sortable preview widget on the bottom right of the page. You can see what’s coming in this space, and in a word, it should be fun. Tomorrow, Carson Cistulli begins a long string of excellent guest-writers for the Playing Field.

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