Jacob Jones and the Disappeared Fastball

© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

This is Kyle’s first piece as a FanGraphs Contributor. Kyle is a lifelong baseball fan and has always been fascinated by the numbers and analysis behind the game. He has written for PitcherList on the pitcher GIFs team and for his personal blog, covering topics from player analysis to draft, mostly focused on angels. Kyle is a final year student at UCLA, lives in the Bay Area and studies education and mathematics. As an aspiring teacher, he wants to think and write about baseball from an educator’s perspective.

From 2017-20, Jacob Jones It was a below average start for the Royal Family, posting a 4.78 ERA and 4.77 FIP. After the poor 2021 that saw him walk off the playing field, he was not introduced by Kansas City and signed with the Giants. Fresh in a season with 107 wins and boosted by a career comeback from bombers like Johnny QuitoAnd the Anthony DisclavaniAnd the Alex WoodClearly, San Francisco has seen a path to Junis’ improvement. Jeunesse mostly works as a starting course member, and he did just that – his FIP improved by about a full run (3.83). Although he didn’t throw more aggressively, make more hits, or add movement to his pitches (the sweeping slider actually lost about an inch of a break), he brought about an important change, one that symbolizes the promotion of philosophy in the modern era. age.

Use the Johnny Jacob Show

Years) Fastball / Sinker slider change else
2017-20 52.6% 39.9% 5.9% 1.7%
2022 32.5% 51.8% 15.7% 0%

Junis replaced a lot of fastballs with a slider and is on his way to being his first starting player (football players have been disqualified) since then George Sousa In 2007 for a singles minor pitch over the half-time. Others approached – Lance McCullers Jr. They threw reflexes about 47% of the time from 2017-18, and Jules Chassin He came amazingly close in 2019 when skaters made up 49.6% of his pitches. But if Jeunesse keeps pace with his last few starts, he will likely be the second player ever to throw a single or unexpected break ball most of the time.

One thing to note: PitchInfo really is Yo Darwish Having thrown sliders more than half the time in 2021, but they were classing nearly all of his breakers as sliders. Darwish himself spoke of manipulation quickly and unequivocallyand sources such as baseball world Also keep in mind that those pitches are breakers.

For most of baseball’s history, speedballs (and dippers—I’ll refer to the four hijackers and dippers collectively as speedballs here) have been the bread and butter of every pitcher’s arsenal. The idea of ​​a “quick ball countdown” has been treated as baseball’s gospel for over a century. In fact, from 2008 to 2010, in the first three years of the pitch-tracking era, more than two-thirds of pitches thrown in stroke count were from fastballs. However, determining positions for throwing fast balls has done more harm to shooters than helped, and fast balls are Only the type of stadium that has recorded negative playback value each season for which we have data.

The teams have figured this outOf course, the percentage of fastballs thrown has decreased dramatically, particularly since the introduction of Statcast in 2015. The new tracking technology has told us a lot – fast balls generate lower swing hit rates than other courts, have hitters chase the area less than other courts, And you’ll get hit more when you play. Over the past decade, league-wide use of fastball has decreased by about 10%, and with 48.6% of pitches in 2022 being fastballs and falls, for the first time they were relegated to a large number of pitches thrown rather than the majority. :

The concept of throwing a secondary pitch for more than half the time has always been familiar to relief shooters. While no one from last year has matched him Matt WhistlerPass-through rate of 91% in 2021, a lot of painkillers relied heavily on broken things. Kiko Calero Four consecutive seasons in which skaters made up more than 50% of his pitches, while Scott Sorbek He had a 2.30 ERA in 2002 while throwing 71% curveballs, an average that even beats that Pierce JohnsonToday’s happiest Savior. Before Devin WilliamsThe airbender has become one of the best stadiums in baseball, another Milwaukee savior, Matt Wise, led him in change in 2005 and 2007. For decades, the painers were allowed to ditch their fastballs because they were never required to face the same blow multiple times. Now beginners seem to be heading in the same direction.

In addition to the fact that fast balls as a whole are less effective than breaking and accelerating, The current era of baseball has blurred the line between beginner and loyal more than ever. The average start in 2022 is 10 pitches and two-thirds shorter than it was a decade ago; Teams now consciously manage around the times through command penalty, and the “five and dive” guy, entering the baseball lexicon as a defining term, is now a solid description for most novice shooters. Jones, while starting 17 of his 21 games so far this year, has occasionally juggled left-handed opening games like Sam Long And the Scott Alexander, which spared Jeunesse from having to take on the best bats of opposing teams three times initially. The result of this shift in thinking by the teams has been evident in the way the starting offerings for beginners have changed, even in just the past five years:

Beginners with Fastball/Sinker usage less than 50%

year percent
2017 27.0%
2018 31.5%
2019 37.1%
2021 46.5%
2022 61.9%

Source: baseball world

minute. 1500 stadiums

Since 2017, the percentage of novice shooters who have thrown something other than a fastball or diver the most times has more than doubled, and in 2022, 61.9% of novices were doing so. (I choose to treat the cutters as not being fastballs here – while there are a few cutlery pitchers, such as Corbin Burns And the Graham Ashcraft, the vast majority of novice shooters who throw cutters use them in conjunction with another fastball, and most use the cutter to play the primary fastball, not the other way around.) Their period in the major tournaments, it especially shines. Junis’ quick balls returned a value of -43.7 during his time in Kansas City, likely due to the sub-par pitch and pace. Many others like him, including Shuhei Ohtani And the Chad Kuhlwhich proved that the sweeper is Not only very effective pitch displayHowever, it is also relatively easy to learn and develop.

Not just sweepers, though. Charlie Morton Capitalizing on his natural talent for spinning elite seasons in his late thirties, he threw more curveballs than four strings, while turning Jeffrey Springs Keep his consistent diet for changes from his prime days. This shift will likely continue to use the playing field – like beginners Sandy AlcantaraAnd the Trevor RogersAnd the Jordan Montgomeryand many others have slowly reduced their use of fastball over time, and yet barely exceed the 50% limit set for this scale.

Of course, this does not mean that elite fastball is not a huge asset to the bowler. Left-handed hitters play an OPS north of the .800 against Junis, whose gravity-focused/sweeping arsenal makes him vulnerable to opposite hitters. The current group of young shooters in the royal family – like men Chris BobickAnd the Jonathan Hesley And the Jackson Quar, who were known in the odds realm as mid-range throwers and elite changers – didn’t have much success in the league despite limiting the use of fastballs. On the other hand, the likes of Justin VerlanderAnd the Carlos RodonAnd the Jacob Degrom They have carried their fastballs to absolute dominance, and have found themselves at the top of our leaderboard year after year. As with many things, overall excellence is needed to make a truly great shooter.

As many fans and analysts alike inherit recent merchandising trends, from openers to starter load management to the myriad of faceless middle painkillers on the Triple-A shuttle, the shift in arsenal use among starters has been one of the most intriguing developments to be had. watch them. The teams that were improved in this section greatly increased the effectiveness of countless pitchers whose roofs were previously thought to have been crowned to serve as hammocks or on a long relief mission. And while Jacob Jeunesse will likely be the first player in over a decade to use a sideshow as his primary, you’ll soon see many just like him.

All statistics as of September 18th.