Science and Baseball

Month: May 2016

Who has the best stuff in baseball? – Volume 4

There seems to be something wrong with the Stuff engine this week… one pitcher is throwing off the numbers, and I’m getting a new leader with an astronomical score. Just going to check under the hood and see what’s wrong…

rich hill 1

Hmm.. at first glance, can’t seem to see anything. Wait a second… what is that… what the….

rich hill 2

Ah damn! Rich Hill! You’re breaking my stuff, man! I guess I can’t blame you. If I could make people fall over just from looking at the pitches I throw, I’d probably do it too. Why do you have to be so nasty?! Let’s just put things in perspective here for a second.

This is Rich’s fastball. Not overpowering by any means – according to FanGraphs, it averages around 90 mph. Now, let’s look at the curveball.

Well, that’s just not very nice. What a beast. The resultant separation between Rich’s curveball and his fastball rise is 24.76″ – the third best of any starting pitcher. However – what actually broke the metric was that Rich snuck in a 58 mph Eephus (according to FanGraphs). That would be a 30% change in velocity, and gave him a stuff score of over 3.5. To account for that, I’ve set a new standard, stating that a pitch must be thrown 30 times by a pitcher before it is included in the repetoire. So thanks, Rich. You made me change the rules. NO CHEATING (you still have the 9th best stuff of any starting pitcher).

Starting Pitchers

I mentioned earlier that Rich Hill had the third most separation between his fastball and curveball in the league. You know who is number one? None other than Toronto Blue Jays’ Aaron Sanchez. This is what his curveball looks like.

Relief Pitchers

The one obvious addition to this list is unfortunately Aroldis Chapman. He throws the ball really hard. Here he is giving up an RBI single to Devon Travis.


That’s all for this stuff report! It’s my last day of work as a post-doctoral researcher, and I must celebrate my entrance to the real world.

Who has the best stuff in baseball? – Volume 3

Welcome to the third installment of the stuff report. It’s kind of like Stuff’s return of the jedi – except with way less ewoks.

A couple of small changes this time around – to make the metric a bit more of a true leaderboard, I’ve implemented some inclusion criteria. For one, starters will only appear of they’ve made as many appearances as there have been weeks in the season. For relievers, they’ve had to have appeared in as many games as there have been weeks in the season. For the team averages, I’ve gone to a weighted average of stuff, based off the number of innings pitchers have thrown. So, for every team – every pitcher who has thrown any proprotion of an inning, has their Stuff score multiplied by the percentage of total innings their team has pitched. For example, if a pitcher has a stuff score of 1.0, has thrown 10 innings, and their team has thrown 100 total innings – their weighted contribution to the team’s stuff score would be:

Weighted Stuff = Stuff * (pitcher innings/total innings)

0.1 = 1.0 * (10 innings / 100 innings)

The sum of all pitcher’s weighted stuff scores are added together, to give a total for each team.

Starting Pitchers

 Compared to Volume 2 of the stuff report, there has been some significant subtractions from the list. Garret Richards and Chris Bassitt – both with elite stuff – have gone on the disabled list with elbow injuries, and will require Tommy John surgery. This leaves Noah Syndergaard and Jake Arrieta at the top of the leaderboard – somewhat running away from the rest of the pack. Their season average stuff has decreased in the past two weeks, but in both cases, the decline has been very small.

The best Stuff of any starting staff still belongs to the Mets. The Phillies also have a very exciting young pitching staff – and their top 5 ranking in the Starting Staff Stuff Metric gives a lot of reasons for hope in Philadelphia. Pulling up the rear of the starting staffs are the Blue Jays – though their Starting Pitcher’s performances this season have been amongst the very best in the league.

Relief Pitchers

Kelvin Herrera remains a very, very bad man at the top of the list of relief pitchers. Second on that list is Pirates reliever, Arquimedes Caminero. He has the best name in the bigs, and the second best stuff of all relief pitchers.

Throwing 99mph really does favour well for having your stuff rank highly.

With the weighted average for Stuff – the Cubs currently have the best bullpen in baseball. The dominance the Cubs have shown so far has allowed them to not rely on their bullpen as much as other teams, but as the season wears on – it looks like they will have yet another weapon to unleash on the National League. As Arolids Chapman pitchers more innings for the Yankees – you can expect that bullpen to rise up in the ranks as well.


Who has the best Stuff in Baseball? – Volume 2

As April comes to a close, the MLB season starts to pick up steam. Blue Jays fans eagerly await a game where they aren’t sitting under a roof. All baseball fans sit and wonder though… which Pitcher has the best stuff in baseball? You’re in the right place.

Starting Pitchers

Individual Pitchers

A bit of a somber start to this edition of the best Stuff in baseball, as our current leader, Chris Bassitt, has been put on the DL with elbow issues. Chris was roughed up by the Blue Jays in his last start, and news surfaced about the pain he’s been dealing with in his elbow. I hope for nothing other than a quick return to health for Chris. One of the most interesting debuts on this list belongs to Blake Snell – the Rays top pitching prospect. His debut against the Yankees resulted in exceptional stuff. Check out this curveball he used against Brian McCann.

Starting Staffs

The Mets assume their rightful place at the top of the MLB’s best Stuff rankings. Lead by Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, the Mets have the most elite stuff of any starting pitching staff. It looks like I’m not alone in thinking this.

Relief Pitchers

Individual Pitchers

The best stuff of any reliever belongs to Kelvin Herrera from the Royals. Herrera has long received praise from analysts, and with his elite fastball and massive amount of breaking distance, it’s not a big surprise.

In the AL East, it’s a bit scary to see how many elite relievers there are – with Craig Kimbrel getting better by the end of April, and Chapman still on the horizon.


The Royals bullpen continues to wear the crown for the best stuff of any relief corps. It will be interesting to see what happens when Arolids Chapman returns from the Suspended list – as not only do Bettances and Miller have elite Stuff, but John Barbato sits near the top of the list. The Yankees are aiming to play 5 inning baseball games.

What is Stuff?

What is Stuff

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