Pitchers, why you do this?

I have spent more than a few lines of words in the league’s slack chat on my opinion that MLB has juiced the ball. Things appear to be different. Monday night I got excited because Team Hydra got a negative start from Wei-Yin Chen. Only to be deuce’d on by Gio Gonzalez against the Mets who went even more negative.


Anyway this inspired me to collect some data. I already had all the game logs of 2015 starts thanks to Baseball Reference’s Play Index. So I added to that data, 2016 starts thanks to FanTrax using some data scraping. I had to know, are starters worse this year versus last year, or are the guys I trust just doing poorly.

The answer tends to be a little bit of both. Using the labels that I arbitrarily came up with at some point to describe starts you can see the differences below:

Games 2015 2016 Diff
RU Serious 0.39% 0.31% -0.08%
Perfect 1.07% 0.39% -0.68%
Unreal 5.54% 5.11% -0.42%
Outstanding 10.48% 10.84% 0.37%
Great 12.00% 14.25% 2.25%
Good 14.37% 12.16% -2.21%
Average 15.34% 12.86% -2.48%
Bad 16.16% 17.82% 1.66%
Awful 24.66% 26.26% 1.60%

It kind of appears to be both. I expected larger differences. Ultimately numbers are down. Awful starts are up, bad starts are up. Good and average starts are significantly down. Great starts happen to be up! And while the super starts are slightly down, that is more likely the difference one or two.

So what does this mean? Probably nothing. It is early yet in the baseball season, pitchers are just starting to get deeper into games and injured pitchers are being weeded out. At this point I would not be surprised to see 2015 and 2016 end up the same way. For The Foundation’s pitching, well, hopefully we stop screwing around.