Pitcher Whiff Rates In & Out Of The Strike-Zone

BtB’s fearless leader Sky raised a question recently about whether it was better for a pitcher to induce swings and misses out of the strike-zone, or to miss bats in the zone. My guess would be that it’s better to be unhittable in the zone, since it would seem to indicate better “stuff”, but sometimes these things are counter-intuitive. I decided to take in introductory look by selecting qualified starters from 2009 and breaking them down into groups by those that had better than average contact rates in and out of the zone, plus those pitchers that did both or neither. Check it out! And as a bonus, here’s a list of the top 5 whiff generators in and out of the zone so far in 2010 (plus the O’s leader):

Lowest contact rate in the zone:

5. Johnny Cueto – 83.9%

4. Johan Santana – 82.6%

3. Tim Lincecum – 81.5%

2. Josh Johnson – 80.2%

1. Clayton Kershaw – 77.5%

Lowest contact rate out of the zone:

5. The Freaky Franchise* – 50.7%

4. Chris Carpenter – 50.0%

3. Jaime Garcia – 50.0%

2. Ervin Santana – 48.1%

1. Ricky Romero – 47.9%

* Know a good nickname in baseball today? Add it to the thread, please.

The top Oriole in the zone is Brian Matusz, and the the leader outside the zone (by a hair over Matusz) is David Hernandez. That makes sense once you read the article at BtB.