6/23/21 : Counting Pitches
In 1988 MLB began tracking pitches as an official statistic … it didn’t really become a “thing” until 1999 when Dr. James Andrews, the world-renowned orthopedic surgeon, suggested that 100 pitches would be a ballpark figure for when an arm tires during a pitching outing. As the game has evolved pitch count has become a daily discussion.
I thought I’d take a look back at a “throwback” Phillies team, the 1993 Phillies and how the starting pitching staff compares to this year’s staff in regards to pitch count and other related statistics. Realizing that coming off a shortened season this year which causes even more caution in how long current pitchers go in games nonetheless some numbers may still surprise us 🧐.
I used Baseball Reference box scores to accumulate the data. Here’s a glossary of how I’ll present my findings. I’ve accumulated the first 70 games of the 1993 season to compare with the 70 games played thus far this season.
Average # of Pitches - represents the total number of pitches by starters thrown divided by games played
Average Innings Pitched - represents the total number of IP by starters divided by the games played
Average K’s - represents the total number of strikeouts by starters divided by the games played
Average BB - represents the total number walks by starters divided by the games played
Average Batters Faced - represents the total number of batters faced by starters divided by the games played
Average P/Batter - represents the total number of pitches by starters divided by the total batters faced
Average BIP % - represents the number of batters faced who put the ball in play during their AB divided by the total number of batters faced
Average BK % - represents the number of batters faced who struck out during their AB divided by the total number of batters faced
Here’s the team comparisons thru seventy games …
As can be seen the 1993 team had a 16 pitch higher average per game after 70 games played but also a much higher percentage of balls put in play ( 76 % to 65 % ). Aligned with that the 1993 team struck out less batters faced ( 16 % to 26 % ) than this year’s team ( 4.6 per game as compared to 5.7 ) and that perhaps helped them to be able to stretch out to almost a 7 IP per start average as compared to 5.4 IP average for this years staff. Walks are about the same albeit the average pitches to each per batter is higher for the 2021 team presumably due to an increased emphasis on delivering strikeouts.
Here’s a breakdown of the 1993 starters thru 70 games …
And here’s this year’s staff …
The emphasis on strikeouts in today’s game is evident in the comparison. Over the first 70 games in 1993 there were six games where the starter had 9 or more strikeouts with Terry Mulholland tallying the most with 14 in game 53. There were only two games where the starter had 10 or more in 1993 in the first 70 games with Tommy Greene producing the other one … a 10 game strikeout performance in game 37.
The 2021 staff has 11 games where the starting pitcher has 9 or more strikeouts … there are six games with 10 or more ( Aaron Nola has 2 at ten each & Zack Wheeler has 4 games of 10 or more with the most being 14 in game 52.
I will update the data after at around 100 games played to see if still skewing the same way. Just data … there are no miracles 🤓
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️