Talk about burying the lede. This past June saw the Rays record the most strikeouts in any month in the history of Major League Baseball. They even managed to do it in the second shortest month on the calendar! The final stroke was a Brad Boxxxberger strikeout in the last inning of the last day of the month. It’s fitting that Boxxxy clinched the record while locking down the game, because he has been straight fiyahhh this month striking out more than 45% of all batters faced!!
Naturally, when a great feat is accomplished the thinking man seeks to gather more information in the name of knowledge. Here are some nuggs that I have gleaned from the impeccable, super sexxxy, and downright free Baseball Savant:
(Please click to enlarge if you don’t feel like reaching for your cheaters)
I have sorted this table by Strikeout% (K%), though it’s chock full of other really good stuff. As mentioned, Boxxxy has been a freak, but we also see incredible numbers nearly across the board. In the 2014 version of the American League the average starters is striking out 19.1% of batters while the average reliever amps that up to 21.6%. Every starter not on horse steroids bettered that average and the same for all relievers that aren’t Juan Carlos Nunez or Josh Pueke. Even better, the average unintentional walk rate (uBB%) for starters sits at 7.4% while that moves to 9.3% for relievers which sees many Rays also sitting pretty.
Peruse the rest of that stuff to see what you find interesting, particularly the distance stuff which I think is really cool. I wouldn’t stop you if you want to use that as a proxy for hard or weak contact, which makes Jake McGee look even more ridiculous. I’d like to move on to pitch results:
Here is a chart. It has colors. The vertical segment of each column shows the contribution of each pitch outcome for each pitcher. For instance, we see that Jake McGee is second on the team in garnering a swinging strike at 15.5%, while Balfour’s 24.0% called strike rate is best on the team. Also, Josh Lueke is a pretty bad pitcher, and apparently a rapist, pass it on. Here’s the table for that chart for those that prefer numbers:
If you consider this stuff to be more on the process-side of the spectrum, then let’s move to the other end and check out the results for each of these pitchers in the month of June:
I have sorted by wRAA and you see for the month the entire team was around 33 runs better than average, which is really, really good. The team, as a whole, put up a wOBA against of .279 with the starting triumvirate of Price, Hodor, and Archer just not allowing batters to do much of anything at the plate. Surprisingly, Cobb had a pretty bad month. We saw above that he was uncharacteristically walking quite a few batters, and we see here that they also hit him around when he was able to find the plate. I expect this sort of thing from Bedard, but there is no one that is higher on Cobb than me, and I’d expect him to turn that around going forward. We also see that the Great and Powerful Boxxx does have a chink in his armor as the longball has been his great nemesis. They’ve mostly been no-doubters, but the crazy thing is that he only gave up eight flyballs, total, in the month to arrive at that total of four taters. It’s a solid reminder to the rest of us plebes that even the best of us have things to work on.
Congratulations to the Rays on adding another accolade to their treasure chest. The pitching has drastically improved from where we were to start the year and if the Rays are going to write themselves a fairy tale then it will need to be just as good going forward. I wanted to include a chart just to give an idea of how good the pitching has been, and how bad it was prior to this run of excellence:
This has been a really good run for the team, which goes back even further if you discount that one peak around the 2200 PA mark. The beginning of the season really set the team back as a beleaguered (and bad) bullpen could not make up for all the slack of replacing 10-15 innings each and every time through the rotation, but on the bright side, the Rays are finding some really solid gems as guys like Odorizzi and Archer become more confident and competent:
David Price is the big name and the big deal, but he can’t hold a candle to these two guys over the last 10 starts or so.
This is really very encouraging as the Rays will undoubtedly be entering a Priceless universe sooner rather than later. It will be sad to see the big fella go, but with these young guns drawing down with Cobb, a surgically repaired Moore, and whatever else bubbles to the surface you’re looking at a very nice rotation going forward.