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What are average pitching stats in Major League Baseball right now?

Are the players on your team above or below average?

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

We continue our dive down league averages but this time we shift to the pitcher side.

For the purposes of this, all stats were driven by Fangraphs among all pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched in 2018 and 2019. This ended up being 341 pitchers in 2019 and 336 pitchers in 2018.

General Pitching: The average 5x5 or 6x6 stats mostly lie here

For this I isolated the wins and losses to just players that had at least one so players who just do holds and saves and had no skin in the game are removed. Likewise with saves, I removed anyone who didn’t earn one so you could get a clear view of any player who was actually in a position to earn those stats. As you will see the average pitcher wins 6.1 games, loses 5.8 and saves 8 games with an average of 42 games participated in (this is a mix of both relievers and starters) and runs around 100 innings pitched. They strike out nine players per nine innings (so one batter per inning) and walk 3 per inning (or one player every three innings). They allow 1 to 1.3 home runs a game and leave a batter on base 73% of the time. They have a 4.3 ERA and a 1.3 walks plus hits per inning pitched.

General Pitching Stats 2018 & 2019

Year W L SV G GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB ERA WHIP FIP
Year W L SV G GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB ERA WHIP FIP
2019 6.13 5.84 7.79 41.99 19.21 100.62 9.07 3.17 1.35 0.29 0.73 0.43 0.15 4.30 1.30 4.33
2018 6.17 5.83 9.92 41.60 20.21 103.04 8.70 3.18 1.09 0.29 0.74 0.44 0.12 3.91 1.27 3.99
2018 vs. 2019 -1% 0% -21% 1% -5% -2% 4% 0% 24% 1% -1% -1% 24% 10% 2% 9%
2019 High 21 17 41 83 34 223.00 7.04 3.15 0.39 0.95 0.77 0.29 9.58 7.65 2.02 6.04
2019 Low 0 0 0 10 0 50.00 0.79 0.13 0.17 0.55 0.18 0.03 1.19 1.30 0.80 2.21
2018 High 21 16 57 82 35 220.20 8.25 3.20 0.38 0.93 0.71 0.32 6.92 7.16 1.80 5.91
2018 Low 0 0 0 9 0 50.00 0.77 0.14 0.21 0.57 0.19 0.02 0.78 1.61 0.79 1.78

Notable Conclusions: Take a look at the saves, down 21% as it’s spread out more with a number of players getting 1-2 saves and fewer and fewer 10+ saves relievers. The other big piece is the HR/9 and HR/FB both which spiked 24% YoY, this doesn’t come as too big of a surprise but that hurts the ERA which jumped 10% YoY.

Total Pitch Usage: What types of pitches are being thrown and how fast are they?

Similar to the last category, I removed any pitcher who didn’t have a type of pitch thrown last season into these metrics. The NP at the front is “net pitches” so an average pitcher (which at least 50 innings pitched) threw 1,690 balls in 2018 and 1,419 in 2019 (thank you injuries, larger rotations, and fewer innings pitched). It didn’t surprise me much to see fastballs being used 50% of the time, while I was surprised to see sliders being thrown almost 10% more in 2019 than 2018.

Total Pitch Usage 2018 & 2019

Year NP FB% FBv SL% SLv CT% CTv CB% CBv CH% CHv SF% SFv KN% KNv XX%
Year NP FB% FBv SL% SLv CT% CTv CB% CBv CH% CHv SF% SFv KN% KNv XX%
2019 1419.43 52.50% 93.13 18.40% 84.36 5.90% 88.39 10.60% 78.72 11.10% 85.33 1.40% 86.28 0.00% 64.00 0.40%
2018 1690.30 55.00% 92.87 16.90% 84.20 5.70% 88.43 10.50% 78.54 10.70% 85.28 1.30% 86.99 1.00% 75.50 0.50%
2018 vs. 2019 -16% -5% 0% 9% 0% 4% 0% 1% 0% 4% 0% 8% -1% -100% -15% -20%
2019 High 16.41 88.50% 98.50 70.50% 92.50 75.30% 93.80 60.00% 87.30 52.00% 92.70 65.40% 92.60 0.00% 64.00 2.60%
2019 Low 4.6 0.10% 84.30 0.10% 72.50 0.10% 83.10 0.10% 68.10 0.10% 72.60 0.40% 79.90 0.00% 64.00 0.00%
2018 High 16.31 94.20% 100.50 58.00% 92.00 84.30% 93.80 46.70% 87.00 42.80% 93.70 46.30% 94.00 92.00% 75.50 3.30%
2018 Low 3.62 0.30% 83.70 0.10% 72.80 0.10% 78.40 0.10% 68.50 0.10% 70.90 0.10% 80.50 92.00% 75.50 0.00%

Notable Conclusions: Three things jumped out to me. First, the fastball velocity went up almost half a MPH, that tells me that the usage of more pitchers and limiting innings is allowing pitchers to throw harder. The knuckleball, arguably the best ball to dip in velocity, did by 15%, while its usage is almost nonexistent (thank you Mike Minor and Steven Wright for holding strong), it has improved as well. Finally, this isn’t shown on the table but the split-finger is an increasingly popular pitch and the analysts are really enjoying seeing how it’s used. The number of pitchers who threw a split-finger went up from 30 pitchers in 2018 to 41 in 2019.

Total H-Movement: Total horizontal movement in inches according to pitch f/x.

Negative amounts will show a pitch moving TOWARDS a right handed hitter, Positive amounts show a pitch moving TOWARDS a left handed hitter. FA is Fastball, FC is Cutter, FS is Split-finger, SI is a Sinker, CH is a Changeup, SL is a slider, CU is a curveball, CS is a slow curve, and KN is a knuckleball.

Total H-Movement 2018 & 2019

Year FA-X FC-X FS-X SI-X CH-X SL-X CU-X CS-X KN-X
Year FA-X FC-X FS-X SI-X CH-X SL-X CU-X CS-X KN-X
2019 towards RHH 4.5 1.7 4.4 7.7 7.7 3.3 4.8 7.5 4.4
2019 towards LHH -4.5 -1.6 -5.7 -8.0 -7.3 -3.0 -4.5 -8.3 -4.1
2018 towards RHH 5.1 1.8 6.9 8.5 8.2 3.5 5.1 8.2 0.0
2018 towards LHH -4.3 -1.0 -5.9 -8.1 -7.4 -2.7 -4.5 -8.9 0.0
2018 vs. 2019 RHH -11% -4% -36% -9% -7% -6% -7% -9% NA
2018 vs. 2019 LHH 5% 68% -3% -1% -1% 13% -1% -7% NA
2019 High 10.5 17 41 83 34 223 16.41 7.04 3.15
2019 Low -9.9 0 0 10 0 50 4.6 0.79 0.13
2018 High 21 16 57 82 35 220.2 16.31 8.25 3.2
2018 Low 0 0 0 9 0 50 3.62 0.77 0.14

Notable Conclusions: With the increased speed on fastballs, it looks like the horizontal movement has diminished. This wasn’t just fastballs, essentially each of the pitches saw a decrease in horizontal movement with the exception of cutters and sliders.

Total V-Movement: Total vertical movement in inches according to pitch f/x.

FA is a Fastball, FC is a Cutter, FS is a Split Finger, SI is a Sinker, CH is a Changeup, SL is a Slider, CU is a Curveball and KN is a Knuckleball. Typically a fastball, cutter, split-finger, sinker, changeup and slider will be in positive amounts while a curveball will go negative (some sliders can go negative depending).

Total V-Movement 2018 & 2019

Year FA-Z FC-Z FS-Z SI-Z CH-Z SL-Z CU-Z KN-Z
Year FA-Z FC-Z FS-Z SI-Z CH-Z SL-Z CU-Z KN-Z
2019 8.18 4.23 3.46 5.43 3.95 2.18 4.61 7.05
2018 8.55 4.63 2.28 5.71 4.17 1.91 1.07 #DIV/0!
2018 vs. 2019 -4% -9% 52% -5% -5% 14% 332% #DIV/0!
2019 High 11.4 9.1 10.1 10.6 9.5 9.3 12.4 -7.9
2019 Low -2.5 -3.2 -5.4 -5.9 -3.3 -9.6 -11.9 -11.4
2018 High 12.2 9.2 5.6 11.1 9.7 6.3 1.7 -4.8
2018 Low -0.3 0.5 -0.4 -6.3 -8.2 -6.9 -13 -11

Notable Conclusions: Curveballs are showing a marked decrease in horizontal movement (-4%) while showing an uptick in vertical movement (up 332%). The same is true for a split finger that was down 3-36% in Horizontal movement but is up 52% in vertical movement.