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2015 MLB Almanac: Rookie Pitchers by the Numbers

Felipe Melecio uses advanced stats to break down the MLB starting pitcher rookie class of 2015.

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Major League Baseball announced their official Rookie of the Year (ROY) award recipients. Both players selected from the American and National League were position players. The last five years or so in baseball has been heralded as a pitching renaissance of sorts as strikeouts are on the high, walks are under control, and runs are very hard to come by.

However, it can be argued that the best, young players are position players. From Bryce Harper and Mike Trout to Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa, MLB is seeing a much-needed youth movement inject the sport with new life and hopefully bring in more runs, action, and a younger fan base to baseball.

With all that being said, it most certainly does not mean that there were no rookie pitchers worth noting. We will discuss the best rookie pitchers of 2015 per sabermetrics.

FUBAR

Using Felipe’s Ultimate Baseball Advanced Rankings (or FUBAR for short) we will determined who were the best rookie pitchers of 2015.

FUBAR uses two stats to evaluate pitching performance:

  • Field Independent Pitching (FIP)–at its most elementary, FIP creates a hypothetical world where a pitcher does not have to worry about random factors that affect his production or performance, such as defense and luck.
  • Skill-Interactive Earned Run Average (SIERA)–Similar to FIP, but SIERA also accounts for a pitcher’s balls in play.

For a more detailed look at these metrics, click here.

Before we announce our 2015 ultimate pitching staff, let’s take a look at some of the more obscure stats for these pitchers (minimum 60 innings pitched for starters and 30 innings pitched for relievers).

BATTED BALLS

MOST LIKELY TO INDUCE GROUNDERS

Starter: Aaron SanchezToronto Blue Jays

Reliever: Carson Smith, Seattle Mariners

MOST LIKELY TO INDUCE FLY BALLS

Starter: Adam Morgan, Philadelphia Phillies

Reliever: Yimi Garcia, Los Angeles Dodgers

…FORCE POP UPS

Starter: Cody Anderson, Cleveland Indians

Reliever: Chasen Shreve, New York Yankees

…FLY BALL GET HIT FOR A HOME RUN

Starter: Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays

Reliever: Ryan Tepera, Blue Jays

…SEE THEIR PITCHES GET PULLED

Starter: Kendall Graveman, Oakland Athletics

Reliever: Ryan Tepera, Blue Jays

…SEE PITCHES GO TO OPPOSITE FIELD

Starter: Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks

Reliever: Cam Bedrosian, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

…GET HIT SOFTLY

Starter: Luis Severino, Yankees

Reliever: Luis Garcia, Phillies

…GET HIT HARD

Starter: Robbie Ray, D’backs

Reliever: Bo Schultz, Blue Jays

PLATE DISCIPLINE

MOST LIKELY TO INDUCE SWINGS OUTSIDE THE STRIKE ZONE

Starter: Joe Ross, Washington Nationals

Reliever: Pedro Villareal, Reds

…TO INDUCE CONTACT OUTSIDE THE STRIKE ZONE

Starter: Justin Nicolino, Miami Marlins

Reliever: Pedro Villareal, Reds

…TO HAVE HIS PITCHES INSIDE THE STRIKE ZONE

Starter: Chris Bassitt, Oakland Athletics

Reliever: Yimi Garcia, Dodgers

…TO THROW FIRST PITCH FOR A STRIKE

Starter: Adam Morgan, Phillies

Reliever: Trevor May, Minnesota Twins

…TO INDUCE SWINGING STRIKES

Starter: Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets and Henry Owens, Boston Red Sox

Reliever: Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays

PITCHf/x–TYPE

MOST LIKELY TO THROW A FASTBALL

Starter: Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox

Reliever: Trevor Gott, Angels

…TWO-SEAMER

Starter: Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays

Reliever: Arodys Vizcaino, Braves

…CUTTER

Starter: Carlos Frias, Dodgers

Reliever: Ryan Tepera, Blue Jays

…SINKER

Starter: William Perez, Braves

Reliever: Carson Smith, Mariners

…SLIDER

Starter: Joe Ross, Nationals

Reliever: Aaron Thompson, Twins

…CURVE

Starter: Taylor Jungmann, Milwaukee Brewers

Reliever: Keone Kela, Texas Rangers

…KNUCKLE CURVE

Starter: Nate Karns, Rays

Reliever: Corey Knebel, Brewers

…CHANGE UP

Starter: Henry Owens, Red Sox

Reliever: Chasen Shreve, Yankees

PITCHf/x–VELOCITY

FASTBALL

Starter: Noah Syndergaard, Mets (96.5 mph)

Reliever: Arquimedes Caminero, Pirates (97.8)

TWO-SEAMER

Starter: Alex Colome, Rays (95.1)

Reliever: Arodys Vizcaino, Braves (97.6)

SINKER

Starter: Noah Syndergaard, Mets (97.0)

Reliever: Arodys Vizcaino, Braves (98.2)

SLIDER

Starter: Luis Severino, Yankees (89.0)

Reliever: Arquimedes Caminero, Pirates (91.0)

CURVE

Starter: Lance McCullers, Houston Astros (84.2)

Reliever: Justin Miller, Colorado Rockies (86.0)

CHANGEUP

Starter: Lance McCullers, Astros (88.3)

Reliever: Bruce Rondon, Detroit Tigers (89.9)

HORIZONTAL MOVEMENT

SLIDER

Starter: Taylor Jungmann (right-handed pitcher (RHP)), Brewers

Henry Owens (left-handed pitcher (LHP)), Red Sox

Reliever: Chaz Roe, (RHP) Baltimore Orioles

Sean Gilmartin, (LHP) New York Mets

CURVE

Starter: Chris Bassitt (RHP), A’s

Henry Owens (LHP), Red Sox

Reliever: Trevor May, (RHP) Twins

Tom Layne, (LHP) Red Sox

RELIEF PITCHERS

Leading all rookies in strikeouts (92), Seattle Mariners’ Carson Smith is the top relief pitcher, per FUBAR. Placing second in FIP and first in SIERA, Smith utilized his sinker to induce a lot of ground balls, helping him keep hitters from causing too much damage. Smith also shared the lead in Holds among all rookies.

Ultimately, the biggest reason he is the top rookie reliever of 2015 is because of his strikeouts. Smith led all rookies with a whopping 32.4 percent Strikeout Percentage (K%).

Here’s how the rest of the top five relievers looked like:

  1. Carson Smith–415 points
  2. Alex Colome–340
  3. Ken Giles–200
  4. Pedro Baez–200
  5. Yimi Garcia–185

STARTING PITCHING

There’s no doubt about this one, the Rookie Starting Pitcher of the Year goes to a guy who goes by the name of Thor.

Noah Syndergaard dominated all rookies in both FUBAR categories. Armed with a fastball and sinker that reaches into the high 90s, it’s no surprise he induced a lot of swinging strikes this past season. Of course, this combination of stuff and velocity helped Syndergaard lead all rookies in K% (27.5 percent).

Plus the intangibles are worth mentioning here as well. Yes, he was part of an impressive, young core with the Mets’ starting rotation, but Thor has the makings and demeanor of a future ace.

American League Rep: Lance McCullers–Although just a rookie, McCullers showed us a glimpse of greater things to come in Houston. With the help of his curve ball and changeup, McCullers would finish third in K%.

The top rookie pitchers per FUBAR are as follows:

  1. Noah Syndergaard–460 points
  2. Lance McCullers–330
  3. Raisel Iglesias–220: Finishing second in K%, Iglesias sort of flew under the radar playing with a bad Reds’ team.
  4. Joe Ross–190: A top 25 pick in the amateur draft of 2011, Ross would finish sixth in K% and Walk Percentage (BB%) with the help of his slider, which had a lot of hitters chasing this past season.
  5. Trevor May–180: Utilized more out of the bullpen, May did make 16 starts to qualify as a starter on this list. May would finish 11th in K% due to an aggressive style (he’s always looking to aggressively pound balls in the strike zone) and a sweeping curve which keeps hitters chasing and difficult to make contact against. May also finished second in BB%. With a combination of assertiveness and control, May is looking like a solid, mid-rotation starter as he enters his peak years.

Featured Image Credit: By Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version)UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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