FanPost

Some Analysis of Drew Hutchison's Debut


After Hutch's up-and-down debut on Saturday in which he ultimately secured the win, I wanted to look a little deeper using some Pitchf/x analysis. At this point, only Brooks Baseball had the data uploaded, so I am going off their data. They take Gameday data and apply their own classification algorithms, so it may be a little different than what is seen elsewhere, but I find their algorithm is usually a little more accurate.

Using their excellent player cards, there's two things main things I want to look at for Hutchison. First, the characteristics of the pitches he threw:

Classification_medium

Unsurprisingly, we saw the four pitch mix the scouting report told us to expect: 2 fastballs, a four seamer and two seamer (labelled as a sinker here), change-up and slider. Two things stick out to me - first, that the fastball was used almost 80% of the time, which is pretty high. Second, the similar average velocity of the two fastballs. The scouting reports on him usually say he sits 90-92 with the two seamer, so it was on average a fair bit quicker that.

Next, we can look at the outcomes of each pitch type:

Breakdown_large

There's some pretty interesting information here. First, as was noted in the game thread, both home runs were hit on change-ups, which is supposed to be Hutchison's best secondary. One of the other two change-ups put in play was lined to KJ in the 4th, I don't know if it was hard hit or not. It was suggested in the game thread that KC may have been sitting on it, despite the HRs I don't think this was the case after reviewing the pitch-by-pitch data

The biggest thing that sticks out to me is that he seemed to have trouble command the twoseam fastball, as less than half went for strikes. Significantly, of the 25 that were taken, 80% went for balls, which suggests he was generally missing significantly. He failed to generate a single swinging strike, and gave up a couple of line drives. My understanding is this is his bread-and-butter pitch, so if he was having trouble with it, it could explain some of the struggles.

By contrast, the four seamer was pretty good, generating a swinging strike rate of roughly 10%, which is about the major league average, and generating all grounders on the 3 balls in play. I downloaded the Excel data in order to look at the inning-by-inning use of pitch types, as well as which type of fastball. This is unadjusted MLBAM data, so the counts of the two fastballs don't precisely tie in, but it's close enough to give an idea:

Inning_medium

Hutchison had very easy innings in the first (HR excepted, and it was a change), third and fourth innings. In those innings, he used less FBs overall, and used more four seamers relative to two seamers. He got into some trouble when he used a high proportion of FB and tried to mix in the two seamer.

Finally, the slider is supposed to be his most inconsistent pitch - it flashes plus. It was actually decent, giving up only single on 5 balls in play, of which 4 were fly ball. Interestingly, if there was a pitch KC batter were sitting on, it appeared to be this one, as 7 of 11 were put in play (and 3 of the other 4 were balls) and there were a number of fly balls so location ma have been an issue.

Some other notes (all using unadjusted MLBAM data) :

  • Hutchison threw first pitch strikes to only 9 of 26 batter (35%, major league average is 50% this season).
  • Of the 17 batters who saw ball 1, 10 went to 2-0. When 38% of the batters have a 2-0 count, that's never going to work out well. Of those 10 batters to go 2-0, 5 saw another ball, 2 took a called strike, one ball was fouled off, and the two balls put into play went for a double and the Hosmer HR in the 5th.
  • The four seamer was used equally to lefties (21) and righties (21)
  • The two seamer was used much more against lefties (28) than righties (8)
  • Of the 10 change-ups, 3 were even in the count, 4 were behind in the count and 3 were ahead in the count. All but one were to lefties.
  • Of the 11 sliders, 7 were even in the count (5 were first pitch), 3 were ahead in the count (2 outs and a foul), and 1 was behind in the count, and it was only one to go for a hit. Also, 9 of the 11 were to righties.
  • Of the 14 lefty batters, 3 got hits, but they did damage, being the triple and the two HR. All 3 BB were to them, which follows from the fact that he used the two seamer against them and had trouble throwing for strikes. Perhaps the KC lefties knew he wouldn't use the slider, and were sitting on the two seam/change-up plane.
  • Of the 12 righty batters, 5 got hits, including two doubles and the HBP.

Assuming Hutchison gets another start, I will be watcing for two things in particular - throwing first pitch strikes, and command of the two seamer. I'll be watching the results on the change-up too, but it seems to the me that the first two are more critical. Any other thoughts or criticisms, please leave in the comments

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