Throwing Strikes: How Important Is It?

The title is a little misleading, as throwing strikes is important. If you don’t throw strikes you can’t win, simple. But, how important are those few extra percentage of strikes you throw. 

I looked at multiple categories of numbers, and looks to see if there was a correlation with strike percentage. I only graphed the two extremes, and the one with the least correlation to keep this from getting out of hand. To the graph-mobile!
Click on graphs for larger view
That one should have been obvious, right? The more strikes you throw, the less you walk people. Next up:

The one that should actually be next is FIP, but because walks are such a big part of it’s value I stayed away from it. Then again, WAR uses FIP, so there goes that theory. This was the biggest of the positive sector, so let’s go with that reason. Looking at this data, we can see that throwing strikes is important to winning, no doubt about it. Graph 3, coming up:
I was a bit surprised to see FB% had the least correlation with strike throwing. I thought pitchers with less control would provide more oppritunity for hitters to crush the ball in the air, but I was wrong there as well. 
Let’s take a look at the other categories not graphed:
FIP: -0.54 correlation
WPA: 0.33
K/9: 0.24
LD%: 0.21
GB%: -0.19
BABIP: 0.13
HR/9: -0.12
I was surprised to see HR/9 so far down on the list as well. The important thing to remember is that this does not show where these strikes are located, just strikes in general.
Just remember, pounding the strike zone is a good thing, but only if you can locate. No use throwing it in the kill zone.
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3 Responses to Throwing Strikes: How Important Is It?

  1. Mike Silver says:

    Nice article Zach. The .21 correlation with LD% is interesting, as it makes sense that the more strikes a pitcher throws, the more hittable pitches a batter sees, and more Line Drives are hit. I love DIPS theory, but its great to see its limitations tested.

  2. Dan says:

    I suppose if you are a tad wild, you keep hitters on their toes and not as comfortable at the plate. That could theoretically lead to less home runs.

  3. Dan Novick says:

    If you’re wild enough that major league hitters are getting nervous, then you’re not going to last very long.

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