Who is the Blue Jays Top Swing-and-Miss Pitcher?

Jays From the Couch continues to utilize Fangraphs.com in an attempt to forecast strengths of the Blue Jays 2016 pitching staff, this time looking for the Blue Jays top swing-and-miss pitcher

To find the Blue Jays Top 5 swing-and-miss pitchers listed on the Toronto Blue Jays 40-man roster this article will rank the pitchers according to first pitch strike (F-Strike%), swings at pitches outside of the zone (O-Swing%), and swing and misses (SwStr%).

This article will look at any pitcher that threw in the Major Leagues during the 2015 season. With no inning limit there is a risk that small sample sizes could skew the results. Using a 20IP qualifier should offer a large enough sample size to eliminate outliers. There are 18 Toronto pitcher which qualify for this exercise. Each pitcher will get ranked from 1-18 for each category. The top pitcher will be given the score of 1 and the 18th pitcher will get a score of 18. The pitcher with the lowest score is anointed Toronto’s Best Swing and Miss Pitcher.

It’s been said that the most important pitch for a pitcher is strike one, so this article will rank pitchers according to their ability to throw first pitch strikes. Listed below are the Blue Jays Top 5 first pitch strikes according to 2015 stats accumulated by Fansgraphs.

 2016 Top 5 F-Strike%

  1. Marcus Stroman– 67.0
  2. Aaron Loup– 65.6
  3. Steve Delabar and Drew Hutchison– 65.1
  4. Ryan Tepera– 64.1
  5. Roberto Hernandez– 63.6

As a rule many batters will take strike one. This gives the batter a chance to witness first hand what the ball looks like coming out of a pitchers hand, it allows them to see the pitchers fastball, which typically is what the pitcher throws to get ahead in the count. Once a pitcher is ahead in the count the ‘nibbling’ starts. A pitchers ability to entice a batter to swing at pitches out of the zone speaks volumes about a pitchers movement and how he sets up an at-bat. Below are the Top 5 Blue Jays pitchers who generate a high percentage of swing and misses on pitches outside of the zone.

2016 Top 5 O-Swing%

  1. Steve Delabar- 35.4
  2. Brett Cecil– 34.2
  3. Ryan Tepera- 33.9
  4. Roberto Osuna– 33.8
  5. Drew Hutchison- 33.1

Lastly, a pitcher must be able to miss bats, which is the last category. Fangraphs (full definition) defines this category swing and misses divided by total pitchers. While pitchers can generate looking strikes as well, swing and miss pitches are a better indicator of dominant performance(full article). Below is the Top 5 SwStr% among Blue Jays pitchers.

2016 Top 5 SwStr%

  1. Brett Cecil- 15.00
  2. Roberto Osuna- 14.70
  3. Steve Delabar- 12.70
  4. Drew Storen– 12.20
  5. Bo Shultz- 10.70

Toronto’s Best Swing and Miss Pitcher is a relief pitcher who spent more time in Triple-A with the Buffalo Bisons than the Toronto Blue Jays. Steve Delabar, owner of 2-0 record and 5.22ERA in 31 games and 29.1IP finished with 8 points. Delabar’s 35.40 O-Swing%, 65.10 F-Strike%, and 12.70 SwStr% was good enough for 1st, 3rd and 4th. The 2013 All-Star struck out 9.2 batters per 9 innings, yet allowed 8.6 hits per 9 and 4.3 walks per 9. If Steve Delabar can maintain his swing and miss ability and decrease the hits and walks, then he becomes a valuable arm at the back-end of the Blue Jays bullpen. 2016 could be a Make of Break season for him in Toronto.

Top 5 Swing and Miss (pts)

  1. Steve Delabar- 8
  2.  Roberto Osuna and Ryan Tepera- 15
  3. Brett Cecil- 17
  4. Drew Hutchison- 18
  5. Bo Schultz– 22

Although the results were not what I’d expected when I started this exercise, the results are interesting. With the exceptions of Osuna and Cecil, the other Top 5 recipients either did have good years or are not considered to be key contributors in 2016. To end this exercise I leave you with the bottom 5. If you have any questions or criticisms, feel free to leave them in the comment section and I’ll try to address them.

Bottom 5 

  1. Aaron Sanchez– 52
  2. Arnold Leon– 44
  3. Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ– 42
  4. Marco Estrada– 35
  5. R.A. Dickey and Marcus Stroman- 34


*Featured Image Credit: James G UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0



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