It's been a while. I had two longer blogs lost halfway through to computer crashes. One was moot by the time I had time to sit down and write long-form again. I still plan to write the other at some point in the offseason, but that 1,000+ word meandering treatise on how the 2022 DSL starters fared in 2023 will wait for another day. I decided to churn out one I could get done in one sitting now, though, to avoid computer issues.
So here are two more stats that I (and perhaps only I) find interesting.
No Pulling Your Leg
Hitters in baseball tend to like to pull the ball. Turning on pitches produces a sizeable percentage of the home runs.
No Brewers major league starting pitcher has more balls hit to the opposite field than pulled. Indeed, their with one exception, all of their pull rates fell in a narrow band between 41 and 46 percent (Julio Teheran, with 36.2%, was the outlier, although more because of a really high percentage of balls hit to center than an abnormal amount going the other way). Even among relievers, only Trevor Megill had more balls hit the opposite way off him than pulled.
The spread among minor leaguers was wider, with 23 of the 25 pitchers with double digit starts for the Brewers in the minors this season ending up with pull rates between 40 and 51%.
The two outliers each had more balls taken the other way than pulled.
You can probably guess one. It is going to be tough for a lot of A-ballers to turn on pitches against someone who throws as fast as (and has as electric of stuff as) Jacob Misiorowski.
Misiorowski didn't have the lowest pull rate in the system, though. That honor went to Alexander Cornielle at 34.7%, adding another layer of statistical weirdness for the guy who I think it is fair to say had the best disappointing season in the Brewers' system.
On one hand, Cornielle's season felt underwhelming coming off his 2022 breakthrough. He posted a 4.55 ERA and never pitched a AA inning after looking like he had an outside shot to start there with his strong 2022 finish.
On the other hand, among those 25 Brewers minor league starters, Cornielle was tied for third in FIP, only behind the aforementioned Misiorowski and a prospect who spent the whole season pitching arguably a level below where he should have been (Logan Henderson).
One thing that Cornielle did well was limit home runs, which might be partly because of the difficulty batters had pulling the ball off him. I don't have the data or processing capacity to say this with certainty. Anecdotally, however, 10 of the 12 minor league starting pitchers across all teams and levels who had pull rates below 35% also had home run rates below 10%, (Side note: one of the two exceptions was the weird case of Kyle Barraclough, who has logged big league bullpen innings most years since 2015. After not starting more than a single game in any year since he was in rookie ball, the Red Sox threw him into their triple-A starting rotation with surprisingly good results and unsurprisingly weak peripherals).
I have no idea if this will be repeatable for Cornielle or how much, if at all, it would help him if he reaches the big leagues one day, but it is an interesting stat to watch.
I've remarked a number of times at the remarkable balance of Jadher Areinamo's batted ball metrics.
So, I decided to test out just how rare it is for hitters to have balanced profiles. I applied the following filters: more than 300 plate appearances; 40% or lower pull and opposite field rates, 40% or lower fly ball and ground ball rates, less than 10% swinging strike rate.
What remained were six players, four of whom spent at least a chunk of time in triple-A, including former big leaguer Jake Lamb and Cardinals prospect Masyn Winn.
Unsurprisingly, Areinamo was one of the two lower level guys. The other surprised me a bit, though.
(Side note: I believe three big leaguers hit those marks if a quick scan was correct: Freddie Freeman, Andrew Benintendi and Gleyber Torres.