What Happened When They Threw Them (Results)
Let’s start by looking at how hitters reacted to the two pitches when they were thrown out of the zone. Out of Zone Swing Rate gives us a sense of how often the batter was fooled into chasing, and Out of Zone Contact Rate shows how tough the pitch is to hit once the batter has decided to swing. As with the other charts in this article, this shows all pitches thrown at least 300 times with at least 60% of those pitches coming as a starter.
This is where the dominance begins. Carrasco induced the second highest Out of Zone Swing Rate in the dataset while getting loads of whiffs on those pitches. Kluber didn’t batters to chase quite as often, but made up for that with a very low contact rate on those pitches.
Since Carrasco got so many hitters to chase his slider out of the zone while still being able to command it in the zone, he very rarely threw it for a ball. In fact, he had the lowest balls per pitch rate of any pitch in the sample, a remarkable 21%. Combined with his excellent whiff rate, this was easily the most dominant pitch when it wasn’t put into play. Kluber also had an excellent whiff to ball ratio, but it’s hard to match up to what Carrasco did in 2014 with his slider.
Even when batters managed to put the ball into play, they did not have much success. Both pitchers went the entire season without giving up a home run, which shows how difficult it is to square those pitches up. Their batted ball profiles were pretty different though.Carrasco induced a ton of ground balls (60% of balls in play) whileKluber induced some ground balls and tons of harmless infieldpopups (46% of all fly balls in play).
Not only did they manage to give up zero home runs all year, but they limited hard contact enough to post very impressive slugging percentages on contact. Carrasco in particular did a great job of this, giving up just four extra base hits (all doubles) and allowing a .250 slugging percentage (10th best in the sample) when batters hit the ball fair.
When you add it all up, you get two incredibly dominant pitches that hitters were pretty much unable to handle. It will be very exciting to watch Carrasco and Kluber in 2015 as they continue to develop their repertoires and learn to fool hitters. They may never be able to replicate the results on one pitch that they did in 2014, but I’m sure they’ll get some awkward swings and misses from hitters who simply have no chance.