Scott’s Miscellany – Fast Fastball and RISP Leaderboards

The title of the article is an allusion to Schott’s Miscellany, which you should definitely check out if you never have and feel compelled to know that a group of larks is called an exaltation or that a member of the 32nd degree of Freemasonry is known as a Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret.

–Fast Fastballs—

In deeper formats like Ottoneu where setup men can still be usable, I like to take early looks at which relievers are throwing hard each season. Every now and then, those relievers turn out to be Tom Wilhelmsen or Dellin Betances, and you can end up with an elite closer for no cost other than a used roster spot for a month or two. Here are the relievers with one or fewer saves and two or more innings so far this season:

Highest Average Fastball Velocity, 2015
Relievers with < 2 Saves and 2+ Innings Pitched
Pitcher Team FBv K/9 BB/9
Arquimedes Caminero Pirates 99.0 7.71 3.86
Kelvin Herrera Royals 97.5 9.00 0.00
Blake Treinen Nationals 96.6 3.86 0.00
Jake Diekman Phillies 96.1 12.27 9.82
Pedro Baez Dodgers 96.1 13.50 2.25
Adam Ottavino Rockies 96.0 16.88 1.69
Kevin Gausman Orioles 96.0 8.31 8.31
Jumbo Diaz Reds 95.8 8.31 4.15
Austin Adams Indians 95.8 1.93 3.86
Chris Hatcher Dodgers 95.6 13.50 3.38
Bryan Morris Marlins 95.5 9.00 5.40
Juan Nicasio Dodgers 95.4 13.50 5.79
Roberto Osuna Blue Jays 95.2 12.60 3.60
Tommy Hunter Orioles 95.1 6.75 3.38
Wade Davis Royals 95.1 11.25 2.25

Arquimedes Caminero has been routinely hitting 100 mph, well up from his Marlins days when he lived more in the mid-90s. It’s hard not to be intrigued, especially on the Pirates with Mark Melancon showing a drop in his velocity. I think Camerino would be next up for saves for the team if Melancon needed a DL trip or was simply ineffective.

Adam Ottavino already seized the Rockies closer job, but he clearly has the stuff to keep it. If he’s still available in your league, pick him up. My early-season sleeper for saves on the Dodgers, Chris Hatcher, has several hard-throwing Dodgers to contend with in Pedro Baez and Juan Nicasio. Kenley Jansen looms, which means it may not even be worth the trouble. At this point, Nicasio seems the most intriguing.

Miguel Castro is not the only intriguing rookie arm in the Blue Jays’ bullpen. Roberto Osuna has been throwing just as hard, and while their bullpen remains unsettled, Osuna may be worth a stash, as well. He struck out 10 or more batters per nine even as a starter in each of his last five stops in the (lower) minors.


–Runners in Scoring Position–

FanGraphs readers are well-versed in the effects of BABIP on batting averages, and it seems to me the same line of reasoning should apply to RBI. The real driver of RBI is the number of opportunities to drive in runs. So far this season, the RBI leaders have some pretty substantial differences in their opportunities, which I’m measuring as the total runners in scoring position during their plate appearances.

RBI Leaders, 2015
Adam Jones 32 11 10 1.10
Corey Dickerson 34 10 16 0.63
J.D. Martinez 36 9 15 0.60
Todd Frazier 36 9 15 0.60
Miguel Cabrera 38 9 15 0.60
Joey Votto 37 9 14 0.64
Salvador Perez 30 9 12 0.75
Ian Kinsler 39 8 20 0.40
Lorenzo Cain 34 8 18 0.44
Mookie Betts 39 8 16 0.50
Alex Rios 29 8 12 0.67
Nelson Cruz 34 8 8 1.00
Adrian Gonzalez 37 8 6 1.33

The list is bookended by the current home run leaders, so I suppose it’s not a perfect analogy. But it is interesting to note that Ian Kinsler and Lorenzo Cain have plated a more sustainable number of their runners in scoring position as compared to the other leaders. Both players are hitting around .400, so they’ll fall back to earth in other respects, but Kinsler at least should continue to see a ton of opportunities on the loaded Tigers’ offense.

It’s probably more instructive to view this from the opposite perspective. Here are the leaders in number of RBI opportunities this season.

Hitters with the Most RISP, 2015
Marcus Semien 37 7 25 0.28
Ian Kinsler 39 8 20 0.40
Eric Hosmer 34 7 19 0.37
Lorenzo Cain 34 8 18 0.44
Billy Butler 38 6 17 0.35
Buster Posey 35 4 17 0.24
Nick Castellanos 36 3 17 0.18
Brett Lawrie 39 2 17 0.12
Leonys Martin 41 2 17 0.12
Christian Bethancourt 20 0 16 0.00
Mookie Betts 39 8 16 0.50
Michael Morse 33 5 16 0.31
Victor Martinez 29 3 16 0.19
Justin Upton 38 6 16 0.38
Corey Dickerson 34 10 16 0.63

Kinsler is joined by two teammates, Nick Castellanos and Victor Martinez, and Cain actually has one fewer opportunity that fellow-Royal Eric Hosmer. Since both the Tigers and Royals started the season with crazy winning streaks, that didn’t surprise me. I was surprised by several Athletics making the list. But to date, the A’s own the fourth-best offense in baseball. Still, Marcus Semien has hit exclusively in the eight and nine holes and Brett Lawrie in the seventh and eight holes. Ike Davis and Stephen Vogt will not continue to reach base at a .400 clip.

Scott Spratt is a fantasy sports writer for FanGraphs and Pro Football Focus. He is a Sloan Sports Conference Research Paper Competition and FSWA award winner. Feel free to ask him questions on Twitter – @Scott_Spratt

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The Pirates might go with Tony Watson over Caminero, or even Jared Hughes, if Melancon falters. Hughes throws 92-93, but his swinging strike rate has ticked up, plus he’s a ground-ball machine. On the Dodgers, in addition to Hatcher, Baez and Nicasio, there’s Yimi Garcia, who doesn’t throw quite as hard but getting Ks himself.

pirates hurdles
pirates hurdles

I doubt they would use Hughes as his greatest utility is coming in with runners on base to induce the DP. I’d say Watson is #2 in line based on his ability to get RH and LH out. The team is calling Melancon’s issue “dead arm” and he has been completely effective in 3 of 4 outings even with the lower velocity. I’d say his leash is very long.


Good points.