The FanGraphs 2022 pVal Competition Check-In #2

Who has the highest Pitch Info, Pitch Type Value (pVal) on a slider this season among all pitchers? Andrés Muñoz. Ok, same question but a changeup instead of a slider and third place instead of first? Nabil Crismatt. Unfortunately, neither Andrés Muñoz’s slider nor Nabil Crismatt’s changeup was drafted in the 2022 FanGraphs pVal competition. In this draft, each participant selects a number of specific pitches trying to maximize the sum of their pVals. There’s a little more to it than that, in our version of the pVal Competition that a few of us FanGraphs/RotoGraphs writers inherited from the Pitcher List staff, participants must choose pitches from this list:

pVal Draft Required Pitches

Luke Hooper, Nicklaus Gaut, Paul Sporer, Alex Chamberlain, and I are all part of this year’s FanGraphs contingent and in an early season version of this post, Luke Hooper was commanding a healthy lead, riding the sweet seam-shifted wake of Corbin Burnes’ fastball right up into first place. There he remains and in this post, I’ll take a look at his squad.

pVal Standings Bar Chart

Luke pVals
Player Category Pitch Points
Corbin Burnes 3X Fastballs (wFA, wFS, wFC, wSI) wFC 19.9
Carlos Rodón wFA 15.0
Logan Gilbert wFA 4.4
Carlos Rodón’ 2X Sliders wSL 4.6
Clayton Kershaw wSL 5.7
Julio Urías 1X Curveballs wCU 0.1
Patrick Sandoval 1X Changeup wCH -2.7
Shane Bieber 1X Secondary wSL 8.6
Bailey Ober 1X 2021 Negative pVal wSL 4.2
Adam Wainwright 1X Negative Regression wSI 18.2
Logan Webb 2X Util wSI 2.8
Shane McClanahan wCU 9.9
Logan Webb 2X Reserves wCH 9.7
Jacob deGrom wFA 0.0
*PitchInfo Pitch Type Value
**Highlighted values have been replaced with Reserves

3x Fastballs:

If you query a pVal (Pitch Info) leaderboard that goes from the current 2022 season to 2010, Corbin Burnes’ 2022 and 2021 wFC top the list among all qualified pitchers in those years. His current 19.9 pVal on the pitch may eclipse 2021’s 26.1, but it will be hard to do. The third best cutter on that list is 2016 Jon Lester (19.1), followed by 2016 Corey Kluber (17.0), and 2016 Adam Wainwright (17.0). 2016 was a good year for cutters. Burnes’ cutter has a league-leading (qualified starters) 34.7% CSW. The pitch looks nasty as ever and it is certainly worthy of a first-round pick. Carlos Rodón’s four-seam fastball is worthy of a second-round pick and that’s where it was selected. There was plenty of concern regarding Rodón’s health going into the 2022 draft season, but he very quickly served the doubters a piece of humble pie. He continues to use the pitch more and more, which plays nicely for pVal accumulation:

Carlos Rodon FA usage line chart

In addition, the average velocity on Rodón’s four-seamer has crept up, in 2022, even beyond last season’s advances, placing him 10th among qualified starters in average pitch velocity. Lastly, Logan Gilbert sits one place above Carlos Rodón at ninth on the pitch info average velocity leaderboard, but its pVal is significantly lower. This is not because it’s a bad pitch but mostly because it’s tough to compare it with a boss pitch like Rodón’s fastball. It ranks 17th with its current 4.4 pVal and ranks in the top 20, which is pretty darn good. For the most part, it’s just above league average on some important metrics:

Logan Gilbert, 2022 wFA Metrics
Year O-Sw% Zone% SwStr% CS% CSW% Str% AVG HR/FB% HC% Spin
2022 31.2% 56.4% 13.7% 14.2% 27.9% 70.8% 0.253 17.2% 34.3% 2,142
SP MLB AVG 25.6% 50.6% 9.1% 17.8% 26.9% 65.1% 0.269 13.2% 31.5% 2,230
SOURCE: Pitcher List

Gilbert uses the pitch over 50% of the time and while it is performing, it hasn’t reached elite levels just yet. It’s interesting that he puts the pitch in the zone more often than average, yet it earns a called strike less often than average. In addition, it’s going for a home run more often when put in the air and home runs are pVal drainers.

2x Sliders:

Dylan Cease‘s slider, yet another incredible 2022 pitch that went undrafted, is knocking the socks right off of every other slider among qualified starters. It’s 24.0 pVal is nearly 15 points higher than Max Freid’s second place 9.6 pVal. That’s a huge lead. Change the threshold to let everyone in (0 IP) and Cease is still winning by almost double, as Edwin Díaz’s slider has earned a 12.5 pVal so far this season. Luke chose Rodón and Clayton Kershaw’s slider. Rodón sits 12th and its usage is on an upward trend since last season. Its 32.3% CSW is above league average (29.0%) and it’s his best secondary. Kershaw hasn’t made it into qualification yet this season, but his slider is performing really well. It’s no secret that the pitch’s usage has risen tremendously over the years:

Kershaw SL usage line chart

1x Curveball:

Julio Urías’ curveball has been disappointing this year. The metrics don’t give a lot of indication as to why:

Julio Urías, 2020-2022 CU Metrics
Year MPH Usage% O-Sw% Zone% SwStr% CS% CSW% Str% AVG HR/FB% HC%
2020 80.3 23.7% 32.7% 49.8% 10.6% 21.7% 32.4% 65.2% 0.175 0.0% 11.4%
2021 81.4 34.1% 32.6% 52.8% 12.1% 22.4% 34.5% 68.5% 0.155 6.3% 12.7%
2022 80.8 34.6% 32.2% 55.8% 11.4% 24.0% 35.4% 71.5% 0.230 17.1% 20.3%
SP MLB AVG 78.5 15.6% 28.2% 40.0% 10.6% 19.8% 30.3% 58.7% 0.243 13.6% 24.2%
SOURCE: Pitcher List

Living on the east coast makes it hard to watch those west coasters, I get sleepy, so I must admit that I haven’t had a chance to watch an Urías’ start this season. But, if we just look at the data above, it’s likely that he’s putting the ball in the zone a little too much and hitters are doing damage when they get the chance. Its high 17.1% HR/FB% matched with its high 55.8% Zone% tells us most of what we need to know when it comes to understanding that low pVal…I think.

1x Changeup:

During the draft, I think I said out loud, “Wow, great pick” when Patrick Sandoval’s changeup was taken off the board. Yet, somehow this is Luke’s worst pitch. The rules of this competition state that you are allowed to replace your worst two performing pitches with reserve pitches and that removes Sandoval’s disappointing pVal from Mr. Hooper’s totals. pVals are not calculated by CSW or by Str%, they are linear weights and can be a little confusing to fully understand. That’s why people have written about them in depth. If we just look at the outcomes of this pitch in 2022, it has ended at-bats with a lot of singles, a lot of walks, but a lot of strike-outs too:

Patrick Sandoval’s 2022 Changeup
Year 1B 2B 3B HR K BB HBP Strikes Balls
2022 21 1 0 1 51 11 1 216 142
SP MLB AVG 6 2 0 1 9 3 0 97 62
SOURCE: Pitcher List

Sandoval’s overall (not pitch specific) BB% is above league average and his current fastball pVal is -6.5. When your fastball is not performing it affects the way your changeup is performing and Sandoval has had a rough go of things this season with both pitches. His slider, on the other hand, is being used a lot more often this season and currently has a strong 6.5 pVal.

1x Secondary:

Let me make this one short. Shane Bieber’s slider usage is way up while his fastball usage is way down. As he lost velocity on the four-seamer, he started throwing the slider more often and it has been effective. It’s O-Swing% (42.4%) is almost 10% better than the league average (32.9%) among starters and it has gotten a swinging strike 22.7% of the time thrown versus the league average 15.1%.

1x Negative pVal:

Last season, Bailey Ober’s slider earned a -4.7 pVal. This season, it has earned a 4.2 pVal. The way this pick works is you must draft a pitch that held a negative pVal in the previous season. You’re looking for a pitch that performed poorly that you think will perform much better in the following year. Believe it or not, this wasn’t the best negative pVal pick in our draft. Alex Chamberlain has that mark so far with his Zach Davies changeup pick which has rebounded from a 2021 -5.6 to a 2022 (so far) 5.9.

1x Negative Regression:

Similar to the negative pVal pick, this pick forces a drafter to look for a pitch that they expect to do much worse the following year. Luke was certainly on to something when he assumed Adam Wainwright would not reach the very high 18.1 pVal from 2021 again in 2022. So far so good as the pitch has a -0.1 pVal currently. How was Wainwright’s sinker so incredibly good last year? Hitters just could not square it up. It ended the season with a .172 batting average and did not leave the yard once. The pitch is doing what Luke expected it to do, it’s regressing. It currently has a .234 average and has gone for a home run three times already in 2022.

2x Util:

Chose any ol’ pitch you like and make it a good one. In this case, Logan Webb’s sinker and Shane McClanahan’s curveball will do for positive pVals. In fact, McClanahan’s curveball is the league-best curveball pVal among qualified pitchers. Kyle Wright and Aaron Nola are nipping at his heels, and McClanahan should be weary of the long ball. He has thrown his curveball 25% of the time this year and while it sticks in the zone (47.4% Zone%) and get’s called for strikes (26.2% CS%) it is possible hitters could start teeing off on the pitch. It’s been hit for a homerun twice this season and while I back up this prediction with absolutely no predictive evidence, I could see it starting to get hit harder the rest of the season. I wish I could create a hard-hit rate rolling chart of a specific pitch, but we can’t have it all.

2x Reserves:

Logan Webb’s changeup has been a great help for Luke’s totals as he was able to use it to wipe out Sandoval’s poor-performing changeup. While deGrom has not yet pitched this season, I have a feeling that deGrom’s fastball pVal will end the year above 0.0. Maybe you can hear me knocking on wood from afar.

I could spend hours looking at our pVal leaderboards, but I’ll let you have some fun for a while. For now, my team is in the cellar and Luke Hooper’s team is rocketing up higher and higher. But, watch out! Nicklaus Gaut is rising fast and Alex Chamberlain won’t settle for third place. We’ll see how this all shakes out and I’ll be sure to share this adventure with you a few more times before the season’s end.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

I like this game, but I’m a little confused. Wouldn’t Waino’s sinker going from 18 to (0.1) be a _good_ thing if it was picked for the negative regression pitch?