Friday, February 26, 2010

Everyone Should Learn to Throw a Cutter, Part 2

A few months back, Jimmy wrote a great article on the cutter and how it is a highly-effective and under-utilized pitch:
In the last two years among qualified starters, 17 pitchers can be said to use a cutter often enough that it can be considered a legitimate part of their repertoire . . . These are the only starting pitchers who throw cutters routinely in baseball right now and the striking thing is that all of their cutters are effective.
* * *
Out of the 17 pitchers listed, for nine of them, the cutter is their most effective pitch . . . All of this data seems to suggest that the cutter, in general, is an incredibly useful pitch to learn and use. It seems that more pitchers are learning it every year and it has helped their careers immensely.
The article got picked up by a couple other outlets, and was pretty widely read.

Today, a Texas Rangers blog highlighted the cutter and drew many of the same conclusions that Jimmy did:
[T]he cutter is becoming even more popular under the Maddux regime, with McCarthy joining the ranks of Feldman, Tommy Hunter and Colby Lewis v. 2.0 as cutter-brandishing Rangers.

This latter point, in particular, fascinates me to no end. It seems ineluctably clear that Texas values pitchers capable of throwing the cutter (as evidenced by this latest overhaul and the Lewis signing), but why? Well, beyond the lefty-neutralizing powers of the cutter, it turns out that it also wields power-neutralizing capabilities (per Sky Kalkman's research), and it can be thrown for strikes at a similar rate to conventional fastballs while still producing a greater rate of swinging strikes. Yet, cutters are still remarkably scarce in the modern game; Baseball Info Solutions-supplied pitch data indicates that fewer than one out of every 20 major league pitches thrown in 2009 was classified as a cutter.
Maybe Mike Maddux reads Fonzie Forever! Or, far more likely, Jimmy did a great job identifying a burgeoning trend. It will be interesting to see, as the author of the blog later points out, if the cutter is a "market inefficiency" and whether it will last.

No comments: