First, let’s look at which pitches Beckett threw in various counts:
We can see that he used his curveball more often when he got ahead of hitters, and he leaned more on his four-seam fastball over his two-seam fastball when he got behind in the count. I should mention that I’m including post-season and All-Star game data, which is probably one reason my numbers differ a little from Josh Kalk’s.
Now, let’s look at results by pitch type. Here I’ve split the data up by handedness of the batter.
CS=called strike, SS=swinging strike, IPO=in play (out), IPNO=in play (no out), TB=total bases, BABIP=batting average on balls in play (including home runs), SLGBIP=slugging average on balls in play (including home runs). For Strk% all pitches other than balls are counted as strikes. Con% = (Foul+IPO+IPNO)/(Foul+IPO+IPNO+SS).
Next are strike zone charts showing where he locates his pitches against left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters. I’m keeping the same formatting for these charts as I did in the Gagne analysis, but let me know if you have ideas for how I can improve them. The graphics are a little small, but I thought it was more important to contrast the general patterns of lefty versus righty than to see the exact result for a specific pitch.
The strike zone is shown as a box, including one radius of a baseball on each side of the plate, and the top and bottom of the zone are a general average not adjusted per batter in these charts. The location is plotted where the pitch crossed the front of home plate.
Let’s start with the fastballs. First the four-seamer. (As I mentioned in my previous analysis of Beckett, the line between the four-seamer and two-seamer is a hazy one; although I think my distinction is generally accurate, it is unlikely to be accurate for every specific pitch.)
Beckett likes to work the 4-seamer away from lefties, and it looks like he gets a lot of foul balls at the edge or just off the edge of the plate. He also gets a lot of balls, mostly outside it looks, and other than the curveball it’s his pitch that gets the least strikes at 62%. Overall, lefties hit the pitch pretty well–a .372 batting average when they put it in play, and with plenty of power. I wish I knew how that compared to other pitchers’ fastballs, but I don’t have those numbers. Clearly, context is important for numbers like these.
Against righties I don’t see a clear inside/outside preference, although he seems to work up in the zone more than down. He’s also more effective at getting strikes with the pitch against righties (69%).
Moving on to the two-seamer…
The first thing that jumps out is that he’s almost twice as likely to use the 2-seamer against righties than lefties. Against lefties, he’s in the zone with it a lot, and it gets hit fairly hard. Against righties, it looks to be his most effective pitch, generating a lot of ground balls when he gets it on the inner half of the plate. Against righties, he got 27 ground outs with his two-seamer compared to 14 outs in the air (pop outs, line outs, and fly outs). He also gave up 7 ground ball hits and 8 hits in the air from his two-seamer against righties. Again, I don’t know if those numbers are significant or how they compare to other pitchers.
Beckett’s least-used pitch is the cutter, so the graphs for it are not terribly interesting, but I’ll show them here.
It looks like he mostly works the cut fastball down and in to lefties and up in the zone to righties, but it’s hard to find any meaningful trends in 26 pitches. He struck out Jay Gibbons on a cutter down and in, and…well, I don’t really have anything more to say about the cutter.
Now for a change of pace…
It’s obvious he likes to keep the changeup down and away from lefties, and he gets a lot of swings and misses that way, particularly when he keeps it down. Against righties, he keeps the ball down but works both sides of the plate. He gets quite a few called strikes on the outer half of the plate.
Finally, we come to Uncle Charlie, Beckett’s other favorite pitch and probably his most effective.
Against lefties, Beckett gets a lot of called strikes across the middle of the zone. He comes down and in a lot, and gets a fair number of swinging strikes when he keeps the curve low to lefties. I’m not sure what to think about the curveballs up and away. I thought those might be hanging breaking balls, but I don’t notice anything unusual when I look at how they moved relative to other curveballs. Maybe he was just hoping to drop those pitches into the top of the strike zone since the location data I’m graphing here was measured at the front of the plate.
Against righties, he’s out of the zone a little more, either down and away or up and in. Again, he gets a lot of called strikes in the zone and swinging strikes when he keeps the curveball down–it’s his most effective pitch for missing bats. Even when hitters put the curveball in play, they don’t have much success–a .208 batting average and a .375 slugging percentage.