In last night’s wonderful start by Madison Bumgarner, the tall lefty’s strike percentage – defined as total pitches / total strikes (swinging and called) – was 71.4 percent. Bumgarner pounding the zone isn’t an uncommon sight; it’s something he’s done all year long to great success. Let’s take a closer look.
Here’s a data table of the top ten starts this year for the Giants by strike percentage (numbers are pulled from Baseball-Reference).
Of the top ten, Bumgarner makes the list four times; Cain made it three times; and Vogelsong, Lincecum, and Hacker one time each. Throwing strikes at such a young age is a pretty huge deal; and when you combine it with swing-and-miss stuff, well that’s even more impressive. Since 2000, the average pitcher that logged at least 100 innings between ages 19 and 21 had a strike percentage of 63; among that group, Bumgarner ranks first at 67 percent.
Looking at things by zone percentage — defined as pitches within the strike zone – yields similar results.
|R. A. Dickey||NYM||1153||315||56.7%|
|A. J. Burnett||PIT||959||264||53.0%|
Among all pitchers in baseball, Bumgarner ranks eighth in zone percentage. Of course, throwing strikes in the zone isn’t a guarantee for success, but again, for such a young pitcher it’s very encouraging. And, even better, Bumgarner’s strikeout rate is back to his career levels (currently 20.7 percent; career 21.1 percent).
Also, in the second inning, Bumgarner stepped to the plate and quietly whispered the words “country strong mode, activate” before doing this. Fans say that they could hear a series of whirrs and clicks coming from Bumgarner before he swatted his home run. Very suspicious. Just thinking out loud here, but someone should lock this guy up for the next seven years.
UPDATE: ESPN’s Home Run Tracker finally updated this morning, and take a look at this: