Better MLB Narratives Using Advanced Statistics

Last night, Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay pitched a stinker of a game against the Indians. Phillies fans were treated to a bunch of stories on a role player. I’m happy to supply a better narrative instead.

NARRATIVE: Roy Halladay Lost The Pitch that Made Him Roy Halladay.

Halladay’s previous three starts were successes – Baseball Reference gave them Game Scores of 69, 69, and 72, on a scale of 1-100. What helped? He relied heavily on his curveball, which he threw once every four pitches. ~60% of those curveballs fell in for a strike. Halladay threw his cutter less frequently as well. When he did throw it, the pitch landed as a strike ~75% of the time.

What happened last night? He stopped throwing those curves and used his cutter instead. The pitch with a 10.33 inch horizontal break now only broke 6.50 inches. Vertically, it barely moved.

Halladay’s Famous Cutter became his go-to pitch in 2008 – the first of four straight years of All-Star appearances and video game stats. Hitters couldn’t make contact. The pitch resulted in a foul ball on 22% of all of his cutters since 2007. 60% of them never made it back onto the field of play.

After last year’s injury, the cutter changed. It doesn’t move like it used to, and it’s been called for a strike much less than before. Roy knows the cutter won’t do anymore. In his three successful starts, it was his 3rd, 2nd, and 3rd most frequently thrown pitch.

Like any successful athlete, I’m sure he doesn’t want to give up on the pitch that’s brought him success for so long. So he’ll continue: avoid his Famous Cutter. Gain enough confidence to use it again. Repeat the blowouts.

The good news is that Roy Halladay is a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher. He can continue success if he’s willing to change how he sees himself as a pitcher. He knows it, too.

PITCHf/x statistics for this article sourced from


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