The Arizona Diamondbacks paid $206 million for Zack Greinke’s tools.
Those tools haven’t translated as well as the contract figure would have suggested. His stuff has earned him an 11-4 record and 4.29 ERA so far in 2016, not to mention a stretch on the disabled list.
Debate how outside factors pushed those statistics up or down as you may. Greinke is still a darn good pitcher.
For ESPN, Baseball Info Solutions put one of Greinke’s specific tools under the microscope. He remains one of the best in MLB when it comes to putting his pitches exactly where he wants them. His command, by a statistic called percentage of “closest-to-mitt- pitches, is second-best to the Brewers’ Zach Davies.
Baseball Info Solutions plots the distance between where catchers set up their mitts on every pitch to where the pitch is thrown. The less the distance, as one can imagine, indicates that the pitcher and catcher are not only communicating — that’s assumed — but that the pitcher is executing the pitch by placing it in the correct location.
Typically what we do is divide all pitches into quartiles — closest to the mitt, close to the mitt, far from the mitt and farthest from the mitt — such that each of the quartiles comprises 25 percent of all pitches leaguewide. From there, we can look at what percentage of his pitches each pitcher throws in each quartile.
The percentages include all types of pitches, though the company said the list of most in-command fastball throwers looks similar.
Greinke has 31.3 percent of his pitches fall in the closest-to-mitt quartile, falling short of Davies, who leads the field at 34.3 percent.
Rounding out the top-5 of the most in-command pitchers is the Cardinals’ Mike Leake, the Twins’ Kyle Gibson and the Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda.