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Examining the Twins Pitch Tempos


TwerkTwonkTwins

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MLB wants a pitch clock to speed up time of games, and has already implemented a pitch clock in Minor League Baseball. The current clock is set at 14 seconds for when the bases are empty, and allows up to 18 seconds when runners are on. These changes have shaved off 20 minutes from MiLB game times, and MLB has a new policy in the recent CBA that could allow them to implement a pitch clock at the major league level in 45 days, but 2023 seems more likely. 

Today, MLB's Baseball Savant released a "Pitch Tempo Leaderboard", which measures the median time between pitches (release to release thrown to the same batter). Maybe MLB wants to help prepare the public by making this available? It's not the most insightful data in the world, but it's fun to conceptualize and match our perceptions with reality. For example, I knew Emilo Pagán was a slower pitcher, but there are some pitchers with a surprising pitch tempo that I didn't notice.

Below is a quick look at how the current Minnesota Twins pitching staff currently fares in this department compared to the league, and then we'll dive into the slowest and fastest pitchers on the staff with bases empty and runners on base scenarios. 

MLB Average Pitch Tempo vs. Twins Average Pitch Tempo

  • MLB Average With Runners Empty: 18.2 seconds
  • Twins Average With Runners Empty: 18.9 seconds

 

  • MLB Average With Runners On Base: 23.6 seconds
  • Twins Average With Runners On Base: 24.3 seconds

Overall, the Twins have a slower pitch tempo than other teams. It doesn't appear to matter if the bases are empty or if the bases have traffic. We can't determine if this is a philosophy of Derek Falvey and pitching coach Wes Johnson, or if it's just the mix of pitchers on the staff. Every pitcher likely developed habits long before they were in the Twins system, especially older players who had no pitch clock prior to their MLB careers. 

Pitcher-Level Pitch Tempos - Bases Empty

The table below is sorted by average pitch tempo when Bases are Empty.

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Fast Tempos with the Bases Empty:

  • Jhoan Duran and Dylan Bundy lead the Twins pitching staff with a tempo of 15.7 seconds.
  • Duran leads the Twins in percentage of pitches that are considered "Fast" (thrown under 15 second), at 37.1%. 
  • This appears to be very unusual for a reliever, as Duran ranks 50th across all of MLB Pitch Tempos with the bases empty. Most of the pitchers above him are starting pitchers.
  • 8 out of 14 qualified Twins pitchers are faster than the MLB Average pitch tempo with the bases empty (18.2 seconds). 

Slow Tempos with the Bases Empty:

  • Cody Stashak has the slowest pitch tempo on the team when the bases are empty, with 24.1 seconds between pitches. This ranks as the 13th slowest pitch tempo in MLB when the bases are empty. 
  • Most of the Twins bullpen outside of Duran has taken Stashak's approach. Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar, Emilo Pagán, and Danny Coulombe haven't thrown a single pitch under 15 seconds this year, and all average over 20 seconds with empty bases. 
  • Chris Archer has the slowest tempo of the starting pitchers with the bases empty, at 19.5 seconds between pitches. All other starters are below 17,7 seconds.

 

Pitcher-Level Pitch Tempos - Runners On Base

The table below is sorted by average tempo when runners are on base. 

image.png.3a76850e91253e69c33b90351826ef9b.png

Fast Tempos with Runners On Base:

  • Dylan Bundy is the fastest pitcher on the staff overall with runners on bases,  with an average tempo of 21.6 seconds. This is 5.9 seconds above his tempo with the bases empty.
  • While this is the fastest tempo with runners on base across the Twins pitching staff, Bundy's 21.6 seconds between pitches ranks 77th in MLB. This indicates that the team take time with runners on base as a staff. 
  • Joe Ryan has the second fastest pitch tempo with runners on base, at 22.5 seconds. He is the only Twins pitcher to throw a single pitch under 15 seconds with traffic on the bases (only 1.1% in this scenario). 
  • While Jhoan Duran is a speed demon with the bases empty, he slows down considerably when runners are on base at 23.9 seconds between pitches. This is a difference of 8.2 seconds to his pitch tempo from when the bases are empty. 
  • Only 4 of the 14 qualified Twins pitchers are faster than the MLB Average pitch tempo with the bases empty (23.6 seconds). 

Slow Tempos with Runners On Base:

  • The slowest pitches with runners are actually starters: Josh Winder (26.4 seconds) and Chris Paddack (26.2). These tempos rank 46th and 60th in MLB, respectively. 
  • Winder also has the highest percentage of pitches over 30 second with runners on base, at 22.2%.
  • Chris Paddack has the largest difference in tempo between bases empty and runners on, with 9.1 seconds added.
  • Cody Stashak is weird. He is the only Twins pitcher on the staff that is actually faster when runners are on base. His pitch tempo is 23.8 second with runners on, which 0.3 seconds faster than with the bases empty. This could be due to him pitching in low-leverage situations, but that's me speculating. 
  • Caleb Thielbar, Danny Coulombe, and Emilo Pagán all have nearly the exact same pitch tempo with runners on base (25.4 - 25.5 seconds). 

Who would be in violation of the current Minor League Pitch Clock? The current limit is 14 seconds with the bases empty, and 18 seconds with runners on base.

  • All Twins pitchers have an average pitch tempo above 14 seconds with the bases empty and above 18 seconds with runners on base. They would all be in violation!
  • However, only 8 MLB pitchers have a pitch tempo that would not be in violation with the bases empty, and only one (Wade Miley) wouldn't be in violation with runners on bases. 

Fun Chart Time

I highly suggest using the "compare" tool to see how pitchers vary in pitch tempo. You can see how consistent Dylan Bundy (the speed king) is, while Cody Stashak can be all over the place. 

Starters:

image.png.3446d796657d96eae94a017e1d14c33c.png
 

Relievers:

image.png.3eaf482e61fa11f1bfa8e97bc850f994.png

If you got to the end of this post, congratulations. I hope you read this at a quick tempo, like Dylan Bundy. 

 

 

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Unscientific correlation here, but the sorted list of Twins pitchers by tempo with bases empty corresponds, especially at the bottom, with the pitchers I feel least confident in when their name is announced as coming into the game.  Maybe they're not too confident either.

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I am a fan of the pitch clock. But, I think 14 and 18 seconds may be a little fast. Maybe start at league average, focus on the worse offenders first. MLB could start with 18 sec. without baserunners and 24 sec. with baserunners. Then maybe progress down if things are going well.

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23 minutes ago, ashbury said:

Unscientific correlation here, but the sorted list of Twins pitchers by tempo with bases empty corresponds, especially at the bottom, with the pitchers I feel least confident in when their name is announced as coming into the game.  Maybe they're not too confident either.

Stashak has had a few clunkers that have destroyed his stats. Pagan has been effectively wild, but needs to reign in the control because that will bite him eventually. Coulombe is a slow pitcher who has pitched very well.

It would make sense that confidence and time to home would be related, especially if there's less confidence in control. 

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4 minutes ago, 4twinsJA said:

I am a fan of the pitch clock. But, I think 14 and 18 seconds may be a little fast. Maybe start at league average, focus on the worse offenders first. MLB could start with 18 sec. without baserunners and 24 sec. with baserunners. Then maybe progress down if things are going well.

I agree, there's a lot of MLB pitchers who have never had a pitch clock. Older veterans will need to adjust more gradually. 

I think a tier-system with a plan to get to 14/18 seconds gradually over a few seasons could work. 

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"Today, MLB's Baseball Savant released a "Pitch Tempo Leaderboard", which measures the median time between pitches (release to release thrown to the same batter)." - 

When I watch minor league games (milb.com) the clock starts when the pitcher receives the ball back from the catcher and the clock stops when the pitcher enters their motion. This is based on those games where the clock is visible from the televised angle. I also noticed an umpire shake their head from side to side ( no ) when a pitcher asked for a new ball. I think there may be some discrepancies between how the clocks work in actual game action as well as a few additional other mitigating factors to account for the added time recorded. I'm not sure how this would affect the data and I'm not sure how the data is collected by MLB, except to read what was written in the quote from the article (info from Baseball Savant).  I have used a stopwatch on a few hundred occasions this year to time pitchers from getting the ball in their glove to the beginning of the pitching motion. Most pitchers are quite prompt but there some complete outliers that routinely come in at 25-40 seconds (MLB only). 

I remain in favor of encouraging (allowing) the umpires to use the rules in the book to push the players forward toward getting in the batter's box (only a few really) and pitching the ball in a timely manner. Enforcement is bound to cause a few arguments and ejections initially but could become normal quite quickly. Of course, enforcement has NOT been the practice in MLB and I believe that is dictated from above. Perhaps we can all hope that Manfred wakes up this morning, issues an edict to the umpires that they must follow the rules, and also announces an end to the ghost runner Manfredball (arguably the worst practice ever put into play in MLB history). He could make this effective immediately. 

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On 5/26/2022 at 1:50 PM, 4twinsJA said:

I am a fan of the pitch clock. But, I think 14 and 18 seconds may be a little fast. Maybe start at league average, focus on the worse offenders first. MLB could start with 18 sec. without baserunners and 24 sec. with baserunners. Then maybe progress down if things are going well.

No, it's not too fast. The clock doesn't start until the pitcher gets the ball back from the catcher. 14 seconds is plenty of time. It works great in AAA.

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I'm guessing they're still trying to tabulate Alexander Colume's 2021 rate. The 14,000 year solar calendar procession being the most accurate unit of measurement for him. 

Pineda has to be pretty slow too.

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I, too, agree that the 14 and 18 are not too fast. Pitchers will adjust. I am curious as to what these times would be form earlier eras when games were shorter.  For instance, what were the times in the ‘80s?

Also, does this impact trade value any? For example, if Stashak and Duran were same age, pitch quality, years of control, etc., would Duran have higher trade value because he would need less adjustment to the pitch clock implementation or would FOs assume that pitchers will adjust without little problem?

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