Offense has been down across baseball this year as pitchers have dominated for much of the 2021 campaign. This can be directly related to an increase in pitch velocity, movement, and spin rates. Some of these increases are tied to sticky substances used by pitchers to increase their control and spin rate. Minnesota’s pitchers haven’t been taking advantage of this decrease in offense, so how does spin rate factor into their results?
Starting in 2020, Statcast posted an active spin leaderboard, which can also include an active spin %. They offer a longer explanation at their site, but the nuts-and-bolts description is the spin that contributes to movement including up or down and side to side.
Twins Four-seam Leaderboard (Active Spin %)
Hansel Robles (99 %), Cody Stashak (98 %), Alex Colome (97 %)
Currently, Robles ranks as the player getting the 12th most active spin on his four-seam fastball. Batters have posted a .200 BA and a .360 SLG when facing this pitch, which are far superior to the numbers he saw last year (.355 BA, .742 SLG). Stashak’s fastball hasn’t been as effective this year and he has switched to using his slider more than his four-seamer. Colome uses his cutter almost twice as much as his four-seamer, but opponents have combined for a .500 SLG when getting a fastball to hit.
Twins Changeup Leaderboard (Active Spin %)
J.A. Happ (98 %), Jose Berrios (95%), Hansel Robles (94%)
For the second consecutive season, Happ is using his changeup less often, but opponents are hitting about 90 points lower against this pitch. Berrios has been known for the movement on his pitches since he was an amateur so it’s no surprise to see him near the top of the leaderboard when it comes to multiple pitches in his repertoire. Berrios uses his changeup mainly against lefties as batters have posted a .636 SLG against it so far in 2021. Robles uses his changeup 44% of the time and he has generated a 26% Whiff% with this pitch.
Twins Slider Leaderboard (Active Spin %)
Taylor Rogers (43%), Caleb Thielbar (42%), Jorge Alcala (32%)
Even though these are the leaders on the Twins, none of these pitchers rank in the top-100 compared to the rest of baseball. Rogers and his lanky frame/delivery make for a slider that is tough for both righties and lefties in the batter’s box. For the first time in his career, Rogers is using his slider more than his sinker. Alcala ranks well on the Twins, and he might be the team’s closer of the future if he can continue to develop another pitch.
Twins Sinker Leaderboard (Active Spin %)
Jose Berrios (95%), Taylor Rogers (95%), Matt Shoemaker (92%)
At this point, Minnesota fans might want to avoid any leaderboard with Matt Shoemaker. However, Berrios and Rogers have been two of the most consistent Twins pitchers this season as they rank near baseball’s top-30 in this category. Also, Berrios has seen increased sinker usage in each of the last two seasons. Batters posted a .561 SLG against Rogers’ sinker last season and he has improved that number by nearly 160 points in 2021.
The Twins don’t have a pitcher in the mold of Gerrit Cole or Trevor Bauer that rely heavily on spin to be effective. Maybe this crackdown will help level the playing field for Twins pitchers and batters.
Will baseball’s crackdown on sticky substances impact the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.