Major League Baseball is trying to make the games go faster and so they’ve experimented with a 20-second pitch clock in the Arizona Fall League. The reports of the experiment were good and therefore the experiment will now be tested in Triple A and Double A.

This is an interesting strategy to help speed up games. One of the unintended effects of this rule, however, is it might have a negative effect on pitchers.

A question I have been pondering is; how many pitchers would be affected if this rule were enforced in the majors this season?

The theory or hypothesis being that if a pitcher took more than 20 seconds to throw a pitch, the clock would negatively affect him. This exercise will obviously not tell one for certain whether the pitcher will be negatively affected, for all we know he could be positively affected. The idea of this exercise is mostly to decipher exactly how many pitchers would be affected.

The data I found was rather interesting. Using the PITCHf/x data at Fangraphs, I sorted every pitcher using there pace stat for 2014. The stat essentially calculates how much time a pitcher will take in between pitches on average. This allowed me to get data points on 88 pitchers. What was inherently interesting about the data I found, was that just about every pitcher uses more than 20 seconds to throw a pitch.

 

Here are the only ones that don’t:

Name Pace
John Danks 19.9
Eric Stults 19.9
Chris Young 19.8
Dan Haren 19.7
Jon Niese 19.2
Wade Miley 19
Doug Fister 18.5
R.A. Dickey 18.3
Mark Buehrle 17.3

 

Every other pitcher, on average took more than 20 seconds to deliver a pitch. Here are the five league leaders in pace for 2014.

 

Name Pace
David Price 26.6
Jorge de la Rosa 26
Clay Buchholz 25.6
Edinson Volquez 25.3
Chris Archer 25.2

 

If the rule were implemented this year, these five pitchers would have to increase their pace by more than five seconds. It’s simply hard for me to believe that it won’t have a negative effect on their performance.

As well, there were only nine players who took less, on average than 20 seconds to deliver a pitch. Meaning that this rule would have an effect on 79 other pitchers and if we’re being realistic, six of the pitchers, who averaged less than 20 seconds, averaged 19 or more seconds. They too would probably be affected.

This also might not be a bad thing. The offense has been on downward scale for a while and it would be interesting to see if having a pitch clock will increase the offensive production in baseball. I really don’t have many answers but will eagerly be looking at the results Major League Baseball gets from Double and Triple A.

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