Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What was different about Phil Hughes in 2014?

Amid the awful starting pitching numbers for the 2014 Twins, Phil Hughes shone.

In truth, he was better than his 3.52 ERA indicates. Depending on what metric you care to use, the Twins cost him at least a half run a game with their poor defense (particularly in the outfield).

After the Twins signed him last winter, I noted how his pitch selection had changed between 2012 and 2013. It changed some more last year.

Hughes threw in ...

2012: 65 percent fastballs, 18 percent curveballs, 10 percent changeups, 4 percent sliders, 2 percent cutters.

2013: 62 percent fastballs, 24 percent sliders, 9 percent curves, 5 percent changes and less than 1 percent splitters.

2014: 65 percent fastballs, 21 percent cutters, 14 percent curves, less than 1 percent changeups. No sliders, no splitters.

(Data from the various Bill James Handbooks.)

The core pitch has remained the same -- a fastball a bit less than two-thirds of his pitches. But he's changed his top secondary pitch each year.

Considering his success in 2014, I would expect him to break that pattern and stick with what he did last season.

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