VA
  • TGT on YouTube
  • About TGT
  • The TGT Team
  • How TGT rates
  • Responsible Gambling Advice
  • Contact Our Team
  • Writers Wanted
  • Content Disclaimer
  • Affiliate Disclosure
Contains commercial content
Billboard Left
Billboard Left
The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Where the Red Sox Pitchers Really Excel

Where the Red Sox Pitchers Really Excel

The Boston Red Sox’ staff has been the best at generating soft contact
Publish Date: 05/25/2018
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
May 24, 2018; St. Petersburg, FL, USA;Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello (22) looks on during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox have one of the better pitching staffs in baseball. Their rotation, headlined by Chris Sale, Rick Porcello and (at times) David Price, has been excellent, placing 3rd in the majors in fWAR at 5.6. They are also 8th in ERA (3.58) and 6th in FIP (3.53). Meanwhile, the bullpen is extremely underrated, currently owning the 3rd-best fWAR in the league at 2.4. They are also 8th in ERA (3.48) and 5th in FIP (3.34). Altogether, Red Sox pitchers have amassed the 2nd-best fWAR (7.9), 9th-best ERA (3.54) and 2nd-best FIP (3.46).

I apologize for the excessive amount of statistics in the above paragraph. It will never happen again (yes, it will), but it should have illuminated how good the Sox pitchers have been this season. They have been adept at striking batters out, ranking 4th in the MLB in K/9 at 9.89. Their dominance also reigns over the command-side of things, featuring the 5th-lowest BB/9 in baseball at 2.85. As such, it really is no surprise the group’s FIP, which accounts for all the things a pitcher can control (strikeouts, walks, and homers), is as solid as it is.

While they have been outstanding in those areas, I have yet to reveal their biggest strength. Cue the obligatory drum roll and we find out the BoSox pitchers paramount asset is their ability to suppress hard contact. Putting it another way, they thrive at inducing soft contact.

Over at Fangraphs, which is where all the stats in this blog post have come from, the Red Sox have elicited the highest-percentage of soft contact (Soft%) in the big leagues at 21.6%. If you need clarification on what, exactly, Soft% is, Fangraphs does a superb job of explaining quality of contact stats in their glossary.

Quality of Contact Stats (Soft%, Med%, and Hard%) represent the percentage of a hitter or pitcher’s batted balls that have been hit with a certain amount of authority. The percentages will sum to 100%, totaling all of a player’s batted balls hit or allowed. While a lot of statistics are based on the outcome of the play (i.e. hit or not), quality of contact stats are more like pitch velocity in that they define a process that occurred en route to an outcome.

The data they have is from Baseball Info Solutions and dates back to 2002. It is early and the colder months of April and (perhaps) May have helped Boston’s pitchers arrive at this percentage, but you have to go all the way back to 2011 to find a team with a better collective pitching Soft%. Oddly, in 2011, a 21.6 Soft% would have been the 29th-worst mark in the majors, while from 2012-2018 it would have been the demonstrable best in the league. My hypothesis is that in 2012 they changed the parameters for what constituted soft contact.

Anyway, yeah, Boston’s staff has been skilled at generating soft contact, which is a decidedly good thing. This should be apparent but the softer the contact usually means easier batted ball outs. Pitchers want outs and, if they cannot do it themselves (strikeouts), eliciting soft contact is the best alternative en route of attaining them. The Red Sox pitching staff placed 20th in Soft% last season, so this is an area of evident improvement.

The fact they have jumped so much from last year to this year is worth exploring a little bit in and of itself. I mean, the staff has stayed relatively the same, with the same rotation and a majority of the bullpen staying intact (Kimbrel, Kelly, Hembree, and Barnes). So, what has changed on a team-level?

Well, in my subjective mind, I associate groundballs with soft contact. Now, this is not all-encompassing but, outside of infield fly balls, this batted ball outcome is salient relative to yielding soft contact. It is no surprise that Boston’s GB% has lifted from a lowly 41.0% in 2017 (28th in MLB) to a middle-of-the-pack 43.0% in 2018 (16th in MLB). An increase of two percent would move the needle quite a bit, considering how many batted balls there are in a given season. The next question has to deal with pitch mix. Is Boston throwing anything different in 2018 that would explain the jump in groundball percentage and, partially, soft contact percentage?

Yes, in fact, there is a conspicuous difference in the time-wide pitch mix. The Red Sox have shied away from four-seam fastballs, dropping from 42.6% in ’17 to 35.6% in ’18, and have utilized sinkers/two-seamers much more prevalently, increasing from 14.6% in ’17 to 17.6% in ’18. In addition, they have used cutters a lot more as well, ballooning last year’s 3.2% in ’17 to 7.3% in ’18. Thanks, Pitch Info!

Sinkers are regarded as perhaps the most notorious groundball pitch, as they have more vertical and horizontal movement than a four-seamer, which tends to be flatter. Whether it is by accident or not, Boston is becoming less reliant on the four-seam fastball and more on soft-contact inducing pitches. This could offer a big reason why the Red Sox have been so skilled at generating weak contact.

Another reason is that Boston has been the best American League team at extracting infield fly balls, which are almost always going to be outs. Their squad has accumulated an impressive 13.6% of IFFB (infield fly balls), which is a percentage out of total fly balls, not batted ball events. This ranks second in baseball, behind only the pesky Milwaukee Brewers, and is a leap from the 10.0 IFFB%, which was 12th in the league last season.

More ground balls and a higher percentage of infield fly balls are both beneficial to pitchers. The fact Boston’s staff is doing so is obviously a good thing and has contributed mightily to the team’s early-season success. People may get bogged down in the sexiness of the strikeout, but compiling weak batted balls can go a long way to being a successful pitcher and, more importantly, a successful team. The Red Sox have been the best team in baseball at generating soft contact this season and they deserve praise for doing so.

Read More Red Sox News at Red Sox Unfiltered
Billboard Left
Billboard Left
Read Also
Tommy Morrison and AIDS: The Truth about what happened
Tommy Morrison burst onto the professional boxing scene in 1988. Following a ...
Esteban de Jesus, Roberto Duran y AIDS (1972-89)
Many of us dream of celebrity sports fame, but only cruel individuals ...
SI Sportsbook Promo
Daniel K’s 2021 NFL Draft Position Rankings/Draft Grades
  Round Grade Big Board Rank Position Rank Player Name Position College ...
Ranking the top 200 players in the NFL ahead of the 2021 season
This list isn’t based solely on performances from the 2020 NFL season. ...
The Army Boxer Who Knocked-Down Muhammad Ali (1960)
I had wanted to write a boxing story about Junebug Hudson for ...
Which Red Sox Prospects Should Be Untouchable?
For More Red Sox News Click Here Every year, the middle of summer ...
AL East Preview: Boston Red Sox
For More Red Sox News! The 2018 Boston Red Sox won 108 games ...
Irish Heavyweight Champion (OR NOT), Peter Maher (1895)
(Phoenix, Arizona – June 2018)  Last night -- or this morning depending ...
American League All-Star Roster Predictions
More Red Sox News! It’s amazing how time flies. It seems like ...
Boston Red Sox vs Seattle Mariners Series Preview
Boston Red Sox vs Seattle Mariners Series Preview: The Red Sox head ...
Sportsbook of the month
SI Sportsbook - Get your Free Bet now! Get your Free Bet now!
Top Brands
Top Bonuses
Stake.us
Stake.us
Stake.us Review
99/100
Wow Vegas
Wow Vegas
Wow Vegas Review
96/100
LuckyLand Slots
LuckyLand Slots
LuckyLand Slots Review
96/100
Golden Hearts Games
Golden Hearts Games
Golden Hearts Games Review
95/100
Fortune Coins
Fortune Coins
Fortune Coins Review
95/100
Stake.us
Stake.us Bonus
5% Rakeback
T&Cs apply
9.9/10
Wow Vegas
Wow Vegas Bonus
30 SCs on 1st Purchase + 4.5 SCs FREE
T&Cs apply
9.6/10
LuckyLand Slots
LuckyLand Slots Bonus
7,000 Gold Coins + 10 Sweeps Coins
T&Cs apply
9.6/10
Golden Hearts Games
Golden Hearts Games Bonus
Join GOLDEN2000 for 2,000 FREE coins
T&Cs apply
9.5/10
Fortune Coins
Fortune Coins Bonus
140k GC + 400 FC
T&Cs apply
9.5/10
Latest News
AFC Championship Bengals vs Chiefs Odds, Tips and Predictions 01/29/23
📅 Date: Sunday, January, 29 🕚 Game Time: ...
NFC Championship 49ers vs Eagles Odds, Tips and Predictions 01/29/23
📅 Date: Sunday, January, 29 🕚 Game Time: ...
Ty’s Take: Bengals vs Chiefs AFC Championship
After starting the season 0-2, many people wrote ...
Betting Tips
Our Latest YouTube Videos
Video: AFC 🏈Championship Game Preview: Bengals vs Chiefs
AFC Championship Game Preview: Bengals vs Chiefs
Video: NFC🏈 Championship Game Preview: 49ers vs Eagles
NFC Championship Game Preview: 49ers vs Eagles
Video: Bengals🏈 Weekly Show W/Joe Kelly: Bengals vs Chiefs Preview
Bengals Weekly Show W/Joe Kelly: Bengals vs Chiefs Preview
Sportsbook of the month
SI Sportsbook - Get your Free Bet now! Get your Free Bet now!
Find out what the legends have to say about sports this week....
Top Online Casinos
Top Casinos Bonuses
Stake.us
Stake.us
Stake.us Review
99/100
Wow Vegas
Wow Vegas
Wow Vegas Review
96/100
LuckyLand Slots
LuckyLand Slots
LuckyLand Slots Review
96/100
Golden Hearts Games
Golden Hearts Games
Golden Hearts Games Review
95/100
Fortune Coins
Fortune Coins
Fortune Coins Review
95/100
Stake.us
Stake.us Bonus
5% Rakeback
T&Cs apply
9.9/10
Wow Vegas
Wow Vegas Bonus
30 SCs on 1st Purchase + 4.5 SCs FREE
T&Cs apply
9.6/10
LuckyLand Slots
LuckyLand Slots Bonus
7,000 Gold Coins + 10 Sweeps Coins
T&Cs apply
9.6/10
Golden Hearts Games
Golden Hearts Games Bonus
Join GOLDEN2000 for 2,000 FREE coins
T&Cs apply
9.5/10
Fortune Coins
Fortune Coins Bonus
140k GC + 400 FC
T&Cs apply
9.5/10
Top Betting Sites
Top Betting Bonuses
SI Sportsbook
SI Sportsbook
SI Sportsbook Review
97/100
DraftKings
DraftKings
DraftKings Review
96/100
FanDuel
FanDuel
FanDuel Review
94/100
PointsBet
PointsBet
PointsBet Review
94/100
BetMGM
BetMGM
BetMGM Review
93/100
SI Sportsbook
SI Sportsbook Bonus
BET $20 GET $200 IN FREE BETS
T&Cs apply
9.7/10
First deposit only | 21+ & located in VA | Promo code as seen| A qualifying bet is $20 or more | Min odds of +120 or more | Free Bet Tokens credited after bet is settled and expire after 7 days | Free Bet stakes not included in winnings | Please Gamble Responsibly - Gambling Problem? VA: CALL 1-888-532-3500 | Full T&C apply
DraftKings
DraftKings Bonus
20% up to $1000
T&Cs apply
9.6/10
FanDuel
FanDuel Bonus
Bet $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets
T&Cs apply
9.4/10
BetMGM
BetMGM Bonus
100% up to $1000
T&Cs apply
9.3/10
BetRivers.com
BetRivers.com Bonus
100% up to $500
T&Cs apply
9.2/10
Our Team
Mike GoodpasterAuthor IconJosh SchwartzSamuel TeetsMark Lewis
+8
Mike Goodpaster
Mike Goodpaster
Chief Editor
Author Icon
Christopher Carlson
Content Writer
Josh Schwartz
Josh Schwartz
Editor
Samuel Teets
Samuel Teets
US Sports Veteran
Mark Lewis
Mark Lewis
Editor
Simon Briffa
Simon Briffa
Sports Editor
Chris Benedict
Chris Benedict
Editor
Author Icon
Malik Zorrok
Author
Author Icon
Daniel Kornhauser
Author
John Raspanti
John Raspanti
Author
Author Icon
Buddy Gibbs
Author
Brian Coburn
Brian Coburn
Author
Peter Bonahoom
Peter Bonahoom
Author
Find out what the legends have to say about sports this week....

If you enjoy hearing from the legends of pro sports, then be sure to tune into “The Grueling Truth” sports shows, “Where the legends speak”

Contact us: [email protected]

Players must be 21 years of age or older or reach the minimum age for gambling in their respective state and located in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal. Please play responsibly. Bet with your head, not over it. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, and wants help, call or visit: (a) the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey at 1-800-Gambler or www.800gambler.org; or (b) Gamblers Anonymous at 855-2-CALL-GA or www.gamblersanonymous.org.

This site is using Cloudflare and adheres to the Google Safe Browsing Program. We adapted Google's Privacy Guidelines to keep your data safe at all times.

sdfgfdgcsdfgfdgcww
Move to Top
Close
Stake.us Exclusive Bonus
5% Rakeback
Promo Code
Copy
Visit Site
T&Cs apply, 21+
Payment Methods
Bitcoin
Litecoin
Ethereum
Dogecoin
Highlights
  • Social casino loved by Drake!
  • Play Plinko, Hilo, Crash and more!
  • Get Stake Cash bonuses every day!
Stake Originals
Dice
Crash
Plinko
Mines
×
Your Bonus Code:
The bonus offer of was already opened in an additional window. If not, you can open it also by clicking the following link:
Visit Site