Worst fastball in the AL goes to…
Carl Pavano—surprise! According to pitch value data, Carl Pavano’s fastball was 23.6 runs below average this season. While this is a fun bit of information for Yankee fans everywhere, this post isn’t about Pavano. Instead, this post is about the second worst fastball we’ve seen from a starting pitcher with at least 150 innings logged this year.
That honor goes to none other than Joba Chamberlain, whose fastball was 21 runs below average in 2009 (he barely beat out the American Idle).
While there isn’t any clear reason as to why Joba’s fastball has been tremendously ineffective this year, one could certainly hypothesize about some potential causes. It seems as though velocity would be the first thought that comes to mind, however, if the data is correct, Joba averaged 92.5 mph with his fastball this season. That’s a nice number, yet it would appear to be skewed given what we’ve seen from him in each of his outings. On some days, he threw 90-92 and the on other days, we saw 91-96. It could be that Joba never showcased his better velocity with much regularity. That could be one reason as to why Joba’s fastball floundered in Pavano territory.
Then, of course, we could look to command as the underlying issue. In the AL, nobody (150+ innings) walked more batters per 9 than Joba Chamberlain. His 4.38 BB/9 was the highest in the league (sadly, A.J. Burnett was second). Perhaps Joba’s fastball was hurt by his lack of control, although, I’m not exactly sure how this factors into the pitch value data. Maybe he fell into too many bad counts and was then forced to groove a few more fastballs into the strike zone, which subsequently hurt the value of the pitch once hitters tattooed the offerings. This is but a theory, though.
Whatever the reason for Joba’s fastball woes in 2009, it is definitely something the team will need to address in the offseason. Whether the issue is velocity, command, a combination of these two elements, or something that I have failed to mention here, Joba cannot expect to be successful in the future with a fastball that is as ineffective as we’ve seen this year. Maybe Dave Eiland can pull a Kevin Long and go see Joba in Nebraska over the winter.