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2015 GB% Update

Title gives it away, right? I’ve combed through box scores to date in order to find what I believe is the only publicly available collegiate batted ball data on the internet. It’s not a wildly labor intensive process, but going through box scores and, more painfully, play-by-play data (UCSB, I’m looking at you) takes enough time each week that I’m trying to currently limit sharing info for just the top dozen or so college pitching prospects. That said, as always, I’m open to taking requests. If there’s somebody you want me to start following, don’t hesitate to ask. For now, I’m just using my list of top college arms — since it’s the best list, of course — and trying to keep up with the top ten pitchers with easily searched data. That eliminates IMG Academy FR LHP Brady Aiken, Illinois JR LHP Tyler Jay, and Vanderbilt JR RHP Tyler Ferguson, the latter two getting cut because of unpredictable usage. Here are the names I’m tracking (with my ranking)…

2. Virginia JR LHP Nathan Kirby
3. Duke JR RHP Michael Matuella
4. Vanderbilt JR RHP Walker Buehler
5. UC Santa Barbara JR RHP Dillon Tate
6. Vanderbilt JR RHP Carson Fulmer
8. Louisville JR RHP Kyle Funkhouser
9. CC Southern Nevada SO RHP Phil Bickford
10. Houston JR RHP Jacob Lemoine
11. USC JR LHP Kyle Twomey
13. Texas Christian JR LHP Alex Young

And here is each player’s GB% through March 9, 2015…

Kirby – 73%
Matuella – 39%
Buehler – 75%
Tate – 62%
Fulmer – 59%
Funkhouser – 63%
Bickford – 48%
Lemoine – 57%
Twomey – 65%
Young – 69%

A few very quick observations so far along with an important disclaimer: all of these figures come via digging through a ridiculously small sample. Like, a sample so small that it’s fair to wonder if it borders on meaningless. If you’re more statistically inclined and think there’s too much noise here to even worry about this stuff yet, that’s cool. I think taking it in and combining it with scouting reports and past data makes it a worthwhile tool. For example, Kirby’s impressive start (73% GB outs from a lefthander! Come on!) had me curious enough to go through his game logs from last year. In a much larger sample (six times as big as what we’re currently working with and over 200 total balls in play), he still managed a highly impressive 66%. In only one recorded game (his 3/22/14 game against Miami has no batted ball data that I can find) last season did Kirby get more outs in the air than via the grounder. That’s a little insane. As if we needed another reason to love the guy…

Matuella and Buehler both have so few innings this year that I’d advise just throwing out their numbers for now. In fact, I really should have not included Buehler’s numbers at all since they are potentially misleading if you don’t make your way down to the comments here. Just in case: WALKER BUEHLER HAS ONLY GOTTEN FOUR OUTS ALL SEASON VIA A BATTED BALL SO PLEASE DON’T TAKE HIS AWESOME 75% GROUND BALL RATE TO HEART. I feel better now.

Another potentially misleading number belongs to Phil Bickford, but for a very different reason. As a junior college player, Bickford has actually pitched more than anybody this year so far. His batted ball data, however, ranks ahead of only Matuella and Buehler. More plainly, hitters have had a heck of a difficult time putting the ball in play against Bickford at all this year. He’s actually allowed the same number of batted ball outs as Carson Fulmer while pitching almost three times as many innings. This happens when you are literally getting two out of every third out via the K. I know that any draft fan worth anything isn’t sleeping on Bickford, but I’m not sure many have paid too close attention to the way he’s dominated junior college ball (18.1 K/9 in 60.1 IP) so far this winter.

I mentioned earlier that I have already gone through Nathan Kirby’s box scores from last season. I’d like to do that with a few other arms in the coming days. The Duke website is a disaster, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to do Matuella properly. Buehler stands out as a must-do, but I’m open to any other suggestions if you’ve got any.


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