The Top Five Control Artists in 2011

One of pitching coach’s least favorite things in the world are walks. Walks lead to base runners, and base runners often lead to runs. While being a “control artist” isn’t as sexy as being a “strikeout artist,” sometimes the former is more important. Below are the top five “control artists” from 2011.

Josh Tomlin (1.14 BB/9): In Tomlin’s first full-season, the right-hander provided the Cleveland Indians with a tremendous, cheap asset. The starter won 12 ballgames, while posting a 4.25 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 4.24 K/BB. His 1.14 BB/9 led the entire Major Leagues too. Tomlin exhibited better strikeout numbers in 2010 (from 5.30 K/9 to 4.84 K/9), but his xFIP improved mightily in 2011 (from 4.76 xFIP to 4.03 xFIP). The Indians should be very excited about the 26 year-old’s future with the team.

Dan Haren (1.25 BB/9): Haren is one of the two bona-fide aces who ranked within the top five for BB/9 in 2011. The now 31 year-old actually saw his strikeout numbers take a huge hit for the first time in his career (from 8.27 K/9 to 7.25 K/9), but luckily, Haren also honed his control skills (from 2.07 BB/9 to 1.25 BB/9). The result was his best showing since 2009, posting 16 Wins, 3.17 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 5.82 K/BB in 238.3 innings in 2011. It looks as though Haren is on the Greg Maddux route to using control as a dynamic weapon.

Brandon McCarthy (1.32 BB/9): After sitting out all of 2010 due to injuries and never pitching more than 101.6 innings in a given season (also due to injuries), Brandon McCarthy finally stayed healthy in 2011. The right-handed pitcher hurled 170.6 innings, while posting a sensational 3.32 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and 4.92 K/BB. Interestingly enough, McCarthy, who enjoyed an elite 1.32 BB/9 in 2011, had a career 3.4 BB/9 mark before the season. Granted, the pitcher did own a 1.8 BB/9 in 594.6 career Minor League innings, but it took the injury-prone hurler quite awhile to exhibit those skills in the show.

Roy Halladay (1.35 BB/9): Like Haren, Roy Halladay is the other legitimate ace who understands the importance of limiting walks. Halladay’s 2011 was one of his best career years, posting a 2.35 ERA (2.71 xFIP), 1.04 WHIP, and 6.29 K/BB. The ace actually posted a superior BB/9 in 2010 (from 1.08 BB/9 to 1.35 BB/9), but substituted a few walks in 2011 for strikeouts (from 7.86 K/9 to 8.47 K/9). There is no doubt that his ability to consistently limit walks has been a key reason to his incredible career.

Doug Fister (1.56 BB/9): In Fister’s second full-season in the Major Leagues, he not only established himself as a top-notch “control artist,” but also as an extremely reliable pitcher. While the righty proved his stingy approach to walks last season, by posting a 1.68 BB/9 in 171 innings, Fister improved that rate in 2011. In addition, Fister was an even more dominant version of himself once he was dealt mid-season to the Detroit Tigers. In his first 146 innings (with the Mariners), Fister posted a 3.33 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 2.78 K/BB (with a 1.97 BB/9), but in his last 70.3 innings (with the Tigers), the righty hurled a sensational 1.79 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, and incredible 11.40 K/BB. His eye-popping command was certainly fueled by a spike in strikeouts (from 5.48 K/9 to 7.29 K/9), but the real influence was his immaculate control (from 1.97 BB/9 to 0.63 BB/9).

Any statistical information taken from Baseball Reference and Fan Graphs.

2 responses to “The Top Five Control Artists in 2011

  1. Pingback: Ben Berkon: The Top Five Control Artists in 2011 | brazilia News

  2. Pingback: Ben Berkon: The Top Five Control Artists in 2011 | Daily Play - Your Sports Website

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