Skip to content

Zack Greinke: Stathead

Nov 18, 2009, 1:45 PM EST

Not only did Zack Greinke claim a victory for statheads everywhere by winning the AL Cy Young yesterday despite only 16 wins, afterward he outed himself as a believer in sabermetrics thanks to stathead teammate Brian Bannister:

I’m also a follower … of sabermetric stuff and going into details of stats about what you can control. That’s pretty much how I pitch, to try to keep my FIP as low as possible.

FIP stands for Fielding Independent Pitching, which is a stat that you’ll see me and the rest of the Circling the Bases crew quoting in this space frequently. It attempts to separate pitching from defense by focusing on the things that a pitcher can specifically control: strikeouts, walks, and homers.
Bannister explained that not only has Greinke become a believer in the value of FIP and similar stats, he’s actually used them to improve his pitching:

He’s extremely bright, and he’s really picked up on using all the information out there to make his game better. He’s always had the talent. His confidence level, which is extremely high, combined with his knowledge of the numbers behind the game now, definitely makes him one of the best pitchers in the world. David DeJesus had our best zone ratings, so a lot of times, Zack would pitch for a fly ball at our park instead of a ground ball, just because the zone rating was better in our outfield and it was a big park.

Max Scherzer of the Diamondbacks has previously talked about his interest in sabermetrics and modern baseball analysis, so the statheads are building a pretty nice rotation with Greinke, Scherzer, and Bannister. Something to think about the next time you see someone dismiss the impact and value of sabermetrics. We’re not all non-athletes who live in our parents’ basements. Some of us win Cy Young awards, marry ex-Cowboys cheerleaders, and live … well, somewhere in Kansas City.

  1. Nick N. - Nov 18, 2009 at 1:52 PM

    Kevin Slowey strikes me as a guy who might take sabermetric stats into consideration as well, although I don’t think I’ve ever heard him quoted as saying so.

  2. evilempire2009 - Nov 18, 2009 at 2:22 PM

    TALK STATS ALL YOU WANT, YOU STILL HAVE TO PLAY THE GAME………
    WHAT IS THE STAT FOR JOHNNY DAMON STEALING TWO BASES WHILE THE
    PITCHER IS DAY DREAMING …….

  3. TMW - Nov 18, 2009 at 2:27 PM

    He had 242 strikeouts and 255 groundball outs. He had over 100 more fly ball outs than groundouts. I find Bannister’s quote hard to believe in praxis, but the numbers support that this is possible. If he was playing to the park, it worked out for him since he only gave up 4 HR in KC, 7 on the road.
    So much for keeping the ball down.

  4. Rick2009 - Nov 18, 2009 at 2:37 PM

    Congratulations Zack. I just looked at your stats and they look great. Certainly good enough to win. I don’t know anything about sabermetrics. It seems to me that a pitcher and his pitching coach should analyze everything it takes to win. A pitcher usually has a few good pitches that work for them. Then that pitcher pitches up or down, in or out, depending on the batter they are facing. And depending on the batter on which pitches to throw. And depending on the situation whether you want a groudball, doubleplay ball, or if you are going for the strike out. There are a lot of people that overthink these things. Keep in shape, have a good diet, have confidence in yourself, don’t party to hard, and these things will take you much farther than thinking about some new stat.

  5. Jberardi - Nov 18, 2009 at 3:01 PM

    TALK STATS ALL YOU WANT, YOU STILL HAVE TO PLAY THE GAME………
    WHAT IS THE STAT FOR JOHNNY DAMON STEALING TWO BASES WHILE THE
    PITCHER IS DAY DREAMING …….


    Winning Percentage Added; .056.

    Source: http://www.fangraphs.com/plays.aspx?date=2009-11-01&team=Yankees&dh=0&season=2009

  6. SethSpeaks - Nov 18, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    “WHAT IS THE STAT FOR JOHNNY DAMON STEALING TWO BASES WHILE THE
    PITCHER IS DAY DREAMING …….”
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe it falls into the “Stolen Base” category.

  7. TMW - Nov 18, 2009 at 3:24 PM

    Dear Zack,
    I hope you’re reading this blog post and comments section. Great season. You’re a weird guy. You live a dream that millions of boys and men can only imagine living, yet you are about as happy as a Dunder Miflin paper salesman because you don’t like people cheering your on. You also have a hot fiancee who I read wants to invite too many people to your wedding. What a drag. I hope you didn’t invite Bannister because he’ll probably just feed you the statistics on failed marriage of right-handed pitchers vs. left-handed pitchers or something. Can I be invited to your wedding?
    Sincerely,
    TMW

  8. evilempire2009 - Nov 18, 2009 at 3:30 PM

    awesome…..

  9. evilempire2009 - Nov 18, 2009 at 3:44 PM

    you could be right, but he stole two bases on one pitched ball, do you have any other stat or category beside the “stolen base”

  10. TMW - Nov 18, 2009 at 3:59 PM

    I’ve always wanted to commission a ‘Freak Anamoly Stat’ fantasy baseball league. Ideas for categories were 2 IP or more saves, No Hitters (double points for Perfect Games), 4 HR games, Cycles, Unassisted Triple Plays, 20 pitch or more at-bats, and I’ll add Johnny Damon double steals and 2-base walks while we’re at it.

  11. hop - Nov 18, 2009 at 6:20 PM

    Put zack in the AL east and see how he does when he has to face those teams.

  12. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Nov 19, 2009 at 8:02 AM

    Put zack in the AL east and see how he does when he has to face those teams.

    You mean like when he faced the Red Sox, went 6IP, 2H, 0ER and 5K’s? Or does that not count since it defeats the purpose of your argument?

  13. joeiscool12 - Nov 20, 2009 at 10:23 AM

    Two stolen bases?

  14. twinstalker - Nov 23, 2009 at 5:09 PM

    Put zack in the AL east and see how he does when he has to face those teams.
    Awesome comment. I mean, he got to pitch in the AL Central against the likes of KC and…oh, wait a minute…

  15. Tyson F. Gautreaux - Jan 12, 2010 at 1:07 AM

    I think that your blog isvery good, very interesting . I found it on . I will back often.

  16. offsite backup services - Jan 20, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    This post is great, I’m going to put this in the bookmarks before I lose the link, I don’t think I’ll ever make it back here otherwise

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Cubs shore up rotation with Jon Lester
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. W. Myers (4925)
  2. M. Kemp (3470)
  3. J. Upton (2571)
  4. J. Kang (2561)
  5. W. Middlebrooks (2539)
  1. C. McGehee (2515)
  2. M. Morse (2360)
  3. A. Rios (2274)
  4. C. Headley (2156)
  5. J. Peavy (1897)