I’m not going to lie.. I’ve been really looking forward to doing this one ever since I saw Chris Paddack pitch in Spring Training. It’s funny because I just really wanted to do a breakdown on him because:
A) The dude rocks Stirrups like an absolute G (I, too, am a Stirrups advocate)
B) Super jealous of that lettuce he’s got (that means hair).
C) The first time I saw him pitch I thought he was going to be really special and he’s showcasing that early in the 2019 season.
I’m going to do a FULL BREAKDOWN on Paddack. I’m going to split this up into a couple different sections regarding exactly what I’ll be breaking down. I will be breaking down the following:
This entire Blog will be my opinion on what I believe he does extremely well as well as things that I see that can potentially be an issue moving forward. Again, my professional opinion, not my intentions to debate or even think I’m 100% right in my opinions. I’ll be providing statistics, video, as well as data analytics in this post.
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When first observing Paddack’s delivery it’s easy to see that he’s very smooth and quiet with his movements. Listed at 6’4 Paddack releases the ball around that same height (6’4) but varies the release point depending on which pitch is being thrown. The interesting thing is why the decline in pitch release point just after a month. Don’t know if that’s just based solely on the mound being different or a mechanical change but I’ll let you decide. (See Chart Below) – via Brooks Baseball.
Now in terms of mechanical efficiency I do believe that Paddack gets himself into really good positions when delivering the baseball. The one thing that, after really breaking his delivery down, I can potentially see as inefficient is his ability to stabilize the force production at ball release. If you’re confused as to what I’m even talking about here I encourage you to READ THIS POST that I did about a pitchers inability to stabilize force production at ball release. After digging a little bit deeper into Paddack’s history I saw that he was a Tommy John victim in 2016. When it comes to the positioning at ball release I typically look for better angles of the trail leg. This is usually a good indicator of the persons ability or inability to efficiently transfer the energy out through the hand. I believe that it puts added stress on the arm if that trail leg goes into hip flexion as the pitcher delivers the ball. It’s either a strength deficiency or a inefficient movement. This is something that Dr. Josh Heenan and I have talked about on several occasions as well as typically seeing healthy and powerful pitchers keeping a long trail leg (think sprinting). You’ll see in the videos below what I’m talking about in terms of the back side going into hip flexion rather than staying long.
This is a video of Paddack in 2018 – Open Side Mechanics
Here’s a video of Jordan Hicks who obviously throws extremely hard but you’ll notice his trail leg stays long showing the ability to transfer that energy super efficiently.
Now I don’t want to be “that guy” and say Paddack is a terrible pitcher because of this. He’s obviously doing an incredible job thus far this season and like stated above I think he’s an incredible pitcher. But when giving a breakdown on someone I point on the things that I see the individual does really well and the things that I don’t like. I’ve just done a lot of digging on this particular subject and it typically matches up when detecting health as well as high power output (velocity).
What Paddack does an extremely good job of is his command. It’s no secret that in order to be a successful Big League Starter you need plus Fastball Command which Paddack definitely has. He’s thrown 278 Fastballs so far in 2019 and hitters are hitting .098 against it! Yes, you read that right. Granted it’s a small sample size (5 Starts) but still that’s a really good stat to have on the pitch that you throw majority of the time as Paddack does at 58.53%.
The one thing that I look at when determining a really nasty pitch is what are hitters doing with that pitch when it’s in the zone. Meaning when the pitch is in the strike zone what is the typical outcome. As you’ll see in this chart below Paddack’s Fastball, even in the zone, fairs pretty well!
The one thing that I will say about Paddack’s Fastball is that it doesn’t get a ton of swings n misses. I like to look at a Pitchers Data Analytics to determine if the pitch itself, not the location, is the reason for the success or failure. Paddack’s Fastball spins right around the MLB average at 2225 RPM’s which means it’s neither “Riding” or “Sinking” all that much. I don’t have a means to find the Spin Axis of Paddack’s Fastball but I can only predict that it’s really good just based on how he delivers the pitch. I’d also like to look at Spin Efficiency to determine how close to 12-6 his Fastball is spinning at. Which will also provide some deception for the pitch. I took a look at his Vertical Movement for the pitch and it comes in at 10.38 whereas a guy like Justin Verlander who’s known to have a “Riding Fastball” comes in at 11.14. I’m not gonna sit here and lie to you and tell you if that’s a huge difference or not.. I guess you be the judge on that one. See both pitchers Fastball Vertical Movement Charts below.
Another indicator of “stuff” is if you look at Whff Percentage on the specific pitch. This means the percentage of hitters swinging and missing on the given pitch. Now when I first looked at Paddack’s Whiff % I thought it was low based on how much success he’s having thus far with that pitch. But then I compared again to Justin Verlander and it’s really not too far off. Paddack’s Whiff % comes in at 12.59% while Verlander’s comes in at 13.37% – So, again, you be the judge if that difference is substantial or not. See Charts below.
All things considered I do believe Paddack has a great Fastball due to the fact that he commands it extremely well, he throws hard (94.3mph Avg), and assuming the pitch has tremendous Spin Efficiency. Again, I can’t find the data on that particular metric but I can assume. Based on 5 Big League Starts I do think that Paddack’s Fastball will play at the MLB level but something that I put a lot of weight into is the fact that he’s still new. Big League hitters do an incredible job at making adjustments after having seen a guy for multiple At-Bats. That’s why the elite of the elite are extremely impressive due to the fact that no matter how many times they face the same hitters they still find a way to dominate them. Will definitely be fun to watch moving forward in this young 2019 season!
Paddack’s Pitch Sequencing
Now this is where I truly believe elite pitchers can separate themselves. Not only having plus stuff but also having the ability to sequence their stuff to get maximum result. Even as a young pitcher it appears as Paddack understands his repertoire fairly well and also has the ability to throw really any of his pitches in any count. I want to highlight this particular At-Bat from his most recent outing at the time of this blog (April 24, 2019). Let’s take a look.
You’ll see in the video that he throws all 3 of his pitches in this at bat. The first thing that jumped out to me was his ability, after throwing a poor Curveball 1st pitch, to follow that up with another Curveball to get back in the count. His 1-1 CH is executed perfectly especially after 2 slow breaking balls. Usually you will get a hitter sitting Fastball after that and Paddack throws a Changeup which totally throws off Beckham. Now he’s sitting 1-2 and Beckham has absolutely no idea what’s coming because he hasn’t shown him his best pitch yet and he’s totally sped him up. The execution of the 1-2 Fastball couldn’t have been any better either. After having thrown 2 Curveballs that start out and finish up then throwing a CH down you have the hitters sights all over the place. Throwing that Fastball in that same location as the Curveball but 22 MPH harder is just fantastic.
In this At-Bat Paddack did the following:
- Showed ability to throw off-speed behind in the count
- Showed excellent command with Changeup
- Changed the hitters sights
- Sped the hitter up
- Stayed consistent with delivery and arm speed
- Got the strikeout!
Chris Paddack Breakdown Recap
To round this all out I think it’s appropriate to say that I’m personally a huge fan of Chris Paddack. I think that if he continues showing excellent command of all his pitches, mixing all of his pitches up, using that Curveball to get back in counts, and doesn’t show any major tendencies he will have a very successful rookie campaign. Like I said above it will be interesting to see how the rest of the year plays out once hitters start getting familiar with him. Being a 3-Pitch Starter in the Big Leagues can be a tough act but if he continues to work on that 3rd offering in the Curveball he will put himself in a good position to be successful. Here’s some statistics that jump out to me after 27 Innings thus far. His rank is among 94 other MLB qualified Starting Pitchers.
- ERA: 1.67 (7th)
- Strikeout rate: 30.3 percent (15th)
- Walk rate: 8.1 percent (55th)
- Average allowed: .112 (1st)
- wOBA allowed: .190 (1st)
- Swinging strike rate: 13.1 percent (30th)
- Swing-and-miss rate: 24.9 percent (46th)
- In-zone rate: 55.2 percent (4th)
- Average exit velocity: 85.0 (3rd)
Well, now that I’ve given you my take. What’s yours? Let me know in the comments what you think of Chris Paddack? Does he keep up this success? Do hitters start to figure him out?
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- Baseball Savant
- Brooks Baseball
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