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The pitch types of the Giants' starting pitchers


Over at Getting Blanked, there's an interview with Tim Lincecum that's well worth your time. Lincecum talks with Drew Fairservice about his approach to pitching (Lincecum's, not Fairservice's, which is horrible).

Buried at the bottom, though, is a cheeky quote about Madison Bumgarner:

He gets a little happy with that slider but he gets a lot of outs with it. It’s one of those things, like (Greg) Maddux said: if they can’t hit it, I’m just going to keep throwing it.

A little happy with that slider! Lincecum's not off, though. Bumgarner throws a ton of sliders. Here's his pitch breakdown:

Fastball, two- and four-seam (44.6%)
Slider (33.1)
Curveball (10.7)
Changeup (10.9)

I have to remind myself that Bumgarner has a curve. It exists! Here:

But he's mostly a slider guy, according to PITCHf/x. I wonder how many of those fastballs are really cutters, actually, which are hard to distinguish from his slider at times.

Because whenever I dick around on FanGraphs, I'm compelled to share it with you for some reason, here are the ranks of every Giants pitcher for each pitch type among qualified starters (of which there are 108) this season:

27. Tim Lincecum (44.4%)
39. Matt Cain (37.3)
44. Madison Bumgarner (35.1)
45. Ryan Vogelsong (34.4)
75. Barry Zito (20.8)

Two-seam fastball
30. Barry Zito (22.3%)
39. Ryan Vogelsong (16.3)
45. Tim Lincecum (12.6)
50. Matt Cain (11.3)
53. Madison Bumgarner (9.5)

4. Barry Zito (28.5%)
(Note: Zito is the only cutter-thrower according to PITCHf/x)
(Which seems odd.)
(Which seams? Odd.)

5. Madison Bumgarner (33.1%)
13. Matt Cain (27.2)
36. Tim Lincecum (19.6)
41. Ryan Vogelsong (18.7)
77. Barry Zito (2.1)
(Again, odd. It looks like Zito's slider is a cutter, at least according to the robots)

15. Ryan Vogelsong (18.8%)
21. Barry Zito (17.4%)
52. Madison Bumgarner (10.7)
58. Matt Cain (10.3)
78. Tim Lincecum (6.6)

39. Tim Lincecum (16.2%)
48. Matt Cain (13.7)
55. Ryan Vogelsong (11.8)
60. Madison Bumgarner (10.9)
67. Barry Zito (8.9)


1. Tim Lincecum doesn't throw his curve nearly as much as he used to, but maybe that's because hitters haven't swung and missed at the pitch much since his rookie season

2. I would have guessed all of those pitchers would have been at least 10 spots higher in the changeup category.

3. If you're wondering how the Giants rank as a slider-throwing team, they're #2 behind the Rangers. The Giants throw a slider 23.5 percent of the time.

4. More home runs are hit against fastballs by percentage than any other pitch. If were looking for a magic bullet between the Giants' sliderin' ways and their newfound penchant for allowing dingers, it's not there.

5. The last time the Giants weren't a top-three slider team was 2010, when they were ninth.

These are facts devoid of a conclusion. And to think, this started as another Tim Lincecum article! But then Lincecum had to say "a little happy with that slider," and look at the rabbit hole we're down now. It looks like the Giants as a team are a little happy with that slider. It did well enough for them in 2011 and 2012, so it's too early to say it's the problem in 2013, too.