Leaderboard of Heroism

Fangraphs is great. There probably isn’t a single post that ends up on Getting Blanked without a cursory Fangraphs consultation. They provide an amazing (and free!) service in the form of reams of baseball data. With this information, writers and fans alike go forth to form better and more well-rounded decisions about the players they watch every day.

Fangraphs recently added pitch f/x leaderboards to their considerable offerings. With it, you learn Ervin Santana throws the most sliders among starting pitchers over the last three years and David Price has the most arm-side movement on his two-seam fastball.

The Pitch f/x information also includes a timestamp for each thrown pitch. From that information, Fangraphs tracks Pace – the average time between pitches. Just how long is the time between the human rain delay’s pitches? Who works the fastest and deserves our love and affection? Who works slowest, earning scorn and probably more? Let’s investigate below the jump.

The Miami Marlins made significant moves during the Winter Meetings by signing Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle. Reyes is a Spanish-speaking star, sure to be a hit in cosmopolitan Miami. Mark Buehrle is sure to make fans among people looking to get the hell out of the South Florida heat in two hours or less.


Name Pace (seconds)
Mark Buehrle 16.2
Joe Blanton 17.6
Ryan Rowland-Smith 17.8
Clayton Richard 17.9
Tim Wakefield 18.0
Brett Anderson 18.1
Doug Fister 18.2
John Danks 18.2
Jonathon Niese 18.3
Brad Bergesen 18.6

Heroes. One and all. Although this list hardly represents the best that Major League Baseball has to offer, each of these brave men can toe the rubber for my club anytime. Except Wakefield. What do you expect? It isn’t as though he needs to look for a sign. Grab ball, grip strangely, huck. Done.

Get ON with it, man.

Let’s move on to the other end of the scale. The qualification for this list is 150 innings over the past three seasons to ensure You Know Who makes the list.


Offender Pace (seconds)
Jonathan Papelbon 31.7
Rafael Betancourt 30.8
Jonathan Broxton 30.0
Jose Valverde 28.7
Rafael Perez 27.2
Francisco Rodriguez 26.9
Jason Frasor 26.5
Daniel Bard 26.1
Mike Adams 26.0
Dan Wheeler 26.0

For reference, the average pace among the 300-odd qualified pitchers is 21.6 seconds with 2.1 as the standard deviation.

Just to further confirm a long-held bias, the next ten names on the list includes 3 more Red Sox (Dice K, Beckett, Buchholz.) They are also the first starters to feature on this damning list, a copy of which I’m forwarding to Interpol and The Hague for crimes against the human attention span. The top ten slowest starters is a veritable who’s who of the American League East: Lester, Sabathia, and Burnett join Matt Garza and Brad Penny in this damned group.

Know these names. Memorize them. Write the local umpires union and tie to a rock for tossing through Bud Selig’s window. We must drag these traitorous dogs into the town square for a public flogging. We will exact our revenge on the hours of a life lost between Papelbon’s splitters in the dirt. WE WILL HAVE OUR REVENGE. We are sunburnt and cranky and we aren’t going to take it any more. Sound the klaxon of action, it is a pregnant pause revolution!

In case you wondered, pace doesn’t really have any sort relationship with quality of pitcher. It (weakly) correlates positively with SIERA (where lower is better) and strikeout rate. Just hurry up with it, will ya!

Comments (16)

  1. Holy crap … I knew Papelbon was slow, but I didn’t know he was THAT slow.
    Papelbon combined with Beckett during that game on September 6th made a 3:51 game feel like 8:51. Thankfully Lawrie single-handedly ended that one with the walk-off HR.

    • I went to that marvelous game with my gramps. He loved every minute of it. I should have, but what should have been an amazing game was tarnished by Beckett and especially Mr. Round Mouth Papelbon…I couldn’t stand him that game, it was infuriating.

      • I was there with my dad and my brothers too … they hadn’t been to a game in ages, and while the walk-off was a spectacular way to end it, but Beckett and Papelbon slowed that game to a screeching halt. The best heckle I heard that day was simple, yet effective … “throw the ball!”

  2. What are the numbers for Santos? I want to like the guy.

  3. haha Mike McCoy was a 13.7

  4. Nice graph title.

  5. I’m having trouble tying a rock to my email to Bud Selig. Anybody can help?

  6. Looked up the Jays for fun, no real high or real low guys. I expected Janssen to be pretty fast, but he was actually the slowest of the returning Jays. Then I remembered, how he usually works quick until he gets that one pitch in his head and shakes the catcher off until he gets his way.

    Romero and Alvarez were the fastest working Jays at 20.7 and 19.8

  7. I’m actually surprised Doc didn’t make the top 10, since I remember several Jays games he pitched ending remarkably quickly.

    Too bad we don’t have this for Doyle Alexander. I think I lost a week of my life to watching him stall between pitches.

  8. As an intellectual exercise:

    Everyone’s least-favourite Sox closer threw 1001 pitches in 2011.

    That means it took him (more or less) 31,731 seconds to throw those pitches.

    An average pitcher would’ve taken 21,621 seconds.

    Congratulations! If you watched every pitch Papelbon threw in 2011, you’ve basically lost 2.8 hours of your life.

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