Spin is in: Why spin matters as much as velocity for pitchers

Due to the application of Doppler radar technology [the same technology that is used in weather forecasting] to baseball we are getting a new look at what makes pitchers successful—-even if they are not the highest velocity throwers. The importance of fastball spin is a new concept in pitching. It’s always been there but until now it has been difficult to measure. Now that Doppler is in use we are finding out just how important it is. What we are going to prove is the efficacy of spin and show you how to get more spin on your fastballs. To start here are some excerpts from the seminal article about fastball spin.

Fastball Spin

An average MLB fastball makes 2200 revolutions per minute (RPMs) on its way to home plate. What’s a good fastball spin? As evidenced by the chart below, the spin put on a fastball directly correlates to ground ball rate and swings-and-misses.

Fastball SpinMLB 2010-2013
RPM (00s) SwStr% GB %
<- 20 5.5% 47.3%
20 – 21 6.1% 43.0%
21 – 22 6.8% 40.3%
22 – 23 7.7% 38.7%
23 – 24 8.7% 37.4%
24 – 25 10.4% 36.3%
25 -> 13.4% 37.2%

Velocity isn’t the only way to get whiffs with the fastball—you can now throw high spin into that equation. “Sneaky” is one of the terms often used to describe a fastball with average to below-average velocity that hitters still swing at and miss at an elevated rate. High spin gives hop or sneak to your fastball. [The] research is now revealing that average fastball spin has a higher correlation to swinging strike rate than average fastball velocity……Boston’s Koji Uehara is a great contemporary example of a pitcher with a high-spin heater.

Pitcher MPH RPM
Average MLB FB 92 2200
Koji Uehara 89 2427

A ball thrown with true backspin that spins at a high rate will work against gravity [due to the aerodynamic effects of the seams], causing it to sink less quickly than a ball with lower spin. As a result, hitters’ eyes are deceived, because the ball doesn’t sink as much as they expect it to. No one can defy gravity completely and throw a rising fastball, but pitchers can work with and against gravity as a form of deception. Want to test this out? Set up a pitching machine to throw an 80 MPH fastball with 3000 RPMs and see how hard it is to hit. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself swinging through and fouling off pitches. You won’t see this offering in actual games—no current pitcher throws a fastball with 3000 RPMs.[but it will give you an understanding why spin matters so much].

This concept is gradually being taken on in the pros and colleges. If you use these concepts at your level you will be way ahead of the hitters you are facing.

You ask….WSC ……“How do I create backward spin on my fastball?”

Here’s how… The tips of your fingers are key. One of the reasons Pedro Martinez was so effective was his long fingers. He released the ball using the tips of his fingers in a quick, downward motion creating backspin on his 4 seam fastball. You need to learn to do the same. It takes some practice however. The more you do it however you will build up confidence in the delivery. You will also with time build up calluses on the tips of your fingers that will help you get even more spin.

Another way is to throw a cross seam fastball. This where you hold the ball with 2 fingers across the two closest seams. What you do is place the tips of your fingers just beyond the front seam. When you throw you use the front seam as leverage to create downward whip with your fingers and the backspin you want. This grip is not taught these days. I could not even find a picture of it on the web. I do not know why it is not taught because it’s a great way to get backspin on your pitches.

Why are pitches with spin hard to hit? It’s a round bat trying to get square contact with another round, fast rotating object — the ball. If the hitter misses direct, square contact by just a fraction of an inch high or low it will cause a pop up or ground ball. Spin greatly decreases the probability of solid contact by the hitter. Also, if the ball is hit, the bat must first overcome the fast spinning ball to go anywhere. The more spin the harder it is for hitters to hit the ball fair and deep.

One last thing you have to stay with these high spin pitches. You have to follow through to get the downward whip you need. Also keep the pitch either high or low in the strike zone. High because the hitter will swing under it thinking the ball will be lower than it actually is (as the article cites). Low because the hitter will think the pitch will be out of the strike zone when in it actually keep its height and be a low strike.

Pitchers: learn and use spin. The more you use it with your fastballs the more success you will have. Hitters at your level do not see pitches like this.

What we are going to see is spin will soon be an important factor in the evaluation pitchers.

Besides a high spin fastball a  lower spin fastball is also important to understand and incorporate into your arsenal. That topic will be in another article.

This is another example of the value of WSC. It not only tells you the whats and whys but also the how tos. The how-to part was left out of the cited article about spin. How to put baseball research into practice is one of our strengths.

Too much pitching is not a good thing

As tryouts start for baseball we thought it was a good time to remind pitchers, parents, and coaches about over pitching. We found an excellent set of short videos about the perils of pitching too much—–especially when you are younger.

The videos show the effects on arms of too many throws. Parents and coaches….don’t be like the dorks shown in these videos. Your son or player will be done being a pitcher before you know it if you are not careful.

The videos explain the increase in risk if you pitch and play another position—especially catcher. All of the throws you do add up. They cover warning signs of arm problems, Tommy John surgery, and the after effects of Tommy John surgery (it talks about why it’s not true—as many believe—pitchers are better after they have Tommy John).

On the down side too we found out through these videos they don’t cut your arm open as much these days. The days of a 6 to 8 inch scar is gone. It’s done arthroscopically. We don’t think this is good because you can’t show off your cool tattoos you integrated with the scar to your friends in the bar when your 30, telling them what a great pitcher you were when you were 14 but you had to quit.

Be careful. Serious arm problems are happening to younger pitchers at an increasing rate. You don’t want to be like the pitchers in the videos.



How to Pitch to Hitters That Choke Up With 2 Strikes

Hitters are usually looking to drive the ball. With 2 strikes desperation sets in however and hitters become more conservative. The hitter’s two-strike syndrome is:  “something is better than nothing.” The nothing being striking out. The something is putting the ball in play and hoping it results in a hit.

Due to this desperation some hitters change their approach. Think back to your little league days. Coaches told hitters with 2 strikes to “choke up and get a piece of the ball.” Here is an article by a hitting expert telling hitters what to do with 2 strikes:

Two Strike Hitting

There has been a lot made of two strike hitting over the last 10 years or so. Strikeouts have been climbing for hitters which is a result of trying to drive the ball for extra bases. Many hitters that have potential to hit the ball out of the park would rather take a chance to drive the ball and strikeout on a good swing than choke up and take a good pitch and hit a ground ball to the second baseman.  I understand not wanting to completely change who you are as a hitter, but I also believe we can cut our swing down, make more consistent contact and still drive the baseball. There are 3 common physical adjustments that can be used at the plate when hitting with 2 strikes.

Choke up on the bat

This will increase your bat control, by making the bat feel lighter in your hands, your bat will feel more balanced, but you will give up a little whip.

It will give you a shorter swing. The distance from your hands to the barrel is closer, thus making the distance your bat has to cover a little shorter.

It will give you a quicker swing. This is because your bat path and the distance your bat has to cover a little shorter, making your swing time a little quicker.

Spread out your stance.

This will give you less body movement. Which is good when trying to make contact, the less moving parts in your swing the easier it is to hit the baseball.

It will give you less head movement. Anytime you can limit the movement in your head the better hitter you will become. You can’t hit it if you can’t see it, and the more your head moves the harder it is to see the baseball.Will help you cover the outside part of the plate better. This can be a good approach because most of the pitches that a pitcher uses to get you out, are on the outer part of the plate.

Get closer to the plate

Being closer to the plate will give the pitcher less room for error on an inside pitch. Standing closer to the plate will force the pitcher to make a good pitch if he tries to come inside. If he makes a mistake, you may get a good pitch to hit, or the ball may hit you and you will be awarded 1st base. Moving closer to the plate [however] opens up a potential hole for the hitter, because now if the pitcher can throw the ball inside for a strike, it may tie up the hitter and make it more difficult to hit.

So this is what hitters do (the unmanly ones): choke up, move closer to the plate, and spread out their stance.

The first issue is: why don’t they do this all the time? It’s likely they think they are manly and want to impress everyone by driving the ball. That’s a good thing for us pitchers because can exploit it.

So what do we have to do as pitchers? First watch what the hitter does when he has 2 strikes.

Hitters that move closer to the plate and choke  up call for inside pitches that run in on their hands. If they do make contact it will be on the shaft part of the bat. It will also give them a sting that will last for some time. You can use your 4 seamer too as a set up pitch for hitters close to the plate. Throw it inside to back them off the plate if you have a waste pitch to give. When they move back in the box—-afraid of getting hit—-come back with an outside pitch they will have trouble reaching now they are further away and choked up.

As for the spread stance hitters are off balance somewhat due to the stance being different than their normal stance.  A change in this case will get them off balance more easily.  If they do hit the pitch they will likely hit on top of the ball causing a weak ground ball.

Your fielders should be paying attention too. They can move in—-especially in the outfield—-expecting a shorter length hit if the hitter ends up making contact.

As a note, straight fastballs will not work here. The hitter’s bat is quicker due to the reasons cited above.

Use these methods and get out more hitters with 2 strikes. What’s strange however you will not see very many hitters in the 3-6 slots in the order doing this—-they are too manly. Pitch those guys as normal.

Maybe that is the reason hitting is down. Hitters these days are taught to use one swing and to stick with that swing. Not to give away to the enemy but that is one of the reasons why there is a hitting drought. Pitchers on the other hand have an arsenal of many different pitches and locations. What the “hitting experts” need is a paradigm shift in what they teach hitters. Hitters should have a variety of swings for different pitches and situations. Until they do the drought will continue. The current environment is great for us as pitchers. Keep it up hitters and “hitting experts”—–your own teachings are leading to your own demise.

Westfield’s Brent Houle Wins First College Game as a Pitcher

Congratulations to Brent Houle (Fr RHP) for winning his first college game 4-0 against a very good Otterbein team. He gave up only 4 hits and no runs. It is Otterbein’s first loss of the season. Here is the line on the game.

Eastern Nazarene vs Otterbein University @ Fort Myers, Fla. | PDC #4    

3/7/2015 at 12:15 pm

Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Eastern Nazarene (1-1) 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 4 6 1
Otterbein (9-1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0

Eastern Nazarene 4           Otterbein 0 4



Eastern Nazarene
Pitchers IP H R ER BB SO HR
Brent Houle (W, 1-0) 6.0 4 0 0 7 3 0
Doug English 1.0 0 0 0 2 0 0
Totals 7.0 4 0 0 9 3 0
Batters Faced: Brent Houle 28; Doug English 5 HBP: Brent Houle

Westfield High 2015 Baseball Team: Roster and Line Up Predictions, Strengths and Challenges

Here are our predictions and challenges for the 2015 Westfield High varsity baseball team.

The team features 3 D1 commits with Sullivan (Hartford), Lacey (Bryant), and McLean (UMASS). With 3 D1 commits Westfield is tied with St John’s Prep for the most D1 commits in Massachusetts. Making up the core of the team with experience also are Colin Dunn (SS) and Cody Neidig (OF).

After this core, however, there are a lot of unknowns and challenges for Westfield. Pitching depth is an issue. Besides McLean all potential pitchers have thrown less than 50 pitches in a varsity game—-combined. Two positions will have varsity newcomers: 2B and 1B (when McLean is pitching). The catching ranks have also taken a hit with Connor Sullivan being out on IR.

Here is the roster for 2015:

Dunn IF

Neidig OF, P

Lacey P, OF

Chris Sullivan IF

Clark C, 1B

McLean P, 1B

Murphy 2B

St Pierre OF, IF

Heinz C

Murray P, IF

Plasse OF

Tom Flaherty OF, IF

Iglesias P

Moorhouse OF, 1B

TBD (likely a pitcher, Schwartz?)

TBD (likely a pitcher, Mochak? Towle?)

TBD (likely an IF, Walsh?)

TBD (likely a catcher)

IR Conner Sullivan C, IF

Here is the opening day line-up:

  1. Dunn SS
  2. Neidig LF
  3. Lacey CF
  4. Chris Sullivan 3B
  5. Clark 1B
  6. McLean P
  7. Murphy 2B
  8. Plasse RF
  9. Heinz C

Strengths: Proven left side of infield and 2 of 3 outfielders, starting pitching

Weaknesses: Ability to score runs, lack of varsity playing experience for 13 of 18 players, unproven pitching, and unproven right side of infield

Strongest competition in 2015: West Springfield, Chaug

Weakest competition in 2015: Ludlow, Holyoke

What has to happen is the newcomers have to perform right away. The team will also have a lot of close games due to their lack of run scoring ability. If the pitching depth comes around and they string some hits together Westfield will be a force in 2015.

Is the Westfield Mayoral Election Already Over?

WSC is following the Westfield mayoral election because of our interest in the improvements to Bullens and Jachym fields for the Babe Ruth World Series. What we found so far, however, goes beyond sports. We are compelled to reveal what is happening.

Mr. Roeder, what are you doing? The more you talk the more voters you alienate. You win elections by getting more votes than your competition. Not by giving large parts of the electorate reasons why not to vote for you.

At WSC we were looking forward to a competitive election but early in the game it looks more like a blowout.

Here is what we mean….

In his brief interview in the Westfield News published on 13 February Roeder managed to alienate the following blocs of voters:

  • Parents of school children for his lack of support for a new school and the new science wing at the high school
  • Teachers and school administrators for the same reasons
  • City workers by characterizing them as unproductive “Knapik supporters.”
  • Firefighters by pulling his support for the Little River Fire Station expansion
  • Biking enthusiasts for his lack of support for improvements to the Colombia Green Way Bike Path
  • Downtown businesses and residents by not supporting redevelopment and riverfront projects
  • And…most important to us…..baseball players and parents for his lack of support for improvements to Bullens and Jachym fields for the Babe Ruth World Series

Who has not been alienated by him so far by what he saying? This is no way to win an election.

We understand Mr. Roeder you are positioning yourself as a political neophyte—-an anti-politician—but you are not going to win saying what you are saying.

Mr. Roeder it’s obvious to us at WSC what you need to do to win votes and get elected but we are not going to insert ourselves to swing the election one way or another. What we do know is the people of Westfield should not vote, and do not want to vote, for a de-evolutionist—-someone who wants to de-evolve the city without future benefit.

Baseball Rules Makers Massing Against Pitchers —- Part 1

This is a series of articles to help pre-college age (ages 14-18) pitchers improve, get noticed by college coaches, and get a scholarship to play baseball.

Pitchers, you have demonstrated your superiority against hitters. Offence is at an all-time low in the MLB and in colleges. What is happening now is the rules makers want to change the rules to help out the poor state of hitting these days.

Over recent years pitchers have improved their capabilities and their strategies of how they pitch. Now we are likely going to be penalized. Penalized because hitters have not improved over the same time period. You hear the whining from hitters all the time now how difficult it is to hit a baseball. Instead of manning up and improving they are lobbying baseball’s  governing rules guys to change the rules. Look at what is happening in the MLB. It will likely flow down to colleges in short order. Below is an excerpt from Yahoo Sports:

 MLB could alter strike zone as response to declining offense

Major League Baseball is considering altering the textbook definition of the strike zone for the first time in nearly two decades, fearful that the proliferation of the low strike has sapped too much offense from the game, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Concern around baseball about the strike zone filtered down to the MLB’s Playing Rules Committee, which must formally adopt a rules change before it’s implemented. The committee will pay close attention to the size of the strike zone in 2015 with an eye on change as early as 2016 after studies showed it has expanded significantly since 2009, coinciding with a precipitous dip in run scoring. Of particular concern, sources said, is the low strike, a scourge not only because it has stretched beyond the zone’s boundaries but is considered a significantly more difficult pitch to hit.

Runs per game fell to 4.07 in 2014, the lowest mark since 1981 and the 13th fewest since World War II, and studies from The Hardball Times’ Jon Roegele and Florida professor Brian Mills pegged the low strike as a significant culprit.

Since 2009, the average size of the called strike zone has jumped from 435 square inches to 475 square inches, according to Roegele’s research. The results: Pitchers are throwing more in the lower part of the zone, and hitters are swinging at an increased rate, knowing the tough-to-drive pitches will be called strikes. The strike zone has lowered about three inches since 2009. (Hardball Times)

Strike Zone

Roegele’s study estimated 31 percent of the offensive drought could be attributed to the strike zone while Mills estimated it’s between 24 percent and 41 percent. After seeing a strong correlation among the size of the strike zone, all-time-high strikeout rates and historically low walk rates, members of the committee now are fairly certain the relationship is causative, too, and seem primed to do something about it.

The problem, sources said, stems from technological leaps that caused unintended consequences. In 1996, when the league last changed the strike zone to extend it from the top of the knees to the bottom, beneath the hollow of the kneecap, it did so to encourage umpires to call knee-level strikes. The lower end of the zone, in practice, was about three-quarters of the way down the thigh, so the idea was that by adjusting the eye levels of umpires to look lower, the result would be a more traditional strike zone.

Then along came Questec, the computerized pitch-tracking system, followed by Zone Evaluation, the current version tied in to MLB’s PITCHf/x system. With a tremendous degree of accuracy – especially in recent years – the systems tracked textbook balls and strikes, and the home-plate umpires’ performances were graded on a nightly basis. Over time, not only did umpires’ strike zones move down to the knees, they went to the hollow and even a smidge below.

“I don’t think the Playing Rules Committee at the time of the last change ever expected that the umpires would call strikes at the hollow of the knee,” said Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, the current chairman of the committee. “To their credit, the umpires now are.”

Most agreed that raising the strike zone almost certainly would spark offense. The potential issue: More offense equals longer games, and with pace of play one of new commissioner Rob Manfred’s priorities, balancing the two remains a difficult proposition

Pitchers, the strike zone has not increased as this article wants readers to believe. Low strikes are being called as low strikes. An alternate way of looking at this—as we do—is hitters had way too much of an advantage before. Offence before was inflated. Now a strike is a strike.

Anyways can’t hitters learn to hit the low strike? As we cited in a recent article hitters train on tees almost exclusively set low in the strike zone. It’s not like they have not seen low pitches before. What are hitting coaches doing about this inability to hit the low strike? We think very little. We have not noticed anything on web sites by the hitting experts about new strategies to deal with the low strike.

What is next? Making the bats bigger? Maybe they should make the bats flatter.

Pitchers, continue to throw the low strike. Also—-as we have said on this site—-get your catchers to get as close as possible to the hitter so the umpire has a good look at the low strike.

We are going to start a few rules movements ourselves like this one. We suggest the holes in golf be enlarged to the size of a manhole. This will help our poor scores on the links. Also we are all for basketball hoops to be larger too. We want more scoring in basketball. Scores like 210-190 will make us happy.

Hitters come on. Do you really have to change the rules to compete? Isn’t this an embarrassment for you?

Another rule change that is going into effect this year in college baseball is a new ball with lower seams. The new balls are designed to help hitters too. We will address this in another article.

Local Sports, Local Politics —- Will the New Mayor of Westfield Support the Planned Improvements to Bullens and Jachym Fields for the Babe Ruth World Series?

Mayor Knapik has announced he will not be running for reelection. Come November Westfield will have a new mayor. Also coming soon after —- in the summer of 2016 —– will be the Babe Ruth 14 year-old World Series. The Babe Ruth players, parents, and local businesses are counting on the improvements to Bullens and Jachym fields for their event. The following is an excerpt from the December 2014 CH 22 announcement about the World Series:

The [World Series] will likely have a ripple effect as the decision will put into motion a series of capital improvement projects to Bullens and Jachym fields that Ruthers and high school players will enjoy for decades to come.

Plans call for bleacher-style seats to be installed along the large concrete steps located behind home plate at Bullens Field, state-of-the-art LED lights to replace the ones currently housed on the light poles, and fencing to be brought in along the third base line. It is possible the press box area could be expanded. The entire park is expected to be handicap accessible per the Americans with Disabilities Act by game time in 2016.

According to Karen Gomez, athletic director for Westfield and Westfield Vocational-Technical High Schools, there are also plans to install dugouts at Jachym Field and expand seating there as well.

“All three high school athletic programs (Westfield, Westfield Voc-Tech, St. Mary) will benefit (from this decision),” Gomez said.

Westfield Mayor Daniel M. Knapik has said the city will put those projects out to bid next summer [summer 2015].


So Westfield Sports Center readers we have an issue: Will the new mayor carry through on what was started by Mayor Knaipk?

The view of WSC is Brian Sullivan likely will due to his background coaching baseball in Westfield for many years. As for Mike Roeder—the only other announced candidate— it is unknown. The WSC view is Roeder likely does not know about the World Series; the improvement plans; or what it means to the sports people and local businesses of Westfield. The press to date portrays him as out of touch with local issues due to not living in Westfield over the past few years. That may not be fair but that’s what been said to date.

This issue needs to be addressed during the campaign. Ideally both candidates come out in support of the improvement plans. However if only one candidate supports the plans the WSC will support that candidate and encourage our readership (a significant voting bloc) to vote for that candidate. If neither candidate supports carrying through on the plans the Babe Ruth Committee, players, parents, and local businesses have to know as soon as possible so alternatives can be found. Stay tuned to WSC for updates about this issue.

By Westfield Sports Center Editorial Board —- the leader in sports-centric political issues

Pitchers: How to communicate your value to college coaches

This is a series of articles to help pre-college age (ages 14-18) pitchers improve, get noticed by college coaches, and get a scholarship to play baseball.

Let’s start off with the basics: How do you win baseball games?

You win with pitchers that keep runners off base, pitchers that dominate hitters, and pitchers that keep batted balls in the park and off the walls.

So how do you communicate to college coaches how good you have been winning games? Here are the metrics:

  • Team games – how many games your team played
  • Pitching appearances – how often they used you
  • Innings pitched – how much they used you (this along with appearances will tell the coach the average length of your outings)
  • WHIP – walks + hits per innings pitched (a measure of how well you keep hitters off base.) Anything under a 1.0 WHIP is excellent.
  • Ks per 7 inning game – Shows your dominance over hitters. You should have at least 10 SOs per 7 inning game on average.
  • GB/FB ratio – ground balls verses fly balls. (measure of how well you keep batted balls in the park and out of the outfield). You want to be at least 2-1 ground balls to fly balls.

That is it. You can include wins and losses but coaches know this metric has little value. For instance a pitcher that has a good winning record and a high WHIP is just fortunate. His team likely scores him a lot of runs.

For the major leaguers it’s a bit different. It’s on base percentage plus slugging—–or OBS. The importance of OBS for measuring pitchers is demonstrated by the new GM of the LA Angles. He created a handbook for his minor league system to develop players. A sports reporter interviewed him and he said for pitchers he has exactly one sentence in the book highlighted: “Limiting OBS will be one of the main considerations in evaluation of minor league pitching.”

The basic equation is: OBS = OBP + SLG

You do not have to measure OBS at your level but it shows the emphasis on keeping players off base in the majors. It should be your main emphasis at your level too. WHIP is fine for your level of baseball. It is a strong indicator of your ability to keep runners off base.

Here are some other comments I found about the best measures of pitching performance:

Trent Rosecrans: Strikeouts/Strikeout rate (K, K/9, K%): One of the silliest things in baseball now is the idea of a war between scouts and the “numbers guys.” In the end, that war was settled peacefully long ago. In the end, both are looking for the same thing; they might just be using different terminology and looking in different places. If you get the most grizzled scout out from behind his JUGS gun and the nerdiest, palest stat guy out from his mother’s basement, both would tell you they’d prefer to find a pitcher who misses bats. If the batters can’t put the ball in play, they’re not going to be hitting a pitcher, and that’s a good thing. How do you determine that? Well, strikeouts, of course. Strikeout rate (whether it’s K/9, as in strikeouts per nine innings or K%, as in strikeout percentage) tells you just that — how often you strike out the batter. The more strikeouts, the less likely a hitter is putting the ball in play and the fewer things that can go wrong. Sure, as Crash Davis [Bull Durham] said, “strikeouts are fascist. But you know who likes fascists? Those who benefit from the fascist. And you know who likes strikeout pitchers? Everyone on their side.”

Matt Snyder: WHIP My first answer is anything but wins and losses. Saves aren’t overly helpful either. After that, unlike with hitters, I don’t think there are one or two stats head and shoulders above the rest. Like I said in the record entry above, the best pitchers need to do a combination of things to help their teams win. I haven’t totally gotten on board with FIP, so I would look at ERA, IP, K, K/BB, K/9, CG, SHO and WHIP in deciding who to endorse for Cy Young in a given season. At fictional gunpoint to choose the best overall, though, I’ll go with WHIP, due to it being the kind of like the pitcher’s version of on-base percentage (which you know I love).

Trent Rosecrans: WHIP Like Dayn says, I’m not a big believer in a single statistic to tell me everything. Sure, it’d be nice to have one, but I don’t think there is one. And as much as I like strikeout rates and strikeout to walk ration, strikeouts aren’t the only way to record outs. Now, if you can strike out a ton of batters and not walk many, I want you on my squad. But I’d also like a guy who might give up a few more hits but still finds ways to get outs and can throw 220 innings in a year. In the end, though, I love the simplicity of WHIP and it tells me one of the most important things I can determine about a pitcher — how many guys he puts on base (and thus, how many outs he converts). It’s like the pitcher’s version of on-base percentage. If you only let one guy on base per inning, chances are you’re not giving up a lot of runs, and that’s a sound strategy for winning.

As a final comment, parents be honest about the statistics. It will be obvious once your son is on the mound whether your son’s statistics support his capabilities. College coaches know each other and word will get around fast if your statics are inflated.