Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Chase Anderson flirted with a no-hitter against the Cubs earlier this week and his advanced stats, show that it was bound to happen.
Chase Anderson took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in the Milwaukee Brewers game against the Cubs on Tuesday, a feat which baffled some considering Anderson entered the game with a 6.11 ERA.
It was the best start by a pitcher so far this season and the best outing for the Milwaukee Brewers pitcher this season.
While many of the analytical minds in baseball focus on advanced stats such as FIP, xFIP, wOBA, etc. there’s other data to suggest that Anderson’s no-hitter was inevitable, despite the Milwaukee Brewers pitcher struggling as of late.
Back in 2014 at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, MLB Advanced Media introduced something called ‘Statcast.’
Essentially, it is a system that tracks everything happening on batted ball events, from the speed to the direction, even the angle.
Statcast is where we see just how underrated Chase Anderson his, and how the Milwaukee Brewers’ pitcher ERA doesn’t tell the whole story of his pitching.
One of the many variables tracked by Statcast is called ‘Exit Velocity.’ According to MLB.com Exit Velocity is defined as the speed of a baseball after it is hit by a batter. This includes all Batted Ball Events — outs, hits and errors.
Specifically in the case of pitchers Exit Velocity can also be used to evaluate pitchers (known as “Exit Velocity Against”). The game’s best pitchers — who naturally throw the highest quality pitches — generally rank among the league leaders at limiting hard contact.
That is the slower a pitchers EVA (Exit Velocity Against), the more a defensive player has time to react and thus generating fewer hits, which generates fewer runs. A slower exit velocity also decreases the chances that a ball will leave the park.
Here’s a great chart using 2015 data to drive that point home
You can see that the harder the ball is hit, the farther it travels.
Over at baseballsavant.com, you find an in-depth interaction with the publicly available Statcast data. Which, if you look at the EVA of pitchers with at least 120 batted ball events, you’ll find Anderson at number twenty-eight with an EVA of 88.8 MPH.
Which considering, that there are pitchers from the same team ahead of Anderson on that list(Johnny Cueto and Matt Cain for example), it shows you just how deceiving stats like ERA and FIP can be (not to say that they can’t be trusted or aren’t useful).
But, consider the chart below that shows Anderson’s EVA for each pitching zone.
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Simply put, Chase Anderson has the ability to throw pitches that aren’t hit has hard (as opposed to other pitchers). Now, there is something to be said about the number of batted ball events Anderson has (121), whereas Jake Arrieta has had just 107 and had an even better EVA (87.5).
So, there are two final touching points on that. Anderson gives up more batted ball events than he probably should (which would help explain his high ERA).
But at the same time, it would seem that if the Milwaukee Brewers weren’t rebuilding (or even if there defense was a little better), then Anderson might have an even lower ERA than what he has thus far.