Alex Claudio has appeared in more games than any other Major League Pitcher in 2019. He has also taken more criticism than most players in The League. Is it warranted? BREW MATHs breaks down The Ground Ball Master and highlights his often underrated production. As always, it is a graphic-packed affair that dials in on the metrics that matter.
GLOBAL STATS (2019)
- 57 Appearances (Leads The MLB)
- 2-2 / 4.00 ERA / 4.83 FIP / 4.49 xFIP
- 113 ERA+ / RE24 = -2.26
- 1.289 WHIP
- 33K + 16BB (0 wild pitches)
- LOB%: 76.5 (Career: 75.3)
- RATE STATS
- 8.4 H/9
- 6.6 K/9
- 3.2 BB/9
- 1.2 HR/9 (0.69 Career)
Just looking at the above numbers tells us we are dealing with an above average hurler who is utilized often. We also can gather that he is a finesse pitcher since most of the outs he garners are not via the strikeout.
Anyone who follows Brewers Baseball knows that Claudio specializes in facing lefties which is evident in his 2019 splits:
- Vs. RHH
- OPP. SLASH: .305 / .387 / .549
- OPS: .936 / sOPS: 150
- Vs. LHH
- OPP. SLASH: .191 / .263 / .315
- OPS: .577 / sOPS: 51
This definitively confirms he excels when facing LHH’s. In fact, the numbers tell us that he is nearly twice as good when facing lefties. We also see a “mixed bag” when we dig further into his splits. Interestingly enough, Claudio does not pitch nearly as well when runners are on base… especially if they begin to creep into scoring position:
- Bases Empty: 0.72 ERA / 1.16 WHIP
- Runner on 1B: 2.61 ERA / 1.00 WHIP
- Scoring Pos: 13.97 ERA / 1.76 WHIP
- HIGH LEVERAGE: .817 OPP. OPS
- MED LEVERAGE: .697 OPP. OPS
- LOW LEVERAGE: .759 OPP. OPS
It also is odd how much worse he pitches when there is one out:
- 0 OUT: 2.00 ERA / 1.00 WHIP
- 1 OUT: 9.45 ERA / 1.80 WHIP
- 2 OUT: 1.32 ERA / 1.17 WHIP
Finally, before we move on from Claudio’s Splits, it should be noted that he is much more effective at Miller Park than anywhere else:
- HOME: 3.29 ERA / 1.13 WHIP
- AWAY: 5.09 ERA / 1.53 WHIP
A good place to start when trying to understand a pitcher is with his repertoire:
- Claudio predominantly uses the sinker which is his fastest pitch. As you can see, velocity is not his forte. Instead he uses an atypical delivery and a healthy amount of deception to keep hitter’s on their heels.
- His changeup is his best pitch and is almost 10 mph slower than the aforementioned sinker. This disparity in velocity bands is the crux of Claudio’s effectiveness. The changeup has obvious arm-side fade.
- His third pitch, the slider, does not allow the batter to sit on any one pitch. While he uses it the least, one can quickly see that he employs all three pitches in a balanced distribution. The slider has glove-side cut.
A closer look at Claudio’s Disparate Velocity Bands:
When David Stearns traded for Claudio, one of the first things he publicly stated was how good Alex is at generating ground balls. The numbers support this claim:
The reason that he is so good at forcing worm burners lies within his ability to limit quality contact:
Since his pitches come in relatively slow, gravity has a greater effect on their trajectory. This augments the elite vertical movement that he is able to generate which causes a lot of hits to be driven into the ground (SEE: Launch Angle):
The two charts above make it abundantly clear that Claudio’s deceptive ways do not allow the batter to get comfortable in the batter’s box. He is better than MLB Average in EVERY category that dictates how hard a ball will be struck. Specifically, hitters’ cannot barrel the ball and when they do it is most often hit weakly into the ground.
By now, it should not be a surprise that Claudio does not take the mound to overpower anybody. Quite the opposite. When we examine his opponent’s plate discipline, this becomes evident:
- LEFT: Claudio does not “show his hand” and lets go all of his pitches from a very similar release point
- CENTER: He tends to throw more sliders when he is ahead in the count and more sinkers when he is behind. That said, the distribution stays fairly equal, regardless of the count.
- RIGHT: Claudio sprays pitches all over the zone and almost as many outside of it. Please note how he tends to work lower in the strike zone which helps to foster all the ground balls he generates:
Lastly, BASEBALLSAVANT.MLB.COM has a method to compare pitchers statistically. You might be surprised to find out who Claudio is most similar to in 2019:
- Mike Soroka
- Wade Miley
- Adam Cimber
- Casey Sadler
- Marcus Stroman
- Alex Claudio is the embodiment of a finesse pitcher. He is used more than any other reliever in the game and while he is not elite, the man is much better than MLB Average (in almost every regard).
- SPLIT TRENDS:
- He is way better against lefties than righties
- He pitches best in medium leverage situations and worst in high leverage ones. For some unknown reason, he is much less effective when there is one out (as opposed to none or two)
- Claudio is better at Miller Park than when on the road.
- His effectiveness stems from his ability to deceive hitters with the three pitches he throws. Each one is unique in terms of it’s velocity and movement.
- The man is truly a “ground ball master” which also indicates that he is a master of limiting quality contact. That said, he is allowing more homers this year than ever before.
- Claudio’s deceptive ways do not lead to missing bats all together. Instead, he almost welcomes contact with the idea that his defense will be able to field the weakly hit balls he generates.
- The further one digs into AC’s deception, the more clear it becomes that he has worked hard to refine his game. Everything from his release point and pitch distribution, all the way to his scattered placement focused on the lower aspects of the zone… all of it is geared at limiting quality contact.
- David Stearns and Craig Counsell knew who they were getting when they traded for this savvy vet. They also know that he is under team control until 2022. This is a good thing for the organization and its fans since Claudio’s skillset will continue to be abundantly useful.
Categories: Brewer Spotlight