Alex wrote about Doubront’s fine start earlier today, so I’m on the Felix bandwagon with a look at his stuff. The phrase I recall hearing during Spring Training was something about a guy with five plus pitches. Given that hype, perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised that the youthful Mr. Doubront is suddenly the de facto ace of the Boston staff.
Doubront’s five pitches are representative of a starter’s arsenal, with his primary offering a four-seam fastball backed-up by a two-seam variety, a change-up, curveball and a cutter. Perhaps the ‘typical’ pitch there is a slider, but they are rather similar, with cutters being short sliders that, ironically, slide without changing planes like a slider.
What’s atypical with Doubrant is his velocity. Averaging 93.2 MPH with his fastball, he’s actually a half notch faster than the average left-handed reliever. He’s nearly two MPH faster than left-handed starters, 2012 to date.
He’s not the power lefty of the David Price variety, but perhaps he is a bit of poor man’s Price. Both throw sinkers and cutters … and curveballs and change-ups. Felix throws more four-seam fastballs than the two-seam sinking variety, while Price has migrated towards more two-seam sinkers as his career as progressed.
The difference between Price and Doubront in velocity is about the same as the gap between Doubront and average left-handed starter–2 MPH. Price is special, isn’t he?
But Felix is performing right up there with his harder throwing rival. Let’s take whiff rates, pitch type by pitch type. Whiff rate is misses per swing. All pitch IDs used in this article (and any other I write) are my own, and you can find them in the Brooksbaseball.net Player Cards.
Sticking with 2012 numbers…
Change-ups: Felix throws harder than David here, an extra MPH and an amazing seven additional inches of drop on the way to the plate. Whiff rate advantage goes to Felix, .40 to .21
Curveballs: Price gets a little more juice, just about 1 MPH, but again Felix out-whiffs David, this time .25 to .21.
Cutters: Price throws this pitch 90 MPH, Felix “just” 87.6. Price has, yet again, a whiff rate of .21 that is bested by Felix with a .23–another close victory!
Fastballs: This is 95.1 mph to 93.1 mph, and here Felix falls short. Price owns a ridiculous .22 whiff rate here, Felix .13. That’s plenty good for a fastball.
Sinkers: Again Felix out-whiffs Price, .20 to .18. But this pitch isn’t so much about whiffs as it is about grounders. Felix wins again, 53% of balls in play to 50% for Price.
Doubront out-grounds Price on all of his pitches, except the four-seam fastball. Somehow Price gets a 41% worm-killing rate to along with his untouchable whiff rate. So, despite throwing harder Price is only out-performing Doubront with one offering. But all this lacks context and some type of comment about sums of parts and what not.
They mix their pitches differently, so when you roll it all up, they have nearly identical whiff rates (.215 for Felix, .212 for David) and ground ball rates ( 43% and 45%). Wow.
So he’s not David Price, even over this short haul. But he’s hardly a poor man’s David Price, either. So Felix Doubront is making his mark as the middle-class man’s David Price. Or something like that.