In 2017, Clark Schmidt was drafted by Yankees From the University of South Carolina in the first round, there were high hopes on the right. He had injury issues that had him running low on stock, but the speed and electrical stuff was always there.
Schmidt had impressive spin rates in his Fastball, and for many, this would make for a fast ball for him on the court that would cause him to climb; But it was quite the opposite. His slider has proven to be his best score, but the slider can be a primary Pitch instead of fastball?
Well, the short answer is yes! Clarke Schmidt is part of a growing sector of bowlers who aren’t the first in the league where skaters are being used more than ever, and speedballs are being used less than ever.
Baseball has become dominant on the slider
Major League Baseball has seen a spike in the slider in the past few years. The popularity of the playground emerged in the latter half of the 2000s, with playground use increasing rapidly:
- 2017: 16.3%
- 2018: 16.9%
- 2019: 18.3%
- 2020: 18.8%
- 2021: 20.1%
- 2022: 21.8%
Slider usage is up 5% since 2017, but why slider and not other cracker pitches? Simply put, throwing a slider is more like throwing a fastball. Pitchers have found more comfortable with repeating their passing mechanics and having a strong drive, and thus, pitch has become very popular as a potential base pitch choice. They are also, on average, better than fast pitch, like Gyroscope sliders average 120 Stuff +, sweep sliders average 162 Stuff +. For a visual example, try to determine the most accessible pitch:
Let me answer this question for you; Difficulty calling here is the slider and PitchingBot’s Whiff% agrees with my preconceived notion. It has 36% xWhiff% (if swung at), while a diver has only 15% xWhiff% (if swung at). In terms of results this season, his slider has outperformed the diver by a large margin.
- 42.6% off %
- 158 BA
- .175 SLG
- .198 WOBA
- 14.4% H.V.%
- .314 BA
- .435 SLG
- .401 wOBA
If you’re Clark Schmidt, why throw a diver when you can throw a slider? For many shooters, this became the question that changed how often they used their offers.
Clarke Schmidt succeeds with increased use of the slider
Clark Schmidt started using his slider more frequently in July, and this use correlates with better results.
FIP- is a Fielding Independent Pitching game that uses the pitcher’s percentage of hits, walks, and home runs but is placed on an index. 100 is average, 80 will be 20% better than average (100 minus 80 is 20), while 120 will be 20% worse than average (120 minus 100 is 20). Less is better, as with ERA, and Schmidt’s FIP drops dramatically as his slider usage goes up. His strikes are up, his tracks down, while his home runs are unaffected because he rarely gives up on them anyway. Since July, Schmidt’s number has improved across the board:
- 3.0% barrel%
- 2.19 pm
- 2.10 FIP
- 3.36 x FIP
- 3.37 cheese
- 17.8% K-BB%
Schmidt is a much better player now, and that’s because he uses his best often. Inoue Sarris athlete (creator of Stuff+) puts it best, discussing how the easiest way to improve your stuff is to make better use of your presentation. Schmidt is vying for a place on the rotation next season, and relying on his passer could be why he becomes the bowler the Yankees always thought he could be.