FanPost

Pitcher Analysis: Zack Greinke

From drivelinemechanics.com...

I have to admit, Zack Greinke has been one of my favorite pitchers to watch ever since he made it to the big leagues with the Royals. Yes, I’m an Indians fan, but like the folks over at Baseball Prospectus, his stuff is exciting to watch. He throws both of his fastballs at varying speeds and locations, he has a great curveball that he occasionally hangs at 70 mph, and flashes a plus changeup and slider combination to boot.

Here’s his Pitch f/x data:

type Speed (MPH) Break x (inches) Break z (inches) Balls Strikes Called Strikes Swinging Foul/Foul tip In play outs Singles Doubles Triples Home Runs
Fastball 95.6 -4.44 11.59 189 77 42 116 62 13 5 0 2
Curveball 79.72 8.03 -2.37 27 18 9 8 9 2 1 0 0
Slider 85.46 5.14 2.09 49 36 25 15 10 8 0 0 1
Change 88.83 -5.7 7.77 42 31 22 27 19 4 4 0 0

In 2007, he threw 122 innings with 36 walks, 106 strikeouts, and 12 home runs allowed, good for a 3.69 ERA / 1.295 WHIP and a 7-7 record. He is an extreme flyball pitcher (33% GB rate), but he gives up a significantly lower amount of earned runs than most other pitchers, in fact allowing no unearned runs in 2007. ERA is a flawed statistic for various reasons, but that’s beyond the scope of this blog.

His peripherals are great; he walks very few batters while striking out about the league average, and doesn’t give up too many home runs on his flyballs.

Here’s his Pitch f/x chart for just his fastballs:

There’s no doubt that he likes to work up in the zone, though he does make a concerted effort to hit the lower targets as well. This explains his flyball tendencies. Let’s check his lefty/right splits.

vs. Lefty

type Speed (MPH) Break x (inches) Break z (inches) Balls Strikes Called Strikes Swinging Foul/Foul tip In play outs Singles Doubles Triples Home Runs
Fastball 95.83 -4.01 11.82 74 28 22 45 24 6 1 0 1
Curveball 79.85 8.04 -2.42 20 12 6 4 4 2 1 0 0
Slider 85.56 4.83 2.05 31 19 20 9 9 3 0 0 1
Change 89.57 -4.19 9.62 17 16 10 13 8 2 1 0 0

Like most right-handed pitchers, Greinke works the outside part of the plate against lefties. He seems to throw his breaking pitches more often against lefties, which makes sense, as he tends to locate his curve on the arm-side part of the plate.

vs. Righty

type Speed (MPH) Break x (inches) Break z (inches) Balls Strikes Called Strikes Swinging Foul/Foul tip In play outs Singles Doubles Triples Home Runs
Fastball 95.44 -4.72 11.43 115 49 20 71 38 7 4 0 1
Curveball 79.46 8 -2.26 7 6 3 4 5 0 0 0 0
Slider 85.28 5.69 2.17 18 17 5 6 1 5 0 0 0
Change 88.23 -6.92 6.26 25 15 12 14 11 2 3 0 0

Against righties he attacks them with his two-seam/four-seam fastball combination and mixes in his changeup more frequently, which is atypical. Like I said in my analysis about James Shields, changeups are usually used by right-handed pitchers to neutralize the platoon advantage lefties tend to have. If you look at the Foul/Foul Tips on the chart, you can see that Greinke gets a bunch of them on his fastball when he locates it up in the zone and on the opposite side of the plate.

A quick way to check how good someone’s stuff is using Pitch f/x data is to look at the balls put into play for base hits. Look at both of Greinke’s charts; there are barely any hits that aren’t in the strike zone. This means that hitters cannot hit “bad balls” off Greinke; a huge advantage when you’re trying to expand the strike zone as a pitcher.

Enough of the numbers; let’s get on with the mechanical analysis.

Tempo / Arm Action

Greinke’s tempo is slow; he is about 24 frames into footplant from maximal leg lift. Most power pitchers are 18-23 frames into footplant. (Roy Oswalt is a short 18 frames into footplant.) It would be nice to see him pick it up a bit, but tempo is the smallest part of my analysis.

His arm action: Amazing. Beautiful. Splendiferous. Zack doesn’t reverse rotate his shoulders much, and he doesn’t take the ball laterally behind his body. He breaks his arms with his hands, not his elbows, and has a nice, long sweep of his arm as it gets into the high-cocked position, which he gets up early and right about at footplant (tough to see using this angle). He pendulum swings the ball back with his palm facing down and has a great move into footplant, as he strides powerfully into a slightly open stance, clearing the hips and giving them room to rotate powerfully.

I like pitchers who lean over towards their glove-arm side (GAS), because I prefer a higher 3/4 slot delivery, like Greinke has. He leans and tilts the acromial line, and I believe this adds even more momentum and power throughout the delivery, as you get to use more of the body to generate velocity.

Ball Release / Followthrough

I like what I see here, for the most part. Greinke points his PAS at home plate and allows it to decelerate across his body; he also brings his PAS leg up and around his body. This will help avoid bullwhipping / backlash of his arm during the recovery phase and it will take stress off the decelerator muscles. However, his glove arm doesn’t finish well. Like Tom House, I prefer pitchers to at least firm up their glove arm against their chest, but ideally they would tuck their elbow into their ribcage and slap their shoulder with the glove. This isn’t done by anyone in the MLB, but it is a cue that Bill Peterson of RPM Pitching likes quite a bit. After teaching it to my high school kids, I agree wholeheartedly. Of course, not even I do that:


Me, pitching in a scrimmage for my amateur league team. (I threw two scoreless innings, no hits, one walk, no strikeouts.)

As you can see, I do the same thing with my glove arm - I pull it straight back. However, I do pull the glove to the chest to some degree. But enough about me; I just wanted some free publicity. :)

Conclusion

I still love Zack Greinke, perhaps moreso after this analysis. He has clean mechanics that look effortless up there, and as scouts say, real prospects make it look easy.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Royals Review

You must be a member of Royals Review to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Royals Review. You should read them.

Join Royals Review

You must be a member of Royals Review to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Royals Review. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker