In the first part of this article, I asked, “Is Daisuke Matsuzaka an efficient pitcher?”
While I did not answer the question per seigh, I did show that Daisuke was indeed dominant in Japan, with a strikeout/100 pitch (K/100P) rate of 6.71 K’s per 100 pitches thrown in his stellar 2006 season. In other words, last year, for every 100 pitches Daisuke threw, he struck out 6.71 batters — an excellent rate that, if compared to MLB pitchers, would place him solidly amongst the league leaders. This is not surprising given his dominant traditional numbers (ERA, WHIP), but let’s take a look at how he has done so far this year. In addition, I’ll use the pitch details from his first four starts to take a closer look at his “efficiency.”
2007 To Date
Small sample size warnings abound in the following analysis, but I think the numbers are already telling.
His last year in Japan, Daisuke averaged 16 pitches per inning and 3.9 pitches per batter. So far in 2007 here in the American big leagues?
While his numbers are worse after his last start against the Yankees, Daisuke is averaging 15.7 pitches per inning and 3.82 pitches per batter. Pretty similar to last year, it seems. In fact, apart from getting hurt by a couple batters scoring after being hit by pitches in his last start, his component statistics here are not wildly different. High strikeouts, low walk rate, it’s all there already. He isn’t throwing any more pitches in an inning, and the number of pitches each batter sees is extremely similar.
Furthermore, his “dominance,” as indicated by his K/100P, is higher so far than it was in Japan, at 7.31 K/100P. To be fair, it is very early in the season, and Johan Santana (who was tops in the majors with 7.14 K/100P in 2005 and had 7.09 K/100P in 2006) sports an incredible K/100P of 8.56. But how about efficiency?
Is Daisuke Efficient?
As far as I can tell, Daisuke is no more or less efficient than any other pitcher who gets a lot of strikeouts.
In a response to the Baseball Analysts post I referenced in the first part, David Pinto of Baseball Musings took a look at pitches per strikeout. His point was that while K/100P may indicate dominance, it does not necessarily indicate efficiency, as he showed in his numbers.
Daisuke’s pitches/K is currently at 4.77 pitches/K, right in the middle of David’s table. In other words, if he’s inefficient, it does not come from going into deep count in his strikeouts.
His pitch counts may seem high given his low walk numbers, but from what I can see in the numbers, he’s what the Boston Red Sox paid for: a very, very good pitcher who will strike out his share of batters and walk fewer batters than average, with fly ball tendencies.
There’s nothing mystical about that, although there’s also nothing concerning to indicate that his contract wasn’t ill-advised, and I think his numbers this year so far bear that out.
Finally, if anyone would like the pitch data, I have it in a spreadsheet I would be willing to send. Just because I’ve done the research already, I may continue tracking his pitches and statistics to see where they end up. I would be willing to send updates to anyone who wants them as well.