Fangraphs has added Stuff+ and related statistics to their leaderboards today. Among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched in 2022 Hunter Greene is rated 1st overall. Nick Lodolo is rated 9th overall. In terms of the rating of the stuff itself, Greene’s at 134 (where 100 is average) and Lodolo is at 117.

Stuff+ was created by Eno Sarris (currently at The Athletic) and Max Bay (currently works for the Houston Astros) and has been improved upon since with the help of several others alongside Sarris. To make it as easy to understand as possible with diving into the dirty details, Stuff+ is only looking at the characteristics of a pitch – release point, velocity, movement on both the vertical and horizontal plane, and spin rate. It’s not looking at the results of the pitches. If you want to take a deep dive into Stuff+, you can do so here at The Athletic.

Now, simply having the “best stuff” doesn’t always mean you’re the best pitcher. You still need to be able to locate your stuff and execute your game plan against the opposing hitters. Having elite stuff gives you more wiggle room for error in your execution, but only so much. There’s also a metric here called Location+, which as the name makes it sound, is about locating your pitches. This is where both Greene and Lodolo are down the list a bit. Among the 140 pitchers who threw at least 100 innings in 2022 Greene checks in at 85th on the list at 101, while Lodolo is down at 134 with a 96 Location+ mark.

Both numbers tell part of a story, but not the entire story. Lodolo, for example, is among the “worst” in baseball in terms of his Location+. But he’s also a guy without walk issues, and he was quite successful while on the mound last year. Shohei Ohtani is also near the bottom when it comes to Location+ and he’s coming off of a season where he posted a 2.33 ERA.

What the two things can be looked at and tell us is what kind of improvement we could potentially see. With the two Reds pitchers here – they’ve got some of the best stuff around. But their ability to locate it isn’t great (though not bad). The metrics would suggest that if they are able to improve their location that with that kind of stuff, they could really take big steps forward in their more traditional numbers on the mound.

With Hunter Greene being named Opening Day starter, and what seems like Nick Lodolo following him in the rotation – we’ll get to see if they can start taking that next step right out of the gate this season.

14 Responses

  1. John J

    It is nice knowing at least we got 2 aces on our team in HG and NL.

    I hope Ashcraft can get to his 1st half self.

    Cessa is destined for #4

    Stoudi I think is a latter callup, possible Williamson makes #5

    #DunnIsDunn for now at least, I don’t want Weaver being #5, I feel like he will be slightly better Minor, Would have been nice to signed Johnny Cueto…

    Good article Doug, Nice to be reminded we at least got 2 aces.

  2. David

    Having watched baseball for a few years, I sometimes think that strictly “location” is not the correct way to view what a pitcher does.
    Movement of the ball, and how the pitch is actually perceived by the hitter has a lot more to do with success of the pitcher.
    Denny McClain (who won 30 games with the Detroit Tigers one year), largely pitched at the top of the strike zone. But his fastball took off, and actually was kind of hard for a hitter to square up on. The gurus of location would probably frown on “the top of the strike zone” pitches, but it worked for Denny McClain.
    More recently, Aaron Harang (at times) pitched kind of the same way. His top of the strike zone fastball was not easy to hit.
    I also recall watching Tommy John pitch (well, watching TV) and though Tommy was a sinker ball left hander, he did not actually pitch at the bottom of the strike zone, but his fastball did sink, and therefore had the important “movement” on the ball. He might pitch up in the zone a little, and it looked hittable, but he mostly got infield grounders or lazy fly ball contact, because his sinker was hard to square up on.

    • Doug Gray

      Every single team in baseball wants the fastball at the top of the zone today.

  3. MK

    What this basically says is their natural abilities give them the analytics numbers which got them drafted where they were drafted and developing those abilities is now up to them and staff to turn them into successful pitchers.

    • Doc

      Or to just avoid messing them up.

      I suspect more top of the stuff pitching prospects have been messed up than have been helped by people who have ‘coach’ as a title feeling that they have to do something. Sometimes the mantra should be, “Don’t just stand there, do something!” At other times it should be, “Don’t just do something, stand there!” I suspect the latter applies more than the former to these two young men.

  4. DaveCT

    How much of location is not relevant? Meaning, a guy like Lodolo who seemed to get swings and misses or poor contact with the slider moving out of the strike zone. Same with Luis Castillo. Or is that still considered location?

    Answer: Go read the article, Dave

  5. LDS

    Great, new analytics. The discontinuity between the metric and the on-field results is a bit hard to reconcile.

    • Doug Gray

      I’ve got a secret to tell you:

      You don’t have to use any of them.

      • LDS

        No different than the games we played in corporate America and about as meaningful.

    • greenmtred

      Analytics are just information. Some stats are more meaningful than others and some players seemingly defy them , as, in this case, pitchers with outstanding stuff being somewhat less affected by location issues than are pitchers with more pedestrian stuff. Stats–analytics and old-style, don’t measure intangibles. Additionally, past performance isn’t always predictive. But it’s still information and plenty of it is useful, such as base stealing being a poor strategy if it isn’t successful 75% of the time, or the correlation between getting on base a lot and winning. We know, baseball aside, that history provides valuable lessons and guidance, so why ignore it in baseball?

      • Kevin H

        Why is it useful thought, we know that Lodolo and Greene have good stuff. They showed it last season, and through out the minors. I myself don’t again with LDS on most everything, but this I do agree.

        I can tell a player is good or not by watching him. I don’t need analytics to tell me his run speed, his launch angle the list can go on and on.

      • greenmtred

        I take your point, Kevin; for most fans, myself very much included, the eye test is just fine for evaluating players. For the players themselves and their coaches the information is probably useful for determining what to work on.

  6. Melvin

    These two are going to be very good for sure. In my view Ashcraft is highly underrated. There were times last year where he was clearly the best of the three. To have three young potentially “ace” pitchers is amazing. It would be nice to think these owners would be smart enough to realize that and build around them. Maybe the next owner….soon. 🙂