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« A Brew Cut | Main | First Pitch Tidbits »

Kenley Jansen's Cutter

Kenley Jansen will throw a cutter. You shall not hit that cutter. Maybe that's a bit simplistic, but it basically sumps up Jansen's 2011 season with the Dodgers. The former catcher, who led the Netherlands to an upset win over the Dominican Republic in 2009 by gunning out Willy Taveras on the base paths, has used his howitzer of a right arm to rack up 83 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched (15.6 K/9), the highest rate of Ks per nine innings pitched among relievers. And he's doing it with perhaps the nastiest cutter in the game this side of Mariano Rivera.

Jansen's cutter, thrown about 72 percent of the time, averages 93.1 mph and can climb as high as 97. He doesn't nibble with the pitch, choosing to challenge hitters in the zone:

 Frequency of Jansen's cutter location, 2011

Fifty-eight percent of Jansen's cutters have been thrown in the strike zone, well above the 51 percent league average for the pitch. Despite Jansen putting his cutters over the plate, hitters swing through the pitch at a startling rate. Check out hitters' contact rate by pitch location vs. Jansen's cutter, compared to the league average:

 Hitters' contact rate vs. Jansen's cutter, 2011

League average contact rate vs. cutters, 2011

Unless it's low, batters have no chance against Jansen's cutter. In fact, his 37 percent miss rate with the cutter is the highest in the majors and makes a mockery out of the 20-21 percent league average.

When hitters do make contact, they might as well be swinging a whiffle bat. They're not doing any damage:

Hitters' in-play slugging percentage vs. Jansen's cutter, 2011League average in-play slugging percentage vs. cutters, 2011Opponents are slugging .248 against Jansen's cutter (.394 league average). Paul Goldschmidt doubled on an 0-2 cutter from Jansen two days ago. It was the first extra-base hit Jansen surrendered with the pitch since May.

Since making his major league debut last July, Jansen has whiffed 14.9 batters per nine frames. That's the second-highest K rate in MLB history among relievers throwing 70+ innings during their first two seasons in the big leagues, according to Baseball-Reference (Craig Kimbrel is first). Talk about some serious Gouda.

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