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« ESPN iScore Analytics | Main | Carlos Guillen Returns to M's »

Greinke's Many Curveballs

A free agent after the 2012 season, Zack Greinke is on the cusp of signing a mega free agent deal. The Brewers righty is 28 years old and has proven to be one of the game's best, most durable starters over the past four seasons. Greinke ranks 12th among starting pitchers in both ERA+ (126) and Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement (17.2) since 2008, easily topping 200 innings from 2008-2010 before falling short this past year after cracking a rib during a pickup hoops game.

But I'm guessing Greinke already knew those things. He's currently representing himself, after all, and he might throw the league a curve by going into free agency agentless. Greinke is no stranger to throwing others for a loop -- just take a look at his curveball.

Greinke has thrown his curve at an average of 74.8 mph since 2008, but that doesn't tell the whole story. He really has about five or six different curves, thrown at anywhere from 59 mph all the way up to 87 mph. Take a look at Greinke's curveball distribution, by speed:

Curveball Speed Pct. Of Total Curves Thrown
Less than 60 mph 0.3%
61-65 mph 3.0%
66-70 mph 17.0%
71-75 mph 32.3%
76-80 mph 24.3%
81+ mph 23.1%


Greinke uses his slow, medium and fast curveballs for different purposes. At the far ends of the spectrum, his slow, looping curve thrown at 61-65 mph and his power curve at 81+ mph are thrown out of the strike zone and are used to get chases. From 66-80 mph, Greinke throws his curve for strikes:

Curveball Speed Pct. Thrown in Strike Zone Chase Pct.
61-65 mph 34% 29%
66-70 mph 49% 22%
71-75 mph 56% 18%
76-80 mph 52% 23%
81+ mph 36% 42%


As you might expect, Greinke uses his slow (61-65 mph) and power (81+ mph) curves when he's ahead of the hitter. Seventy percent of his slow curves have been thrown in pitcher's counts, and 60 percent of his power curves.

If he gets through 2012 intact, Greinke could be looking at a $100 million contract next winter -- we just don't know where he'll sign or who will negotiate that pact. GMs, like hitters, are left wondering what Greinke will do next.

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