Statistics as of 6/25/08Let's look at one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball. Since 2006, Webb's 45 wins trail only Chien-ming Wang (46). Josh Beckett ranks third (43), Carlos Zambrano fourth (42) and Johan Santana fifth (41). With a career G/F ratio of 3.71 and good control, Webb has evolved into a complete pitcher who doesn't beat himself. I scout these pitchers personally, recording their velocity, pitch selection and motions by watching their games. Please feel free to post your comments below on these columns. I use the standard 20-80 scouting scale to rate pitchers. These velocities are suggestive and not determinant of a pitch's rating. For example, a 75 MPH curveball might rank as a 60 because of its movement and/or deception. 80 Outstanding (96+ MPH fastball, 88+ MPH slider, 82 MPH curveball)
Rating: %Thrown: Fastball 70 55 Curveball 55 25 Slider N/A Changeup 60 20 Control 65 Delivery 50 Composure 65What Webb's 85-89 MPH sinker has lost in velocity, it makes up for in movement. Webb has worked his 75-79 MPH changeup more into his game in the last two years, and his 71-78 MPH curveball has similar movement. He varies the planes and placements of his pitches and doesn't give hitters the same look, keeping them guessing. He pitches to contact and keeps hitters on the defensive. Instead of wasting a pitch with an 0-2 count, Webb will often throw a strike. He consistently has low pitch counts, with a career mark of 15.1 pitches per inning. Scouts love late movement on pitches as much as velocity - it's all about keeping the ball away from the spot the hitter thinks the ball will be when he commits. Webb generates as much poor contact as anybody. He buries his sinker underneath hitters' hands and can even get a ground ball with a sinker above the belt. His curveball is just slow enough to give hitters the sense they can whack it, but he rarely hangs it. One downside of Webb's aggressive approach is that innings can unravel on him more quickly than they do with a more deliberate worker or a traditional power pitcher. Obviously, he needs good defense behind him. In his career, left-handed hitters (.270) have fared much better against Webb than righties (.212). Teams that stress contact hit Webb better: his worst starts this year have been against Oakland, Atlanta and Minnesota, teams that work the count. Webb makes quick work of free-swinging teams - he blanked the Nationals on May 31st. Webb's motion resembles Peavy's, and he would probably have arm problems if he hadn't straightened out his control. As it is, Webb repeats his motion, throws strikes and has quick innings. There are a lot of pitchers with better motions who don't. It will be interesting to see how Webb ages. A good parallel might be Greg Maddux. I don't think Webb will win 350 games, but 200 seems realistic. --------------- Radar Love: Heat in the last week: 94-97: Tim Lincecum in Kansas City on June 22nd.
Article first appeared 6/26/08