Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 7/25/13
Here’s one thing that probably won’t surprise you: at present, the Red Sox are the major-league leaders in wOBA and OPS. Here’s another thing that probably won’t surprise you: at present, the Red Sox are the major-league leaders in average pitches seen per plate appearance. That’s a team that grinds out at-bats, and that’s a team that squeezes juice out of them. Here’s one thing that might surprise you, then: David Price just beat the Red Sox, with a complete game, in which he threw just 97 pitches. Against the Red Sox, Price was able to be effective; against the Red Sox, Price was able to be efficient. Price has now made five starts since coming off the disabled list, having recovered from an arm injury. In three of those starts, he’s gone the distance, and in zero of those starts has he reached 100 pitches. In one of them, he didn’t even reach 90. I’ll grant that Price has started twice this month against the Astros, and the Astros are terrible, but he’s been doing something unusual, and something he’s never personally done before, at least not to this extent. Over the last 30 days, FanGraphs’ leaderboards list 101 qualified pitchers. This covers all of Price’s most recent starts since coming off the DL, and Price ranks third in innings pitched, with 41. Sort by strike rate and you find Price in second place, at 73.3%. He’s sandwiched between Cliff Lee and Jordan Zimmermann. Sort by zone rate and you find Price in second place again, at 62.7%. This time he’s sandwiched between Lee and Bronson Arroyo, but he’s just 0.2% behind Lee and 4.8% ahead of Arroyo. To put it another, simpler way: over the past month or so, Cliff Lee and David Price have thrown significantly more pitches in the strike zone than anyone else, on a rate basis. They’re not just the top two — they’re the top two, by a wide margin. We’ve come to expect this from Lee, and Price doesn’t exactly have a wild reputation, but for Price this is a step toward greater efficiency. Following, a graph, tracking Price from 2009 through Wednesday night. You’re going to see five-start rolling averages for strike rate and zone rate, and it should be pretty self-explanatory: To review, Price over the last five starts, all since coming off the DL: 73.3% strikes 62.7% in the PITCHf/x strike zone For strikes, Price’s previous high was 69.6%, over a five-start stretch between last August 27 – September 25. For pitches in the zone, Price’s previous high was 59.2%, over a five-start stretch between July 7 – August 4, 2010. Price has never pounded the zone quite this much, he’s never thrown strikes quite this often, and as a result, over the last five starts, Price has issued all of one walk. It was a full-count walk, in Toronto, and it looked like this: Price missed his spot with a fastball inside, that much is clear, and the pitch probably deserved to be called a ball. But pitches much worse than this do get called strikes, so Price’s one walk since coming off the DL was very nearly a called strikeout. I’m not going to review all of Price’s borderline strikes that could’ve been called balls, because there wouldn’t be any sense in that, because that would miss the point. Let’s not get too worked up over the details. Except maybe this detail. It’s not just that Price has issued one walk over five starts and 147 batters. It’s also that, over that span, he’s gotten into just five three-ball counts. He hasn’t gotten into a single 3-and-0 count. Over the last 30 days, there have been 30 instances of a pitcher walking at least five batters in a game, and those 30 days include the All-Star break. Since coming off the DL, Price has one walk, five three-ball counts, and three complete games. He has as many walks as Tim Lincecum has no-hitters. A few questions. First, might this be something coincidental, or something deliberate? We can’t answer that conclusively yet, but it could be meaningful that this stretch immediately follows a DL stint, which also happened to be Price’s first major-league DL stint. Price might have a renewed interest in pitching more efficiently, working to avoid taxing deep counts. Of course, lowering walks by throwing more strikes leads to more hits and a similar number of base-runners, so it’s an open question as to how much more efficient Price might be, but it’s less about the reality of things and more about Price’s perception of the reality of things. Second, so does this represent an improvement, or might this just be a change, a different path to similar results? Again, we have to wait for a point at which Price hasn’t started 40% of his games against the Astros, but his walks are down and his strikeouts are down. A quick glance: between 2010-2012, Price posted an 83 xFIP-. Since coming off the DL, Price has posted an 85 xFIP-. He’s been different and he’s been very good, and he was very good before. This isn’t necessarily a new level of effectiveness. This could be about the same level, in different lighting. So we’ll see if David Price keeps pitching like some approximation of Cliff Lee. Of that, we can’t yet be certain. One thing of which we can be certain is that Price is back and feeling strong, and he’s been a big part of the Rays’ resurgence in the standings. He’s a reason why the Rays now have the AL’s second-best record, and he’s a reason why the Rays can think about winning their division. Over the years, there have been a few versions of David Price. Pretty much all of them have been wonderful.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Kyle Lowry drains half-court shot to force overtime

WATCH: Florida K nails 64-yard field goal easily

Marcus Mariota fires up Predators fans before playoff game

49ers file for arbitration in Levi’s Stadium rent dispute with Santa Clara

Kevin Durant has interesting reason for lying about height


Kris Letang gets one-game suspension for high hit on Marcus Johansson

Report: Bills sign OT Cordy Glenn to 5-year extension worth up to $65 million

Texans’ Duane Brown had 10-game suspension overturned

Bruce Boudreau on coaching again: “I’ve had a couple of conversations”

Report: Don Shula hospitalized for breathing difficulties

Jerry Sandusky seeking new trial four years after being convicted

Ryan Leaf on Johnny Manziel: ‘It’s like holding up a mirror sometimes’

Byron Scott admits to giving ‘entitled’ D’Angelo Russell tough love

WATCH: Diego Simeone shoves team official on sideline

Report: Syracuse and UConn to renew rivalry with game at MSG

Mark Richt: Satellite camps are ‘illegal recruiting’

Someone built their very own Batmobile for the Gumball 3000 race

Lamarr Houston on Aaron Rodgers: ‘He’s a little too arrogant’

Florida State bans fans from wearing headdresses at all athletic events

Tom Brady’s request for 14-day extension granted in Deflategate case

Most exciting games of the 2016 NBA playoffs so far

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lays favorite car ‘Amelia’ to rest following bang-ups at Talladega

Former Rockets star Robert Reid: ‘Harden looks after Harden’

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Most exciting games of the 2016 NBA playoffs so far

Five bizarre moments in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

How the Sharks have 'weathered the storm' against the Predators

Okay, who stole the Kansas City Royals player off that billboard?

Eight players to watch in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

A Round-By-Round Look At the NFL Draft

10 biggest takeaways from the NBA playoffs thus far

QUIZ: Name every No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft since 1985

NHL postseason Round 2 quick hits: Sharks vs. Predators

NHL postseason Round 2 quick hits: Blues vs. Stars

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker