Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 12/29/11

Because you’re the sort of person who would do such a thing, you’ve likely found yourself, at one point or another, having dirty thoughts about the major-league equivalencies (MLEs) for soft-tossing, and recently traded, left-hander Tom Milone.

If, somehow, you’re not that sort of person, perhaps you’ve wandered to this site by accident. In any case, here’s a recap of what you would’ve found there:

In 2010, pitching at Double-A Harrisburg, a 23-year-old Milone posted a zMLE line (that’s ZiPS MLE) of 151.3 IP, 27/27 GS/G, 6.78 K/9, 1.84 BB/9, 1.01 HR/9, ca. 3.92 FIP.

In 2011, pitching at Triple-A Syracuse, a 24-year-old Milone posted a zMLE line of 145.2, 24/24 GS/G, 7.84 K/9, 0.99 BB/9, 0.62 HR/9, ca. 2.72 FIP.

These numbers are, of course, fantastic — in particular, so far as Milone’s strikeout-to-walk ratios are concerned. (His untranslated K/BB over the last two seasons is predictably even better, at about 8:1.) However, talent evaluators like Keith Law, for example — that is, peopl who know a thing or two about a thing or two — think Milone’s lack of velocity (his four-seam fastball averaged just 87.8 mph, per PITCHf/x, in 2011).

Analyzing the recent trade that sent Milone and others to Oakland, Law wrote the following:

Milone, 24, is a finesse lefty with a below-average fastball and no out pitch; he might survive as an emergency guy in a big ballpark like Oakland’s, but they can and will do better for the back of their rotation.

As the one tasked with writing Milone’s capule for this year’s edition of The Second Opinion (something which you should buy early and often), I decided to take a look at what 2011′s numbers could teach us about the relationship between velocity and strikeout rate. Note, please, that the work here isn’t intended to serve as a definitive statement on Tim Milone’s future as a major-league pitcher, but rather to give readers more information regarding velocity and strikeout rate.

First, let’s look at the relationship between fastball velocity (per PITCHf/x) and strikeout rate. This is similar to work published by Dave Cameron back in 2009, with a few differences. For one, I used strikeout rate (as a percentage of total batters faced) instead of strikeouts per nine innings. Furthermore, I used only starting pitchers (excluding, for obvious reasons, R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield). In any case, the results are similar.

To wit:

Fastball velocity explains a little bit more than 40% of strikeout rate — which, that’s a considerable amount, and not particularly encouraging for Milone. Using the equation from the above graph, we find that a pitcher with an average fastball velocity of 87.8 mph would be expected to strike out ca. 15% of opposing batters — or, somewhere between 5.5 and 6.0 batters per nine innings.

“What about handedness?” is a question you might be asking in your mind. Conveniently, this is a question that I asked in mine, too. The term “soft-tossing lefty,” while not the highest form of praise, exists because left-handed pitchers, for whatever reason, seem able to pitch competently at lower velocities than their right-handed counterparts.

In fact, this was this case among the sample I looked at. The 19 right-handers who recorded an average fastball velocity between 87.0 and 88.9 mph (i.e. about 1 mph on either side of Milone), featured a combined strikeout rate of 12.9% in 2011. The eight left-handers had a combined strikeout rate of 18.0%.

On the high side of that group of are Chris Capuano (87.6 mph, 21.1% K), Ted Lilly (87.3, 19.8%), and Chris Narveson (87.9, 18.0%). On the low end is Scott Diamond (88.5, 10.5%). The rest of the group (Paul Maholm, Randy Wolf) bottoms out at 14.0%.

It’s important to note that the data on Milone’s fastball velocity comes from just five starts and 26.0 innings, so it might not be entirely representative of what we’ll see from him in 2011. Going merely by the data here, however, it appears as though a strikeout rate of 16% — or, say, something like 6.0 K/9 — would constitute a reasonable expectation from Milone.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Nets believe they can trade Deron Williams

Mickelson likely committed no crime even if he gambled

Report: Dwyane Wade to decline option, become a free agent

Darren McFadden: I feel like a rookie again

Report: Mavericks a favorite to land DeAndre Jordan

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Kevin Love likely to re-sign with Cavaliers

Bo Ryan announces he'll coach Wisconsin one more season

Jadeveon Clowney must balance expectations in recovery

Report: Suns may shop Eric Bledsoe in trade talks

Cam Newton ready to embrace pressure from massive contract

Are the Patriots treated differently than other teams?

Fred Smoot: I played with gay players, 'everyone knew'

Bobby Portis brings donuts for media at press conference

John Calipari shares his thoughts on Confederate flag

Steve Weatherford, Jason Kelce get into Twitter beef

Larry Nance Jr. apologized to 'Mr. Bryant' for rapist tweet

J.J. Watt 'tackles' stage crasher at Zac Brown Band show

Jimmy Butler reportedly wants to leave Bulls, sign with Lakers

Selecting the 2015 National League All-Stars

Taking a look at the Philadelphia Sixers' latest horde

Aaron Rodgers and Olivia Munn showcase sword fighting skills

Five injuries having the biggest effect on MLB playoff race

Jeff Francoeur makes one of the worst throws in history

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Mickelson linked to money laundering?

Reminiscing on 'Love & Basketball' 15 years later

Selecting the 2015 NL All-Stars

The Sixers' latest horde

Projected landing spots for NBA's top free agents

MLB changes format for Home Run Derby

Revis to work out with Patriots DBs

Peterson: I'm still NFL's best RB

Kobe gives great quote on friendship

Winners, losers and steals of the NHL Draft

Carmelo calls Porzingis a 'steal'

WATCH: J.J. Watt scores hockey goal

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.