Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/17/14

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.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Marc Trestman: Benching Jay Cutler could revive QB's career

Rob Gronkowski jokes about Tom Brady saying he's grown up

Rajon Rondo reportedly traded to Mavericks

Washington Post has perfect description for Titans-Jaguars

Wilbon angry at DC for not supporting Wizards

Urban Meyer on Tim Tebow: 'He wants another shot at playing'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Keenan Lewis: Saints preparing 'funeral' for Falcons

Chris Christie defends being a Cowboys fan

Celtics co-owner: 2024 Olympics would be 'boon for Beantown'

Harbaugh turned down Michigan money in 2011

Why the Saints pose a legit threat to any playoff team

Matt Kemp reportedly has arthritis in both hips

Hugh Freeze proud of Ole Miss’ record 2.57 team GPA

Youngstown St. addresses Bo Pelini's profanity-laced rant

It's been almost 40 years since NFL's last untelevised game

The NHL has finally fined a player for diving

Ben Roethlisberger: Le’Veon Bell is having an MVP season

Jim Harbaugh comments on the reported offer from Michigan

Michael Jordan's college Converse shoes sell for $33,387

Week 16 NFL game watchability rankings

Game of the week: Indianapolis Colts vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Chicago Bears are the Monstrosity of the Midway

Tom Brady's TD celebrations frighten teammates

The impact of normalized U.S.-Cuba relations on MLB

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.

Gronk jokes about Brady compliment

In Matt Kemp, did the Dodgers find a pigeon in Padres?

Why the Saints are legit playoff threat

Impact of U.S.-Cuba relations on MLB

Andrew Hawkins, other athletes gain support for social statement attire

NBA's most underrated players

Michael Vick nearly debt-free

Dolphins CB rips Brady's career plans

Biggest winners of the MLB offseason

Brian Billick owns Browns fan

Pelini has profane words for Nebraska AD

When bowl results mean more for one school than another

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.