Monday, March 2, 2009

Stephen Strasburg Uber K Machine

I found this clip on Prospect Tube and really enjoyed watching it. Stephen Strasburg is one of the most exciting college arms to watch, and has been known to hit 102 on the radar gun at times. In this particular video, he strikes out 23 hitters, throwing an array of fastballs and breaking balls that I'm not sure the opposing hitters even saw cross the plate.

I really like the few guys that strikeout trying to lay down a bunt. It's pretty sad when you revert to holding the bat in front of the ball just to make contact and you still can't put it in play. I also like how the umpire starts calling strikes all over the place by the end of the clip.

Obviously, Strasburg has some mad gas and above average control. The one stat I can't track down is his groundball rate. If you watch the following clip of a bullpen session, you can see that sometimes he finishes a bit high, and the ball rises on him, which could indicate a poor groundball to fly ball ratio.

Since the NCAA doesn't keep detailed batted ball statistics, I tracked down some information about Strasburg's time at the 2008 Olympic games to see if I could get a general idea about his batted ball tendencies. Of the 40 batters he faced from the Netherlands and Cuba, he induced 10 groundballs for outs with 6 outs coming through the air. There were also 6 batted balls that resulted in hits, and there is no indication as to whether the batted ball was on the ground or in the air. Overall, Strasburg pitched 11 innings, recorded 16 strikeouts, allowed 7 hits, a walk, and went home with an ERA of 1.64.

To give you a idea of how good those numbers are, consider the stats put up by Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill during the Olympic games.

Judging from those numbers, I'd guess Strasburg has a GB% somewhere between 40% and 50% (Anderson and Cahill both generally maintain a GB% around 60%). Nothing great, but good enough.

I know there's not much reason to get jacked up over a couple of games, but Strasburg played against some professional level ball players on the Cuban national team and put up some stellar numbers. As anyone who frequently reads my blog knows, I'm a huge fan of both Cahill and Anderson, and to see Strasburg toast them in every category makes me think he might have some incredible potential.

I'm not exactly sure how good Strasburg will be when he reaches professional ball, but I think he could be at least as good as David Price, and possibly as good as Tim Lincecum. It's hard to say right now how good he'll really be, but if I were the Washington Nationals, I'd be very excited to have the #1 draft pick in 2009.
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