Week 9: PLV Weekly

Stroman, Kopech, and more

This past offseason, Pitcher List introduced Pitch Level Value, or PLV, a new metric that assesses player performance by grading outcomes on the single pitch level. If you’re new to it, you can read Nick Pollack’s primer on PLV here.

You’ll find the definitions below. Grades are on a 20-80 scale.

Swing Aggression: How much more often a hitter swings at pitches, given the swing likelihoods of the pitches they face.

Strikezone Judgement: The “correctness” of a hitter’s swings and takes, using the likelihood of a pitch being a called strike (for swings) or a ball/HBP (for takes).

Decision Value (DV): Modeled value (runs per 100 pitches) of a hitter’s decision to swing or take, minus the modeled value of the alternative.

Contact Ability: A hitter’s ability to make contact (foul strike or BIP), above the contact expectation for each pitch.

Power: Modeled number of extra bases (xISO on contact) above a pitch’s expectation, for each BBE.

Hitter Performance (HP): Runs added per 100 pitches seen by the hitter (including swing/take decisions), after accounting for pitch quality.

Pitch Level Value (PLV): Estimated value of all pitches, based on the predicted outcome of those pitches (0-10, 5 is league average).

Pitch Level Average (PLA): Value of all pitches (ERA Scale), using IP and the total predicted run value of pitches thrown.

Pitch type PLA: Value of a given pitch type (ERA scale), using total predicted run values and an IP proxy for that pitch type (pitch usage % x Total IP).

This week, we’ll look at some hitters that are surging right now including Anthony Santander and Josh Jung. We’ll also glance at Jose Siri and Zach McKinstry. But first, we’ll look at Marcus Stroman who is doing his best to keep the Cubs afloat.

(Note: All PLV data is current through Thursday 6/1).


Marcus Stroman


This past Monday, Stroman shut down the Tampa Bay Rays, the team that leads baseball with a .829 OPS. After the shutout, he owns a 0.99 WHIP, fifth among qualifiers. The curveball was the star of the show as it returned eight whiffs on 14 swings (34 total pitches) good for a 44% CSW. Stroman’s curveball has been phenomenal this season and has registered a 1.79 PLA, third-best among all SPs with at least 900 pitches. Note that Baseball Savant labels it a slurve.

You can see Stroman’s PLV distributions below which is another way to appreciate how good his curveball has been relative to his peers.

However, his primary pitch, the sinker, has not graded out that well with 4.23 PLA (4.66 PLV above). That’s actually below average. So he’s more or less going to go as far as the curveball takes him. So far, so good, but it’s not hard to see some regression coming.

Overall, Stroman’s 3.29 PLA is tied with Hunter Greene and Chris Sale for 42nd among SPs with at least 900 pitches thrown. And, hey, Stroman is 41st on Nick Pollack’s latest The List update.


Tyler Wells


Speaking of The List, how about the cover guy Tyler Wells? He was saddled with a tough-luck loss this past Monday despite allowing just one earned run on four hits over six innings against the Guardians. His counterpart, Logan Allen, was just a little bit better. Either way, Wells now has a 0.83 WHIP. That’s the best among qualifiers. Oh, and if you missed it, Alex Fast recently interviewed Wells.

Wells, a 15th-round pick by the Twins out of CSU San Bernadino back in 2016, has featured a five-pitch mix but it’s the changeup that’s really leading the charge. His changeup’s 1.70 pitch-type PLA is third among pitchers with at least 900 pitches behind Lucas Giolito (1.07) and Michael Wacha (1.18). Wells’ change has returned an 18.6% SwStr%, 41.5% zone rate, and 39.6% chase rate while holding batters to a .253 wOBA (.248 xwOBA) and .172 batting average (.172 xAVG).


Michael Kopech


A former first-round pick by the Red Sox back in 2014, Kopech was a potential post-hype breakout pitcher this season after tossing a career-high 119.1 innings last year.

So far the results have been mixed. Case in point his latest start against the Angels this past Monday: four earned runs on five hits and he didn’t escape the fifth. But, he had ten strikeouts. And that’s now 29 strikeouts over his last three starts.

Given that his slider has only returned a 12.5% SwStr rate and 31.5% chase rate, his success will be contingent on his fastball. And so far, it’s missing bats as you could probably guess from all the strikeouts. And the velocity is up from 94.9 last season to 95.8 this year. So, that’s good. But the heater has also been all over the place.

Consider his great start against the Royals two Fridays ago. He fired a lot of fastballs up in the zone and the pitch returned a terrific 1.98 PLA (69 pitches).

And then in his aforementioned start against the Angels more fastballs down near the middle of the plate as the pitch returned a much more pedestrian 5.17 PLA (62 pitches).

Looking at his pitch distribution for the year (above), you can see Kopech fastballs have a pretty wide range which more or less indicates that his command just isn’t great. Given the lack of support from his secondary pitches, this is probably going to be a bumpy see-saw ride the rest of the way.


Zach McKinstry


McKinstry has seen his roster % spike with a .985 OPS and 5 steals over his last 13 games as the Tigers’ leadoff man extraordinaire. Ben Pernick wrote a fantastic deep dive on McKinstry so I won’t say much other than to point out that he’s shown a pretty decent profile with improvements across the board. Although after having noticed the number of pitches he’s seen this year, I’m somewhat spooked.


Josh Lowe


One of the (many) reasons the Rays have thrived this year is because of this man sporting a .937 OPS. If he qualified, Lowe’s .397 wOBA would be ahead of Juan Soto for eighth place. Contact was a weakness last year (35) but he’s shown great improvement (50), fueling the breakout. I’ll admit, I was a little concerned about the dip we saw earlier this year, but it’s good to see him climb back up to the league average.



Jose Siri


The same cannot be said about Lowe’s teammate who has clobbered ten home runs in only 118 plate appearances. The gains in power are legitimate (45 to 75) but it’s come with a big dip in what was an already below-average contact ability (45 to 30). Siri has an exciting profile considering his terrific speed, but this ride might end quickly considering his less-than-ideal plate skills.

In case you were wondering what a 72% Zone-contact rate and 20.4% SwStr rate look like, feast your eyes.


Anthony Santander


The Orioles’ cleanup hitter struggled mightily in April with a .642 OPS while hitting .213. The poor results also came with an uncharacteristically high 28% K rate. He has since flourished with a 1.002 OPS over his last 11 games. And, even better, we’re seeing his contact rate climb back up.

Josh Jung


Similar to Lowe, Jung struggled with strikeouts in his first go-around. But we’re seeing some big gains this year as he’s cut his K rate by nearly 10%. And the results have been terrific including a 1.351 OPS over his last 12 games. Overall, he’s shown a strong profile with DV being the low point (45) but even there, we’re seeing positive trends.

Last year’s sample size was small (394 pitches) but just for comparison’s sake, he’s shown the biggest improvement in DV (30 to 45) and SZ Judgement (35 to 50). That and the positive in-season trends we’re seeing above are all the things you like to see from a young hitter. We’ll have to see if he can keep it up, but so far, it looks like the Rangers landed themselves a good one when they picked him eighth overall out of Texas Tech four years ago.


J.D. Martinez


He’s in the middle of a bounce-back season with a .931 OPS, seventh among qualifiers. That would also be his best since the .940 OPS he posted in 2019.

The dip in contact has been offset by gains in SZ Judgement, DV, and, most of all, power. His current .556 xwOBACON is in the 99th percentile.


Tyler Glasnow


The former Pirate’s comeback bid from Tommy Josh surgery was offset by an oblique strain but he finally made his highly anticipated debut last Saturday against the Dodgers. All things, considered, it was a good showing with eight strikeouts and three earned runs on five hits across four and a third innings.

Yes, it’s a really really silly sample size as PLV/PLA becomes more reliable at around 500 pitches or so. But, hey, in the meantime, we gotta look at something, right? In which case, the too-early returns including a 2.56 PLA on his fastball and 2.18 PLA on his slider seem encouraging.

Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Ryan Amore

A proprietor of the Ketel Marte Fan Club, Ryan Amore has been writing things at Pitcher List since 2019. He grew up watching the Yankees and fondly remembers Charlie Hayes catching the final out of the '96 WS. He appreciates walks but only of the base on ball variety.

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