Graphical looks at Jackson’s fastball effectiveness, or lack thereof
According to FanGraphs, Edwin Jackson throws his fastball 62.2% of the time at an average speed of 94 miles per hour. That’s pretty fast. In fact, only Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Verlander, Josh Johnson and David Price throw harder on average among MLB starters. The strange thing is that over the past three calendar years, Jackson’s heater has cost him 34 runs according to FanGraphs pitch type values. Only the Pirates soft-tossing slop-baller Zach Duke has had worse results with his fastball.
Why this is, I don’t know for sure, but unlike most pitchers, velocity hasn’t corresponded with effectiveness for E-Jax. This is his run values per 100 pitches against his velocity. Negative values here are good, they mean runs saved per 100 pitches. High values are bad. (Big thanks to Steve Sommer for helping me graph this mess.)
Weird. Unlike most pitchers, slower is better. Steve Sommer or Dave Allen I am not when it comes to pitch f/x, so I’m just guessing that the higher run values for the faster stuff is could be a result of him forfeiting control to gain velocity, and the trade off isn’t paying off, not unless he’s pushing 100 MPH. Being “effectively wild” isn’t E-Jax’s bag.
And now for his location –
I couldn’t put a line in for vertical location to break up the strike zone, but between -1 and 1 is the strike zone.
We learn a couple things from the graph. The second graphs shows us that Jackson is a big Weezer fan. We also learn that as in the case with most pitchers, Jackson is more effective when he’s painting corners.
Jackson gets hurt when he tries to go too high in the strike zone, but he’s good when he’s getting pitches over in the lower half of the zone. No big surprises there.
Answers? You wanted answers?!?! I give you nifty graphs, not answers. I have a guess, and I’m going out on a limb here – Jackson doesn’t have the best control of his fastball. He has a great slider and he throws a change-up occasionally, but he’s been mostly a two-pitch pitcher without a real change of pace. Don Cooper seemed to help on that issue right away, Jackson threw 1/4 change-ups in his ChiSox debut against the Tigers and pitched a great game. Maybe that’s all he’s ever really needed to do: change speeds more often.