Gators in Cleveland: Comparing Pitchers through Euclidean Distance

In the recent MLB draft, Cleveland drafted three pitchers from the University of Florida.  These Gators are; Tommy Mace (69th), Jack Leftwich (216th), and Franco Aleman (306th).

Here is the data for each of their pitches:

After reading Rylan Domingues’ most recent article: Mathematically Discovering Jack Leiter’s MLB Pitch Comps, I reached out to learn more about the equation he used to compare pitchers with Euclidean Distance.  This is calculated by adding the difference of each variable (ex. spin rate) between pitchers. The closer the Euclidean Distance (E-Dist) value is to “0”, the closer the match is between pitches.

The metrics used in his E-Dist equation are; average velocity, spin rate, horizontal break, vertical break, and spin axis. 

Fastball:

Here are the 5 closest MLB Fastballs to Mace, Leftwich, and Aleman:

Tommy Mace:

Jack Leftwich:

Franco Aleman:

Below is a chart of these pitchers’ Fastballs:

The Fastballs that compare to Leftwich and Aleman produce far better stats than the average fastball. In almost every category they are highlighted in green, indicating over 5% better than the average MLB. For Mace, his fastball comparisons land about average on the spectrum.

Fastball rankings based on comparisons:

  1. Aleman
  2. Leftwich
  3. Mace

Changeup:

Mace:

Leftwich:


Aleman:

Below is a chart of these pitchers’ Changeups:

The changeups that compare to Leftwich’s are considerably more effective than the average MLB changeup. Comparisons to Aleman show good run value, but the rest of the categories are average. Mace’s changeup is similar to Aleman’s, but his run value is not as effective.

Changeup rankings based on comparisons:

  1. Leftwich
  2. Aleman
  3. Mace

Slider:

Mace:

Leftwich:

Aleman:

Below is a chart of these pitchers’ Sliders:

Aleman’s slider is superior to the average MLB slider. Comparisons to Mace have slightly below-average stats in most categories. For Leftwich, the run value is poor, but most other categories are better than average.

Slider rankings based on comparisons:

  1. Aleman
  2. Mace
  3. Leftwich

Curveball:

Mace:

Aleman:

Below is a chart of these pitchers’ Curveballs:

Comparable curveballs to Mace’s produce elite-level stats. This is a pitch that should be utilized more than he did in college. His curveball compares to Stephen Strasburg, Corbin Burnes, and Michael Kopech! Aleman’s comparisons also produced better-than-average stats, but not nearly as good as Mace’s.

Curveball rankings based on comparisons:

  1. Mace
  2. Aleman

Cutter

Aleman:

Below is a chart of these pitchers’ Cutters:

The pitchers’ who Aleman’s cutters compare to produce below average stats, with most of the categories being over 5% worse than average.

Summary

Tommy Mace Pitch comparison rankings:

  1. Curveball
  2. Fastball
  3. Changeup
  4. Slider

Mace’s most used offspeed pitch is his slider, which through MLB comparisons ranks the worse of all his pitches. These results would suggest that switching from his slider to his curveball as the most frequently used offspeed pitch will help him out in the future.

Jack Leftwich Pitch comparison rankings:

  1. Changeup
  2. Fastball
  3. Slider

Leftwich’s Fastball and Changeup were more like 1a and 1b ranking than 1 and 2. Both these comparisons showed far better than average stats. His slider rated below average, so some tweaks may be beneficial to gain a third above-average pitch.

Franco Aleman Pitch comparison rankings:

  1. Slider
  2. Fastball
  3. Curveball
  4. Changeup
  5. Cutter

Aleman’s slider and fastball combo both produce far better than average stats and are a big strength for him. A pitch he may work on is his cutter, which is the only one of his 5 pitches that produce comparisons below average.

These three Florida pitchers are incredibly talented and each have bright futures ahead. The comparisons through Euclidean distance as well as stats of similar MLB pitchers are tools that can be used to project their future. It is important to note, this is not a crystal ball. Just because one pitch seems like it will project to be elite, and another looks like it will be a poor pitch, does not mean it will always be the case. These projections are best used in conjunction with other evaluation methods. In the future, other metrics like Extension, Vertical Approach Angle, and Horizontal Approach Angle may be used to enhance the comparisons.

Again I want to thank Rylan Domingues for helping me understand Euclidean Distance and its value in comparing pitchers.

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