(BaseballStL) – Baseball can be a great game to watch. It’s the only one of the big four sports that doesn’t battle a clock, instead ending of it’s accord. A game is over when all the outs have been expended; no sooner, no later.
While that can lead to spellbinding and immersive viewing experiences, it can also hold a spectator in agonizing captivity if the game is crawling along.
Pitcher’s pace has a lot to do with that, and thankfully for St. Louis fans, Cardinals pitchers work fast.
Pace is measured as the time that passes from one pitch to the next, and for the purposes of this story I used the custom data reporting over at FanGraphs.
In the pen, the Cardinals have yet another statistical league leader. Seth Maness works faster than any reliever in baseball with a pace of 18.7.
“It’s something I’ve always done. Just try to work quick and make something happen. Just try to get our offense in there and let them swing the bats,” he said. “The shorter time you keep them out there playing defense the more time they have to get to hitting and help you out.”
Pitchers are the center of the baseball universe, and while they may revel in the control, their defense is just as much at their mercy as the batter they face. It was his time as a fielder that taught Maness he needed to work fast.
“I used to play infield and guys would be out there taking forever, walking people and then boom I get a groundball hit to me and I’m launching it in the stands somewhere, like what’s going on? I’m back on my heels,” he laughed. “Though that may be why I don’t play infield anymore.”
Believe it or not, Adam Wainwright is nearly the slowest working pitcher on the Cardinals roster at 23.6 seconds between pitches. Randy Choate is the leader with 26.2 pacing, but has only thrown 29 innings so he is off the hook.
Though he is slowest on the team, there are 14 starters in baseball slower than Waino.
The fastest pitcher in the majors this season is R.A. Dickey at a blistering 17.9 seconds, while Jermey Hellickson is the slowpoke, taking 25.8 seconds between tosses.
Mark Buehrle has long reigned as the king of the quick pitch, with a career pace of just 16.7.
If he had enough innings to qualify against starters, Maness would be fifth fastest of any pitcher. Though he works quick, he says there’s arguments to be made for either end of the spectrum.
“There can be two sides to that. If you’re working fast, they may have less time to think and put an at-bat together,” he said. “But if you’re working slow they may be a little complacent in there and you might have more success. It’s kind of pick your poison.”
While both arguments certainly haver merit, fans sitting in the summer sun in St. Louis certainly won’t complain if their hometown hurlers want to move a little quicker.