Colorado Rockies: It’s time to stop calling Jon Gray “mentally weak”
A search on Baseball Savant reveals something even more bewildering. Gray’s swing & miss % on each of his four main pitches increased from 2017 to 2018, except for one: his changeup.
Changeup: 43.8 percent to 33.3 percent
Fastball: 12.6 to 17.5
Slider: 34.3 to 38.2
Curveball: 36.0 to 41.8
Where we can start to see the problem lies in his average exit velocity of all of his pitches. It increased from where they were two seasons ago on all five pitches he utilized:
Fastball: 88.3 mph to 90.5 mph
Curveball: 85.4 to 86.3
Changeup: 83.3 to 89.6
Sinker: 79.8 to 88.1
Slider: 77.8 to 87.3
When Gray was hit, he was hit hard, a lot harder than in 2017. Most notably his slider, a pitch he used 34 percent of the time, left the bat almost 10 mph faster, on average.
Staunch Jon Gray supporters who cited these peripherals were often criticized for “making excuses” for the maligned starter. There is some merit to that, because at the end of the day Jon Gray simply did not live up expectations and help the Rockies win games. But getting back to the headline, I believe it is irresponsible, and unfair to Gray, to claim that he is suddenly “mentally weak” without any kind of input from a psychologist. I do not believe stating that Gray had an incredibly unlucky season, as these peripheral stats suggest, and that he simply wasn’t good enough are mutually exclusive.