I took note of this little chart in part because Mike Bacsik was noted the other day as a guy who had held Barry Bonds to 1-15 in his career (the 1 was a dinger). Looking at the chart I got to thinking about the difference between the two extremes of balls put into play. 27 percent seems like a lot, but when hitters can be expected to hit about .300 on balls in play, it amounts to nine extra hits per 100 batters faced (or roughly about two and a half per game).
That could be a lot. The difference between a 1.2 WHIP and a 1.4 WHIP reflects those 2.5 hits. The issue here, as we so often see, is really baserunners allowed. If you don’t walk many the extra hits you allow pitching to contact aren’t a problem, just as the hits you don’t allow by not pitching to contact don’t help much if you give up a lot of walks.
The other issue is the type of ball put in play. Some pitchers do better than others controlling line drives (which almost always result in a hit). As we accumulate data about all these things we may well get a better idea of what works best, but I suspect that pitchers like Mike Bacsik, who simply get things done, will still find work.
Nothing succeeds like success. (In Bacsik’s case, recently.)