We all love facts, don't we? Or, anyway, that's what Charles Dickens' Hard Times taught me. I didn't finish it. Actually, come to think of it, facts are a little bit boring. Those "Chuck Norris facts" were funny (for a little while) because they weren't true. It's probably more accurate to say that we prefer fiction - and, sometimes, factions. Facts that have a quality of fictions. Myths.
Aroldis Chapman's performance this season has taken on a tint of myth. The very real facts about his pitching sound like the stuff of fiction. Fan-fiction almost, but with a G-rating.
Here are some of them:
Via Joel Luckhaupt on Twitter: "The catcher has recorded the last 15 putouts with Chapman on the mound." Meaning, pretty much all the contact in play Chapman has allowed since the end of June have been little dribblers or pop-ups in front of the plate.
Nearly half of hitters who have faced Chapman this season have struck out (49.1%). That's not half of outs by strikeout (he's close to 63% there), but half of all hitters who have strolled to the plate have K'd.
60% of plate appearances against Chapman end in either a strike out or ground out.
Also via Joel Luckhaupt on Twitter (chapter 3, verse 14): "22 of Chapman's last 27 outs have been by strikeout." Could Chapman put up the kind of gaudy numbers he has over these twenty-seven outs in a proper start? Well, he would need to be far less reliant on the fastball and his high-90s velocity would be unlikely to sustain itself over 9 innings. I want to say yes, though. So I will.
Chapman has allowed just 8 extra base hits in 166 PAs (4.8%, or .224 slugging). A ball leaves the infield (usually for an out) roughly once every five hitters. Since the All Star Break, that's meant less than once per outing.
Chapman's current strikeout (per nine innings) rate is 17.1. He's pitched 43.2 innings. Kenley Jansen, last season, became the only pitcher since 1901 (let's just say ever) who has even put up a strikeout rate over 16.0 in 40 innings in a season of work. Of course, Chapman has plenty of season left, but he's only 11 short of how many innings Jansen threw last season.
Chapman's walk rate is currently 2.7. No pitcher in history (>40 IP) has recorded a walk rate below 3.0 and a K-rate above 14.0.
Over 1,819 pitches (before today), Chapman's average fastball velocity was 98.1.
No hitter in baseball has faced Chapman more than seven times (Casey McGehee and Prince Fielder). Fielder and McGehee are collectively 0-13, with a walk.
Jose Reyes has had the most success against Chapman to date (5 PAs, 2-4, triple, BB).