Effective Wildness : Part 1 of 3

Effective Wildness : Part 1 of 3



There are many “rules” of pitching that have been passed down from generation to generation. One of the more popular examples is getting ahead in the count. Another is keeping hitters off balance by mixing pitches and changing speeds. And yet another is owning the inside portion of the plate. Has pitching inside become a lost art? We’ll get to that question later on. But for now, we’re going to look at the results of the 2005 & 2006 seasons to see who isn’t afraid to knock somebody on their ass.




The ratio we’ll use is very simple and will be named Effective Wildness;

Walks (BB) / Hit batsmen (HBP)


Why this ratio? Well, the logic behind it is as follows; Wild pitchers may hit a larger portion of batters simply due to lack of control. A sign of this is clearly high walk totals. Conversely, a pitcher with low walk totals is assumed to have a higher level of control, thus when they hit a batter, the probability of them doing it on purpose is higher than that of a wild thrower.

2006 Top 10 (1st Table), & 2005 Top 10 Effective Wildness



Pitcher Wins Loss ERA IP HBP BB K BB/HBP
D Bush 12 11 4.41 210 18 38 166 2.111111
R Ortiz 11 16 5.57 190.2 18 64 104 3.555556
E Ramirez 4 9 5.37 104 8 29 69 3.625
J Vazquez 11 12 4.84 202.2 15 56 184 3.733333
P Martinez 9 8 4.48 132.2 10 39 137 3.9
R Nolasco 11 11 4.82 140 10 41 99 4.1
V Padilla 15 10 4.5 200 17 70 156 4.117647
C Carpenter 15 8 3.09 221.2 10 43 184 4.3
D Willis 12 12 3.87 223.1 19 83 160 4.368421
C Park 7 7 4.81 136.2 10 44 96 4.4



Pitcher Wins Loss ERA IP HBP BB K BB/HBP
D Bush 5 11 4.49 136.1 13 29 75 2.230769
C Pavano 4 6 4.77 100 8 18 56 2.25
D Wells 15 7 4.45 184 9 21 107 2.333333
J Weaver 14 11 4.22 224 18 43 157 2.388889
C Fossum 8 12 4.92 162.2 18 60 128 3.333333
B Arroyo 14 10 4.51 205.1 14 54 100 3.857143
R Johnson 17 8 3.79 225.2 12 47 211 3.916667
Z Greinke 5 17 5.8 183 13 53 114 4.076923
O Hernandez 9 9 5.12 128.1 12 50 91 4.166667
M Clement 13 6 4.57 191 16 68 146 4.25


Milwaukee Brewer David Bush is the reigning two-time champion of effective wildness. In 2006 he threw 166 strikeouts, 38 walks (4.37 K/BB ratio), but 18 HBP! Think about that for a second. His great 4.37 ratio placed him 1st amongst all NL pitchers in K/BB ratio. That’s no small feat, and requires a high level of control & stuff. But he hit 18 batters against 38 walks. His effective wildness ratio of 2.11 was 41% lower than 2nd place, and was almost doubled by the sixth place ratio of 4.1.



Bush himself accounts for two of the five sub 3 ratios since 2005. The bottom line? Don’t lean too far inside when you’re in the box against David Bush.



Outside of David Bush, the top 10 supplies a few names that weren’t too big of a surprise (Pedro, Weaver, Willis), along with some surprises (Nolasco, Ramirez). The combined record of the top 10 was 107 – 104 in 2006, and 104 – 97 in 2005, which is above .500 but nothing too spectacular. Also, outside of Bush, no pitcher appears in both seasons top 10.



Does a low ratio translate into success? For that answer, we’ll need to bring in a larger set of data. And next time, we’ll do exactly that by examining some of all-time lowest BB/HBP single season ratios. And in part three, we’re going to look at the ratios of some of the all-time feared pitchers such as Bob Gibson, and company. So lay your bookmarks, and notify your RSS readers, as we still have a ways to go.

David Bush Effective Wildness King

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6 replies on “Effective Wildness : Part 1 of 3”
  1. says: Early

    Sorry, I looked ahead, and I found it interesting to see that the likes of Ryan, Gibson, Clemens their simple Effective Wildness isn’t in the Dave Bush category. They are all over 10. Perhaps batters don’t have a fear of Dave Bush like they have a fear of Ryan, Clemens etc and aren’t willing to give the inside of the plate to Bush, at least yet. Looking forward to the continuation of this.

  2. says: Early

    Looking ahead again, I couldn’t help but notice that most included in this part of the study are all Low BB pitchers so I started looking for high BB pitchers that might also have a degree of Effective Wildness. So I looked at knuckleballers, while most historical knucklers have good stuff it is far from “intimidating” and if a knuckler is throwing at a batter it isn’t as dangerous as Ryan, Martinez, Clemens. Wonder how a pitchers “stuff” would influence the effectiveness of him hitting and walking batters. There might almost be a “situational wildness”…and we can find out “what batters is Dave Bush hitting?” anyways I am carrying on already. Good idea K.

  3. says: Early

    Low walk guy Greg Maddox, has a career EW of 7.552, which is much more effective than pitchers in his class. Clemens, Martinez, Ryan are all between 10-17. Interesting…

  4. says: Kman

    Part two has a few surprises, that’s for sure. Should be up in the morning.

    As for knuckle ballers, I think their BB/IP ratio would tend to be high. Also, a knuckle baller may have a hard time aiming the knuckler at someone to move them off the plate. And at the same time , their 75 – 80 mph fastball’s should be easily avoidable for MLB hitters when aimed at them.

    I’m not sure if you meant Pedro Martinez as the Martinez in you’re third post, but he has a EF under 5.5 for his career. That’s pretty dirty. To put that in perspective, only 709 times has a pitcher (100+ IP) had an EF under 5.5 for one season. So to do that for ones whole career means Pedro is aiming at some heads. Which is pretty much the accepted logic in baseball land.

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