What makes David Price so good and thus potentially worth the $217 million committed to him over the next seven seasons?
Here are four stats related to his performance that may give you an indication as to why he appealed to the Boston Red Sox.
1. First things first: Price consistently ranks among the best in the game in first-pitch strike percentage. He threw 67 percent first-pitch strikes in 2015, which ranked 11th among pitchers who qualified for the ERA title. He ranked third in that stat in each of the previous two seasons.
2. The changeup: Price’s changeup has evolved into one of the best pitches in the game. He began throwing it more often after being traded from the Rays to the Tigers and increased his usage even more after being dealt to the Blue Jays. Opponents have hit .218 against the pitch since the trade to the Tigers, chasing it (swinging when it was out of the strike zone) 46 percent of the time (compared to 35 percent with the Rays).
Price also showed a willingness to throw it in the first pitch of at-bats and to do so with the same effectiveness of his other pitches (thus making him less predictable). He threw first-pitch changeups for strikes 68 percent of the time in 2015. Price threw a first-pitch change 18 percent of the time, the ninth-highest rate in the majors.
3. Great control: Price doesn’t allow hitters to get into favorable counts. He went to a three-ball count against only 14 percent of the hitters he faced, about five percentage points below the major-league average. Price is one of five pitchers who had a walks per 9 innings rate of less than 2.0 while qualifying for the ERA title in each of the last three seasons.
4. Third time through: Price has the ability to go deep into a game without fatiguing. He averaged nearly seven innings per start last season. Over the last three seasons he trails only Clayton Kershaw in average innings pitched per start.
In 2015, Price held opposing hitters to a .205/.240/.285 slashline when facing a hitter for the third time in a game. Their OPS was 240 points lower against him than the average pitcher facing a lineup for the third time last season.