Spin rate isn’t everything, but it does count for something
The Astros are well-known throughout the baseball world for their interest in high spin rates. After all, Houston’s pitching staff had the highest spin rate — 2379 RPM — in baseball this year. Astros’ pitchers Ryan Pressly, Justin Verlander, Will Harris, and Collin McHugh were in the top-33 in average spin rate. Oh, Gray was 34th.
I do realize a high spin rate doesn’t necessarily translate into success, much like a high velocity pitch. Pitching also depends on ball movement and where a pitcher locates. Spin rate is just one component of the equation. It was a pitch measurement until recently that was likely undervalued in baseball. One could argue that teams are starting to overvalue it, but this is only a hunch right now. However, there is no denying that the Astros have had success with high spin rate pitchers lately.
If there is one concern I have with Gray, it is simply this: Why couldn’t the Yankees fix him? As I pointed out from Jeff Sullivan’s article, New York did adopt a less fastball approach, at least in the early going. Instead of relying on Gray’s past pitch usage, they insisted on their approach. They most likely had data and evidence backing up their assertions. The Yankees’ front office is considered one of the best in the game, and they have tremendous resources. But each baseball organization is different, because people are different. Ideas are not universally shared or agreed upon.
Perhaps the Astros can fix Gray. Maybe not. I’m not sure, but they should at least explore the option. Smart baseball teams, like the Astros, do that. What do they have to lose?