The Detroit Tigers have some pieces in their bullpen. Adding a veteran in Anthony Bass, the former Trenton High School, and Wayne State pitcher would further add stability to the backend of the pen.
When you look back at the 2020 shorten season, we saw the Detroit Tigers’ bullpen quite a bit. They finished 6th in innings pitched with 255 innings. The highlights include Jose Cisnero, Bryan Garcia and when he was on, Gregory Soto. During the season, we also saw Joe Jimenez lose his closer’s role.
The Tigers outside of Cisnero, have a bullpen that is all under 30 years old heading into 2021 as far as regulars go. So why bring Anthony Bass to the bullpen outside of the obvious homecoming angle?
Bass lead the league in Sweet Spot % at 15%, which was a major drop from his previous season at 27.3%. So, what exactly is the Sweet Spot percentage and why does it matter? According to MLB.com, Sweet Spot is defined as:
“A batted-ball event with a launch angle between eight and 32 degrees. Sweet spot percentage can be used in concert with hard-hit rate — the percentage of a player’s batted balls that have an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher”
So why is that important when it comes to Bass? Essentially, he kept batters from hitting balls hard and kept launch angle down. It showed up on his barrel percentage as his was just 2.9%, another drop from the previous season. Considering he was facing lineups from the AL and NL East and playing in Buffalo, you got to give him the tip of the cap.
Bass started the season by not allowing a run in his first six appearances and that helped his numbers a bit. But the two more advance stats pop out.
This article on Marcus Stroman that explains his numbers also provided the definition of xwOBAcon. xwOBAcon calculates the expected wOBA on contact, taking into account the contact aspect of xwOBA and removing walks, strikeouts and hit by pitches. Since Bass’s strikeout numbers do not pop out (21 in 25.2 IP pitched, K per 9 of 7.4) his xwOBAcon average was .244, which put him among one of top 2% in the league according to Statcast.
What does that mean? Essentially, looking at his groundball rate of 62%, he was pitching to contact and was successful with his pitch mix of sinker and slider and flashing a split-finger fastball. His sinker was used 54% of the time and worked very well for him this season.
His xBA is a Statcast metric that measures the likelihood that a batted ball will become a hit. His was .176. All his advance numbers were career highs and with the Tigers doing well playing the shift defensively, Bass’s game could work well in Detroit.
For a one-year deal, Anthony Bass could give Detroit not only a great coming home story as he has an annual pitching camp at Wayne State University but based on the stats, a good pitcher that could help the Detroit Tigers’ bullpen.