PBR Introduces Hammer Score


Zach Day / Joe Dattoli
Senior Advisor / West Coast Operations Director

Hammer Quantified

Until now, the word 'hammer' has been used to describe a very good breaking ball that drops vertically with velocity through the strike zone. PBR’s goal is to define and quantify hammer breaking balls to be able to more effectively compare and evaluate breaking balls with vertical-drop movement across multiple levels.

A curveball with a higher hammer score has the potential to generate more Whiffs, especially when paired with fastball velocity and fastball movements like Hop and Rise. Hammer and Hop are what Craig Kimbrel has used to dominate hitters across his entire career. 

What is a Hammer? 

Hammer is defined as a breaking ball that drops vertically with velocity through the strike zone. Other movement adjectives include 12-to-6. 

Hammer Score

Using key metrics from pitch data, PBR has developed a Hammer score to easily compare breaking balls across multiple levels. 

Hammer+ Stats

The Hammer+ stat takes and normalizes our Hammer score across an entire level. Hammer+ is calculated by dividing a Pitcher’s Hammer by the mean Hammer of the level of play and multiplying by 100. In other words, the mean Hop is set to 100 and 1 unit above or below that is equal to being 1% above or below that mean for the level of play.

MLB Hammer Leaders 2021


Rank Pitcher Hammer+
1 Tyler Glasnow 128
2 Jimmy Nelson 125
3 Dillon Maples 125
4 Trevor Bauer 124
5 Andre Scrubb 124
6 Alex Reyes 124
7 Tommy Nance 123
8 Dylan Cease 122
9 Garrett Richards 121
10 Shane Baz 121
11 Drew Pomeranz 121
12 Nick Pivetta 119
13 Seth Lugo 119
14 Joe Kelly 119
15 Bryan Shaw 119
16 Mark Melancon 119
17 Shane Bieber 119
18 Brandon Bielak 119
19 Clay Holmes 118
20 Luke Jackson 118
21 Corey Knebel 118
22 Brandon Woodruff 118
23 Sean Newcomb 118
24 Mitch White 118
25 Bryan Abreu 117

 

MLB Hammer Leaders 2015-2021


Pitcher Year Hammer+
Garrett Richards 2018 129
Alex Reyes 2020 129
Tyler Glasnow 2019 129
Tyler Glasnow 2021 128
Garrett Richards 2017 128
Joe Kelly 2018 127
Tyler Glasnow 2020 126
Joe Kelly 2019 126
Bryan Abreu 2019 125
Jimmy Nelson 2021 125
Dillon Maples 2021 125
Trevor Bauer 2020 125
Tyler Glasnow 2018 125
Garrett Richards 2015 125
Garrett Richards 2020 125
Mark Melancon 2016 124
Andre Scrubb 2020 124
Trevor Bauer 2021 124
Andre Scrubb 2021 124
Alex Reyes 2021 124
James Karinchak 2019 123
Seth Lugo 2106 123
Joe Kelly 2016 123
Craig Kimbrel 2016 123
Danny Coulombe 2016 123

Summary 

With the Hammer+ stat, we now have a simple way to objectively compare breaking balls with hammer traits between levels and over time. The effectiveness of a breaking ball is very dependent on outside factors including location and pitch repertoire. In general, breaking balls with higher Hammer+ are more difficult to hit than breaking balls with a lower hammer score. 

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