WHIFF PROFILE: CHRIS YOUNG
Young is a student of inducing fastball whiffage.
Chris Young is deceptive. He weighs 260 lbs, yet throws his fastball at a velocity (88.8mph) that's well below the MLB average (90.3mph). He's also very tall (6'10''), yet doesn't get nearly the amount of down-angle on his pitches that he could. His delivery, at least to the casual observer watching on television, seems clean and easy, without much that would seem to create discomfort at the plate.
Whether Young's secret has more to do with the way he conceals the baseball or the extension towards home he gets with his freakishly long wing span, there is definitely something hitters do not like. Young has baffled the National League to the tune of a 1.93 ERA and 0.99 WHIP, the two lowest figures in all of baseball. His fastball-heavy gameplan means plenty of belt-high and letter-high 4-seamers for hitters to see, but they invariably have difficulty putting a bat on them. Young's fastball has a WHIFF of .198, ranking in the top 15% in all of baseball. If you think that's impressive, how about the opposition's AVG/OBP/SLG against it: .185/.277/.264.
As recently as late-April of 2006, Young did not throw a slider. His repertoire included a fastball, slow curve, and change. About a month later, Young had essentially become a two-pitch guy, mixing a slider in with his usual abundance of fastballs. His slider, like his fastball, is a relatively soft pitch (80.5mph), but it has become devastating, posting a WHIFF of .411 this season.
His curve and change have become show pitches, and he throws both less than twice per game on average. His curve has a WHIFF of .000, which also happens to be the opposition's batting average against (hitters give up on this pitch consistently). His change has a .333 WHIFF, but, once again, it's a tiny sample size.
Does it help to pitch in the NL West, as well as calling Petco Park home? Of course. But there's a lot more going on here.
Chris Young WHIFF Breakdown
Fastball - .198 (MLB AVG .140)
Curveball - .000 (MLB AVG .270)
Slider - .411 (MLB AVG .299)
Change - .333 (MLB AVG .273)