At this time last year, Sam Dyson's name wouldn't have moved the needle on the local baseball front. Heck, just as recently as July 30, Dyson's name likely meant nothing to area baseball fans — he could've just as easily been writing this and Adam Boedeker could've been an MLB relief pitcher.
Then, all that changed on July 31 when he was acquired literally moments before the 3 p.m. trade deadline from the Miami Marlins.
Dyson went from an unknown to an electric, shutdown reliever who pitched in a setup role and even got a couple of saves in helping the 180-degree turnaround the Rangers' bullpen made after the deadline to set them up for a tremendous stretch run and an AL West title.
Now, he's being lumped in with some of the game's best pitchers as he was selected as the owner of the ninth-best pitch in all of baseball with his hard, heavy sinker by stat guru Eno Sarris for ESPN.
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Here's what was written about Dyson's sinker in the Dallas Morning News, which combines uncommonly high velocity (over 95 mph average) for the pitch with a heavy sink that causes ground ball after ground ball as hitters just pound the ball into the ground the majority of the time.
What makes Dyson's sinker so unique is that it was the lowest of the top 10 in swinging-strike percentage at 10 percent but is the second-highest on the list with an 80-percent ground ball rate per pitch. Sarris values swinging-strike percentage more than ground ball rate because according to his calculations "swinging strikes are, on average, twice as important as ground balls."
But the low swinging-strike ratio does not hurt Dyson's sinker's value, a pitch the Ranger threw 565 times last season at an average velocity of 95.6 miles per hour. The sinker's final score in Sarris' formula (2*(swinging-strikes z-score) + 1*(ground ball rate z-score) = quality of each pitch judged against other results in that pitch type) came out to a 6.7, behind Darren O'Day's fastball and ahead of Hunter Strickland's fastball for ninth place in all of the MLB.