Pitching Ratings determine the skills, abilities, and results that a pitcher is likely to experience when he steps on the mound to face a batter.
Skills are measured on a scale of 1-100, with 1 being the worst and 100 being the best. It goes without saying that a higher rating = more skill in that rated area. It is important to know that the scale is not linear
. The difference in ability gained between 50 and 60 is less than the difference in ability gained between 60 and 70. Starting with ratings of 50 or higher, the higher the number, the larger the difference. The difference between a 95 and a 98 may be similar in scale to the difference between a 50 and a 70.
Pitchers with a high (PO) rating tend to throw effective fastballs, hard sliders and splitters. High Power ratings tend to result in more strikeouts and make it harder for batters to get a hit. Pitchers with a high PO have a tendency to give up the long ball relative to pitchers with a similarly high FI or SY rating. Power pitchers are also inclined to give up more fly ball outs than ground ball outs. An average pitcher will see a big jump in effectiveness and strikeout totals with high PO.
Famous players with high Power: Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling
Pitchers with a high FI rating tend to throw effective changeups, curveballs, and those pitches that deceive. They will not generate the strikeout numbers of power pitches, but will get batters out just as effectively. Finesse pitchers tend to keep batters off-balance, making it harder to make solid contact, thus reducing extra-base hits more than Power pitchers. In addition, a high Finesse rating will create more ground balls than fly balls. An average pitcher (9.5 H/9 innings, 3.5 BB/9, 7.0 SO/9, 1.0 HR/9) with high FI=100 will be a much more valuable member of a pitching staff, generally giving up less hits and HRs over the game.
Famous players with high Finesse: Greg Maddux, Tommy John
Pitchers with a high CO rating tend to be able to throw the ball where they are aiming. Obviously, this affects walks and (to a degree) strikeouts, but it also affects an opponent's batting average a bit. A high CO allows the pitcher to throw to the corners with confidence and keeps the pitcher ahead in the count. The average pitcher with high CO=100 can really keep the walk numbers down.
Famous players with high Control: Mike Mussina, Christy Matthewson
Pitchers with a high SY rating are known to have good "stuff" - they make the most of their talents by knowing how to do things that other pitcher's don't. A guy like David Cone would throw from different arm angles to make his four pitches look like twelve pitches to maximize his effectiveness. Phil Neikro, who threw a lot of junk, threw lots of knuckleballs and spitballs. Although not a critical rating, Specialty can make an average pitcher good, a good pitcher average, an average pitcher poor, and so forth. The average pitcher can see a mixture of changes with high SY.
SY is unique in pitching ratings in that it is the only rating which is not affected by fatigue (a distinct advantage for a low-Endurance pitcher). A high SY can be decent on its own, but it can be extremely valuable with another high rating.
Famous players with high Specialty: Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough
Hold Runner (HR)
Some pitchers have great pickoff moves, some don't. Pitchers with a high HR rating can hold the runner on base better than those with a low HR rating. With a high HR, base runners are less likely to try stealing, less likely to succeed when they try, and more likely to be picked off. As well, runners who get smaller leads typically have a slightly harder time taking an extra base or breaking up double plays. It has been said that base runners steal off the pitcher, not off the catcher.
Famous players with high Hold Runner: Andy Pettitte, Terry Mulholland
The different pitches thrown by a pitcher are listed on their player card. These may change over time as a player's skills change. Their primary pitch (best pitch) is listed first. Pitchers have four pitches and they can vary depending on their skills. A finesse (FI) pitcher may throw a Changeup, Sinker, and Curveball; a power pitcher (PO) may throw a Splitter and a Fastball. In some cases, pitchers throw garbage – but quite effectively.