Sox John Danks Inspires Pitching Theory


You’ve heard of Ewing Theory? But what about John Danks Theory? Yes, the struggling Chicago White Sox starter has seen his career fall off a cliff in 2011. His season has been a train wreck of all train wrecks, but at least his name has given birth to a theorem. It’s not the “Mendoza Line” but it is, according to Fangraphs:

a lineup strategy employed by Tampa Bay Rays’ manager Joe Maddon. After having little success against changeup artists like Dallas Braden, Shaun Marcum, and of course, John Danks, Maddon went against the natural platoon split and began starting more like-handed batters against these types of pitchers. The intention behind this method appeared to be neutralizing his opponent’s best weapon, which was thrown more to batters of the opposite hand.

Interesting. How long before this goes the way of other ideas like the “January Effect” when trading stocks- when enough people start adapting a practice to the point that it loses it’s relevance? Danks is having enough issues as it is. I heard another theory about Danks, and it involves his personal life (allegedly). It goes back to last year, and it involves….well, I don’t know if this idea really has any weight at all. Coincidence and correlation does not imply causation.

And since I’m talking like a NERD. Here’s more dorky math and stat geek stuff for you poindexters. Again courtesy of Fangraphs, and again explaining this phenomena in more substantive, quantitative and measurable terms.

Although results are the end game, the process behind the Danks Theory is to take away the opposing pitcher’s best weapon – or in this case Danks’ changeup (his cutter is quickly closing in, but the changeup is still slighly ahead). According to the database at, the White Sox lefty has thrown his off-speed pitch 20.4% of the time since 2008. Breaking it down by splits, he has thrown it 24% to right-handers with a 16.6% whiff rate. Lefties have a similar swing and miss percentage (16%), but he throws it just 11% of the time against them

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