Is Chris Bassitt really an ace for the Oakland A’s?

Jul 30, 2021; Anaheim, California, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Chris Bassitt (40) reacts after the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 30, 2021; Anaheim, California, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Chris Bassitt (40) reacts after the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /
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Everyone has a mental image of what an ace should be. They would have a high octane fastball and devastating breaking pitches, using pinpoint command to dominate the opposition. And then there is Oakland A’s starter Chris Bassitt.

Bassitt does not have the velocity of what one would imagine to be an ace. His fastball is in the mid 90s, although it is just part of a solid six pitch arsenal. He does generate plenty of swings and misses with his slider, but generally looks to induce weak contact as much as possible.

Chris Bassitt a different kind of ace for Oakland A’s

The metrics also paint a somewhat mediocre picture of Bassitt. He is in the 32nd percentile in whiff percentage and fastball velocity, 49th percentile in chase rate, and in the 31st and 29th percentiles in curve and fastball spin rates respectively.

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But that seemingly middling stuff has resulted in an impressive season. He has produced an 11-3 record with a 3.28 ERA and a 1.058 WHiP over his 137 innings, striking out 139 batters with 33 walks. He leads the American League in wins, innings, and starts as he has emerged as the A’s most consistent arm.

There is another definition of an ace. That is someone who takes the ball every fifth day, saving the bullpen while putting the team in the best position to win. Someone who is a stopper, who inspires confidence in the team that, no matter how bad things may be, his presence on the mound will change their fortunes.

The latter is exactly the type of pitcher that Bassitt would be. He brings a confidence that the A’s, no matter what type of slump they may be going through, will get that victory and bring them back to their winning ways. Bassitt has done just that.

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Chris Bassitt is not the stereotypical ace one thinks of when the term is mentioned. He is, however, the type of ace the Oakland A’s need.

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