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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Christy Mathewson

Eligible in 1922.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 06, 2007 at 01:59 PM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 06, 2007 at 02:12 PM (#2292629)
Here's some threads where Matty was analyzed on:

1922 Ballot Discussion

1994 Ballot Discussion

If you know of anymore, please let me know so I can add them.
   2. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: February 06, 2007 at 02:48 PM (#2292645)
If this thread had been active in 1922, I think a question to explore would have been this:

If Matty were pitching today, what contemporary pitcher's breaking ball would his famous fadeaway pitch be compared to?
   3. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 06, 2007 at 07:08 PM (#2292869)
If Matty were pitching today, what contemporary pitcher's breaking ball would his famous fadeaway pitch be compared to?

The question needed answered first is: who are the contemporary scroogie hurlers out there?
   4. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: February 06, 2007 at 07:16 PM (#2292880)
So maybe it wouldn't be compared to a scroogie artist, but maybe to a circle-change guy? Doesn't that pitch have the same fadeaway effect? Or does it come in too slowly as compared to Matty's pitch?
   5. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 06, 2007 at 07:33 PM (#2292897)
So maybe it wouldn't be compared to a scroogie artist, but maybe to a circle-change guy? Doesn't that pitch have the same fadeaway effect? Or does it come in too slowly as compared to Matty's pitch?

I have never seen Mathewson's pitch compared to a circle-change, Eric, but that doesn't mean that it's not. Maybe Paul Wendt or someone else here might know.
   6. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: February 06, 2007 at 08:11 PM (#2292924)
The reason why it's odd to see screwgie associated with the fadeaway is that Matty was righthanded. There are almost no righty scroogie guys. I think Neyer/James probably talked about this, as ntr Abu says, and if I recall, the reason is that a lefty needs something to get righties out with and he faces about 6 righties in a lineup on average (in a non-DH league). But the righty can get by a little better without some kind of tough-on-lefties pitch since he can go after all the righties. That's one thing that makes Matty's pitch interesting.
   7. DCW3 Posted: February 06, 2007 at 09:12 PM (#2292964)
A distant cousin of mine, according to family lore. You could pick worse guys to be related to.
   8. djrelays Posted: February 06, 2007 at 09:43 PM (#2292994)
The first reference to Mathewson's "fade-away" in the New York Times is from June 30, 1907:

"Tim Murnane's book, 'How to Play Base-ball,' No. 202 of Spalding's Athletic Library, says: 'The 'fade-away' ball was introduced by Charles Sweeney in 1884.' Christy Mathewson is the only pitcher at the present time pitching the incurve or 'fade-away' ball, although pitchers have tried in vain to master this curve for the last twenty years. Charles Sweeney, with the Providence Club in 1884, struck out nineteen of the Boston players in a nine-inning game with this same ball. It was so trying on the arm, however, that he had to give it up. After the games for the world's championship in 1905 Mathewson was forced to place his wrist in a plaster cast as the result of this style of pitching. Mathewson is a perfect build for pitching, with a long reach, long fingers, and a good head for detail. He has perhaps mastered more curves than any other man in the business. It would be a waste of time for any ordinary pitcher to try to master the fade-away curve."

In all, there are only 18 NYTimes references to "fade-away AND Mathewson" during his career, with the last reference coming in 1919. One gets the impression that he may have used it only on rare occasion.

A 1925 NYT story refers to a pitcher throwing "with a combination of speed and a fade-away which resembled the famous drop ball of Mathewson." This makes it sound as if the fade-away refers not to the action of the ball moving horizontally but vertically, which means he could have thrown it with near-equal effectiveness against anyone.
   9. djrelays Posted: February 06, 2007 at 09:57 PM (#2293006)
It doesn't appear that Matty relied on the fade-away against left-handed batters. In the 1905 World Series against the A's (after which his arm was placed in a cast), he faced only one left-handed batter the entire series other than pitchers Eddie Plank and Andy Coakley. The batter was lead-off left-fielder Topsy Hartsell who was so dangerous that he got two singles in 12 plate appearances, with one strikeout.

This was the series in which Matty went 3-0, pitching games 1, 3, and 5, the last game. Matty's line score was 27 innings, 0 runs, 14 hits, 1 walk, 18 strikeouts.
   10. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: February 06, 2007 at 10:14 PM (#2293015)
So three theories on the fadeaway:

1) It's a sinking pitch, a drop of some sort.
2) It's a curve that breaks into a righty (based on it being scroogie like).
3) It's a change up that he turned over.

I suppose these could all be part of a single pitch, actually. If you think about Frank Viola's circle change, it broke in multiple planes, which would suggest the drop, the break, and the changeup in one pitch.

One other argument for a changeup would be arm action. He tossed 27 innings in just a few days against a really good Pirates team and just tore through them. A correctly thrown changeup is so tough because it's thrown with the exact same arm speed and slot as the fastball. It's said that curves can be easier to detect for opposing hitters because a pitcher will vary his delivery on them. So you'd think the Pirates might have finally found something after three games, but they don't seem to have. Maybe that suggests a well-thrown change.

Or maybe it just suggests he had a good week. ; )
   11. vortex of dissipation Posted: February 06, 2007 at 10:21 PM (#2293018)
Eric, do you mean the Athletics?
   12. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: February 06, 2007 at 10:50 PM (#2293033)
Eric, do you mean the Athletics?

You didn't know about the year they changed to the Philadelphia Pirates? I thought that was common knowledge.... ; )
   13. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 06, 2007 at 11:16 PM (#2293052)
You didn't know about the year they changed to the Philadelphia Pirates?

That would have been a bit earlier than the time of the famous Steagles juggernaut in the NFL. They always claimed that they were inspired by those mighty Philrates of the deadball era.

Of course the later merger of the Cubs and the Pirates didn't do much for their 0-10 later NFL imitators, but the baseball team's nickname (The Pubs) is still very much a part of our sporting heritage.
   14. baudib Posted: February 07, 2007 at 02:11 PM (#2293363)
Platooning became very popular in the 1910s.
   15. DL from MN Posted: February 07, 2007 at 04:41 PM (#2293438)
Gyroball?
   16. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 07, 2007 at 05:06 PM (#2293451)
I'm guessing there was a smaller percentage of lefty players in the league in Matty's time, and there was less (if any) platooning as well. So he probably faced fewer lefties than a top RHP would today. Or so I'll believe, until someone smarter shows the real #s.

I've looked into this. Based on a partial sample size (about 2/3s of all GS) about 25% of all GS in Matty's time came from lefties. There were few lefties in the nineteenth century (best lefty of the century may have been Ted Breitenstein for cryin' out loud). From memory, however, there were considerably more lefties in the AL in the Progressive Era. Heck, prior to Hippo Vaughn the best southpaw in NL history was Rube Marquard, who would've been the third best lefty on the 1908 A's.

Platooning became very popular in the 1910s.

Among hitters, but a form of platoon pitching was well-established before that. Lefthanded pitchers were more likely to face off against certain teams than others, as were righties (think 1950s Brooklyn Dodgers never seeing southpaws). This trend might've come to an historic peak just before the 1910s. Not a real impact on Mathewson, but from 1908-11 the Giants saw far more righthanded opposing pitchers than one would otherwise.
   17. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 07, 2007 at 05:08 PM (#2293452)
Not a real impact on Mathewson, but from 1908-11 the Giants saw far more righthanded lefthanded opposing pitchers than one would otherwise.

Dammit.

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