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Friday, August 11, 2017

FiveThirtyEight: Baseball’s ‘Hot Hand’ Is Real

Every starting pitcher in our data shows a noticeable pattern of switching between hot and cold states.5 Some pitchers’ streakiness manifests in a pronounced downside when they’re cold, like what happens to Texas Rangers lefty Cole Hamels. When he’s on, Hamels’ fastball is just a tick faster than average for him. But when he’s off, he loses about two and a half miles per hour compared to his average fastball. The impact is massive: That almost 4 mph difference in heat translates to a 1.03-run difference in projected runs allowed per nine. If you apply those numbers to Hamels’ 2016 season, he had ace-level stats when hot (3.41 RA/9, 18th among 73 qualified starters), and mediocre ones when off (4.44 RA/9, 44th).

What’s more, the differences in Hamels’ performance seem to be steady from year to year. Running the same analysis on his 2014 and 2015 seasons shows that Hamels always fluctuates between about 2.5 mph down when cold and 1 mph up when hot. He’s not alone: Players who appeared in all three seasons we studied tended to show the same hot and cold effects from year to year, suggesting that we picked up on some of each pitcher’s true characteristics rather than just noise.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 11, 2017 at 02:03 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: fivethirtyeight, hot hand

 

 

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