Sunday, June 05, 2016
I hope your head isn’t spinning.
On setting up hitters with spin: “A lot of people think about pitching as setting up the batter based on pitch location. I think more of setting up batters with spin. If I throw a good hard fastball with good backspin, and then rip over a curveball from that same slot, it’s going to be hard for the batter to tell the difference. It will be hard for him to tell the difference between the four-seam I just threw at the thigh, versus my hard, 12-6 breaking ball at the thigh.
“It doesn’t have to be the greatest location. It’s about fooling the batter. I’m trying to rip over my curveball as hard as I can to create as much downward spin as possible. I don’t want the batter being able to tell, based on the spin, which pitch is coming. A lot of hitters will talk about, ‘Oh, I hit in the cage with numbers on the ball,’ or ‘I hit in the cage with different color seams, because I’m trying to pick up the seams.’ Well, if you make your ball look like a cue ball, that’s going to give you the advantage even if the pitch wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. I got some outs last night on pitches that weren’t executed how I wanted. Because of the way I spin the ball, I was able to get away with them.
“I don’t know what my four-seam spin rate is, but my curveball is between 2,800 and 3,100 at any given time. I know my fastball spin could be better. Sometimes I get a little bit of a rifle spin to it, which is kind of the shape that a cutter would be, only it’s not cutting like a cutter.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Also, Scott and Lassus Have Been The Best 1-2 Punch on the Self-Immolation Thread…
The Mets lead in K-BB%, GB%, FIP and xFIP. They trail only the Cubs in ERA and only the Nationals in strikeouts per nine innings. They place 4th in this group in WAR, although that is primarily a function of the fact that they have the fewest innings of the bunch — the Mets have 17 starts from this duo while the other couplings have 19 or 20. This is owing to the fact that Syndergaard has yet to make his tenth start and Matz missed one turn in the rotation.
This is just a snapshot of the present, not a promise of the future, but it is easy to see the Mets duo continuing on this torrid pace, while some of these other pairs are outperforming what we might expect of them. For instance, Cueto and Strasburg are each veterans beating their career ERAs by about one run. Even though Strasburg’s emergence looks sustainable, it’s likely that Cueto is more of a 3.25 ERA pitcher than a 2.38 ERA pitcher. Other pitchers are wildly outperforming their peripherals, most notably Quintana who has a 0.14 HR/9 and is beating his xFIP by over a run, and Hammel who has a 2.17 ERA despite a K-BB% which is actually worse than league average. Even Arrieta, as great as he is, is probably closer to his FIP (2.71) than his ERA (1.72).
As for the young Mets, Syndergaard alone has staked a claim to “best pitcher, non-Kershaw division” by playing 2nd in FIP, 2nd in K-BB%, and 3rd in WAR in this group. Matz, for his part, has pitched to a microscopic 1.13 ERA/2.15 FIP with a sterling 23.2 K-BB% since his one disaster inning in his first start on April 11th.
There is a good argument to be made for most of these duos, although I would probably rank the Dodgers (Kershaw/Maeda), Mets (Syndergaard/Matz) and White Sox (Sale/Quintana) a little ahead of the rest, with the Nationals (Strasburg/Scherzer) as potential spoilers if Scherzer gets back on track.
Nonetheless, you’ve got to be impressed with Syndergaard and Matz, who lead in two other categories I forgot to mention: average fastball velocity (their average of 95.8 mph is more than 2 mph faster than the Cubs) and lowest salaries.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
In each of the last three full seasons, [Jose Quintana]‘s topped 200 innings and put up a K/BB ratio of 3.41. He’s done that despite over his career pitching almost half his innings in homer-friendly U.S. Cellular Field and ceding the platoon advantage to 73.7 percent of the batters he’s faced.
As well, Quintana is in his age-27 season at present, so it’s possible his peak has not yet been realized. (His slight bump in fastball and sinker velocity this season, during a month when gun readings tend to be down, is something to watch on this front.) If that’s the case, then the White Sox may well have a pair of aces under contract through 2019.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Perceived Velocity is a great addition for our understanding of the game.
That Syndergaard appears is hardly a shock—after all, he lit up radar guns in his first start this year and his 97.4 mph average fastball led starting pitchers in 2015. Of course, he’s also listed as 6-foot-6, and his extension of just under 7 feet was third among starters, behind only Michael Wacha and John Lamb. That helped his perceived velocity look like 98.4 mph, because a hard pitch thrown from closer to the plate will, of course, seem harder.
Fernandez’s return from Tommy John surgery couldn’t have gone better, as his 96.4 mph four-seamer was the fourth-hardest of any starter, behind Syndergaard, Eovaldi, and Yordano Ventura. His extension of 6 1/2 feet isn’t quite what Syndergaard gets, but it’s still above average, and that combination is how his plate time is just under four-tenths of a second. Good luck trying to hit that.
It may not sound like much of a difference between elite and below-average. In real-world terms, it may not be much. But in baseball terms, that fraction of a second can mean everything. Scientific studies have shown that it takes, at best, 0.215 seconds for a hitter to look, think, decide and act—that’s begin to swing, not fully swing—which is more than half the time the ball is actually in the air against baseball’s best. Seconds, or more accurately, tiny fractions of a second, count for a lot.I
Monday, April 11, 2016
House has a few more tricks up his sleeve. A big one involves the pitcher’s stride as he delivers the ball. The average stride-length for a pitcher is 77 to 87 percent of his height. He calculates that for every extra foot he can squeeze out of a pitcher’s stride, the hitter sees a virtual three-mile-per-hour gain in fastball speed. Put it this way, a 95-mile-per-hour fastball from 50 feet looks faster than from 53 feet. Same velocity on the radar gun, but because a hitter has less time to react, it just seems faster.
One of the most extreme examples of a pitcher’s bending visual reality is 170-pound Tim Lincecum, who won back-to-back Cy Young Awards, in 2008 and 2009, with the San Francisco Giants — not because he threw 100 miles per hour but partly because his stride reached seven-and-a-half feet, or roughly 129 percent of his 5-foot-11 height.
Posted: April 11, 2016 at 11:21 AM | 1 comment(s)
Tuesday, April 05, 2016
I’ll add it to my reading queue.
This dedication to find every story sets the book apart from less ambitious projects, but it also sets itself apart from the competition in two other ways. One is by weaving in the stories of Hudson and Coffey. The pair are ever present throughout the book; their tales of trouble and triumph get their own chapters, but also pepper the chapters that focus on others. The other is by not just looking for stories, but also for solutions.
Posted: April 05, 2016 at 09:13 AM | 0 comment(s)
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Monday, March 07, 2016
Saturday, February 13, 2016
“I’m not afraid to break out of the norms of pitching theory,” he said. “Just because everyone has a unique body, everyone has a different arm action, their pitches break different ways. When you try to put everyone in a box, it only works for the guys who fit in that box.
“The most exciting part of pitching to me is figuring out how to maximize every guy. I believe so many guys can be big leaguers if they’re just given the right information and the right approach.”
Posted: February 13, 2016 at 08:44 AM | 3 comment(s)
Friday, February 12, 2016
Some interesting stuff but you need to read the whole thing.
But could the very thing that helped bring about the transformation from washed-up-prospect to Cy Young winner lead to his eventual downfall? (I mean, of course, the end is inevitable for us all.) By that, I mean the usage on his best pitch; the one that Arrieta calls a slider, grips like a cutter, and manipulates like something possessed by the spirit of Dennis Eckersley. To even begin to explore that question, we would need a better understanding of the pitch, itself. A little digging showed me that Eno Sarris, of Fangraphs and Fox Sports, had done the most work on the specific topic.
The most interesting part of Sarris’ work on the topic is differentiating between the two different types of cutters thrown by pitchers, and how they can affect your arm differently. There’s the cut fastball, which is a version of a fastball thrown by a lot of pitchers and, most famously, by Mariano Rivera. But then there’s the cutter, which is actually a form of a slider. There’s been little consistent data to show that the cut fastball causes arm injury or decreases velocity, but the feeling about the slider-style cutter is quite different:
“Dan Haren admitted to throwing the slider-grip cutter, and felt that it “absolutely” led to velocity loss (he just didn’t care because he was already losing velocity). Zack Greinke threw a cutter and a slider and felt they morphed into the same pitch… Jesse Chavez showed the slider grip on his cutter, admitted that he’d heard it led to lower velocity, but said he made sure not to “manipulate” the ball. Ben Badler at Baseball America found that scouts also felt that cutters led to velocity loss.”
Posted: February 12, 2016 at 02:22 PM | 16 comment(s)
Thursday, February 04, 2016
Great stuff from Jeff Sullivan.
Granted, there are similarities between lots of great players and lots of inferior players. The limitation of the pitch-comp system is it says nothing about consistency, and I can’t imagine Porcello yet trusts his curve the way that Wainwright has trusted his. One still has to assume Wainwright commands the pitch better, and then there’s also the matter of Wainwright having the cutter, which is better than Porcello’s. The effectiveness of a pitch is in part about the effectiveness of the other pitches, so Porcello still has a lot of proving to do. The point isn’t that Rick Porcello turned into Adam Wainwright when nobody noticed.
The point is simply that Rick Porcello’s curveball has evolved into something extremely similar to Adam Wainwright’s curveball. You can choose how much to make of that. If nothing else, it’s something to watch for.
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