R.a. Dickey Newsbeat
Saturday, January 04, 2014
MLB pitcher R.A. Dickey slings an erratic knuckleball pitch, posing a challenge for batter and catcher alike. The ball has been colorized to highlight its almost total lack of spin, which usually serves to stabilize the ball’s trajectory.
A baseball’s seams make it an imperfect sphere, which can lead to some screwy flight behavior when there’s no spin to steady things out. Ivan R. Dee provides a good explanation of knuckleball dynamics in chapter 1 of The Knucklebook:
In the action of the knuckleball… some stitches are moving toward the flow of air in the front, and others are moving away, at a slow speed. The stitches move around the ball in quire a complex curve on a knuckleball, and the ball may rotate at different rates in different ways. This causes the swirls of air to change size and direction, form and disappear, and move location on the ball, thus producing changing locations of low pressure that really can’t be predicted.
Posted: January 04, 2014 at 08:49 PM | 8 comment(s)
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
It is widely talked about by announcers and baseball fans alike, that knuckleball pitchers can throw hitters off their game and leave them in funks for days… I decided to analyze to determine if there really is an effect and what its value is…
Most people that try to analyze this [R.A.] Dickey effect tend to group all the pitchers that follow in to one grouping with one ERA and compare to the total ERA of the bullpen or rotation. This is a simplistic and non-descriptive way of analyzing the effect and does not look at the how often the pitchers are pitching not after Dickey…
I summed the stats for following Dickey and weighted each pitcher based on the batters he faced over the total batters faced after Dickey. I then calculated the rate stats from the total. This weight was then applied to the not after Dickey stats. So for example if [Casey] Janssen faced 19.11% of batters after Dickey, it was adjusted so that he also faced 19.11% of the batters not after Dickey…
Starters see an approximate 18.9% decrease in their FIP when they follow Dickey over the past 4 years. So assuming 130 IP are pitched after Dickey by a league average set of pitchers (~4.00 FIP), this would decrease their FIP to around 3.25. 130 IP was selected assuming ⅔ of starter innings (200) against the same team. Over 130 IP this would be a 10.8 run difference or around 1.1 WAR! This is amazingly significant and appears to be coming mainly from a reduction in HR%. If we regress the HR% down to -10% (seems more than fair), this would reduce the FIP reduction down to around 7%. A 7% reduction would reduce a 4.00 FIP down to 3.72, and save 4.0 runs or 0.4 WAR…
Relievers[’]... FIP was reduced 10.3%. Assuming 65 IP (in between 2012 and 2013) innings after Dickey of an average bullpen (or slightly above average, since Dickey will likely have setup men and closers after him) with a 3.75 FIP, FIP would get reduced to 3.36 and save 3 runs or 0.3 WAR.
Combining the un-regressed results, by having pitchers pitch after him, Dickey would contribute around 1.4 WAR over a full season. If you assume the effect is just 10% reduction in FIP for both groups, this number comes down to around 0.9 WAR, which is not crazy to think at all based off the results. I can say with great confidence, that if Dickey pitches over 200 innings again next year, he will contribute above 1.0 WAR just from baffling hitters for the next guys.
And The Dickey Effect Part II—Wakefield:
Similar to Dickey, pitchers saw a positive effect almost across the board. The main difference with [Tim] Wakefield is that walks also went up, but not by much. A career 8% reduction in FIP is significant, and with the sample size, probably fairly accurate.
for his generous support.
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