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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Magic dust, spin rates and buy-in: How the Astros make good pitchers even better - The Washington Post

“Every team has an analytics department, and this is no knock on the Twins, but seeing the time [the Astros] put in and the scouting reports you’re given, it’s like, ‘Whoa.’ It’s a different level,” Pressly said. “You kind of see, ‘Wow, if I just pitch a little more to this percentage instead of that percentage I can have some better results.’ When I came over here, they were like, ‘Look, your curveball is your best pitch. Everyone tells you your best pitch should be your fastball. But with the amount of spin you have on the ball, you need to throw that more, and it will set up your fastball even more.’ ”

Luhnow described the acclimation process into the Astros’ philosophy as more of a two-way street: “It’s really, ‘Tell us about your repertoire, your experience.’ It starts with them telling us what they’re trying to accomplish every time they go in. And then it’s us: ‘Let’s start with the basics. This is what we love about you. Let’s keep doing this.’ Are there areas maybe we can try something? Sure. But they’ve got to want to do it.”

Added Manager A.J. Hinch: “The beauty of what we have going on right now is there’s an immediate buy-in when guys come over, because of some previous success stories. … Our analytics team, our front office does a great job of providing information, providing thoughts, ideas. But it circles back to the player. I always credit the player, because he has to be the guy — he is the guy with the ball in his hand.”

...

“The key principle,” Cole said, “was using a lot of the data and information they have to discern what is your strength. So you have a pitch that looks great on the charts, and then you have the [video]. … It’s not like they were reinventing the wheel. They were just showing me what I did well and then allowed me to just attack.”

“I don’t think it’s a secret,” Morton added. “It’s not something where they put you in a chamber, and they push a button and you come out a new pitcher. You’re the pitcher you are, with the tools you have, and they give you suggestions on how to utilize your stuff a little bit better. … For people to say, ‘Oh they must be doing something illegal or special — because why aren’t [other teams] doing it?’ Well, they haven’t caught up yet.”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 16, 2018 at 10:33 AM | 5 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: analytics, astros

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   1. bfan Posted: October 16, 2018 at 01:17 PM (#5767709)
this is no knock on the Twins, but seeing the time [the Astros] put in and the scouting reports you’re given, it’s like, ‘Whoa.’ It’s a different level,”


Actually, it is a knock on the Twins, and every other MLB organization that can spend $20 million a year on a player and not find the extra dollars to get more out of their performance.
   2. aberg Posted: October 16, 2018 at 01:21 PM (#5767712)
Anyone who watched Pressly with the Twins knew he had a great curveball. I'm sure the Twins also wanted him to throw it more (and I have seen the same reported elsewhere). Telling pitchers with a great pitch to throw that pitch more often isn't revolutionary. They allude to methods of increasing spin rate and improvements in pitch sequencing. I would be more interested to hear about those details, but I get why they don't want to publicize what they're doing.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 16, 2018 at 02:02 PM (#5767763)
They allude to methods of increasing spin rate and improvements in pitch sequencing. I would be more interested to hear about those details, but I get why they don't want to publicize what they're doing.

Didn't Trevor Bauer figure this one out? Pine tar, and other sticky substances. Nothing Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry didn't know 50 years ago.
   4. puck Posted: October 16, 2018 at 02:56 PM (#5767810)
Sounds like the Pirates. They've managed to bridge the gap and get the data to people who believe in, who in turn can get the players to use it to their advantage.
   5. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: October 16, 2018 at 03:01 PM (#5767816)
... buy-in ... circles back to ... reinventing the wheel.

I, for one, am eagerly anticipating the day when the empty post-game interview segments replace content-free baseball cliches with content-free business jargon.

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