April 21, 2008

Does speed kill?: A thorough analysis of PitchFx data reveals some interesting things about fastball speed.

posted by yerfatma to baseball at 07:20 AM - 15 comments

Interesting. With fastballs, though, unless a pitcher hits up around the upper-90s or 100 mph, it's all dependent on location and movement of the fastball. A guy throwing in the low 90s with no movement won't last long in the league (unless they possess another dominating pitch like Santana's changeup).

posted by dyams at 08:08 AM on April 21, 2008

Fatty, this one is a dream for the statistics wonks like myself. I remember having a discussion on this issue last season with, among others, The Crafty Sousepaw. If he's lurking, his position seems to be at least partially proven. I still maintain that location, movement, and a change in speed are far more important to pitching effectiveness than pure speed alone. By a change in speed, I do not necessarily mean a changeup. Rather, a few mph more or less on a well-located fast ball can upset a hitter's timing to the extent that solid contact is not achieved.

posted by Howard_T at 08:58 AM on April 21, 2008

Great link. I'd have to agree with dyams in that most effective pitchers must rely on location and movement with their fastballs or else they'll get lit up. Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine are two excellent examples (among many) of this.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 04:42 PM on April 21, 2008

That was some interesting reading... Just goes to show that if you aren't throwing 97+ then it is all about location and movement...

posted by bruce2ww at 08:18 AM on April 22, 2008

Nolan was at his best and un-hittable when he had the curve going. That is why he has 7 no-hitters. The seven no-hitters and his career strikeout record are two that will last a long time.

posted by RA at 02:37 PM on April 22, 2008

I always thought Ryan's best attribute, ironically, was his wildness he often showed, especially early in his career. The idea of a big, strong, dominating county boy with 100 mph speed on his pitches possibly losing control of one and sending it into your cranium will definitely make you think twice before digging into the batters box.

posted by dyams at 07:59 AM on April 23, 2008

This is a great stat. Reinforces the point Maddux made in a previous article about how young pitchers overvalue speed and undervalue movement.

posted by drumdance at 12:45 PM on April 23, 2008

I agree with others that movement is a big factor in pitch success, but this article is really all about pitch location (and whether speed matters in different locations). The author expressly states that his focus on fastballs only is intended to neutralize the effect that movement would have the results:

What about movement? To get pitches with essentially the same type of movement, I'm going to only consider fastballs. Most fastballs (from RHP) tend to have significant tailing action in towards a right-handed batter, and most have a positive spin-induced vertical movement, i.e. they fall less than they otherwise would due to gravity. Of course, not all fastballs will have the same movement, but in general terms they will be similar.

posted by holden at 01:09 PM on April 23, 2008

Location > Changing Speed > Movement > Velocity. So said Maddux while wiping blood off his samurai sword.

posted by Venicemenace at 01:29 PM on April 23, 2008

Psh Maddux kills with his bare hands.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 02:20 PM on April 23, 2008

He uses his sword when his hands are full, yym.

posted by tselson at 02:34 PM on April 23, 2008

. . . when his hands are full of prostitutes' innards.

posted by holden at 03:34 PM on April 23, 2008

It takes skill to hold a sword with your teeth.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 04:51 PM on April 23, 2008

Thirteen comments in and we already have a train wreck. Could be a record here, but I seriously doubt it. Anyone have my favorite train wreck photo?

posted by dyams at 06:22 PM on April 23, 2008

Speaking of train wrecks (and this is far from a train wreck), that reminds me of one of my favorite Maddux stories. So Maddux is down by the tracks, totally f***ing up some hobo -- knocking out his teeth with a baseball bat, cutting him all over with a straight razor and spitting tobacco juice in the cuts, propping him up against a freight car and peppering him from 15 feet with fastballs, I mean working him hard. Just then Smoltz walks around the corner and sees this mess of a man in a heap and Maddux with this sheepish look on his face. "Holy shit, what happened to him?" said Smoltz. "Train wreck" says Maddux, and they both fall over laughing, just about pissing themselves from the sheer hilarity of it. [After they catch their breath...] "Hey Mad Dog?" "Yeah?" "Damn, I'm hungry." "Let's go get some Chick-Fil-A, Smoltzie, let's go get some Chick-Fil-A."

posted by holden at 11:02 PM on April 23, 2008

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