March 1, 2013
Over the Radar
It has been 28 days since my last entry into the chronicles of Raising Aces, and though I did manage some vacation time during the break, my baseball schedule has been otherwise locked and loaded throughout the month.
I had a blast with our mock arbitration series in early February, in which I went toe-to-toe with Ian Miller for a couple rounds of “name that comp.” I also dropped by the Effectively Wild studios to share my thoughts about the 2013 Athletics with Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller, and behind the scenes I have been preparing more than 100 mechanical profiles for this year's Starting Pitcher Guide with Paul Sporer, which is currently in the final stages of production.
The highlight of the past month was a 10-day hiatus to Costa Rica for my wedding and honeymoon. I enjoyed the experience of a lifetime with my lovely bride, but I must admit that it felt like I was cheating on baseball, leaving the country for a soccer-based nation just as pitchers and catchers were reporting to camp.
It would seem that baseball has forgiven me, with BP 2013 appearing on my doorstep before I could fully unpack my bags. Every vacation is followed by a necessary period of baseball re-absorption, and the one topic that has dominated my consciousness in recent days is pitch velocity, particularly the sport-wide tendency for pitchers to lose velocity as they age.
The phenomenon of dipping velocity occurs in-game as a pitcher fatigues, or over the course of a season due to the physical toll of the baseball schedule. Pitchers are also known to lose pitch speed as they grow older, and the pitchers that survive the aging process are often those who make the necessary mechanical adjustments to compensate for the loss of power.
The topic of age-related velocity loss was addressed last July in the second episode of Effectively Wild, in which Sam lamented the disappointing MLB performance of Trevor Bauer, citing the expected diminishing rate of return with a prospect's stuff. I agree with Sam's premise, but I also believe that there are exceptions to the rule, as effective player development can potentially overcome the physical taxation of pitching.