CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Prospects Will Break Y... (01/15)
<< Previous Column
BP Unfiltered: John Ax... (01/13)
Next Column >>
BP Unfiltered: The 201... (01/27)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Tale of the Tape: Jona... (01/16)

January 16, 2014

BP Unfiltered

RISPy Business

by Dan Brooks

I’m writing this blog post with the knowledge that a lot of people reading this, especially those who are “inside” baseball, will be shaking their heads at the monitor once they finish. We're used to dismissing RISP statistics because the sample sizes are too small. In this case, though, we appear to see real and meaningful differences.

Probably the most underappreciated feature on BrooksBaseball.net (at least, in terms of clicks per perceived usefulness, to my eyes) is the Pitch Usage table that can be found in the Tabular Data section of each player card. Click it, and you find a fairly detailed breakdown of when a particular pitcher uses what kind of pitch (i.e., pitch percentages split by batter handedness and count).

For example, here’s Ubaldo Jimenez’s Pitch Usage table, from MLB games last season. I’ve added some unsightly orange circles that highlight an interesting trend: Ubaldo tends to throw first-pitch sliders to RHH:

BrooksBaseball.net is a very active collaboration between myself and Harry Pavlidis; we’re constantly tinkering and adding new features to a shared database and code base. One thing we recently added to our database was baserunner information—i.e., what was the base state of each pitch. So, we added a selector to the Pitch Usage table so that you could look at changes as a function of base runners.

Check out the same trend in Ubaldo’s Pitch Usage with RISP, and you’ll see a fairly dramatic difference:

Now, he’s throwing 64 percent (!) sliders to open ABs to RHH, and only 9 percent four-seam fastballs. Of course, the opposite is true in non-RISP situations (which are also selectable):


You can see slider usage has dropped 30 percentage points, just on the basis of whether there is a runner in scoring position.

We’ve noticed some other interesting trends. For example, R.A. Dickey throws his knuckleball 75-80 percent of the time, even when the batter is ahead, with RISP, but when there’s no RISP, he’s much more likely to throw a two-seam fastball.

Or, Yu Darvish throws a first-pitch four-seam fastball at RHH only 27 percent of the time when there’s a RISP, but uses it 48 percent of the time when there’s no RISP.

I’m sure there are countless other examples. Let me know what you find!

Dan Brooks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Dan's other articles. You can contact Dan by clicking here

2 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

BP staff member Doug Thorburn
BP staff

Just wanted to chime in that the pitch usage charts are one of my favorite aspects of the site, and I am stoked to have yet another way to parse the data.

There are so many gems of information to be learned about pitcher tendencies, and one might be surprised at the extent to which some starting pitchers are basically two-pitch guys in many situations, but that the identity of those pitches changes based on the handedeness of the hitter (ie trading sliders vs same-side hitters for change-ups against those with platoon splits). The pitch usage charts put it right there in front of you, allowing the reader to do some (pardon the phrase) advanced-sofa-scouting.

Jan 16, 2014 22:15 PM
 
Michael Bodell
(89)

Cool graphs. I think it is well known that pitchers do things like "pitch to the double play" (like throwing low and sinking pitches) in certain situations and also might be more/less likely to challenge pitchers depending on base runner. Someone like Dickey doesn't mind challenging the hitter as much when no one is on, since the effect of a hard hit ball is a lot less.

There is also a potential commingled effect where the quality of hitter could be a little worse with no RISP than with RISP (since the cleanup hitter is up with RISP more than the 9 hitter). So maybe you throw the Dickey fastball to the number 9 hitters of the world while not challenging the cleanup hitters with the potential HR ball.

Jan 16, 2014 23:52 PM
rating: 1
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Premium Article Prospects Will Break Y... (01/15)
<< Previous Column
BP Unfiltered: John Ax... (01/13)
Next Column >>
BP Unfiltered: The 201... (01/27)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Tale of the Tape: Jona... (01/16)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
The BP Wayback Machine: Can Spring Training ...
Fantasy Article The Adjuster: Relief Pitchers
Fantasy Article Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Relief Pitch...
Fantasy Article The -Only League Landscape: American League ...
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Don't Call It A Committee!
The Lineup Card: Nine Ways to Improve Your F...
Fantasy Article Player Profile: David Robertson

MORE FROM JANUARY 16, 2014
Premium Article Overthinking It: How the Braves Can Keep a G...
Premium Article Skewed Left: The Historical Precedent for an...
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Yes, Paul Maholm Still Exists
Premium Article Minor League Update: International Winter Le...
Fantasy Article Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Catchers
Fantasy Article Graphical Fantasy Rankings: Catchers
Fantasy Article Tale of the Tape: Jonathan Lucroy vs. Carlos...

MORE BY DAN BROOKS
2014-04-08 - BP Unfiltered: Mark Appel: A PITCHf/x First ...
2014-03-03 - Framing and Blocking Pitches: A Regressed, P...
2014-01-29 - Premium Article Throw the Flag
2014-01-16 - BP Unfiltered: RISPy Business
2013-09-23 - Pebble Hunting: Pedro Hernandez and the Rash...
2012-10-05 - Advance Scout
2012-09-27 - Baseball Prospectus News: Announcing the PIT...
More...

MORE BP UNFILTERED
2014-02-02 - BP Unfiltered: Hall of Famously Weak Argumen...
2014-01-28 - BP Unfiltered: Masahiro Tanaka: A Reader Pol...
2014-01-27 - BP Unfiltered: The 2014 Annual is Out; Ebook...
2014-01-16 - BP Unfiltered: RISPy Business
2014-01-13 - BP Unfiltered: John Axford Tips Well
2014-01-12 - BP Unfiltered: Nominations Needed For The Ha...
2014-01-10 - BP Unfiltered: Rereading Nate Silver: 17. Th...
More...