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April 13, 2012

Pebble Hunting

The Best Pitches Thrown This Week

by Sam Miller

If you followed any games last season on MLB.com’s Gameday application, you saw “Nasty Factor,” which assigned a number to each pitch based on its perceived nastiness. If you have followed any games this season on Gameday, you’ve seen “Scout,” which describes the action like this: “Sergio Romo is having trouble locating his four-seam fastball” and so on. We’re about to watch the three best pitches* thrown in the first week of the season, and, frankly, Nasty Factor and Scout can’t do these pitches justice. So enjoy the moving pictures, and then read the expert analysis provided by some MLB.com apps that are still in development.

3. Fernando Rodney’s 2-1 fastball to Russell Martin, April 6.

Russell Martin’s Bat app:
I didn’t see it coming. I thought, okay, you’ve done this a million times. And it’s not like it was the most dangerous assignment. I faced Matt Moore. I faced James Shields. I faced Brian Matusz. What I’m saying is, I faced a lot of fastballs better than Fernando Rodney’s fastball.

But when I showed up, it was the strangest thing. The pitch came at me like a doberman, just attacking me and biting at me with this territorial violence. It was so hard, and so sharp, and I thought I had plenty of space between it and me but before I knew it my ankles were bloodied and I couldn’t walk. And then two-thirds of me is flying through the air, and Russell Martin is holding this pathetic skinny stump of mine. You never realize how absurd your handle looks until it’s naked, without the rest of the body giving it heft. The handle is so scrawny and pathetic. I was so scrawny, and so pathetic. He flung me away, and that was it for me. On a Fernando Rodney fastball. Never saw it coming.

Drooling Ed Wade app:
Oh my God.
And he’s a reliever?
droooool
Oh my. I’ll give him three years and $27 million.
Oh God what if Tony Reagins gets him first.
Seven years and $75 million.
droooool

Scout (Finch) app:
Winter, and his children shivered at the front gate, silhouetted against a blazing house. Winter, and a man walked into the street, dropped his glasses, and shot a dog.

2: Aroldis Chapman’s 0-2 fastball to David Freese, April 11.

David Freese app:
All right, here we goooooooohhhh no don’t do that CRUD. Come on you stupid suck dude whatareyou stupid suck.

Pass/Fail Professor app:
Pass

Upton Sinclair app:
Under the kitchen floor, beneath the refrigerated warehouses, the elephant-sized blenders, and the punch clocks for brigades of laborers, the blood from the slaughtered hogs flows down gutters toward the sewers beneath the factory. At each elbow along the route, the blood sloshes out of cracks in the pathway and puddles in the building’s crevices. In the winter, it freezes but in the spring it thaws into a thick rot. It draws cockroaches, mosquitoes, rats, ants, fleas from blocks away, and this zoo of pestilence grows fat with the sickly mixture, a layered mulch of blood and cockroach corpses and chunks of mold and bug dung. This filth, this diseased casserole, this nastiness—this is the nastiness of Aroldis Chapman’s fastball.

1: Stephen Strasburg’s 1-2 changeup to Lucas Duda, April 11.

Second-Grade Progress Report app:
Velocity: Outstanding
Movement: Outstanding
Location: Satisfactory
Behavior: Needs Improvement
Citizenship: Needs Improvement
Notes: Stephen Strasburg’s Changeup is definitely the brightest changeup in his class. He is also unruly at times, and his running action makes it hard for me to teach other changeups and also makes him very difficult to hit. He doesn’t have much contact with others, and tends to humiliate others. He also seems to want to be a left-hander’s slider rather than a right-hander’s changeup, but he makes it work. Overall, there is great potential here, and holy crap did you see Lucas Duda try to hit it oh my gosh.

The Billy From Family Circus Map app:

Lazy Doctor app:
That’s sick.

*Best pitches determined by me, with some effort taken not to simply post three Justin Verlander pitches. If you have a nomination for the next edition of baseball’s best pitches, email the guy listed below.

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

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