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September 3, 2009

Future Shock

Throw Hard or Go Home

by Kevin Goldstein

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Last week, while attending a minor league game between Kane County and Beloit, someone noticed me leaning to the right after nearly every pitch to see what the radar gun held by the player tracking pitches said. "You care about how he's pitching, or how fast he's throwing?" asked a scout sitting near me, sarcastically. "Is there a difference?" I replied, trying to equal his snark. We both laughed, knowing that there was some merit to the question.

The next day I was talking to another scout, and we were talking about velocity when he just came out and said what we were both talking around. "I've more or less come to the conclusion that, as unsexy as it is, velocity means more or less everything," he said. We talked about the rare exceptions, and how lefties aren't always limited to same restrictions, but then we started to test our theory by naming right-handers in the big leagues who don't have at least average velocity. Needless to say, it wasn't a long discussion.

That conversation stuck with me for a while, and then I realized that we have the data to prove or disprove the assertion. The PITCHf/x system measures a variety of things, but at its most basic level, it is measure that core piece of scouting data when it comes to pitchers-velocity. So we now know the velocity of every pitch thrown in the big leagues, and when measuring the data against the basic theory of the scout, the numbers support his theory, and on a staggering level.

That said, obviously there are exceptions to the rule. Asserting that, if you throw hard, you will get to the big leagues is not an absolute truth; baseball has no absolutes. But the inverse-all those who get to the big leagues throw hard-that's almost all the way there. Is command important? Yes. And secondary pitches? Absolutely important as well. But the leading statistical indicator for getting to the majors might not be measured by any spreadsheet or formula, but may instead be found on the radar gun.

To evaluate this data, just a quick step back to how scouts grade pitches. For fastballs, obviously location and movement can grade a pitch up or down, but velocity is the major factor. The standard 20-80 scouting scale, going on velocity only, looks like this:


Grade   MPH
 80     96+
 70    94-95
 60    92-93
 50    89-91
 40    86-88
 30    83-85
 20     82-

Now, with that in mind, scouts do give half scores out, such as 55, so a quick extrapolation gets us:


Grade   MPH
 80     96+
 75     95
 70     94
 65     93
 60     92
 55     90.5
 50     89
 45     87.5
 40     86
 35     85.5
 30     83
 20     82-

OK, now let's crunch some data. As of August 18, there were 230 right-handers who had thrown 300 or more fastballs in the big leagues. Taking their average velocity, how many have average velocity or better? Before crunching the numbers, my bet was at least two-thirds of them did. Afterwards, my mantra changed to "Throw Hard or Go Home." Here's the distribution:


Grade  MPH    RHPs
 80    96+      7
 75    95      11
 70    94      31
 65    93      34
 60    92      45
 55    90.5    56
 50    89      27
 45    87.5    11
 40    86       4
 35    85.5     4
 30    83       0
 20    82-      0

That's staggering. Nearly 92 percent of all right-handers have at least average velocity, 80 percent are above average, and well over half (55.7 percent) have true plus fastballs. If anything, it's a cruel reminder that you can have as much pitchability or command as you want, but unless you are really unique, if not downright special, it's just not going to matter unless you also throw one by a guy once in a while. For example, here are your five bottom right-handers in terms of average fastball velocity in the majors this year:


Pitcher        Avg. MPH
Brad Ziegler     84.6
Darren O'Day     85.2
Cla Meredith     85.3
Chris Young      85.9
Yusmeiro Petit   87.0

So, that's three side-armers followed by Chris Young, whose height (6'11") and deception makes him one of the most unique pitchers of the past decade, and then Petit, who has even more deception than Young. This suggests that standard-issue right-handers with over-the-top deliveries and three solid offerings have very little chance of making it without plus velocity or some kind of trickery, and this kind of data makes one a little leery of the upside of a prospect like Tim Alderson of Pittsburgh, who has put up impressive numbers in the minors while rarely getting clocked throwing anything outside of the 80s on the gun.

We can talk all we want about what kind of statistics one looks at when evaluating pitching prospects, and even delve deeper into things like BABIP, ground-ball ratios, and WARP, but when it comes right down to it, there is no evidence that we've found anything to replace the radar gun reading as an indicator for future big-league success.

A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider Insider.

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

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

BP Comment Quick Links

tjmaccarone

I think the real question is whether the hard throwers in the majors are more effective than the soft-tossers, not of which there are more. I think there's no doubt that there's discrimination against guys who don't throw hard, that they don't get as many chances, and need to put up better numbers in the minors to be promoted. The question is whether that's rational.

Sep 03, 2009 10:08 AM
rating: 0
 
tbraxton34

Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average...

If, as you say, "nearly 92 percent of all right-handers have at least average velocity, 80 percent are above average"

it would be helpful to define what you mean by average. Or at least define the set from which that average is derived. Major league pitchers? Professional pitchers? Humankind as a whole? Becaue my math says that if 80 percent are above average, the other 20% are throwing with negative velocity.

Sep 03, 2009 10:10 AM
rating: 7
 
ZacharyRD

This was my first thought throughout the article as well; I know that in the minors, players are rated on that 20-80 score however I don't think that is relevant - if you can't break 90 miles an hour with your fastball as a 21-year-old, you're not going anywhere, ever, without something odd going on. Ziegler, for example, used to have a decent but not great fastball and the A's organization said you can either hang up your cleats or try pitching underhand, so he did.

Sep 03, 2009 10:17 AM
rating: 0
 
Matt Kory

I believe he was referring to the scouting scale of 20-80. If 20 is the bottom of the scale and 80 is the top then 50 would be the middle or "average" as in medium, not an actual average of two numbers. At least that's how I took it.

Sep 03, 2009 10:19 AM
rating: 3
 
tbraxton34

right, but I'm not interested in the midpoint of the scouting scale.

What should be of actual interest is what constitutes an average fastball, and based on this article the scouting scale does a dreadful job of doing that. If the scale says that 80% are above average, the scale needs to be re-defined.

Sep 03, 2009 10:26 AM
rating: -3
 
SC

But the scale doesn't exist to measure major league players, who are all above average baseball players, but minor leaguers. There are tons of guys throwing in the lower levels who have sub-50 fastballs. Some are there because they have something else going on, others are toiling without any real shot.

The scouts world is populated with below-average baseball players, and his language needs the tools to describe them.

Sep 03, 2009 11:28 AM
rating: 11
 
klipzlskim

I haven't taken a math class in 15 years, but isn't saying that a certain percentage of pitchers have above-average velocity, based on the scouting scale, a bit misleading? The "average" you're describing is the midpoint on this arbitrary scale. I don't know when this scale was developed or whether it's been adjusted over time (I'd guess that velocities on the whole have risen over time), but I'm not sure it's the best measure to prove your point (though I don't disagree with the hypothesis, necessarily). Wouldn't a better exercise be to compare the velocities of big league regulars with the velocities of those that never made the show or couldn't stay there?

Sep 03, 2009 10:20 AM
rating: -2
 
dwinning

Right. To me, all this says is the 20-80 scale is wrong. If the scale says the average (50) fastball is 89 mph, but the data shows that the average fastball is really 91-92 mph, fine, adjust the scale. But I don't see how this provides any insight into predicting a kid's big league success, beyond saying that kids need to throw harder today to get a shot than they had to 20 years ago.

Sep 03, 2009 10:41 AM
rating: -3
 
jman2050

I think the issue is that for this particular piece Goldstein is using a sample of only major-league pitchers, while the scale is designed to evaluate ALL professional players. Thus, his conclusion has merit: That a right handed pitcher needs to have at least average or above average fastball velocity *compared to everyone else in professional ball*. Logically, this makes sense as the players used for this sample are only part of the sample because they were good enough to reach the majors.

Sep 03, 2009 10:50 AM
rating: 8
 
dwinning

I'm pretty sure the scale is designed to reflect "major league average" rather than average professional baseball including the minors. That's the only way it would have any conceptual value.

Sep 03, 2009 11:01 AM
rating: -2
 
tbraxton34

Right--this is really my question. Does "average" mean average major league? It appears not. Does it mean average professional? Average compared to what group?

Sep 03, 2009 12:27 PM
rating: 0
 
rweiler

Well, there was Randy Jones, so there is at least *some* evidence that you can get people out, at least for a couple of years, without throwing all that hard. Jones might have managed it for a few more years without the 300 inning work load. Granted Jones is an anomaly, but is that because guys that only throw in the low 80s can't get hitters out, or because guys that throw in the low 80s never get drafted and/or promoted?

Sep 03, 2009 10:28 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

The point's really being made about right-handers. Randy Jones threw lefty. So did Frank Tanana (which you can take two ways, given his performance before and after blowing out his arm), and in my memory latter-day Tanana threw slower than anybody who wasn't Doug Jones or a knuckleballer.

Sep 03, 2009 10:33 AM
 
SC

It seems as though left-handedness falls into the 'something else going on' category which can also include a physics defying breaking pitch, or creative use of knuckes (dragging along the ground or gripping the ball). It would be interesting to study all the pitchers (leftys included) with below-average velocity to see if some 'something elses' are more prevalent and/or effective than others. Might run into selection bias issues, though.

Sep 03, 2009 11:31 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

The bigger problem is that lefties are 10% of the population and 30-40% of pitching staffs, so the line of acceptibility is way lower.

Sep 03, 2009 11:35 AM
 
anderson721

You sure you were not just comparing him to Nolan? I don't remember Tanana being that out of the ordinary.
I will always remember Tanana for a great quote from about '77- when asked how he would celebrate his birthday(after pitching a gem) he replied, "I'll probably get stoned" Tongue in cheek, I'm sure...

Sep 03, 2009 15:04 PM
rating: -1
 
Kampfer

I think this article is trying to say that only hard throwing righty get promoted to the show

Sep 03, 2009 10:34 AM
rating: 0
 
Cardinals645

Velocity is necessary but not sufficient for a major league pitcher.

Sep 03, 2009 10:34 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Like I said . . .

1. There are NO absolutes, but the data is very compelling (at least it was to me).

2. Not all guys who throw hard get there, but the inverse is almost true.

Sep 03, 2009 11:19 AM
 
Ira

Tease! who were the 7 80's!!!! Did Feliz throw enough pitches to qualify (I'm assuming not) and would you rank him as an 85 given that he's thrown 101.


One other question. If fastballs are rated mostly on velocity, how are curveballs ranked? Break? velocity? deception? feel? what!?!

Sep 03, 2009 10:36 AM
rating: 0
 
dwinning

http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=sta&lg=all&qual=10&type=4&season=2009&month=

Don't know why feliz isn't on the leaderboard, his fangraphs page says his average FB is 96.4.

Sep 03, 2009 10:50 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Here they are -- and this data was as of 8/18:

Zumaya, Joel
Broxton, Jonathan
Bard, Daniel
Wilson, Brian
Lindstrom, Matt
Lowe, Mark
Jepsen, Kevin

Sep 03, 2009 11:16 AM
 
jtorrey13

Interesting study as it kind of dovetails nicely with Joe Posnanski's posts (http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2009/09/02/a-few-baseball-ideas/#more-2575) the last few days. Is it that pitchers who throw slow are not going to be a future success or that pitchers that throw slow are not going to be given a chance?

Great analysis. This is definitely a cool area of discussion.

Sep 03, 2009 10:50 AM
rating: 3
 
Slingerland65

The scale refers to major league average, not humankind; but if more than half the pitchers are above major-league average, the scale could use a bit of updating. We also have to remember that there are some radar guns that inflate the numbers a bit. It would be interesting to see the velocity groups compared by some pitching effectiveness metrics. My guess is that the higher the velocity, the higher the effectiveness (on average).

Sep 03, 2009 10:51 AM
rating: -1
 
coachadams5

Don't know if Trevor Hoffman qualifies (300 fastballs) but he's a RHP at 20 on the scouting scale who's got his ticket to Cooperstown already punched - it can happen.

Sep 03, 2009 10:59 AM
rating: -2
 
wpitcher3

Didn't Hoffman used to throw harder? I don't think the article is intended to look at established pitchers who have lost velocity over time, but rather "prospects" who don't have velocity to begin with.

Sep 03, 2009 11:15 AM
rating: 2
 
jayman4

He has been below 90 for a long time and still amazingly effective. But he has to be an exception. He has a slow fastball (85-88), but has pinpoint accuracy. I have rarely ever seen him put it down the middle. It almost always exactly on the inside or outside paint. Players cannot drill it, have to respect it because it is a strike and then gets them out with the change up that, apparently, looks exactly like the fastball until it isn't. It is fast enough that the players cannot wait for the 72 mph change, because they will miss the fastball. I am guessing he drops 1-2 mph, and it will all fall apart.

That said, he has to be in the "exception" category. I am guessing if players can set up their pitches against each other so that it confuses hitters, and can do it consistently, then OK. But those must be the exception.

Sep 03, 2009 11:36 AM
rating: 2
 
David Coonce

Yeah but Hoffman, in his prime, threw 94-95. This article is about the velocity that makes a prospect viable; when Hoffman was a prospect his velocity was very good. It's the reason he was converted from shortstop in the first place.

Sep 03, 2009 18:20 PM
rating: 1
 
elferguson80

I thought of that Joe Posnanski post too. Alderson gives the Pirates a nice opportunity to take the Joe-Pos Challenge.

Sep 03, 2009 11:01 AM
rating: 1
 
TGisriel

Several years ago, I was coaching in an American Legion league that included some players graduating from high school and some players who played in the community colleges. It was a pretty high standard of ball. About 7 kids from the league were drafted in the majopr league draft. My son, who was our best pitcher, (even though he had just finished his junior year of high school) got by on command and guile, but didn't throw more that mid - 80's on a good day. When he heard who had been drafted he was surprised and disappointed. I remeber him saying "That kid can't pitch, he just throws hard". I told him that the majors think they can teach those kids how to pitch, but they can't teach you how to throw in the 90's.

Still true.

Sep 03, 2009 11:01 AM
rating: 6
 
mlryan

I would love to see the list for LHP's.

Sep 03, 2009 11:11 AM
rating: 1
 
elm
(41)

This is an interesting piece. One thing that I'm curious about: how many righties with low-velocity just don't throw many fastballs and, therefore, didn't make the list even if they've racked up a bunch of innings throwing breaking balls and off-speed stuff and only the occassional fastball. I suspect that, knucklers aside, not many pitch like this, but maybe there are a bunch of them and Kevin needs to amend his saying to, "If you rely on your fastball at all, throw hard or go home."

Sep 03, 2009 11:14 AM
rating: 2
 
wpitcher3

True. I was wondering where Trevor Hoffman (see above comment) and Livan Hernandez fit in. Tim Wakefield, too is an interesting case...

Sep 03, 2009 11:17 AM
rating: 1
 
jarjets89

i was thinking the same.. the people with below average fastballs do not throw them as much as the people with above average fastballs and do not qualify. so we need to see more on the sucess of pitchers who do not use there fastball that much.

Sep 04, 2009 23:26 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I have to say I'm surprised at the reaction -- that's the scale, and using the term 'above-average' might not FULLY calibrate to some kind of scale you guys are looking for, but the base point of you HAVE to have velo remains. I think we've gotten a bit pedantic here.

Sep 03, 2009 11:15 AM
 
Matt Kory

I agree completely. Anyone actually want to discuss the point of the article?

Sep 03, 2009 11:40 AM
rating: 1
 
gtgator

I agree as well. Arguing about semantics or throwing out all the exceptions (i.e. "what about ________ who is successful") seems to miss the point of what I thought was an excellent article.

Can you make the majors as a RHP with a FB less than 89 mph? Yes - 8% means it is possible. Can you have success as a RHP with a FB less than 89 mph? Again, yes. And simply because one throws 95+ does not mean they are an elite pitcher.

So when evaluating RHP, if 92% average 89 mph or faster, then I'd say that is a beneficial characteristic to examine in the evaluation of which pitchers will make the majors and which might have the ability to stay there once they get there. It isn't a hard-and-fast rule and it isn't the only factor to success. But it is a good start.

Sep 03, 2009 12:03 PM
rating: 2
 
wpitcher3

Question: If velocity is so important (critical), why are players who don't throw 90+ drafted at all? Are they all projectable to higher velocity? Do minor league rosters need to be filled out? Are GM's hoping for that rare exception?

Sep 03, 2009 12:05 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

All of the above. Plus, there just aren't that many guys who throw that hard.

Sep 03, 2009 12:09 PM
 
BP staff member Dan Wade
BP staff

Especially given some GMs' preference for high school arms.

Sep 04, 2009 09:29 AM
 
tbraxton34
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

I'm not questioning the analysis at all: it is obvious that velocity plays a huge role in both major league opportunity and major league success and I actually think the results of the study you ran are really interesting in that they show the extent to which that is true.

But it is very strange to read an article on a statistically-oriented site that says something as absurd as 80 percent of major leaguers are above the major league average in velocity. Simply saying "that's the scale so accept it" is contrary to the thinking that BP applies to other aspects of the game, right?

Sep 03, 2009 12:34 PM
rating: -7
 
Matt Kory

Nobody said "that's the scale so.. you know, have you actually read any of the comments? I think the best answer lies above your comment.

Sep 03, 2009 12:59 PM
rating: 0
 
nblascak

I'm not exactly sure why its absurd to say that 80 percent of major leaguers have an above average fastball. Its a straight-forward, to-the-point analysis...

Sep 03, 2009 13:07 PM
rating: -3
 
BurrRutledge

KG, great article. Pretty clear thesis here: for a successful MLB pitcher, velocity = life. Everything afterwards is secondary. Where exceptions exist, they are exceptions.

However, I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss the concerns that your readers are raising regarding semantics of "above average."

If scouts consider a 50 rating on a fastball to be "average," and they grade a 89 MPH fastball as a 50, then its time to slide that scale. It may have been the case at some point in the past that a 89MPH fastball was 'average' for a major leaguer. However, your study demonstrates very clearly and conclusively that this is no longer the case. If you're not sitting at 92 with your fastball, then you're 'below average' at the major league level.

That is also an important conclusion to draw.

Sep 03, 2009 12:43 PM
rating: 3
 
G. Guest

I wonder if this will lead to a less conventional Top 11 than ever before. KG's a velo-whore (his words) to be sure, but with data...maybe we'll see some interesting rankings.

Sep 03, 2009 11:19 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I've been thinking a TON about prospect rankings of late, and this really is just one aspect. I'm sure there will be a lot of 'conventional' rankings, and some that end up shocking you.

Sep 03, 2009 11:21 AM
 
coachadams5
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

So, I guess Joel Zumaya becomes the number 1 pitcher in baseball by that rationale.

Sep 03, 2009 11:42 AM
rating: -20
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Do you really think I said that in any way?

Sep 03, 2009 11:56 AM
 
coachadams5

No, it was a joke. Sorry, difficult to insert sarcastic tone. That being said, velocity as a tool to rank prospects could lead to over-hype of Brian Bruney, Mike MacDougal and Kyle Farnworth types and perhaps a slight of sinker-slider guys who don't rely entirely on velo like Derek Lowe or Chad Qualls.

Sep 03, 2009 13:40 PM
rating: 0
 
G. Guest

No, you miss the point entirely. The top 11 are *prospects*, none of which are the best anything at their position. They're simply projections to be MLB replacement level or better. For pitchers, velocity seems to be a very important data point.

The real point is: maybe some prospect lists might have a guy ranked high where KG might have him ranked lower due to velo concerns.

Again, I'm talking about prospects.

Sep 03, 2009 12:07 PM
rating: 1
 
Sharky

Kevin, great article! Despite some of the comments here, it was easy to follow and made a simple, but important point. Keep up the good work!

Sep 03, 2009 11:51 AM
rating: 0
 
Sharky

One related question for you: You frequently hear that young prospects will "fill out" (usually batters add power). Does this also apply to pitchers and velocity? If yes, how does that impact thinking about prospect rankings when you have players who are "identical" but different ages?

Sep 03, 2009 11:53 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

This is what projection is all about. It's a weird world where some guys grow and add velocity, and there are tons (and I mean TONS -- hundreds) out there who never throw as hard as they did in high school.

Sep 03, 2009 11:57 AM
 
fgreenagel2

Can we call them "high school peakers?"

Sep 03, 2009 13:38 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

The take home here is that 90% of the Major League right-handers throw 90 mph. That in itself is very nice to know, thank you. How this relates to scouts' fb scale would be more interesting and meaningful if we comparitively saw how prospects who made the major leagues fared on the scouts' other scales.

Sep 03, 2009 11:55 AM
rating: 1
 
jtreadway

Fits with Seidman's thoughts on Lidge's collapse this year.

Sep 03, 2009 12:14 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

Ding ding ding! I like it when content works together this way across a couple of days. Of course, Ken Funck's article today is interesting as well on the virtues of throwing really hard, if not exactly always generating positive results.

Sep 03, 2009 16:56 PM
 
philipc65

I would like to know about an added dimension: performance. What are the stat lines like by velocity?

Sep 03, 2009 13:08 PM
rating: 3
 
Joey Matschulat

I posted a study over at BBTIA that correlates average fastball velocity with a variety of pitching metrics for starting pitchers. Perhaps the most interesting finding was the significant performance drop among major league starting pitchers with average fastball velocities below 91 MPH. If you are interested, you can read more here: http://www.bbtia.com/home/2009/7/1/fastball-velocity-pitching-performance-and-rangers-starting.html

Sep 04, 2009 04:58 AM
rating: 2
 
Benjamin Harris

Good article. Also seems to enhance Kevin's point. Thanks.

Sep 05, 2009 14:41 PM
rating: 0
 
Dave Holgado

Nice post, Kevin. But I'm thinking that we shouldn't necessarily assume that the frequency/likelihood of making the majors with a certain fastball grade correlates with performance once there. That is, while major league GMs have, over the past decade, become much better at identifying and rostering the best available talent, we're not all the way there yet, are we? I mean, Littlefield and Bowden don't have jobs anymore, but still.

So I think an even more interesting way to look at this would be to examine the actual 2009 results of the pitchers in each of these groups, and see if a trend emerges which justifies the bias for rostering harder throwers. While I think in general you're likely to find a strong correlation in support of your theory, I also think -- based on the groups of five "20's" and seven "80's" you identified -- that you might find some anomalies at the extremes. That is, at the top end of the scale there may be a slight dip in performance, in that the group (exclusive as it is) may include a disproportionate number of arms who are in the bigs merely because they can light up the radar gun, even though they have no idea where the pitch is going (read: Lindstrom). Whereas a 60 or a 65 heater is very good, but not so good that you can coast to the show on it without developing your control, command, and secondary offerings. Similarly, at the low end of the scale you may be more likely to find only those pitchers with true mastery of control, command, and secondary offerings.

And deception and extreme height, too, yes. But I think something like deception should be analyzed as an almost perfect substitute for velocity, or perhaps simply as a component of it. That is, the *reason* velocity is important is that it gives the hitter less time to read and react to the pitch. And deception is important for the very same reason. All that matters is that the hitter has X.X seconds to see and swing. It doesn't matter if he has this amount of time because the ball is on its way faster (Neftali), stays hidden longer (Ziegler), or is released from closer to the plate (Chris Young, Danny Almonte, Jennie Finch). All accomplish the same result. In fact, one might even argue that accomplishing it through deception is superior to doing so through sheer oomph, since all things -- read/react time for the hitter included -- being equal, harder contact (and with it, presumably a higher HR rate and BABIP) will be generated off of a 99 mph fastball thrown without deception than off of an 87 mph one thrown with it.

In any event, definitely food for thought. Though I'm worried that the more you talk about this, the more you are taking away my secret weapon for drafting pitchers in my fantasy leagues. First stop is PECOTA, but the second is fangraphs for the velo data!



Sep 03, 2009 13:39 PM
rating: -1
 
G. Guest

The article doesn't assume, or even suggest, that velocity = success in the majors. The entire article is very focused on the question: "Is velocity a predictor of a RHP prospect becoming a Major League pitcher."

I think that the next step in this line of thinking is to examine velocity of pitchers across levels and see if fastball velo is a predictor across other levels. Although I'm not sure if Pitch F/X data is available at all levels.

Sep 03, 2009 14:03 PM
rating: 0
 
Dave Holgado

Here's a couple more quotes.

"[W]e have the data to prove or disprove the assertion [that 'velocity means more or less everything']."

"[W]hen it comes right down to it, there is no evidence that we've found anything to replace the radar gun reading as an indicator for future big-league success."

Except those two are actually from the article.

Sep 03, 2009 19:57 PM
rating: 0
 
oPlaiD

This point about deception is what I'm most interested in learning.

I'm not sure why there have not been more studies into this considering all the video resources available now to help determine the time a hitter has to react to a pitch for every different pitcher. Having that information would allow us to properly compare guys like Ziegler/Young/Feliz and it'd be a great tool for scouting since I'm sure there are guys with 93mph fastballs that play down to 90 because of their delivery and guys with slower pitches that perform better because of their deception or height.

Sep 05, 2009 21:32 PM
rating: 0
 
TaylorSanders

I'd like a better baseline comparison. What is the similar breakdown at AAA? AA? A? top 25 DI college?

Sep 03, 2009 17:19 PM
rating: 0
 
Brian Cartwright

"But the scale doesn't exist to measure major league players, who are all above average baseball players, but minor leaguers"

That's why I think everyone should be rated on a major league scale. Why should I care if a guy is an above average Rookie League shortstop, I want to know how he compares to major leaguers.

Sep 03, 2009 19:16 PM
rating: 0
 
BuzzingThalami

I think the take-home of all this, to oversimplify it perhaps, is "velocity is a necessary, but not sufficient, ingredient for a successful MLB pitcher".

It was interesting to see that velocity histogram Kevin - thanks for the piece.

Sep 03, 2009 21:14 PM
rating: 0
 
JoshC77

Actually, to be more precise I think the take home of this is to say "velocity is a necessity (in most cases) to MAKE IT to the Major League level".

Future success is predicated on a number of other factors, many of which have already been alluded to in this chat.

Sep 04, 2009 04:44 AM
rating: 1
 
drefernandez01

Nice article. A similar article from Baseball Time in Arlington drew similar conclusions. http://www.bbtia.com/home/2009/7/1/fastball-velocity-pitching-performance-and-rangers-starting.html

Sep 03, 2009 23:19 PM
rating: 1
 
coachadams5

Just a thought - if the prevailing thought among teams is consistent with the conclusion you came up with ("there is no evidence that we've found anything to replace the radar gun reading as an indicator for future big-league success"), wouldn't there be a Moneyball-like market inefficiency created where a team could collect RHP's with less than plus velo yet solid results (aka Tim Alderson) for very little cost and with very little risk and let the other teams compete for the Colt Griffin's and Nick Neugebauer's of the world? Not exclusively mind you but just as a complementary piece of a portfolio that also includes other plus velo RHP's that fall to them in the draft?

Sep 03, 2009 23:44 PM
rating: 0
 
Alex Canzoneri

I'd be interested in seeing what the list looks like for starters. I think you'd see much more congregation around "average" if you got rid of the relievers; for instance, all the 80 guys are RPs, and I'd imagine that the vast majority of the 70 guys would be as well.

Sep 04, 2009 07:03 AM
rating: 1
 
Dr. Dave

Excellent point -- it's starters that matter.

Sep 04, 2009 08:43 AM
rating: 1
 
jseely
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

Wow, guys with poor velocity don't make good major league pitchers. Spellbinding. Kevin's next article: people with low IQ's don't get selected for Mensa.

Sep 04, 2009 09:59 AM
rating: -18
 
John Collins
(110)

jseely being proof positive

Sep 11, 2009 11:15 AM
rating: 0
 
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