Some pitchers' changeups get better results than others. Can we identify the factors that matter?
What makes a good changeup? Speed differential (i.e. being 7-10 MPH off a fastball)? Is it depth or fade, perhaps the tumble on a splitter? Location and command? Deception (e.g. matching arm speed and release point)? Or is it context, how the batters are setup based on the count or the read of their swing?
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This week's edition features our first look at a diverse batch of pitchers, plus an update on the hardest fastballs and the sharpest curves thrown this year.
As the calendar turns into May, we're still seeing new arms pop up on the PITCHf/x radar. This week, we look at a pair of emergency call-ups. And now that we have a month of data under our belt, we can take a look at the best of the new arms in velocity and curveball drop.
Harry examines the stuff used by four first-year starters, including Jose Fernandez.
Four pitchers that made their first MLB starts—or debuted—in 2013 have stayed in their teams’ rotations to make at least one more. These pitchers have combined for 10 starts, covering 55 1/3 innings while yielding 52 strikeouts and just 11 walks—and providing 866 tracked pitches along the way. Impressive.
Harry breaks down the PITCHf/x debuts of two promising Astros arms.
Here at Baseball Prospectus, we don't hold grudges. So, when the Astros hired Mike Fast, no one took it out on their prospect rankings. Even when they hired Kevin Goldstein, and a real opportunity to get back at the poachers was presented, things remained cordial.
Now our old friends work for a club that doesn't get much love. But they did trot out a pair of pitchers in the last couple weeks that Jason Parks covered in his 2013 rankings. With a little bit of PITCHf/x data in hand, let's talk about Paul Clemens and Mike Foltynewicz. We'll give them a little love, tough love if required, but nothing like the love Gio Gonzalez shows his hand.
An in-depth look at what Darvish does well and what he's doing differently.
Yesterday on Effectively Wild, Sam Miller and I talked about Opening Day and the power of first impressions. By the beginning of April, we’ve been so long without baseball that the first performance by a player or team assumes a significance out of proportion to its actual import. If we’ve spent the offseason dreaming on a player doing well, or fearing that he’ll fail, we’re more liable to take it as confirmation of our hopes or fears if that player performs as we expect on Opening Day than we would be if he did the same thing on, say, August 13th.
Tuesday was Opening Day for Yu Darvish, and we had high hopes. The Rangers ace recorded the second-highest strikeout rate among AL starters last season, but he also had the third-highest walk rate and struggled with mechanical consistency throughout the season. As Doug Thorburndetailed last week, Darvish’s mechanics came together down the stretch, and he also stopped nibbling and started throwing more cutters. With an evolved approach, he ended the year on an eight-start run of 66 strikeouts and 10 walks over 57 1/3 innings. Darvish is hard enough to hit when he can’t throw strikes; with good command and control, he might be as close as pitchers come to unbeatable. Both PECOTAand the Baseball Prospectus staff picked him to be the AL’s second-best pitcher in 2013, and with a weak opponent in the Astros, we expected to see a dominant Darvish last night. He didn’t disappoint.
Harry identifies the starters who gained or lost the most speed between the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2013.
Two years ago Mike Fast (now with the Houston Astros) took a look at pitchers who gained or lost velocity between the end of 2010 and spring 2011. We won't summarize his whole study here, but here’s the money quote:
The fourth installment of a five-part series on the pressing questions confronting each team in 2013.
In the week leading up to Opening Day, we're asking and answering three questions about each team in a five-part series ordered by descending Playoff Pct from the Playoff Odds Report. Today, we continue with a look at the group of six teams with the second-worst odds of winning at least a Wild Card. As a reminder, you can find links to our preview podcasts for each team here.
The latest batch of PITCHf/x newcomers features a Dodgers minor leaguer and two members of the Dutch national team.
Another week of spring training and World Baseball Classic play means another batch of new arms. There isn't much left in terms of hot prospects, so we'll cast a wide net and do what we can. What have we got? One mid-grade prospect, one non-prospect, and one blast from the prospect past.
Rob Rasmussen, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Our first arm is the most prospect-y of the group, but he's not a premium talent. A Marlins draft pick out of UCLA, Rasmussen moved out of the animal kingdom when he was traded to the Astros (minor-league assignments excluded). A second trade sent him to the Dodgers, the club that drafted him out of high school in 2007.
Harry uses PITCHf/x data from recent WBC games to evaluate five pitchers' arsenals.
The World Baseball Classic produces a lot of things: a good dose of drama, a mix of middling and world-class play, and PITCHf/x data on guys we haven't seen before and may never see again. We'll play the scouting notes match-up game once again, leaning on Jason Parks and his team as much as possible, as well as on player comments from the 2013 annual and an interview from the BP archives.
Team Italy brought us Matt Torraand Pat Venditte, the ambidextrous Yankees prospect who, because of shoulder surgery, is currently only pitching with one arm. Brewers Prospect Hiram Burgos was entrusted with big innings for Puerto Rico. And the Puerto Rican national team also featured highly touted Twins prospect Jose Berrios. We'll round out this week’s group with another Brewer, Michael Olmsted, who appeared in a non-WBC game against the Rangers.
The 2012 World Champions stopped by the Royals' facility in Surprise last week, providing our first PITCHf/x view of four prospects' stuff.
The defending World Series champions visited Surprise, Arizona and matched up against the Royals on March 2, in an early-spring contest that marked our first PITCHf/x look at a small group of Giants prospects.
The influx of new arms has slowed, with a mere handful of recent debuts after the early set of nearly two-dozen. Breaking with the theme, this article’s focus will not be limited to the most noteworthy prospects; the Giants brought out four new arms, and we’ll extend a warm embrace to each of them.
Our own director of data analysis discusses the past and present of the PITCHf/x, HITf/x and FIELDf/x technology and how it can lead to future breakthroughs.
Our own Harry Pavlidis, Baseball Prospectus’ director of data analysis, has been among the most groundbreaking voices when it comes to using the PITCHf/x, HITf/x and FIELDf/x data that Sportvision tracks in major-league and minor-league parks.
A look at three top 10-pitching prospects who recently made their PITCHf/x debuts in Arizona.
Spring has sprung. The new baseball year brings fresh hope and excitement to fans everywhere. And, as spring training play begins, it also brings some pitchers to Surprise and Peoria, Arizona, two Cactus League towns with PITCHf/x installations.
The Royals and the Rangers share the facility in Surprise, while the Padres and the Mariners create cross-league harmony in Peoria. This arrangement provides a near-daily flow of data from at least one of the parks. All four host teams and their visiting foes are using plenty of pitchers in these early games. We'll take that as an opportunity to review some new arms.