Harry draws on a conversation with former big-leaguer Brian Bannister to extend his PITCHf/x research on changeups from earlier in the year.
A few months ago, I started a series on changeups focused on figuring out the qualities that make a good one. Click the following links to read part one and part two.
If there was a noteworthy finding in the early stages, it was that pitchers who succeed at coaxing ground balls with their changeups generally looked dissimilar from those who missed bats with theirs. The pitchers who can do both are the best. Stephen Strasburg topped that list, so the first waft of the sniff test was passed.
Did the starters and relievers who worked in the Futures Game and the All-Star Game enjoy velocity bumps? Harry digs into the PITCHf/x data for the answer.
Pitching ruled the All-Star break. The Futures Game featured a gaggle of power arms and a grand total of six runs. And that was twice the output of the main event, where the National League's best failed to score a run. Mariano Rivera made an emotional appearance. And, in the Home Run Derby, Ron Harper showed off a cutter of his own.
I have a confession to make: I think the Futures Game is the best part of the All-Star break.
Harry looks at the impact of velocity differentials between fastballs and changeups on whiff rates and ground-ball rates.
Two weeks ago, I looked at some of the factors that may impact "changeup" quality. When dealing with major-league pitchers, you are dealing with a rather select sample, so all results should be handled with care. In other words, this isn't a roapmap to pitcher development, but a single marker on the road.
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?
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 2012 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.
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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.