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|2008-02-29 13:00:00 (link to chat)||Dear Mr. Fox,
Before my question, I must tell you that I have been a Cubs fan since my high school days in Niles, and I must say I really appreciate your blog piece on Goose Gossage.
Now, about utilizing pitching f/x data: Your late piece on gyroball and Matsuzaka seems to bring light to the "deceit" of a pitch's movement.
A surprising success of reliever Okajima last season had puzzled me. I tracked his pitching f/x data, and his pFx is weird. His pitches around upper 80mph moved WILDLY horizontally, ranging from a 10 to 15-inch apart from any trajectory line.
I read mlbtraderumor's interview with Royal minor pitcher Brian Bannister. He talked about the sidespin of Jake Peavy's fastball that allows the pitch to move randomly and confuses batters.
Is there any study on the effect of sidespin affecting batters' visualization of it? And had Okajima's pitches carry a similar, if not the same, effect of such pitches such as Peavy's or gyroball's?|
(Dorasaga from Taipei, Taiwan)
|Wow good question.
After I saw your question I went and pulled down Hideki Okajima's PITCHf/x data. I have 573 pitches for him which go into the post season.
In perusing his cannonical pfx chart he throws his three primary pitches (fastball, changeup, and curve) probably 90% of the time with his fastball ranging from 85 to 90, his changeup high 70s to 85, and his curveball from the low to mid 70s.
But in looking at the chart his fastball doesn't seem to move too much horizontally as compared to other pitchers. It sits in the 0 to 5 inch range whereas many pitchers see a tail of 5 to 8 inches on their fastballs. His changeup does tail 5 to 9 inches or so and drop about 5 inches more than his fastball.
What you may have seen is that his vertical component for the fastball registers in the 10 to 15 inch range but you have to remember that those values represent the difference from a pitch thrown with no spin. So in other words his fastball has a "rise" of 10 to 15 inches as compared to a theoretical reference pitch. In reality most pitchers see a range of 8 to 13 inchdes in this component and so his fastball may ride a little more than some others (which would be attributed to more backspin, not side spin) but it certainly doesn't tail any more.
Since you mentioned Jake Peavy I should mention that John Walsh at THT has done some great work on calculating the run value of individual pitches which you'll probably want to check out. But to directly answer your question I haven't seen anything specific on side spin or visualization of that. (Dan Fox)
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