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Chat: Harry Pavlidis

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday May 15, 2013 1:00 PM ET chat session with Harry Pavlidis.

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Harry stops by to talk pitching and PITCHf/x.

Harry Pavlidis: It seems today's theme is velocity, or lack thereof. Let's do this.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): How much does it really cost to put in the infrastructure for a Pitch/FX system? Wouldn't the hard/expensive part be keeping staff around so it stays calibrated and consistent?

Harry Pavlidis: I actually don't know what it costs, but there is a PITCHf/x operator present for every game in addition to the MLB stat stringer. They can manage to system and improve accuracy by running 'registration' processes. If something is seriously awry they will send out people from SportVision to fix it. Things are pretty stable in the MLB parks these days, back in 2008 it was a different story.

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): According to PitchFX, Gio Gonzalez averaged 94.08 mph on his 4 seamer and 93.37 on his 2 seamer in 2012. This year he's down to 93.45 and 92.81, respectively. Last start was more of the same. 2012 was his highest average velocity and his best year. Is the dip cause for concern? Maybe a sign that he just had an exceptional year last year?

Harry Pavlidis: Velocity decline question number 1 of n. Gio is 27 or so now, and the fact his velocity increased the last few years, up until this one, is more interesting. Every pitcher loses his speed at some point. 27 seems to be pretty good for the first sign of decline, lots of guys start losing velocity after high school (Tim Lincecum pops into mind). So, I think you're "exceptional year" answer is the best fit and I certainly wouldn't be concerned.

jlarsen (Chicago Far North): Going into the spring, Matt Moore was a notoriously slow starter and his spring numbers were quite worrisome. He is now 7-0 with an ERA in the mid-2s. His velo seems down a few ticks from career norms, but he may just be saving himself from a tired arm like he had late last yr. Agree/Disagree?

Harry Pavlidis: He's 23 so 'career norm' is TBD. He was about 96 in 2011, 95 in 2012 and 93 so far. As noted it is not at all unusual for young power arms to drop speed, even at a young age. Each case is different, Moore could be backing off, or maybe he was maxing out last year, or maybe he's just lost a bit. He's pitching well and that's the most important thing.

19braves77 (Pensacola, FL): What does a pitching coach tell Pat Corbin with his problems adapting from Minor League Baseballs to Major League Baseballs due to the laces ? His slider looks like a lazy curve.

Harry Pavlidis: What makes you think it's the seams? Or anything at all? His slider has always looked like a curve (lazy or otherwise) and there's no evidence I'm aware of to show it's any different now than when he was in the minors.

jimcal (Seattle): A quick scan on intertube I couldn't find API for Pitch f/x data. Cory Schwartz mentioned you as one of analyst have got better part of MLBAM data. Would you point me to some places for discovery?

Harry Pavlidis: http://sourceforge.net/projects/baseballonastic/

Adrian (Washington D.C.): What's happened to Drew Storen? Care to diagnose his issues? Do you think he'll return to his 2011 level of effectiveness?

Harry Pavlidis: relief pitchers are hard to measure. Every season is a short sample. But, that said, he was just as effective in 2012 as in 2011, despite missing time with injuries. And he's been stingy with the walks this year, so what's to worry about? K rate is stable (rebounded from a little dip last year, but just 30 innings so yawn). His velocity this month is about 1 mph down from where it was in May 2011, but that's not alarming.

Norm (Loop): Can you run to Half Acre, pick me up a couple bombers, and drop off in the Loop? And what is the single nastiest pitch in MLB as far as most movement?

Harry Pavlidis: Nice try, Norm. For one pitch I'll go with Darvish's slider. Curveballs have more movement but sliders like Darvish's are nastier IMO.

UrbyJT (Iowa): wats a fastball

Harry Pavlidis: the thing that you get in your ear flap for asking silly questions, JT :)

Dan Rozenson (Washington, DC): We heard a lot early in the season about velocity loss among some of the top pitchers this year, such as Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia. How much of the loss is "real," and how much does it matter for those pitchers?

Harry Pavlidis: it's real and it's spectacular. Well, maybe not spectacular. The Verlander theory I like best is he was maxing out pre-contract, and now he doesn't need to go full bore to stand out as an elite arm. Thing is, he is an elite arm even without the 100 mph stuff. His curve is nasty and he commands it and his velocity is plenty fine. CC is just a guy with a ton of innings on him, there's no way he would throw that hard forever. He's a pitcher and not a thrower, so, again, he should be just fine.

Melville (New York, NY): Matt Harvey has had great success with the high fastball. Do you think he is at risk of losing some of his luster as his velo drops with age, or does he have the assortment of pitches to be a sustained ace?

Harry Pavlidis: WHAT DO YOU MEAN HE WILL LOSE VELO AS HE AGES WHERE DO YOU GET THESE IDEAS. Oh. Right. Ahem. Sorry. High fastballs in particular are dangerous as speed declines, yes. But his stuff his nasty. Three good secondary pitches and the odds are he'll add another pitch or two as he ages (cutter and/or sinker). He seems to have the pitchability and the competitive drive to adapt. He'll have to prove over time that he can do more than power past guys, but ain't no harm in doing that while he can.

redguy12588 (Pittsburgh): Taillon or Cole, who has a more repeatable delivery? Who has better deception?

Harry Pavlidis: I dunno. Now I'm curious. Ask me again next time.

Alex (Anaheim): Nuno isn't likely to stay in the Yankee rotation, but could he be a viable long term starter?

Harry Pavlidis: he's a 25 year old junkballer. Seems destined for a lot of shuffling between AAA and second division rotations. Not that the Yankees are a second division team, but you get my point (he's already back in AAA)

jlarsen (Chicago suburbia): Roberto Hernandez seems to be revitalizing his career with the Rays somewhat, with his k/9 and k/bb numbers improving. Have you noticed any changes in Fauxto?

Harry Pavlidis: His name.

Tyler Drenon (The Doubleday): Who's putting together the prettiest graphs so far?

Harry Pavlidis: I loved the hex heat maps the Washington Post did for the PITCHf/x parts of the Bryce Harper feature. I've seen some new stuff recently, but being a doofus I can't think of where. On that note, Dan Brooks and I hope to improve the stuff on the BrooksBaseball.net site in the near future. We're doing some back-end stuff to make that possible.

jlarsen (Chicago Suburbs): Is there any explanation on why the Orioles pitching prospects never seem to work out as planned? They seem to be rushed or not in correct roles altogether. Also, I hear that the org. doesn't want prospects throwing cutters ever.

Harry Pavlidis: That's nearly impossible to answer from the outside. In general, prospect attrition is ridiculously high so it's tempting to try and find explanations for orgs that do this or that or don't do this or that. I've heard the same thing about cutters, and I suspect the actual organizational philosophy is more nuanced (one man's cutter is another man's slider).

Cal Guy (Cal): Who would you rather have for the rest of their careers, A. Bradley or Gausman?

Harry Pavlidis: I think Gausman as the higher floor but Bradley has the higher ceiling. So it really depends on your preference.

Bill (New Mexico): How much of velocity can be taught, and how much is just the way the body is? For example, is it just coincidence that the St. Louis farm system has produced a ton of triple-digit guys lately (Rosenthal, Martinez, Cleto, Rondon, etc.), or is there somebody down in that system who's particularly good at helping guys find those two or three extra mph?

Harry Pavlidis: Depends on the age of the subject, but you can only train and optimize so much. Either you have an electric arm or you don't. You can get guys to add velocity through training but there's got to be a base and a potential there to begin with.

St. Louis's flotilla of heat is probably a matter of scouting, organizational philosophy (some clubs find starters and the failures go to the bullpen, St. Louis may be able to identify relievers straight away), and a little bit of coaching and a big pile of good old fashioned luck. You make your own luck, as they say.

Harry Pavlidis: that's all folks! Thanks for coming, see you in June.


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