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How and why pitchers have dealt with Bryce Harper and Mike Trout in dramatically different ways, and how Harper has already adjusted.

There’s something weird and wonderful about the distribution of pitches seen by this season’s two most exciting under-21-year-olds. David Golebiewski pointed it out the other day using information from Inside Edge, and I wanted to see whether PITCHf/x data would show the same thing. It did. That was the only excuse I needed to write about Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, neither of whom can make a move on a baseball field without leaving a trail of article topics behind him.

Here is a list of the hitters who’ve seen the lowest percentage of fastballs this season, combining four- and two-seamers and not counting cutters (classifications courtesy of Harry Pavlidis):

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Is the traditional strike-ball dichotomy too simplistic?

Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

Matt Lentzner has carved out a (very) small niche in the baseball analysis world by examining the intersection of physics and biomechanics. He has presented at the PITCHf/x conference in each of the last two years and has written articles for The Hardball Times, as well as a previous article for Baseball Prospectus. When he’s not writing, Matt works on his physics-based baseball simulator, which is so awesome and all-encompassing that it will likely never actually be finished, though it does provide the inspiration for most of his articles and presentations. In real life, he’s an IT Director at a small financial consulting company in the Silicon Valley and also runs a physical training gym in his backyard on the weekends.

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November 24, 2010 9:00 am

Future Shock: Washington Nationals Top 11 Prospects

36

Kevin Goldstein

No surprise who tops the list, but is there enough talent overall to get the Nationals out of the National League East cellar?

Previous Rankings: 2010 | 2009 | 2008

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September 10, 2010 8:00 am

Ahead in the Count: The Biggest ERA-SIERA Divides of 2010

19

Matt Swartz

A look at some pitchers who have had good luck this season and some who haven't.

When Eric Seidman and I introduced SIERA in February, we were very careful to show that it predicts future ERA better than current ERA does. While Defense Independent Pitching Statistics are not a foolproof way to measure pitchers, using them as a guide to dig further into the numbers can be very helpful. Last October, I spent a couple articles analyzing Cole Hamels’ performance, and I highlighted how little was different between his 2008 and 2009 season, and how I expected his performance to improve as his luck neutralized. Sure enough, Hamels has seen his ERA fall back toward 2008 levels in 2010. In June, I disappointed Rockies fans by explaining the luck that had led to Ubaldo Jimenez’s 1.16 ERA at that time. Sure enough, he has a 4.36 ERA since that article was posted. Eric and I wrote on the Diamondbacks’ starters, stressing the bad luck that Dan Haren had seen to that point in the season. He had a 5.35 ERA, but it has been 3.59 since that article was posed and Haren has also been traded to the Angels. My point is not to cherry pick successes, but to prove that this type of analysis works. I certainly cannot be right every time I say a pitcher’s ERA is likely to fall or rise, because luck plays a role in pitching to a very large degree and luck by its very nature can reoccur. However, this type of analysis will prove prophetic more often than not.

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July 27, 2008 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Aaron Laffey

0

David Laurila

A conversation with the Indians prospect about becoming a southpaw early on, working on his craft, and differences between the major and minor leagues.

Not much has gone right for the Indians in 2008, but one bright spot on the year has been the pitching of Aaron Laffey. For two months, the 23-year-old left-hander was one of the most effective starters on the Cleveland staff since he was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo after Jake Westbrook went on the disabled list in late April. The native of Cumberland, Maryland has a 4.23 ERA in 16 starts, although his record stands at only 5-7 thanks to poor run support; he has allowed three earned runs or fewer seven times without earning a win. Laffey talked about his approach to pitching prior to a game at Progressive Field in late June.

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Already well-rewarded for a few years of excellent major league service after uninspiring minor league performances, how'd he get from there to here?

Recently the Rays locked up James Shields to an extension, one that serves both parties very well. Shields gets paid well with a guaranteed contract for a few seasons before he would have been arbitration-eligible, and the Rays win out even if Shields is only a league-average pitcher for the duration of the guaranteed years of the deal. The questions we are interested in today have to do with just what can be expected from Shields in the near future, and how he came to be in his current position.

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An AL powerhouse against a Rocky Mountain-high Cinderella--who has momentum, and who's got the advantage?

Tonight, the Colorado Rockies will become the fifth franchise in the past 11 years to make its virgin appearance in the World Series, following in the footsteps of the 1997 Marlins, the 2001 Diamondbacks, the 2002 Angels, and the 2005 Astros. The Rockies combine elements from each of those clubs. Like the 1997 Marlins, they are an odd mix of veteran talent and youth, and squeezed into the playoffs as a Wild Card team in a league that featured a great deal of parity. Like the 2001 Diamondbacks, they are an expansion club from the Mountain West that is set to square off at long odds against one of the AL East's superpowers. Like the 2002 Angels, they are a 'small ball' team that has excelled by vacuuming up with their defense when their opponents tried to put the ball into play. And like the 2005 Astros, which at one point were more than 200:1 underdogs to reach the postseason, they saved their best baseball for late in the year.

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Ranging across a couple of old and new themes, explaining that there's something about the weather, and Pythagoras can rock steady.

"All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism."
--Unknown


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August 5, 2007 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Brian Bannister

0

David Laurila

Sitting down to talk about pitching with the Royals rotation regular.

Brian Bannister is a thinking man's pitcher. Known more for his guile and pitching acumen than for his stuff, the 26-year-old right-hander has established himself as a mainstay in the Royals starting rotation in his first full major league season. Originally a seventh-round pick by the Mets in 2003, Bannister was acquired from them last December in exchange for reliever Ambiorix Burgos. The son of former big league pitcher Floyd Bannister, the USC product has started 17 games for Kansas City and is 7-6, 3.45 in 107 innings.

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October 16, 2006 12:00 am

Future Shock: Monday Morning Ten-Pack

0

Kevin Goldstein

Kevin checks out the newsmakers in the winter leagues.

\nMathematically, leverage is based on the win expectancy work done by Keith Woolner in BP 2005, and is defined as the change in the probability of winning the game from scoring (or allowing) one additional run in the current game situation divided by the change in probability from scoring\n(or allowing) one run at the start of the game.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_18 = 'Adjusted Pitcher Wins. Thorn and Palmers method for calculating a starters value in wins. Included for comparison with SNVA. APW values here calculated using runs instead of earned runs.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_20 = 'The number of double play opportunities (defined as less than two outs with runner(s) on first, first and second, or first second and third).'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_22 = 'Winning percentage. For teams, Win% is determined by dividing wins by games played. For pitchers, Win% is determined by dividing wins by total decisions. '; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_23 = 'Expected winning percentage for the pitcher, based on how often\na pitcher with the same innings pitched and runs allowed in each individual\ngame earned a win or loss historically in the modern era (1972-present).'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_24 = 'Attrition Rate is the percent chance that a hitters plate appearances or a pitchers opposing batters faced will decrease by at least 50% relative to his Baseline playing time forecast. Although it is generally a good indicator of the risk of injury, Attrition Rate will also capture seasons in which his playing time decreases due to poor performance or managerial decisions. '; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_31 = 'The Baseline forecast, although it does not appear here, is a crucial intermediate step in creating a players forecast. The Baseline developed based on the players previous three seasons of performance. Both major league and (translated) minor league performances are considered.

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October 11, 2006 12:00 am

Prospectus Today: LCS, Day One

0

Joe Sheehan

The Tigers take on a completely different personality at the plate, and use it to win.

\nMathematically, leverage is based on the win expectancy work done by Keith Woolner in BP 2005, and is defined as the change in the probability of winning the game from scoring (or allowing) one additional run in the current game situation divided by the change in probability from scoring\n(or allowing) one run at the start of the game.'; xxxpxxxxx1160590386_18 = 'Adjusted Pitcher Wins. Thorn and Palmers method for calculating a starters value in wins. Included for comparison with SNVA. APW values here calculated using runs instead of earned runs.'; xxxpxxxxx1160590386_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.'; xxxpxxxxx1160590386_20 = 'The number of double play opportunities (defined as less than two outs with runner(s) on first, first and second, or first second and third).'; xxxpxxxxx1160590386_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.'; xxxpxxxxx1160590386_22 = 'Winning percentage. For teams, Win% is determined by dividing wins by games played. For pitchers, Win% is determined by dividing wins by total decisions. '; xxxpxxxxx1160590386_23 = 'Expected winning percentage for the pitcher, based on how often\na pitcher with the same innings pitched and runs allowed in each individual\ngame earned a win or loss historically in the modern era (1972-present).'; xxxpxxxxx1160590386_24 = 'Attrition Rate is the percent chance that a hitters plate appearances or a pitchers opposing batters faced will decrease by at least 50% relative to his Baseline playing time forecast. Although it is generally a good indicator of the risk of injury, Attrition Rate will also capture seasons in which his playing time decreases due to poor performance or managerial decisions. '; xxxpxxxxx1160590386_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).'; xxxpxxxxx1160590386_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.'; xxxpxxxxx1160590386_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.'; xxxpxxxxx1160590386_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.'; xxxpxxxxx1160590386_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.'; xxxpxxxxx1160590386_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.'; xxxpxxxxx1160590386_31 = 'The Baseline forecast, although it does not appear here, is a crucial intermediate step in creating a players forecast. The Baseline developed based on the players previous three seasons of performance. Both major league and (translated) minor league performances are considered.

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October 6, 2006 12:00 am

Prospectus Today: Division Series, Day Three

0

Joe Sheehan

The Yankees continued their run through the ... hey, not so fast! In San Diego, the Cardinals continued to make a statement about the importance of home-field advantage, while in New York the Mets were the one team to keep order in the first two games.

\nMathematically, leverage is based on the win expectancy work done by Keith Woolner in BP 2005, and is defined as the change in the probability of winning the game from scoring (or allowing) one additional run in the current game situation divided by the change in probability from scoring\n(or allowing) one run at the start of the game.'; xxxpxxxxx1160157644_18 = 'Adjusted Pitcher Wins. Thorn and Palmers method for calculating a starters value in wins. Included for comparison with SNVA. APW values here calculated using runs instead of earned runs.'; xxxpxxxxx1160157644_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.'; xxxpxxxxx1160157644_20 = 'The number of double play opportunities (defined as less than two outs with runner(s) on first, first and second, or first second and third).'; xxxpxxxxx1160157644_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.'; xxxpxxxxx1160157644_22 = 'Winning percentage. For teams, Win% is determined by dividing wins by games played. For pitchers, Win% is determined by dividing wins by total decisions. '; xxxpxxxxx1160157644_23 = 'Expected winning percentage for the pitcher, based on how often\na pitcher with the same innings pitched and runs allowed in each individual\ngame earned a win or loss historically in the modern era (1972-present).'; xxxpxxxxx1160157644_24 = 'Attrition Rate is the percent chance that a hitters plate appearances or a pitchers opposing batters faced will decrease by at least 50% relative to his Baseline playing time forecast. Although it is generally a good indicator of the risk of injury, Attrition Rate will also capture seasons in which his playing time decreases due to poor performance or managerial decisions. '; xxxpxxxxx1160157644_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).'; xxxpxxxxx1160157644_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.'; xxxpxxxxx1160157644_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.'; xxxpxxxxx1160157644_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.'; xxxpxxxxx1160157644_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.'; xxxpxxxxx1160157644_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.'; xxxpxxxxx1160157644_31 = 'The Baseline forecast, although it does not appear here, is a crucial intermediate step in creating a players forecast. The Baseline developed based on the players previous three seasons of performance. Both major league and (translated) minor league performances are considered.

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