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August 17, 2015 6:00 am

Pitching Backward: Mother May I?


Jeff Long

Could Trevor May be a hidden gem? What improvements does he need to make to be successful?

For the last month or so we've been going through Statcast data and applying it to player evaluation, much like the Astros purportedly did in acquiring Collin McHugh. Alan Nathan helped me introduce some work that took an in-depth look at pitch spin. We explored the concepts of gyrospin versus useful spin, a topic that Nathan wrote about previously here at BP. Last week we revealed part one of applying that analysis, wherein Tyler Lyons was identified as a breakout candidate based on his slider spin rate and opportunities for improvement in his other offerings.

This is part two of the application, this time focusing on curveballs rather than sliders. After all, McHugh's curveball was supposedly a big part of the reason the Astros fell in love with him. Of course, the application of this analysis is contingent on understanding how exactly McHugh went from riding the waiver wire to a top-50 pitcher in baseball. From last week's article:

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