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September 8, 2012 12:34 pm

Overthinking It: The Mechanical Flaw Fixers

2

Ben Lindbergh

Your team's struggling star just made a mechanical tweak. Is a rebound just around the corner?

There's nothing worse than not knowing why something went wrong. Pinpoint a problem, and it immediately seems more manageable. At some point, you’ve probably caught yourself doing something silly like sitting in a certain position while watching a playoff game, suspecting that the slightest movement could cause your team to stop scoring. Jason Parks displays a signed portrait of Warwick Davis when he wants the Cowboys to win. Only a fool would discount the power of Warwick Davis, but no team triumphs every time, even with Wicket on its side.

We know this, but we perform these little rituals anyway, because they give us the illusion of control. The unsettling alternative is accepting that we can’t do anything to affect the outcome. There’s a famous prayer that starts, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” Sports fans aren’t seeking that serenity. They’re too busy trying to hold their heads at a 45-degree angle to keep the rally alive.

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July 3, 2008 12:00 am

Scherzer 101

0

Eric Seidman

It turns out Brian Bannister isn't alone, as the D'backs' fireballer talks about his own numbers-crunching.

One of the biggest stories to hit the blog this offseason involved Brian Bannister's interview at MLB Trade Rumors, in which he demonstrated his statistical prowess and professed his love of numbers. The Royals righty uses statistics to help with his mound approach, and in exploiting said numbers, has been able to keep hitters off-balance with an 89 mph fastball. This admission garnered him the Baseball Tonight nickname, "the cerebral one," and it also sent statheads-myself included-into an absolute frenzy. It suddenly became cool to "live in our mother's basement," or whatever the favorite clichd put-down towards analysts is these days, because here was an actual player conducting some of the same studies.

In working with Arizona Republic writer Nick Piecoro for the last month or so, I've learned that Bannister is not the only stathead on the diamond. At least one other exists: young Diamondbacks flamethrower Max Scherzer. In conducting some personal studies for Scherzer, I got to know him quite well, and he graciously allowed me to "expose" his interest in statistics through an ongoing interview over the past week. It should come as no surprise after reading the discussion below that before even answering my questions Max had questions for me regarding the Pitch F/X data and what it can tell us, as well as how it could be manipulated to help certain aspects of his game.

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An in-depth discussion about mechanics with the motion analysis coordinator and coach of the National Pitching Association.

Pitching is both an art and a science, and from youth leagues to the big leagues, so is the challenge of keeping pitchers healthy. The National Pitching Association (NPA) is on the cutting edge of research and instruction on all three fronts, and many of their concepts are shared in their forthcoming book, Arm Action, Arm Path, and the Perfect Pitch: a Science-Based Guide to Pitching Health and Performance. David talked to the NPA's motion analysis coordinator and coach, Doug Thorburn.

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January 9, 2008 12:00 am

Player Profile: Corey Patterson

0

Marc Normandin

Can the game's former best prospect bounce back and be a late-winter bargain as a free agent?

Sifting through the remaining free agents shows us that the available options are mostly part-time players, guys coming off of disappointing campaigns, or Barry Bonds. It's not clear which non-Bonds classification Corey Patterson belongs to yet, considering some of the seasons he's had in the past are on both the positive and negative ends of the production spectrum. Is Patterson still capable of a few more productive seasons, or is he more likely to be a speedy fourth outfielder from here on out?

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October 10, 2003 12:00 am

Prospectus Today: What Happened to the A's?

0

Joe Sheehan

In the wake of the A's' loss to the Red Sox in the Division Series, the fourth straight year in which they've bowed out in the first round, there's been a maelstrom of psychoanalysis, criticism, and...oh, what's a good Chris Kahrl word?...foofaral! Yes, there's been foofaral a-plenty as talking heads, and some thinking ones, try to explain four straight series losses. Many of the rationalizations are flat-out wrong, even counterfactual. There's still a popular notion that the A's are a "sabermetric" team, following the walks-and-power, damn-the-defense approach that defined them back in the late 1990s. Actually, the A's are a pitching-and-defense team, have been for two years now, and were especially so this year with the addition of Chris Singleton and the commitment to Mark Ellis at second base. Accusations that the A's lose in the postseason because they can't play defense are patently absurd. The A's prevent runs far, far better than they score them. What they don't do is score enough runs; in fact, the Red Sox triumph over the A's should be see as a validation of troglodyte baseball. The Sox are much better offensively and don't have a real good defensive team outside of a few players. They won, so where is all the praise for that approach? (I'll leave it to the reader to discern where these facts intersect with the media's preconceived notions.)

Many of the rationalizations are flat-out wrong, even counterfactual. There's still a popular notion that the A's are a "sabermetric" team, following the walks-and-power, damn-the-defense approach that defined them back in the late 1990s. Actually, the A's are a pitching-and-defense team, have been for two years now, and were especially so this year with the addition of Chris Singleton and the commitment to Mark Ellis at second base.

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