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Is the National League's approach to Matt Holliday merely a reflection of how dangerous he is, or does it tell us something about Holliday's future?

Entertain a hypothetical situation for a moment. Let’s say a gang of aliens invades and threatens to destroy the planet unless someone can make them feel five emotions by only talking about Matt Holliday, in which case they will return home. What would you tell them?

You could start simple and aim to impress them by reciting Holliday’s numbers. Holliday ranks ninth in career batting average among active players, as well as 15th in on-base percentage and 14th in slugging percentage. Then freeze them in empathy for San Diego by explaining the moment when an umpire incorrectly called Holliday safe at home. Warm them with laughter by recreating Holliday’s fumble in the postseason, and frighten them with Holliday’s pro-wrester-like musculature.

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What factors determine how often hitters take one for the team?

Every season major league pitchers throw tens of thousands of pitches inside off the plate, yet they hit batters “only” about 1500-1800 times in a season. Why do some inside pitches hit the batter, while others do not?

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March 8, 2011 9:02 am

Painting the Black: Manny B.'s Inside Adventure


R.J. Anderson

Can the Yankees' young pitching prospect deal on the inside corner, and if so, what does it portend?

After Yankees fans swarmed Twitter and informed the world of Manuel Banuelos’ impending arrival on Friday night, I flipped over to the MLB Network. With a YES Network simulcast in full effect, there would be plenty of Yankee-related talk and hyperbole tossed about as Michael Kay and Ken Singleton provided audio to the images. As an added bonus, manager Joe Girardi partook in the spring delight: an interview during the run of play.

For Banuelos’ part, he looked about as good as you can. The buzzwords thrown around about his arm action and delivery—usually but not entirely limited to “smooth” and “effortless”—were on display. His fastball ran into the mid-90s, and he showed off his secondary offerings to good effect, even on back-to-back pitches—an attribute Girardi noted.The announcing crew spent time talking about how poised Banuelos appeared and wondered aloud whom he resembles on the mound (their answers: David Cone and Johan Santana). For casual observers, learning that Banuelos is 19 years old had to come as a shock, as he certainly did not look it, even with his smallish frame. Instead, he looked every bit worthy of the five-star designation that BP prospect guru Kevin Goldstein awarded to him.

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April 23, 2009 12:30 pm

Checking the Numbers: Inside Pitch-f/x


Eric Seidman

Dissecting a day at the office for the Mets' Johan Santana.

Due to local blackout rules and the lack of a land-line phone capable of proving that my Penn State University residence was not in Philadelphia, I relied on MLB Gameday instead of MLB TV for a good chunk of the 2007 season. The application had been around for a while, but I soon noticed strange terminology and new data accompanying each pitch. Why are there two velocity readings? What does 13" of pFX mean? And what the heck is BRK? A little research soon made sense of the information, and within a few months I became hooked on the data set known as Pitch-f/x. Fast-forward two years, and Pitch-f/x continues to evolve, revolutionizing baseball research in the process. Unfortunately, with updates to system configurations and the amount of information offered, too many readers and baseball fans experience confused reactions similar to mine when they first encounter the data. In an attempt to quash this issue, it seemed prudent to explain some of the more commonly used numbers, discussing what they mean as well as how they should be used. Instead of merely defining terms, the system will be explored in action, with periodic discussions of its inner workings, much as Dan Fox did back in May 2007.

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