Last installment we started to break down the fastball by talking about velocity. While we touched on other aspects of the pitch, we will go into greater detail with fastball movement today. The movement of a fastball is just as, if not more, important than velocity. Eventually even below-average hitters will time up an 80-grade fastball that’s straight as an arrow, but only a small amount of movement is needed to move off the barrel towards the handle or the end of the bat. That being said, let’s dive into the different types of fastball movement.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Ranking closers based on how bad they've looked at the plate.
Roster expansion begins today, so last night's Giants/Dodgers game may be the the last of the season where a reliever batted for both teams. To celebrate the Chris Hatchers and George Kontoses (Konti?) of the world, here's a GIF-laden look at the ones who bat least and why it's often well-deserved. This article originally ran on August 22, 2013.
On Wednesday night, Aroldis Chapman entered an 8-6 game in relief of an injured Jonathan Broxton, who faced two batters in the top of the eighth before his elbow cut his outing short. It was the first time Chapman had been asked to get more than three outs all season. And because a “distraught” Dusty Bakerscrewed up the double switch, Chapman also made his first major-league plate appearance in the bottom of the inning.
Thanks to the well-timed retirements of Chipper Jones, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter, we've been plagued by treated to back-to-back-to back retirement tours in 2012, 2013, and now 2014. Ostensibly, the most memorable aspect of these final laps around the league is the chance to get a last glimpse at an outgoing great, but we all know that what we really remember is each team’s choice of retirement gift. I don’t remember Jones’ ceremony in San Diego, but I do remember that the Padres gave him a surfboard. I don’t recall how the Rays recognized Rivera, but I’ll never be able to unsee the creepy golem-like sand structure they created for the occasion. And so on.
Why Rivera's October dominance is even more mind-blowing than you think.
First in a series.
It’s practically impossible for a pitcher to allow less than a run per nine innings. Since 1920, there have been about 20,000 pitcher seasons that have covered 50 innings or more. Of those 20,000, eight produced a sub-1.00 ERA. That’s ERA, of course; ERA record holder Fernando Rodney allowed four unearned runs, which pushes him over 1 run per nine. Unearned runs also disqualify Dennis Eckersley (1990), and Bill Henry (1964), and Dennys Reyes (2006), and Chris Hammond (2005), and Eric O’Flaherty (2011), and Jonathan Papelbon (2006). That leaves one pitcher, out of 20,000, who threw 50 innings in a season while allowing less than one run per nine innings. And that guy (Rob Murphy) threw 50 1/3.
Except for the waterworks, the last Bronx appearance of the best reliever ever was much like hundreds of excellent outings before it.
Assuming he doesn’t pitch in Houston this weekend—and after the fanfare and misty-eyed moments of his Yankee Stadium send-off, an appearance against the Astros, unless it’s in center, would feel like a letdown—Mariano Rivera threw his final 13 pitches last night. Let’s watch and savor each one of them, because we’re not going to get any more.
Mariano Rivera bids farewell to New York, the Rangers and Indians win wild ones, and Jason Heyward has a big day.
The Thursday Takeaway
Moments after the Rays defeated the Yankees 4-0, last night, Mariano Rivera went out to the mound. He knelt down, gathered a handful of dirt, and, with that keepsake in hand, bid farewell to the ballpark in which he made 629 career appearances, 53 of them in the playoffs.
As the 2013 season winds down, Mike examines the contract statuses of current closers to evaluate their odds of retaining their jobs in 2014.
With the season winding down, instead of going through the usual exercise of rating relievers by tiers, I thought I would take a look at all 30 closers in Major League Baseball through the lens of their contract statuses. This exercise isn’t intended to offer any predictions on what each team might do this winter, but rather is presented to offer information to keeper league owners who are looking ahead to next year.
The contract information below has been culled from Baseball Prospectus’ contracts database.