A mechanical look at the pitchers who've gained the most fastball velocity over the last couple seasons.
This week, we’re focusing on pitch velocity and identifying the arms who have seen a big change in their fastball speeds over the last couple of years. On Monday, we looked at the players who are on the velocity downslope, with offerings that fall under the radar-gun readings of their past. Today we study the other side of the coin, drawing attention to those pitchers who have added fuel to their heat over the past couple of seasons.
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.
A mechanical look at the pitchers who lost the most fastball velocity last season.
When it comes to pitching, velocity is the straw that stirs the drink. Fastball speed provides the baseline for batter timing and sets up every other arrow in a pitcher's quiver, explaining why velocity is the most sought-after commodity in pitchers at every level of play. Consequently, it can be devastating when a big-league pitcher transitions from pumping premium octane to regular gas, as it slows the performance of the whole machine.
A mechanical look at the minor leagues' top left-handed pitching prospect.
Lefty starter Andrew Heaney was chosen by the Miami Marlins with the ninth overall selection of the 2012 draft, taken out of Oklahoma State University. He was the fifth pitcher taken in the top nine picks, and the second southpaw (behind Max Fried). Ranked no. 30 on the BP Top 101 prospect list, Heaney has enjoyed a seamless transition to pro ball, and though his strikeout rate doesn't jump off the page, his strong command has fueled excellent run prevention.
In which Doug discovers mechanical connections between the pitchers on the Nats, Cardinals, Marlins, and other teams.
I spent most of the winter in hibernation, buried within the cozy confines of my baseball-analysis den and wading through a sea of pitchers. I'm happy to say that the seeds of thought that were planted in the final weeks of 2013 are now bearing fruit, as the 2014 Starting Pitcher Guide that Paul Sporer and I produced was released last week and covers close to 400 pitchers throughout the professional ranks. This was my second year contributing mechanical reports to the Guide, and I thoroughly enjoyed the arduous-yet-rewarding process as well as the pitching discussions that were generated as a result (and which can be heard on the latest episode of TINSTAAPP).
Does former NBA star Tracy McGrady have a future on the mound?
The latest addition to the pool of pitching hopefuls is former NBA star Tracy McGrady, who’s recruited a star-studded staff of coaches, headlined by Roger Clemens, to reshape his athleticism in the pursuit of a professional gig on the mound. Considerable buzz was generated by a bullpen session in which the 34-year old McGrady faced live hitters (not that they were taking swings), and his height and long arms have been credited with both downhill plane and release-point extension. It makes this evaluator smile to hear positive references to creating depth at release point, but is the praise justified, or is it simply placating a player who is well-respected in the athletic world?
Doug evaluates the mechanics of the no. 9 prospect on the Top 101.
Archie Bradley was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks near the top of the first round of the 2011 draft, checking in at seventh overall, but he was actually the fifth pitcher selected in a draft class that was historically loaded with arms. The right-hander was chosen out of Broken Arrow High School in Oklahoma, just three spots behind his friend and fellow Oklahoma prepster Dylan Bundy. The BP prospect team recently tabbed Bradley as the top prospect in Arizona’s system, and he ranked ninth on the Top 101 list, slotting just behind Taijuan Walker as the second-best pitching prospect in the game.
Scouting the deliveries of pitchers from the dawn of the television era and earlier.
Over the past two weeks, we’ve looked at the pitchers who gained entry to the Hall of Fame during the formative years of my youth. Most of these pitchers hailed from the 1960s and '70s, with the occasional senior citizen (read: Hoyt Wilhelm) having gained notoriety in the '50s. The footage becomes more scarce—and less colorful—as we progress back in time, and the lack of video clips makes it more difficult to break down the pitching mechanics of the founding fathers of Cooperstown.
A look at the mechanics of Catfish Hunter, Hoyt Wilhelm, Don Drysdale, Juan Marichal, and Bob Gibson.
Five pitchers were elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA during the 1980s, a number that feels light when one considers the half-dozen arms that were elected in the first five years of the '90s. But the five-pack fairly represents the average induction rate for the four-decade period from 1970-2009. For all the talk about how the modern era is underrepresented in the Hall, it is worth noting that the BBWAA elected just 0.32 pitchers per year from 1936-69 (11 total arms) but has enshrined 0.58 pitchers per year since 1970 (26 total, including the 2014 inductions of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine).
A look at the mechanics of Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, and other immortals.
Pitchers naturally draw most of my attention when looking at the Hall of Fame, and the voting trends of the Baseball Writers Association of America reveal some interesting tendencies when one studies the historical record. For example, there have been a total of 35 pitchers voted into the Hall by the BBWAA across the 78-year span of the voting process, yet from 1956 to 1971, Bob Feller was the only moundsman to pass through the gauntlet. There were only three pitchers enshrined during the first 11 years of the 21st century, and all three were relievers: Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, and Dennis Eckersley. But now we stand on the precipice of the Hall's floodgates being opened to pitchers, from the recent selections of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine to next year's shoo-ins such as Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson.
Does the NPB pitcher's delivery bode well for his ability to weather a heavy early workload and make a smooth transition to the majors?
The biggest news to hit the yuletide airwaves was the official posting of star NPB pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. From now through January 24th, teams are expected to scramble for the opportunity to pay the newly-adjusted $20 million posting fee and sign the right-hander. The new import process all but assures that Tanaka will receive a heftier contract than previous NPB standouts Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka, since the bidding war now benefits the player rather than his old ballclub (much to the chagrin of Tanaka's squad, the Rakuten Golden Eagles).