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Articles Tagged Perception 

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Pitches move too fast for batters to see, so how do they hit the ball? And what does that have to do with Chad Bradford?

Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

Matt Lentzner has carved out a (very) small niche in the baseball analysis world by examining the intersection of physics and biomechanics. He has presented at the PITCHf/x conference in each of the last two years and has written articles for The Hardball Times, as well as three previous articles for Baseball Prospectus. When he’s not writing, Matt works on his physics-based baseball simulator, which is so awesome and all-encompassing that it will likely never actually be finished, though it does provide the inspiration for most of his articles and presentations. In real life, he’s an IT Director at a small financial consulting company in the Silicon Valley and also runs a physical training gym in his backyard on the weekends.
 


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Finding out whether knuckleballs actually flutter, with the help of our friendly neighborhood physicist.

Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

Alan Nathan is Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After a long career doing experimental nuclear/particle physics, he now spends his time doing research in the physics of baseball. He maintains a web site devoted to this topic at http://webusers.npl.illinois.edu/~a-nathan/pob/His younger colleagues at Complete Game Consulting have bestowed upon him the exalted title of Chief Scientist.
 


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October 29, 2009 12:00 pm

Checking the Numbers: Quick Change Artistry

9

Eric Seidman

Trying to determine the best way to utilize a fastball/changeup combination in a pitching sequence.

Were you to take a web journey to a search engine and query the terms "fastball, changeup, sequence," a slew of sites would surface, many of which include in their brief synopses that a sequence of this sort helps keep hitters off balance. Conventional wisdom dictates that these two pitches, when thrown one after the other, can fool a hitter based on their similar movement and vast velocity gap.

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October 5, 2009 2:39 pm

Checking the Numbers: Location and Perception

9

Eric Seidman

Changing speeds can depends as much upon where you throw as how hard you're throwing.

The velocity recorded by the radar gun and what the batter perceives do not always match. As discussed previously, several factors can cause a pitch to appear faster or slower to hitters. One such factor is the flight time from the point of release to when the ball crosses home plate relative to the flight time the PITCHf/x system projects at 55 feet away. Pitches released any closer than this predetermined distance result in a higher perceived velocity with the inverse true of pitches let go from distances greater than the default. During our initial look it was observed that a few pitchers generated perceived velocities dissimilar to their recorded velocity, a proof of concept that was much more important than the velocity discrepancies themselves. Johnny Cueto, for example, averaged 92.9 mph with a perceived 90.8 mph, while Ian Snell found himself perceived to throw just 87.6 mph in spite of the reported 91.7 mph. But where Snell threw these pitches must also enter the equation, since the location of a pitch works in conjunction to the flight time to add or subtract perceived miles per hour.

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September 22, 2009 12:22 pm

Checking the Numbers: Perceived Velocity

35

Eric Seidman

Sometimes it's not just a matter of how fast you throw, but from how close to the plate you're throwing it.

Few pitchers utilize their fastballs more frequently than J.A. Happ of the Phillies does, as he throws his four-seamed heater 71 percent of the time. Unlike Max Scherzer, who throws his fastball at a similar rate but routinely registers 95+ miles per hour on the gun, Happ averages a relatively modest 89.7 mph with rather pedestrian movement. Despite these facts pointing towards the idea that Happ's chief pitch is thus somewhat average or below, his plate discipline data has trended in the opposite direction: Happ ranks amongst the leaders in zone percentage yet has very low rates of both swings induced and contact made on pitches in the zone, performance characteristics that portend an ability to deceive hitters when coupled with his velocity and movement marks. Unless we accept that Happ's numbers are fluky, something about his delivery is preventing hitters from picking the ball up and reacting in appropriate fashion, whether that's a question of his hiding the ball well, or having a release that's closer to home plate than hitters are accustomed to seeing.

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May 30, 2003 12:00 am

Under The Knife: A Visit with Dr. Tim Kremchek

0

Will Carroll

There is no other hospital I have ever seen that includes its Astroturf infield in the tour. Hidden away just off the Interstate in northern Cincinnati, I was invited to go into, what for me was essentially the mouth of the beast. Swerving through the new construction of a suburban office park, almost anonymous from the outside, Beacon Orthopaedic Clinic beckoned me to come inside, to let my guard down, and to face the man I'd criticized in print more than any other. It was the equivalent of Rush Limbaugh being invited into the Clinton White House. It was Doug Pappas being invited to a Selig family picnic. In my years as an injury analyst, there was no name that had come up more than Ken Griffey Jr.. When speaking of Griffey, there was no way to avoid involving Dr. Tim Kremchek in the discussion. Like many, my opinion of Kremchek had descended from joking derision. My views were colored by incidents which, from the outside, supported my views. More recently though, Reds Assistant General Manager Brad Kullman convinced me to keep an open mind, that I might be wrong about Kremchek. I decided to try and find out for myself.

In my years as an injury analyst, there was no name that had come up more than Ken Griffey Jr.. When speaking of Griffey, there was no way to avoid involving Dr. Tim Kremchek in the discussion. Like many, my opinion of Kremchek had descended from joking derision. My views were colored by incidents which, from the outside, supported my views. More recently though, Reds Assistant General Manager Brad Kullman convinced me to keep an open mind, that I might be wrong about Kremchek. I decided to try and find out for myself.

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