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05-17

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12

Raising Aces: Stuffing the Ballot, First Quarter
by
Doug Thorburn

04-12

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24

Pebble Hunting: The Best Pitches Thrown This Week
by
Sam Miller

04-06

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7

BP Unfiltered: Jose Bautista's One-Way War with Umpires
by
Ben Lindbergh

08-31

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5

Wezen-Ball: Do You See Every Pitch of Every Game?
by
Larry Granillo

08-31

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5

Pebble Hunting: The Best Pitches Thrown This Week (Yu Darvish Edition)
by
Sam Miller

08-04

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2

BP Unfiltered: Efficient Felix
by
Ben Lindbergh

07-20

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4

Pebble Hunting: The Best Pitches Thrown This Week
by
Sam Miller

02-10

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14

The Stats Go Marching In: What Are the Rays Expecting from Jose Molina?
by
Max Marchi

01-31

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9

Baseball ProGUESTus: The Knuckleball Mystique: Using PITCHf/x to Distinguish Perception from Reality
by
Alan M. Nathan

10-19

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23

World Series Prospectus: The Midwest Showdown
by
Baseball Prospectus

09-30

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21

Baseball ProGUESTus: A New Take on Plate Discipline--Redefining the Zone
by
Matt Lentzner

09-24

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71

Spinning Yarn: Removing the Mask Encore Presentation
by
Mike Fast

08-17

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11

Spinning Yarn: Why are Batters Hit by Pitches?
by
Mike Fast

07-20

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14

Spinning Yarn: A Zone of Their Own
by
Mike Fast

04-08

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8

Baseball ProGUESTus: The Rookie Effect
by
Brian Mills

03-18

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23

Baseball ProGUESTus: Looking at Pitches Through the Batter's Eyes
by
Matt Lentzner

02-16

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59

Spinning Yarn: The Real Strike Zone
by
Mike Fast

10-26

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8

Spinning Yarn: Interpreting Pitch Classifications
by
Mike Fast

10-14

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8

Manufactured Runs: Just a Bit Outside
by
Colin Wyers

09-24

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12

Ahead in the Count: Predicting Strikeouts with Whiff and Swing Rates
by
Matt Swartz

07-20

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13

Prospectus Q&A: C.J. Wilson
by
David Laurila

06-30

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15

Checking the Numbers: A No-No
by
Eric Seidman

11-12

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12

Checking the Numbers: Extending the Discipline Detection
by
Eric Seidman

11-06

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11

Checking the Numbers: Detecting Discipline
by
Eric Seidman

10-22

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9

Checking the Numbers: Crossing Over
by
Eric Seidman

10-21

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30

Ahead in the Count: What Happened to Cole Hamels?
by
Matt Swartz

10-05

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9

Checking the Numbers: Location and Perception
by
Eric Seidman

05-06

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11

Zumaya's Zooming
by
Ben Lindbergh

04-23

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31

Checking the Numbers: Inside Pitch-f/x
by
Eric Seidman

02-19

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18

Attack of the Finesse Pitchers
by
Eric Seidman

12-12

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4

Player Profile: Ervin Santana
by
Marc Normandin and Eric Seidman

07-25

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0

Prospectus Today: Manageable Workloads
by
Joe Sheehan

06-09

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0

Ballad of the Fatigued
by
Eric Seidman

05-13

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0

Furcal En Fuego
by
Eric Seidman

04-10

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Defense and Pitch Classification
by
Dan Fox

10-11

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: On Atmosphere, Probability, and Prediction
by
Dan Fox

09-13

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: The Return of the Fish Eye
by
Dan Fox

08-23

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Visualizing Pitches
by
Dan Fox

07-05

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Searching for the Gyroball
by
Dan Fox

06-28

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Playing Favorites
by
Dan Fox

06-21

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Gameday Meets the Knuckleball
by
Dan Fox

06-14

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: The Science and Art of Building a Better Pitcher Profile
by
Dan Fox

06-07

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Gameday Triple Play
by
Dan Fox

05-31

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Physics on Display
by
Dan Fox

05-24

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Batter Versus Pitcher, Gameday Style
by
Dan Fox

05-10

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Phil Hughes, Pitch by Pitch
by
Dan Fox

10-16

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0

Future Shock: Monday Morning Ten-Pack
by
Kevin Goldstein

10-16

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0

Prospectus Today: LCS, Day Six
by
Joe Sheehan

10-14

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0

Future Shock: Where Did the Tigers and the Athletics Come From?
by
Kevin Goldstein

10-14

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0

Prospectus Today: LCS, Day Four
by
Joe Sheehan

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May 17, 2013 1:02 pm

Raising Aces: Stuffing the Ballot, First Quarter

12

Doug Thorburn

The nastiest offerings of the first quarter of the season.

Though I spend the vast majority of my time at Raising Aces immersed in the analysis of pitching mechanics, the best part of the game is the filthy stuff produced by the mechanical process. One of my favorite features at BP is Sam Miller's “The Best Pitches Thrown This Week,” in which the audience is inundated with GIFs of the nastiest projectiles caught on camera. Inspired by Sam's work, in conjunction with our human compulsion toward dicing the season into manageable chunks of information for the sake of over-analysis, I decided to conjure up a collection of the best stuff from the first quartile of the 2013 season.

The categories were chosen to reflect the elements of a well-rounded repertoire, with the data split into fastballs, breaking balls, and off-speed pitches. In appreciation of the qualitative value of elite pitching, both subjective and objective elements were considered when constructing the following lists, yet the end results were too close to call. I plead the audience to help me fill the gaps by voting for their favorite candidate in each pitch-type category and submitting votes in the comments section. [Stats through games of 5/15]

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April 12, 2013 5:00 am

Pebble Hunting: The Best Pitches Thrown This Week

24

Sam Miller

Featuring Matt Moore, Jose Fernandez, and everyone who faced Brett Wallace.

You could have an intro here, or we could go straight to the sweet and sexy pitches. Nobody pays for the intro (literally, in the case of BP's paywall), so forget the intro. To the pitches!

3. Matt Moore, fastball, against Asdrubal Cabrera, in which Moore eagerly unveils the new slider he's been working on; "guys," he tells everybody before he throws it, "it's such a swell slider, sliding all over the place and real hard like, so I can use it on two strikes and it'll break way out of the zone and batters will swing at it because they don't anticipate how much it's going to slide," upon which Moore proceeds to throw it and everybody tells him that, as far as sliders go, it actually breaks the wrong way, that clearly Moore is doing it wrong, sending Moore into a funk until he figures "ah shucks to it all, I'm going to throw it anyway."

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Does Jose Bautista have a reason to be so angry at umpires?

Earlier this week, Jose Bautista said some things about umpires:

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Considering all the distractions at a baseball game and the mixed nature of the crowd, exactly what percentage of pitches are seen on any given night?

At the start of the season, I introduced you to Ben Rouse, the 25-year-old Brewers fan who is attending all 162 Brewers games this year in an effort to raise awareness for "Be the Match", the bone marrow donor registry that helped save his life a few years ago. Ben is still going strong, having sat through the Brewers-Cubs 12-11 ugly-fest on Thursday for his 130th game of the season. And this despite the immensely unsatisfying season the Milwaukee club has trotted out for Ben lo these 130 games. When Manny Parra and then Francisco Rodriguez each blew a save in Thursday afternoon's game, they accounted for the 32nd and 33rd blown saves for the Brewers this season. That's a painful stat to experience for any fan who happens to watch their team on occasion; I can't imagine how hard that must be to experience live and in person night-in and night-out.

Even better, Ben is experiencing this Brewers season with an even more ambitious goal: to physically witness every pitch of every game. That is an impossible goal, of course, but it doesn't keep Ben from giving it his all. To help illustrate the difficulty of that goal, here is a stat that Ben tracks each and every game: through the first 129 games of the season, there had been 38,411 pitches in Brewers games; Ben had seen all but 93 of them (99.8%).

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Watching Yu Darvish is wonderful. Hitting against him is hell.

Beside pitch speed, pitch location, pitch spin, pitch movement, pitch type, count, batter, park, umpire, release point, etc., PITCHf/x also logs something called pitch-type confidence. Since the system is using algorithms to deduce what the pitch is based on speed, movement, and release point, it has to make some assumptions. If a pitcher throws only one type of fastball, and it is 10 mph faster than any other pitch he throws, and it is the only pitch that breaks to the pitcher’s glove side, the system can be pretty confident when it labels a 98-mph pitch a fastball.

But then there’s Yu Darvish. Of all the pitches Yu Darvish has thrown this year, 43 were give a confidence level of 50 percent or lower, and 506 were 80 or lower. Compare this to, say, Wandy Rodriguez, my go-to control group. He has thrown just one pitch with a confidence rating lower of 50 percent or lower, and 121 at 80 or lower. Or compare to (random pitcher) Stephen Strasburg: five below 50, 120 below 80. Strasburg has thrown 81 pitches that PITCHf/x was 100 percent confident about. Yu Darvish has thrown none.

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Felix Hernandez shut out the Yankees on Saturday, and he did it without throwing many pitches.

On Saturday afternoon, Felix Hernandez shut out the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, allowing two hits and two walks and striking out six. That in itself is a very impressive achievement, given that the Yankees have scored the third-most runs per game in baseball this season, and also given that Yankee Stadium is not a particularly pleasant place to pitch. (The Yankees had averaged over five runs per game there before today.) Even more impressive is the fact that he did it with only 101 pitches. No pitcher has thrown a complete game against the Yankees with fewer pitches since Roy Halladay did it with 96 in 2008. If you want to shut out the Yankees, and you don't want it to take a long time, your best bet is to have Roy Halladay or Felix Hernandez.

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Three players tell Sam about the toughest pitches they've seen this season. They weren't the ones you'd expect.

Since the very first Best Pitches Thrown This Week, we’ve bumped up against the limits of what we can really conclude about a pitch. The pitch is not meant to impress us; it is meant to impress the batter, and we are not the batter, so our conclusions are answering the wrong question. So this week I asked some baseball players to name the nastiest pitch they have seen this year. These are their answers, which are interesting to me because these are absolutely not the answers I would have given for them. None of these guys even fell over! Batter falling over is 90 percent of my typical assessment. But they know. I don’t know. They know. Here we go.

3. Freddy Garcia’s splitter to Peter Bourjos.

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A comprehensive look at catcher defense by BP's latest addition reveals that the Rays may be getting plenty of bang for their buck from their new backstop.

For more about Max, see his introductory post here.


At the end of the 2011 season, the Tampa Bay Rays declined catcher Kelly Shoppach’s $3.2 million option for 2012, setting him free to explore the market for his services. On November 28th, they signed Jose Molina as his replacement for one year and $1.8 million.


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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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Sizing up every facet of each contender in this season's Fall Classic.

The Breakdown

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Is the traditional strike-ball dichotomy too simplistic?

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 a previous article 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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In case you missed Mike Fast's extraordinary research into quantifying the heretofore hidden contributions of catchers, we're moving it back to the top of the list for the weekend.

I Was Framed
Catchers play a central role in the game of baseball through their involvement with every pitch that their pitchers throw. One of their key tasks is receiving borderline pitches without discouraging the umpire from calling strikes.


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