Former MLB pitcher Zach Day explains why velocity isn't a fastball's only important characteristic.
Zach Day was drafted by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 1996 draft and pitched for three MLB teams from 2002 to 2006. He had stints with the Expos, Nationals, and Rockies, compiling a 21-27 record with a 4.66 ERA. Zach has been with TrackMan Baseball since 2008 and has played a critical role in introducing the technology to pitching coaches, scouts, and on-field personnel. This is the first in a series of articles in which he’ll discuss what TrackMan’s measurements reveal about pitching.
The advent and adoption of the PITCHf/x system has changed the way we scout pitchers, and more advances are still to come.
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.
Adam is the founder of Project Prospect, a scouting and statistical analysis website. He has been writing about baseball since 2006, when he began covering college baseball and conducting quantitative analysis of minor-league prospects.
I have seen the future, and its name is FIELDf/x. OK, so we kind of knew that. But today, FIELDf/x started to seem a lot more real, and even more exciting than I’d imagined. You may have noticed that BP had a man on the scene at Sportvision’s PITCHf/x summit whose liveblog was actually live. So why am I doing this, when Colin already did? Well, for one thing, Colin arrived fashionably late, and I was all over those first 14 minutes that he missed. For another, his computer died before a lot of the fun started. And for still another (this is a third reason, now), I thought it might be fun to do a Simmons-style quasi-liveblog (written live, published later) that would free me from worries about frequent updates, and allow me to write at length. Most likely that length turned out to be a good deal longer than anyone has any interest in reading, but if you’re determined to catch up on the day’s intriguing events without sitting through eight hours of archived video, you’re welcome to peruse what lies below. If you’d like to follow along, here’s an agenda, and here’s where you should be able to find downloadable presentations in the near future.
Here we are in sunny California, home of the cutest girls in the world, if the Beach Boys are to be believed (I gather there’s also a more recent chart-topper that expresses a similar view). Okay, so by “we,” I mean the attendees at the 3rd (annual?) Sportvision PITCHf/x summit, held at the Westin San Francisco in—you guessed it—San Francisco. I, on the other hand, am watching from the other end of the continent, via a webcast that dubiously claims to be “hi-res,” despite being blurry enough to make deciphering text an adventure (I guess “hi-res” is relative, in the sense that there are even lower resolutions at which it could’ve been streamed). And sure, maybe the Beach Boys weren’t thinking of this particular gathering when they extolled the virtues of California’s beach bunnies. But never mind that—it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon here in New York, and how better to spend it than to watch a video of some fellow nerds talk about baseball in a dark room some 3,000 miles away? Well, to describe the experience at the same time, of course. Let’s get this quasi-liveblog started.
9:14 am Pacific: Well, I'm here in San Francisco for another Sportvision Pitch F/X Summit. The name continues to become less and less descriptive over time - last year they rolled out Hit F/X and this year they're introducing Field F/X. Throughout the day, I'll be making observations here at BP and on Twitter - follow me at @cwyers or look for the #fx2010 hash-tag. Sportvision is also graciously providing a live, streaming webcast of the event. --CW
9:21 am Pacific: John Walsh kicks off the discussion looking at how to use Field F/X to measure infield defense. The rest of the Field F/X presentations are supposed to go this afternoon, but John is joining us remotely from Italy so he's being snuck in early to accommodate him. Complete nerd moment - I think I recognize the software he's using to make these graphs. (GNU R, for those wondering.)
The former major-league pitcher talks about various scientific aspects of the game.
Dave Baldwin is unique among former big-league pitchers. After a 16-year professional baseball career, including stints with the Senators (1966-1969), Brewers (1970), and White Sox (1973), Baldwin was a geneticist, engineer, and artist. He is now retired and living in Yachats, Oregon. His "Baseball Paradoxes" can be found at http://www.snakejazz.com.
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