How and why pitchers have dealt with Bryce Harper and Mike Trout in dramatically different ways, and how Harper has already adjusted.
There’s something weird and wonderful about the distribution of pitches seen by this season’s two most exciting under-21-year-olds. David Golebiewski pointed it out the other day using information from Inside Edge, and I wanted to see whether PITCHf/x data would show the same thing. It did. That was the only excuse I needed to write about Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, neither of whom can make a move on a baseball field without leaving a trail of article topics behind him.
Here is a list of the hitters who’ve seen the lowest percentage of fastballs this season, combining four- and two-seamers and not counting cutters (classifications courtesy of Harry Pavlidis):
Interleague play and expanded playoffs have done away with many of the differences in AL and NL play and personality, but some traces remain.
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 Sobsey has been the Durham Bulls beat writer for the Independent Weekly since 2009. He has also won numerous awards as a playwright, and his work has been staged in New York, California, Austin and North Carolina. His most recent play, WESTERN MEN, or OPPOSITE TO HUMANITY, was a comparative intertextual weaving of Shakespeare's TIMON OF ATHENS with the lifelong friendship between the poet Ezra Pound and the painter/author Wyndham Lewis, commissioned and premiered by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern at the Nasher Museum of Art in October 2010. As a journalist, he has won the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Award for Arts Criticism, and two North Carolina Press Association Awards. In 2012, Adam will collaborate with writer Sam Stephenson, creator of the Jazz Loft Project, on a season-long documentary project about the Durham Bulls.
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.
If you aren't one of the people holding one of the half-dozen quality options, you shouldn't be alone in your league.
A few weeks ago we looked at how strong the first-base position was in 2009. There were so many first basemen performing at a high level that it caused Ryan Howard's production to drop down to right at the average despite his performing about like you would expect him to in a normal season for him. Shortstop wishes it had problems like that, which is why we will take a look at the weakest position on the diamond today. Things are so bad at the shortstop position right now that catcher has a higher average EqA, even if it's just by a few points.
Where it's happening and to whom, plus news and updates on injured and recovering players from around the game.
This time of the year, I get a lot of e-mails from people talking about some insane pitch count that's been run up by a college or high school player. People expect outrage from me, a call for the coach's head, criminal charges, or all of the above. The problem is that the pitch count is simple-too simple-and that context is everything when trying to assess it. Reader Henry Fyfe sent me this story about a pitcher going 21 innings in 26 hours. Henry asked:
Diagnosing how a phenomenon gets hot, goes bad, and comes back might involve changing things up.
Three years ago, Joel Zumaya took the AL by storm, flashing an overpowering fastball on his way to a full season of stellar relief. Since 2006, though, he's fallen on hard times. Now that the big righty has recently reclaimed his role in Detroit's bullpen, let's take a look at his prospects for future success by using all of the tools at our disposal.
Zumaya broke camp as a member of the Tigers' bullpen in 2006, after fellow rookie Justin Verlander had claimed a rotation spot in spring training. Except for a single appearance in relief as a 17-year-old in the GCL, Zumaya had worked exclusively as a starter in the minors, but his migration to the pen didn't come as a complete surprise. Although Baseball America ranked him among Detroit's top four prospects in each year from 2004-2006, talent evaluators frequently cited his intensity, max-effort delivery, inconsistent mechanics, limited repertoire (before 2005), and three DL stints (for back and shoulder spasms) as factors arguing for a shift to short relief work.
Will gets a day at home and provides you with the latest on the health of top closers, and more.
Until then, there's plenty of injuries affecting things in spring training, but not so many that really affect teams or even fantasy. Everything this spring has been pretty up front -- we know that you'll need a backup to pair with your closer if he's not one of the few lockdown guys. We know that you'll need to make sure you don't just have top pitching, but solid backups that are sure to get some innings. We know that risk is a bigger factor than ever in deciding who wins championships, both real ones and those of the fantasy variety. There's a lot to cover today, so powered by Penn & Teller, on to the injuries:
There are plenty of Wikipedia entries that never make it onto the information superhighway--like Presley Wilkes' recollections of (very) amateur baseball.
It happens every time to me, I swear. I spend all this time writing up entries for Wikipedia and they get rid of them almost as soon as I post them. What's the deal? First of all, it's hard enough finding a topic that's not already taken. Babe Ruth? Somebody beat me to him. Barry Bonds? Same thing. The Kennedy Assassination? Done and done. Grand Theft Auto? Yup. Taken.