Google's biographic pictures of baseball players aren't always what you expect.
Recently, Google began putting short bios of prominent subjects at the top of search results. It's a nifty time saver if all you need to know is What Is Kreayshawn, or whether Angel Pagan switch-hits. There is usually a photo of the person, too. The photo, though, isn't always the most representative photo of the person. That's what normal companies would do. Not Google. Oh, no, not Google*.
A primer on how pitchers produce movement and vary velocity by gripping and releasing their pitches.
Pitching mechanics tend to dominate the word count here in Raising Aces, so it may surprise some readers to learn that my favorite element of pitching is “stuff.” Nothing lights me up like blazing heat, baffling change-ups, and exploding sliders that paint a catcher's target. Some pitches are so devastating as to take on a personality of their own, effectively defining a player's legacy, such as the cutter of Mariano Rivera or the change-up of Johan Santana. There are even pitches that are so legendary that their reputations have survived the passage of time, to be appreciated by people who never personally witnessed their glory, including Walter Johnson's eye-blink heater and Sandy Koufax's knee-buckling curve.
The quality of a pitcher's stuff is intertwined with his mechanics. Pitch velocity is determined by kinetic energy that is transferred through linear momentum, torque, and the rotational elements of the delivery. Pitch command is directly tied to the consistency of mechanical timing and sequencing, in addition to dynamic balance and posture. The key ingredient to pitch movement is also rooted in mechanics, and though a pitcher's grip on the baseball tends to steal the spotlight, the more critical determinant of pitch break is the angle of the pitcher's forearm at release point.
The first frame of Monday's outing was encouraging, and though his timing was off with the first few deliveries, Lincecum spent the rest of the inning mixing low-90s fastballs with an assortment of breaking balls and splitters that found Buster Posey's targets. Giants announcer Mike Krukow gushed about the right-hander's newfound ability to reach his full extension at release point, an element that had eluded Lincecum in previous outings. His splitter was rolling off the table, and the early strikeout of Daniel Murphy (top) summoned memories of Timmy's better days, such as when he was striking out fourteen Braves in the 2010 NLDS (bottom).
What do Bruce Bochy, Xavier Nady, Brandon Belt, Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, Matt Cain, Mike Krukow, and Mark Grant have in common?
Nady, Bochy, Belt
My wife and I drove from San Diego to Emeryville last weekend to make an appearance at the final stop on the BP2012 book tour. The event was a blast because, really, what beats hanging out with friends, talking about baseball? Watching a game, I suppose. Or playing. If we'd had people sign waivers, maybe we could have gotten a wiffle ball game going. But probably not.
I had prepared trivia questions in case we ran out of things to discuss. We didn't, but since I've already written the questions, here are their answers. They all have a Bay Area theme:
Tim Lincecum's first two starts were ugly, but this could be an opportunity.
During my chat with BP readers last week, there were a number of questions right out of the gate from panicking Tim Lincecum owners and, on the other side of the coin, owners wondering whether they should take advantage of their league’s panicking Lincecum owner. I gave a brief response, but I wanted to go into more detail today for those who asked during the chat and for those who didn’t have a chance to stop by.
BP's new expert on pitcher mechanics debuts with a primer on the most important components of the pitching motion.
My name is Doug, and I am a baseball junkie.
It all started with an eight-year old kid and an innocent pack of Topps baseball cards. There must have been something laced into that stale piece of gum, because my formative years are nothing but a haze of cardboard stats, makeshift whiffleball fields, Mark McGwire moon shots, and heated Saberhagen-Valenzuela duels in RBI Baseball. By college I was on to the hard stuff, with fantasy baseball teams stretching as far as the eye could see, buoyed by the mass consumption of designer statistics like VORP, PAP, and EQA.
The Giants have a lot of misplaced faith in the depth of their starting rotation.
Barry Zito is going through deliveries like frat houses go through 30-racks of beer. The latest version is supposed to add drop and drive to his delivery, giving him more momentum toward the plate, and perhaps putting some extra gas on his mediocre fastball.
Unfortunately for the Giants, their $126 million man is not an old dog up to new tricks. Zito has been using this trick—claiming he has altered his mechanics—for five years, giving fans futile hope that he might finally reinvent himself. It has not worked to date, and it probably will not work in 2012.
Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, both in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that has been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.