It is my job to write an introduction right now. This means thinking about some appealing way to present the topic, using language in a way that effectively communicates to you what is ahead, perhaps something funny or novel, a metaphor, an anecdote. Words that are useful, basically. And to do it efficiently, so I don't lose you before the GIFs start. That's what an introduction is, and that's what my job is right now.
But what if my job was to write an introduction that does none of those things? If, in fact, the more of those things that I did, the worse the introduction was? Then my job would be so much easier! It would have taken me about 1/12th as long as my actual introduction-writing task took, because I would just copy some excerpt from whatever page I had open in a different tab, paste it here, like
And I would be done! Yesssssss.
So that's what intentional balls are like, basically. They are the thing a pitcher does that is the least like the thing that a pitcher is paid to do. It takes willfully incompetent competence to screw that job up. People screw that job up! This is the year in intentional balls, some of them screwed up, some just unusual.
Hardest-thrown intentional ball.
Here's the hardest-thrown intentional ball of the year, which was 92.1 mph, and thrown by Kelvin Herrera:
Kelvin Herrera threw the hardest average fastball in baseball this year, at 98.5 mph. There are a billion statistics—I don't know if this is a statistic as much as it's a measure, but the first sentence of Wikipedia's entry for "statistic" (as opposed to "statistics") is "a single measure of some attribute of a sample" so I guess they're the same thing—and some of them are great to lead the league in, such as OPSBI, and some are not as great to lead the league in, such as wild pitches, and then there are the ones that are value-neutral but descriptive, like percentage of split-fingered fastballs thrown. Average fastball velocity has a bit of all three. Knowing that Herrera threw the hardest average fastball this year, we know he:
1. Throws a fastball, and on average it's very fast, so he's that kind of pitcher (value-neutral, descriptive)
2. Throws a fastball very fast, which is a very significant key to a fastball, as noted by its name (good indicator)
3. Probably is a reliever, which means he probably is not the best pitcher in the league, on his team, or in any single game in which he appears (bad indicator)
In fact, as a single statistic on its own, it's terribly unhelpful for predicting future success. Here are the past eight pitchers to lead baseball in average fastball velocity, and their value the following season:
|Year||Pitcher||Next year WARP|
To which Alvarez replied that he has gum.
Here we have an inconclusive answer to the question. The answer, as we have it, is Brayan Villarreal, who threw this pitch 41 mph lololol.
Pitcher: Cool. This is my first day on the job, so I apologize if this is a dumb question, but
Pitcher: What does that mean?
Catcher: Just throw a pitch that the batter would never, ever in a million years swing at.
Pitcher: So, for this guy, A.J. Ellis, that would be…?
Catcher: Pretty much right down the middle would be fine.
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