A Baseball Weblog

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Two pitchers

A1215217 1/36.715.82
B1413219 2/33.523.69

Pitchers A and B are both ALCS Game 6 starter Colby Lewis.  Carson Cistulli's favorite pitcher of all-time put up unimpressive numbers from 2002-2007 before packing his bags and heading to Japan for two seasons from 2008-2009.  He taught himself a new breaking pitch and improved his command, and it helped him to a sub-3 ERA and an 8.02 K/BB in two seasons for Hiroshima.  Colby Lewis now looks like a completely different pitcher, and I wish him all the best in the continued rejuvenation of his career.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The 100 club, 2010 regular season update

In July, I paid tribute to the major league hurlers who had reached 100 mph in 2010. I will adapt that post here to encompass the entirety of the regular season. The data is presented in two tables: one sorted by number of pitches over 100 mph (technically 99.5 or higher), and the other sorted by maximum velocity.

1Joel Zumaya225
2Henry Rodriguez137
3Aroldis Chapman85
4Jordan Walden54
5Daniel Bard51
6Neftali Feliz43
7Bobby Parnell27
8Justin Verlander27
9Ubaldo Jimenez21
10Stephen Strasburg17
11Andrew Cashner15
12Kyle Farnsworth7
13Chris Sale6
14Mitchell Boggs5
15Jonathan Broxton4
16Fernando Rodney4
17Santiago Casilla4
18Jason Motte3
19Alexi Ogando2
20Edwin Jackson2
21David Price2
22Joba Chamberlain2
23Brandon Morrow1
24Billy Wagner1
25Gregory Infante1
26Zack Greinke1
27Robinson Tejeda1

RankPitcher Max Velocity
1Aroldis Chapman105.1
2Neftali Feliz103.4
3Henry Rodriguez103.2
4Bobby Parnell102.5
5Joel Zumaya102.2
6Justin Verlander101.6
7Jordan Walden101.5
8Daniel Bard100.8
9Ubaldo Jimenez100.6
10Stephen Strasburg100.4
11Mitchell Boggs100.4
12Chris Sale100.3
13Jonathan Broxton100.2
14Alexi Ogando100.2
15Andrew Cashner100.1
16Kyle Farnsworth100.1
17Fernando Rodney100.1
18Jason Motte100.1
19Edwin Jackson100.1
20Brandon Morrow99.8
21Santiago Casilla99.7
22David Price99.7
23Billy Wagner99.7
24Gregory Infante99.7
25Zack Greinke99.7
26Joba Chamberlain99.6
27Robinson Tejeda99.5

These numbers are straight from the Gameday PITCHf/x data (accessed via Joe Lefkowitz's site) and have not been park-adjusted. As Mike Fast detailed in a Hardball Times post earlier in the year, there are some stadia in particular that have been showing higher than average velocities in the pitch data. In Fast's article, he mentions Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, US Cellular Field, Progressive Field, and Fenway Park as being the parks with the highest velocity park factors on average. But, as Fast mentions, parks drift in and out of calibration over the course of a season, so it's impossible to take the velocity from any one game, apply the park factor to it, and get a certain result. Still, I feel pretty strongly that quite a few of these pitchers' numbers were enhanced by park. For example, of the pitchers that hit 100 mph only once, Morrow did it in Cleveland, Infante did it in Chicago, and Tejeda did it in Kansas City. And Chamberlain did it once in Kansas City and once in Chicago. So, please take these with a big old grain of salt.

Oh, one other thing I should mention. You may have been wondering, "Wait, didn't you say that Joel Zumaya hit 100 mph 230 times this year? Why does it say 225 here?" The reason for that is that there were some PITCHf/x errors that duplicated some pitches that I had not corrected for in my July post. I have now, so this should be slightly more accurate.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dominance from Lincecum

Tim Lincecum was simply filthy yesterday, throwing a complete game two-hitter with 14 strikeouts against only one walk. If you include the 3 foul tips, he generated a ridiculous 31 swinging strikes in his 119 pitch outing. He showed all five of his pitches, though only one curveball by my count. The columns below (click for a larger image) show pitch mix, including lefty/righty splits:

Lincecum has one of the harder repertoires to classify. He has a two-seamer, a four-seamer that usually cuts, a changeup, a slider, and a curveball; since is motion is straight over the top, nothing has a whole lot of horizontal movement, and that makes the slider, changeup, and curveball difficult to distinguish. Whatever the pitches were, they were working against the Braves yesterday. Here are some metrics for each pitch.

#SwingsWhiff Rate Zone Rate Chase RateRV/100



Whiff rate = swinging strikes / swings
Zone rate = pitches in the strike zone / total pitches
Chase rate = swing rate on pitches out of the strike zone / pitches out of the strike zone
RV/100 = linear weights run values per 100 pitches, a stat that John Walsh (among others) popularized in February 2008. The values were kindly provided by Dan Brooks of brooksbaseball.net.

The Braves' batters missed on over 56% of the pitches that Lincecum got them to swing at. Even for one game, that is extremely impressive (over a full season, it's rare to see even a 30% whiff rate from a pitcher). Even though he hit the strikezone with less than 40% of his pitches (below both his average and the major league average), he got enough swings out of the zone to make up for it. It's worth noting that no Atlanta hitter made contact with the changeup yesterday.

There's not really much else to say. Lincecum was completely and utterly dominant, and even though he reached 94 mph only one time, he was able to fool the Braves with both his offspeed pitches and his heaters.

Gameday PITCHf/x data are from MLB Advanced Media.

Tim Lincecum is absurd

9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 14 K

Unbelievable. Between this Freakiness and Halladay's no-hitter, we've seen two of the greatest postseason pitching performances in recent memory on back-to-back days. And let's not forget that both of these gems were postseason debuts. I'll have more on this gem tomorrow (technically later today).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pettitte is starting Game 2 - what about Hughes?

Andy Pettitte will start Game 2 of the ALDS for the Yankees this evening. I am skeptical of the move; I can't help but wonder if Phil Hughes is the better choice. A Game 2 start will line Pettitte up for a start in the potential Game 5, and there's no denying that Pettitte has the better postseason track record. However, while both pitchers have performed significantly better on the road than at home in 2010, Hughes' skillset sets him up better in Minnesota than in New York. Here are some splits for both Hughes and Pettitte.

Phil Hughes IPERAK/9BB/9GB RateHR/BIA*
Home106 1/34.667.033.22.358.097

Andy PettitteIP ERAK/9BB/9GB RateHR/BIA
Home 69 1/33.955.793.03.400.076
Road59 2/32.588.672.74.494.037
*HR/BIA is home runs / balls in air, which includes all batted ball types other than ground balls.

Both pitchers show a significant split between their home and road performances, but Hughes is at greater risk because of his very low groundball rate (6th lowest among major league starters in 2010). According to ESPN's 2010 park factors, Target Field has the lowest home run park factor at 0.64, while Yankee Stadium has the third-highest at 1.42. As an extreme fly-ball pitcher, Hughes is best suited in the park that suppresses home runs. I'm aware that that's not the whole story, as it's hard not to go with Pettitte in the deciding game based on his postseason success, but I still think it's questionable to have Hughes pitch an extra game at Yankee Stadium.

The data are from Fangraphs; the batted ball types are determined by the Baseball Info Solutions stringers.

If you're interested, here is the full list of ESPN's 2010 park factors.