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  1. Great stuff as usual, Jeff. I’m still laughing from reading that comp of Ichiro to a deer in the woods. Funniest thing I read all week…

    Comment by Eric — October 26, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  2. I’ve watched almost all of Bumgarner’s starts this year. I don’t disagree with this analysis. I would add a couple of comments:

    1. I thought the movement on his slider was more pronounced than in his recent bad starts. 2. I thought his location got better as the game went along.

    I”ll just add that Bumgarner can be one ornery dude. I’d be willing to bet he hit Prince Fielder on purpose for standing too close to the plate and leaning over it.

    One time when he was in the minors he hit a batter. His manager thought it looked suspiciously like he did it on purpose. When he asked Bumgarner if it was a purpose pitch, the reply was yes. When the manager asked why, Bumgarner replied, “because he swung too hard.” LOL!

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — October 26, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

  3. This could be nothing, but isn’t a big scouting note on Bumgarner that he has a very deceptive delivery?

    Could it be that the Tigers, who probably did not have a lot of experience against him, were fooled by his delivery; where the Reds and the Cardinals were not?

    Obviously it is impossible to say for certain, but it seems like a possibility.

    Comment by Mike — October 26, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

  4. In the comments to various articles on ESPN there are a lot of Giants fans giving Curt Schilling grief for calling Bumgarner’s stuff last night “mediocre at best”. But as a Giants fan who has seen all of Bumgarner’s starts I have to agree. His velocity clearly was not good and his slider wasn’t as sharp as it usually is either. Just watch the highlights of the start vs. the Dodgers when he out-dueled Kershaw and compare it to the highlights from last night. The drop off in stuff is very noticeable. That said, I thought he located very well last night overall and did a good job getting the Tigers to chase. So definitely some poor hitting by the Tigers and a little luck involved too, but it wasn’t only that. Bumgarner pitched well too, even without his good stuff.

    BTW, I give Bochy a lot of the credit for this. Bumgarner after his loss to the Cardinals sounded like a guy whose confidence was shot (talking about his mechanics being off, not the usual life on his pitches, etc.) But Bochy at the same time was insisting that his stuff was still good enough to be effective and he just needed to execute better. In fact I suspect there really wasn’t much of a mechanical adjustment that even happened since then (which would explain why neither f them wanted to go into any detail to describe it after the game yesterday). I think Bochy just challenged him to buck up and execute better with the stuff he’s got right now and Bumgarner did. It doesn’t mean that he’s “fixed” and the results may end up a lot different if he has to go out and pitch a game 6. But it was good enough last night.

    Comment by ElJimador — October 26, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

  5. Nice work, Jeff. I don’t disagree with your overall premise that last night was not a full ‘return to form’ for MadBum.

    Having said that, I was really surprised how done on his performance you and Dave were doing the live blog last night. SSS caveats notwithstanding, I don’t think separating pitching from hitting is quite as ambiguous as you claim in this article. The whole “was it Bumgarner being good, or the Tigers being bad” thing makes very little sense to me. One pitcher faced eight major league hitters — the likelihood that it was the pitcher being good is far greater than the likelihood that each of those eight batters was individually, simultaneously bad.

    I thought he looked all right. Got away with a few (who doesn’t?), but judging by the swings the Tigers were putting up, he was hiding the ball well and getting late movement (likely more important than big movement) on his cutter. (One final note — I find it more useful to think of the pitch you call a slider as a cutter instead. In reality, the pitch is kind of a weird hybrid of the two; but given his propensity for breaking bats when he’s really on, I think the pitch exhibits much greater lateral effectiveness and less longitudinal effectiveness than the typical slider.)

    Comment by Graham — October 26, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

  6. Just wanted to say that I am thoroughly enjoying a series that is filled with weird stuff, randomness, outliers, and fangraphs coverage of it.

    For instance… statements like “It’s always impossible to separate pitching from hitting [over the course of 7 innings]” is fun to read, and makes me, wait… er, what?

    If you are going to cover the playoffs, have you considered titling every article “Small Sample Size results in…”? Then we can attribute all metrics of performance to variance! Yay!

    Comment by Jeff — October 26, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

  7. I have to admit I don’t think I’ve ever watched Bumgarner pitch before, but does he always not bend his back? He finishes the pitch standing up. Every other major league pitcher finishes with their torso parallel to the ground and their back leg high in the air. I’m an amateur pitcher, and I’ve always thought the reason I throw 80 rather than 90 is because I throw how Bumgarner was throwing. And yet there he was throwing 90 (barely), and he doesn’t really extend and follow through.

    Comment by KO — October 26, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

  8. Al Leiter had the best comments last night regarding Bumgarner saying it’s a cut fastball more than a slider. Leiter made a good living off of the same type of pitch.

    I’m always suspicious hearing about how they ‘fixed a mechanical flaw’ especially in the post season (see Valverde). The Giants coaching staff have done some wonder with Bumgarner. He was completely broken in the NLDS/NLCS. He couldn’t even hold a runner on.

    Santiago Casilla had a similar issue after blowing a few saves in July. He looked finished and was the epitome of a gasoline can. The Giants said it was a blister issue. They shut him down for 2 weeks and he jumps right back to form although he did lose the closer position.

    Comment by celtic1888 — October 26, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

  9. I can’t compare it to every start 26-34, but he was definitely more in command than in starts 33 and 34, the two playoff starts.

    He was WAY out of whack in the two postseason games. The three gifs above were what virtually every single pitch looked like as opposed to three misses out of 86 pitches. He looked like he was throwing a bowling ball the way his arm was dragging around. He was also clearly lost out on the mound and with zero confidence. The Cards were able to run at will because he wasn’t even thinking about the game at hand.

    My guess is that the rest, and the slight mechanical tweak let him get back to commanding his pitches. Even if it didn’t “fix” him completely to the pitcher he was most of the year.

    So that, a couple defensive breaks, and a Tigers lineup that let him get away with the mistakes he did make.

    Comment by Spencer — October 26, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

  10. There was a time Bumgarner had a 94-96 MPH fb and scared people, a lot. He’s adopted this ‘nice guy’ demeanor off the mound as a Giant’s marketing meme, dropped his arm angle, and added the cut FB, and took about 3-5 mph off his typical FB. Everybody has heard the apocryphal stories of him getting pitched out of minor league games, but sufficient to say, on the mound he’s not a typical Giants cuddly animal. I think, he is tired from a long season, but the author is right, he’s not ‘back’. He’s up in the zone and it remains to be seen whether he will be right if we get to another turn by him in the rotation.

    Comment by channelclemente — October 26, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

  11. As I said in the chat during the game. That might have been one of the worst “amazing” playoff starts I’ve ever seen.

    His stuff was flat, slow, very hittable but the Tigers have to, you know, actually hit it for him not to look like a super star. He made a ton of mistakes and was basically not punished for any of them. Good for him that he got the results, but the method wasn’t there.

    Comment by Colin — October 26, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

  12. “Hell yes I assaulted an opponent with a fist sized hard object thrown near the maximum that a human can! Why? I’ll tell ya why — he tried to hard against me!”

    I know they are there in order to compete, but can we please stop pretending like it’s cool?

    Is there a difference between trying to hit a batter and Matt Holliday taking out a 2b on a double play? Should we accept Ty Cobb’s sharpened, flying spikes against players he didn’t like?

    Comment by Travis L — October 26, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

  13. YOU MAAAAD!!

    Comment by John — October 26, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

  14. Extreme trolling at its finest.

    Comment by Colin — October 26, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

  15. shut up

    Comment by jay — October 26, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

  16. Did I say it was cool? Dude, I just told the story the way I read it. I also made a simple statement that in my opinion it looked like Bumgarner threw at Fielder on purpose. I believe I prefaced that by saying he is an “ornery” dude. If you think that’s cool, you are entitled to your opinion, but I made no such statement. I just reported a story and stated an observation.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — October 26, 2012 @ 8:57 pm

  17. Just like you can’t separate hitting from pitching, you cannot separate pitching from defense. The Giants have a Team UZR of +8.6 while the Tigers are at -28.1. As long as Giants pitchers can keep the ball in the park, and they are historically pretty good at that, they will continue to benefit from the Giants + defense. So yeah, it’s not all luck.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — October 26, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  18. I think you’ve mistaken this chat box as a radio call-in.

    Comment by John Stamos — October 26, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

  19. You just analyzed a player who might not make another appearence in a baseball game for more than four months.

    This article will be very topical next march so you could always republish it then.

    Comment by Seriously — October 26, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

  20. Good pitching always beats good hitting.

    Good hitting always beats good pitching.

    Comment by PackBob — October 26, 2012 @ 11:46 pm

  21. I’m just calling it like I see it. Everyone’s on Detroit’s dick despite the fact they’ve played like trash.

    Comment by John — October 26, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

  22. You really gotta relax, BrianJohn. SF is an awesome liberal town that doesn’t your slurs.

    Comment by tmorgan — October 27, 2012 @ 12:34 am

  23. Derp. I needed a “need”.

    Comment by tmorgan — October 27, 2012 @ 12:35 am

  24. And chickens come from proto-chicken eggs.

    Comment by BronxBomber — October 27, 2012 @ 1:04 am

  25. If Bumgarner was willing to intentionally put the leadoff man on base in a scoreless game that has historically meant about a 30-percent swing in his team’s chances of winning the World Series, ornery is definitely not the first word I’d use to describe it.

    Comment by davisnc — October 27, 2012 @ 4:38 am

  26. Could this comment simply be deleted, please? The language is extremely offensive.

    Comment by Andy — October 27, 2012 @ 4:52 am

  27. I would define “ornery” as someone who does what he/she wants to do and/or what others don’t want them to do sometimes to their own detriment. Yeah, I’d say MadBum is an ornery dude if my suspicions about that pitch to Fielder’s shoulder are true.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — October 27, 2012 @ 9:26 am

  28. WAHHHH! Cry about it. Fuck you and the Tigers.

    Comment by John — October 27, 2012 @ 11:09 am

  29. Sullivan writes, “Maybe there‚Äôs something to the fact that, on Thursday, Bumgarner had greater differentiation between his fastballs and sliders”.

    Add a “tilt” differential, and that’s the rabbit hole you need to follow, Sullivan.

    Comment by Peter — October 27, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

  30. Hey buddy, you wrote “LOL!” after talking about Bumgarner throwing at a batter and now you don’t want to own your statements? Come on man, I’m not saying that him throwing at a guy because he swung too hard, isn’t funny, but to say you don’t think it was cool to throw at someone, while you write “LOL!” right after you tell the story of a guy throwing a beanball is a little hypocritical.

    Comment by kurt — October 28, 2012 @ 2:05 am

  31. Travis, seriously, life is too short to get bent out of shape over someone else telling a story. There’s no need to try and police everyone because you have control issues. Let people write what they want as long as it’s not vulgar, abusive, and is at least topic related. Honestly, throwing at a grown man weighing close to 200lbs. or more, is not the same thing as someone punching a baby and that’s about how you are making it out to be like. The level of hyperbole around here is exhaustive to say the least.

    A side note, my grandfather was a top catching prospect and lost his baseball career in the 40s because some dude spiked him in the knee and cut his tendons on a doubleplay at 2nd base. He never cried about losing his career after reaching AAA. He said it was just part of the game and that throwing at batters, sliding hard, etc. is part of what makes baseball special, only in baseball is it not only allowed, but also encouraged to defend yourself and your teammates. Selig and his cronies be damned. Ask a player or coach and they’ll all tell you, no one is above the law when they disrespect the game, the other team/players, or intentional target (an)other guy(s) from the other club.

    Comment by kurt — October 28, 2012 @ 2:25 am

  32. The LOL! comment was for DrBGiantsFan…

    Comment by kurt — October 28, 2012 @ 2:27 am

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