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  1. “Hence, my groundbreaking thought for the day: the fastball is an important pitch.”

    You’re going to revolutionize the game.

    Comment by ArodSucksAtLife — April 5, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

  2. I don’t think the Ricky Nolasco example makes much sense. When you write that “Nolasco improved from 2008 to 2009″ you clearly are looking at WAR which (at least as computed by Fangraphs) considers xFIP, not actual ERA. Nolasco had an ERA of over 5.00 last year, so an improvement as more casual observers would see it. Using xFIP and ignoring Nolasco’s actual outcomes on batted balls on contact is certainly defensible, but it’s a mismatch to say this was done despite the decline in his fastball linear weights. The run value of Nolasco’s fastball is very heavily influenced by the outcomes of batted balls. The run value of anyone’s fastball will have very little correlation to xFIP and doesn’t make sense (to this reader) to talk about improvement in xFIP or WAR as happening despite a decline in a statistic that is largely about batted ball outcomes.

    FYI, Mike Fast had an excellent article on HardballTimes.com today on changes in a pitcher’s fastball velocity. Worth checking out.

    Comment by Detroit Michael — April 5, 2010 @ 4:24 pm

  3. As Tom Seaver wrote in his art of pitching: a pitcher’s most important pitch is his fastball. A pitchers second most important pitch… is also his fastball.

    Comment by nolan — April 5, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

  4. Good point, but that’s why I made the qualifications that I did (“by count,” etc.) while trying to avoid letting them gum up the piece.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — April 5, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

  5. I’m just not sure these linear weights for individual pitches have much meaning, not when Randy Wolf is considered to have one of the best fastballs in the game. So much of the effectiveness of a pitch has to do with your other pitches and what the hitter is expecting. If you can’t throw your curve for strikes, hitters will sit on your fastball. You could have objectively the same fastball from one year to the next and receive wildly different values on it based on your ability to command your other pitches. There’s a little signal there, but from here it looks like mostly noise.

    Comment by Nick Smith — April 5, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

  6. How is it possible to say that Verlander did not have a down year in 2008? His ERA+ was 93. his ERA was 4.84. Those are the numbers that count. You can say that his skills did not have a down year, as evidenced by his FIP, but it is irresponsible to say that he did not have a down year.

    Comment by John — April 5, 2010 @ 10:34 pm

  7. “Irresponsible?” Is someone going to take this information and do something terrible, assuming I’ve made a mistake?

    In any case, ERA/RA are more team stats than anything else. Make an argument that Verlander himself was bad, that it wasn’t bad luck on balls in play or that Detroit’s defense wasn’t bad or whatever. You just sound like you’re dogmatically asserting the priority of ERA over FIP. Maybe it should be, but it is, dare I say, “irresponsible” to just assume that the ERA-FIP gap in 2008 was all on Verlander without making any arguments for it.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — April 5, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

  8. I LIKE these articles and I don’t think there’s anything irresponsible at ALL about saying Verlander didn’t have a down year. I agree with Matt.

    At the same time, this is just one nugget of information. While we DO generally see better fastball values from players who actually have what a scout would call a good fastball, it does appear to be far more about the overall package than the fastball itself.

    The fastball is terribly important… But no pitch remains very good unless it’s backed up with other options to keep a hitter guessing.. Etc.

    Comment by Patrick — April 6, 2010 @ 12:16 am

  9. The Tigers team defense in 2008 was atrocious. Especially Renteria at shortstop.

    Comment by Chief — April 6, 2010 @ 11:44 am

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