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  1. He pitched to a different catcher last year. Could that have contributed to the resultss?

    Comment by DonM — February 3, 2011 @ 11:15 am

  2. It’s Greinke’s customary behavior to raise his GB rate from 40% to 46%?

    I ain’t no english major, but I don’t quite get the usage of wont there.

    Comment by Telo — February 3, 2011 @ 11:17 am

  3. One variable to keep in mind here is that Greinke stated in the offseason that he decreased his usage of his slider to protect his arm late in the year. He indicated that he didn’t want to hurt his arm throwing the slider when the year was already a lost season for the Royals. He could have also decreased his use of the curve and just not mentioned it. One of the biggest things I noticed about the 2009 performance versus ’08 and ’10 was the impact of the catcher. Olivo was a horrible catcher in general, but he did have one attribute that seemed to positively affect Zack, aggression. Zack seemed much more aggressive in his pitching style and more likely to go for the punch-out when he had two strikes when Olivo was catching.

    Comment by BrettFan1 — February 3, 2011 @ 11:19 am

  4. It was his wont to have year-to-year changes in his curveball rate in general, not specifically those numbers…

    Comment by Eno Sarris — February 3, 2011 @ 11:21 am

  5. As Tango preaches, regressing carries over to pitch f/x work as well. Everything here, even though it seems very granular with large samples of data, needs to be regressed. You definitely didn’t ignore that – you mention the LWTS on his CU should be taken with a grain of salt, but the idea that high curves in general get more whiffs than low curves is something I would have to see lots more data to believe – much more than Dave Allens’ piece and Grienke’s two year semi-trend.

    Are pitchers ever trying to throw a high curveball? I can see that Hunter certainly does, but that is clearly the exception rather than the rule.

    I’m having trouble grasping anything here that is significant – but I’ve just started digging in. Give me a few.

    The bottom line is – I don’t have nearly enough here to believe that high curves are better than low curves, and that kind of undercuts the whole article.

    Comment by Telo — February 3, 2011 @ 11:29 am

  6. Ah, ok. Reading it again, I buy it.

    Comment by Telo — February 3, 2011 @ 11:31 am

  7. His wife isn’t missing any curves, that’s for sure…

    Comment by Pat — February 3, 2011 @ 11:42 am

  8. “an FIP”? Wait, what? Am I the only person that always reads it in my head as “fip”? Do most people say it out, as in “F-I-P” like “E-R-A”?

    Comment by DL80 — February 3, 2011 @ 11:48 am

  9. What? I say “fype” in my head.

    Just kidding, fip. Yes. I’m betting the “an” is a typo.

    Comment by Telo — February 3, 2011 @ 11:50 am

  10. I say F-I-P. Dave Cameron says fip. Carson Cistulli confuses it with the calf bone, alongside the tibia.

    Comment by Albert Lyu — February 3, 2011 @ 11:52 am

  11. fixed it so it’s better

    Comment by Eno Sarris — February 3, 2011 @ 11:55 am

  12. I also say F-I-P. (yeah you know me)

    Comment by Eno Sarris — February 3, 2011 @ 11:56 am

  13. The problem here might be that I’m way better at asking questions than answering them.

    I’m not suggesting that this is a trend across baseball, really, but it’s an interesting question. Also, I do think people aim their curves. While researching this article, I was told that Greinke even referenced dropping the high curves in an interview, but I couldn’t find it.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — February 3, 2011 @ 11:58 am

  14. (TLDR)

    Someone has to ask the questions, right?

    There is definitely something to this, too. I was really trying to play devils’ advocate from the math perspective. Here’s my thought process, from a no-numbers/pure baseball perspective:

    Let’s assume for a second that high curves really DO get more whiffs and better results:

    Very seldom does anyone ever try to throw a high curve ball, even less often than a pitcher will try to throw a back door breaking ball. They are dangerous because, obviously, they break into the middle of the zone. Of all of the CU thrown high in the zone, probably >80% are mistakes (of atleast 6in) (and again, Hunter is an interesting exception).

    However, because hitters rarely look for these pitches, they are often effective. If a batter picks up a very high trajectory, he’s first move is to let it go, but when he sees it breaking over the plate his could be tempted to put a bad/late swing on it, resulting in whiffs.

    So, there is some game theory going here. Like bluffing in poker, there is correct number of high curves to throw where the batter will still be surprised by it, and thus put a bad swing on it. Throw high curves any less than that, and you aren’t taking enough advantage of the pitch; throw it any more and the batter will show better results – he’ll know it’s coming, and it’s really not that hard of a pitch to hit, it’s only good because it’s a surprise.

    So, in the end, it’s fundamental pitching to keep your Curveball low in (and often out of) the zone, and Grienke showing the ability to do so seems like a plus to me. However, if there was real data that showed these high curves DO get better results… well then, fundamental pitching should change to abide the game theory above – and you should throw the high curve just enough that batters don’t start to look for it.

    Still… in the end…. the real point is, you have to have a pretty solid deuce to be able to sit on the mound and throw the sucker so it breaks right into the upper half. Which is kind the base of my friction with the whole idea. But at the same time, Grienke is just the kind of crazy (and crazy good) pitcher to fearlessly throw it. Like the time he “called his pitch” in the dugout before the inning and threw a 50 MPH curve the next inning.

    Oh, Grienke.

    Comment by Telo — February 3, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

  15. how do you pronounce wOBA? I say “woah-ba” in my head, even though it sounds really weird. i usually say F-I-P though.

    Comment by phoenix2042 — February 3, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

  16. fip fip fip! woah-ba! bah-bip!

    F-I-P, etc. is a waste of syllables.

    Comment by Baron Samedi — February 3, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

  17. Short version, I don’t buy the theory that you, the average pitcher (or pitcher with an average CU) should be trying to throw high curves, except when you have supreme command of it, and are confident you won’t leave a flat meatball in the go-zone for the batter.

    That being said, Greinke is just the kind of guy who should probably mix in a few high deuces.

    That’s a lot of writing to end up saying “I agree. He could probably benefit from a couple more high curves next year.”

    Comment by Telo — February 3, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

  18. no time to waste precious syllables! contract contract!

    Comment by phoenix2042 — February 3, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

  19. I actually pronounced it B-A-B-I-P too. Cameron’s definitely very different: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-language-of-fangraphs

    Comment by Albert Lyu — February 3, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

  20. B-A-B-I-P…..???????? I hope you’re kidding

    Comment by Telo — February 3, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

  21. I say “Weighted on base”. W-O-B-A and whoa-bah don’t seem right.

    Comment by Telo — February 3, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

  22. The worst part is that in my head (because lord help me if I ever have the urge to say this out loud) says “whoa-bee-ay”. Ugh. Just writing it out is bad enough.

    Comment by danmerqury — February 3, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

  23. Ahh those Lake wOBAgon days…

    Comment by neuter_your_dogma — February 3, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

  24. Eno,

    Greinke intentionally changed his pitch usage last year to protect his arm for later use on a team that had a chance to win baseball games

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ti-greinkefallout122010

    Comment by Jeffrey Gross — February 3, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

  25. there’s the link! It mostly focuses on slider, but an interesting thing to be so candid about.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — February 3, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

  26. wOBA was developed and named by Tango. He has said very specifically that he chose the name based on a Sesame Street song. FIP is like taking the rude finger out of “flip off.” xFIP is is a little more polite, due to the normalization of HR/FB%. BABIP, (repeat quickly several times), should sound like a truck backing up. Here we have eff wore, (fWAR), at other sites they use arrr warrrr, (rWAR). The replacement level for WARP is too low, violating special relativity. VORP, as all your mothers told you, is a rude sound, never appropriate for the dinner table, even if it will make your little sister laugh. Pythag uses squares not triangles, so you have to rotate pi/4 to get a baseball diamond. I better quit before I get to a late inning pressure situation and need to depress my clutch, or my get up won’t go. And you want me to get up and go; digitally speaking.

    Comment by kds — February 3, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  27. You misspelled ‘Zack’ on the first line.

    Comment by camisadelgolf — February 3, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

  28. I beg to differ. Greinke threw fewer sliders in 2010, yes, but he never gave a reason, much less one that indicated he was trying to protect his arm. That was pure speculation by people trying to put a reason on his reduced slider usage.

    Comment by tbr — February 3, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

  29. His curve has gone the way of Lincecum’s; it’s just spins to the plate and doesn’t have a hard break. I never really thought much of Greinke’s curve. I thought it was played up due to his overall reputation as being a master craftsman of all pitches, a 5-6 pitch guy. To me, his regular speed curve in the mid-70s and super slow one in the mid-60s were never effective. I’ve seen a lot of homers off his curve. His slider is devastating however. As much as he was thought to be a touch and feel, cerebral pitcher, he’s become the classic power fb/slider pitcher, with just an average change and below-average curve to finish things out. He’s more John Smoltz than Greg Maddux.

    Comment by Steve — February 3, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

  30. Or, Greinke’s infrequent use of sliders may have led him to throw more curveballs in situations where he would normally throw a slider, giving hitters something better to look at.

    Comment by Bob — February 3, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

  31. Very astute. Very accurate.

    Comment by puffy — February 4, 2011 @ 10:33 am

  32. “but an interesting thing to be so candid about.”

    He’s an intelligent guy. Smart people don’t insult people’s intelligence by denying the obvious.

    Comment by puffy — February 4, 2011 @ 10:36 am

  33. I love how so many people post uninformed comments! First Zach did say that he intentionally stopped throwing his Slider to save his arm for the next season. Grienke is the type of person that needs motivation to pitch. It’s obvious with his low key demeanor and weird wit that he he doesn’t understand just how talented he is. Look real close at his 2009 #’s and you’ll see that not many Pitchers in the history of the game has put together a whole season like the one he did. The man could have won 25 games if he were on a better team. He lost countless games and had allot of no decisions in games he gave up 0 to 2 runs.And if anybody doesn’t know, he throws a really good Curve!!! He throws 3 different ones and has command of all 3, so all this talk that he has a below average Curve is nonsense! He has uncommon command of all of his pitches and he’ll be motivated this year and Zach will dominate the NL and win his 2nd Cy Young. His ERA will be less than 2 and everyone is going to eat they’re words because they talk w/out knowing. He developed into one of the most talented pitchers to ever grace the mound, the reason he doesn’t have the #’s to prove it is because even he doesn’t know how talented he is. When he figures that out the rest of the league is in trouble because they also have to deal with Gallardo and Marcum as well. World Series our Bust!!

    Comment by Colin Z-Force — February 5, 2011 @ 10:30 am

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