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  1. Couldn’t agree more: command and substantial pitch speed variation can make for a great major league pitcher absent “nasty” stuff; when velocity and movement are added to the equation, you often have the receipe for something truly special.

    On an off topic note, another thanks to the authors of this site. They are probably already aware of it, but Deadspin paid a high compliment (IMO) in a recent article:

    Comment by Big Oil — June 11, 2009 @ 11:36 am

  2. i agree wholeheartedly. pitching has never been about how fast a pitcher throws a fastball. it is all about avoiding the bat’s sweet spot. (conversely, hitting is all about putting the bat’s sweet spot on the ball.) this is best evidenced by wakefield and jamie moyer. pitchers can do this several ways: varying pitch speed, varying movement on the ball, deceptive delivery, deceptive arm speed, varying pitch type, pitch release point, and pitch location. in addition to this, pitchers have to mix up all of these factors so that hitters do not spot a pattern in what they throw.

    the metrics for most of these variables have not been developed and i’m excited to see more metrics that measure these things.

    Comment by JC — June 11, 2009 @ 11:42 am

  3. So this suggests the next direction for experimentation with the data: looking at pitch sequences. Simplistically, we could look at various deltas between consecutive pitches (velocity, vertical movement, etc), but obviously other confounding variables may turn out to be more significant (if the previous pitch induced a swing or was called a strike, etc). And sequences longer than two pitches are probably significant as well (they may even extend over multiple PAs by the same batter in some cases). Interesting stuff.

    I’d really like to see Pitch FX data get broken out by batter’s handedness, so we could look at an appearance by a pitcher against all the righties he faced and all the lefties. Is there a site or tool that does this? (If not, I may have to write one myself)

    Comment by joser — June 11, 2009 @ 11:54 am

  4. I was fooling around with the leaderboards and was very surprised to see Wakefield at #1 so I’m glad you brought that up. Do you think we might be suffering from a small sample size problem here? I added up Wakefield’s pitches and it seems as though he has thrown 112 fastballs this year. 112 pitches doesn’t seem like nearly enough to form an opinion on a pitch or pitchers effectiveness. That’s just one game. If you take a look at his historical wFB/C it’s all over the place.

    I do agree that Wakefield’s fastball is obviously made effective because it is set up with the knuckleball, and it’s very interesting to see him toping that list.

    Comment by Alex — June 11, 2009 @ 11:55 am

  5. For those that are curious, when only looking at pitchers which their fastball is their primary pitch the list is


    Its interesting to see some groundball pitchers up there (Porcello and Lowe).

    Oddly Another pitcher having a great season has a negative rating on their fastball, Halladay. Weird.

    Comment by Steve C — June 11, 2009 @ 11:59 am

  6. 72 MPH would be a really hard fastball…

    …in little league.

    That’s amazing. I’ve always been a fan of Timmy Wakefield, and I love pitchers who change speeds effectively (like Jamie Moyer). It’s great when the numbers come together like that.

    Comment by Evan — June 11, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

  7. Well, to be fair, Halladay’s primary pitch is the cutter, or at least his favorite pitch, so he might be negative with the 4-seamer but his other stuff is usually devastating.

    Comment by Eric Seidman — June 11, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

  8. With that being said, it should stand to reason then that bostons relievers should have better stats when relieving wakefield than when relieving a normal pitcher. If someone has time to run the metrics.

    Comment by Dan — June 11, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

  9. Doesn’t this suggest that a pitcher will do well to continue throwing some his less valuable pitches – perhaps even more often than his more valuable pitches – because a large part of the value of their more valuable pitches comes from hitters not expecting them?

    Surely nobody is suggesting that Wakefield would be a better pitcher if he threw 88% 72mh fastballs and only 9% knucklers?

    Comment by Colm — June 11, 2009 @ 2:06 pm

  10. Is there any way to tell from looking at the leaderboards how up to date they are? For example, Dice-K pitched (poorly) on Sunday, but the pitch type and pitch value leaderboards didn’t appear to pick up his Sunday start until Tuesday.

    If it’s not feasible to provide a “Stats Thru” date, is there a typical rule of thumb to use?

    Believe me, I’m not griping. This is just AWESOME stuff. One more thing on my wishlist though… perhaps a way to get to the raw numbers that make up the pitch values? Where for a particular player, how many fastballs did he take for strikes? Balls? When a fastball ends the AB, what was his OBP? SLG?

    Thanks again for all this. I’m trying to incorporate it when I can into my Red Sox stats blog at ( I hope I’m interpreting things correctly.

    Regarding Wakefield: He’s good with the fastball because he’s SMART with the fastball. He also throws a LOT of his fastballs on 3-0 counts, so he builds up some credits that way.

    Comment by Gary from Chapel Hill — June 11, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

  11. The Washington Post today had an article on the fastest fastballs in the league this year, and reference fangraphs, so congrats guys :).

    Comment by milkman41 — June 11, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

  12. Could it be that Wakefield gets the most out of his fastball because of the situations in which he uses it? He throws the fastball almost exclusively in 3-0 counts when most hitters are taking all the way. Basically, is he throwing a pitch that he can usually get over for a strike and most hitters never swing at? It seems more likely that this is the case. From watching him pitch, he rarely mixes in the fastball to trick batters.

    Comment by Bill — June 11, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

  13. Speaking of cool stats on this website (I know, it’s a horrible transition), it looks like the player stats don’t include yesterday’s games. Is this just a normal delay?


    Comment by NadavT — June 11, 2009 @ 3:25 pm

  14. These stats update nightly between 3:30 am – 6:30 am eastern time, typically without fail. There may be a rare hiccup or two, but if you have any question, you can always look at the game log for a particular pitcher and see if his last start is there. If it is, you’re good to go.

    Seems though there was a problem today, I’m fixing it now.

    Comment by David Appelman — June 11, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

  15. I am sure that plays a roll but he will throw it in other places occasionally, or at least more than you are giving him credit for. The key is that even though the gist of what you are saying is right that almost anyone else throws that pitch, even in such a situation, it is going to get rocked.

    Comment by walkoffblast — June 11, 2009 @ 3:45 pm

  16. Some of the stats weren’t updated last night. Should be updated shortly though. Since everything ran ok, except with no new data, didn’t notice until I read the comments in this thread.

    Comment by David Appelman — June 11, 2009 @ 3:57 pm

  17. Not to be unduly insulting to managers, but if it’s reasonably likely that you are about to get a 72 mph cookie in the strike zone, you’re insane to force the hitter to take the pitch unless his name is Reggie Willits or the bases are loaded.

    I guess it’s just one more example of managers’ rather feeble understanding of game theory.

    Comment by Paul Thomas — June 13, 2009 @ 1:46 am

  18. >> an offering that should be a total meatball is acting like a true out pitch.

    I’ve only looked at the 08 data, but wake’s fastball is acting nothing like a true out pitch. He gets a lot of called strikes with it early in the count, but hardly ever strikes anyone out with it, gets even fewer swinging strikes, and really only generates a moderate amount of batted outs with it. Almost all of his fb’s success comes from called first or 2nd strikes. Can’t call that an out pitch…

    Comment by Joe — June 15, 2009 @ 1:35 pm

  19. I agree. I mean, I’m 13 and I throw 72 regularly. I imagine Wakefield must have truly nasty movement on his “heater”, if you can call it that, and control and O-swing % probably also figures majorly in that statement.. My god, most major league pitchers have changeups that are 10-15 mph faster.

    Comment by Ramah71 — March 2, 2010 @ 11:39 pm

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    Comment by tub — November 15, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

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