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  1. I did not realize that linear weights on pitches only looks at pitches that end an AB with that pitch. What is the thought process for developing a statistic like that?

    Why limit the sample size for evaluating a pitch to a small sample of pitches that end ABs?

    Please explain this?

    Comment by Bay Slugga — July 26, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

  2. Lidge only threw 2(!) fastballs. I don’t know if you should be so quick to make conclusions off of such a small sample size. The study you cited by Jeff Zimmerman is for starters, who are going to throughmore than two fastballs in a game. If a starter only throws 80 pitches and half of them are fastballs that’s still 40 data points. Plus the article states the data really stabilizes after three starts.
    Once Lidge throws the equivalent of three starts worth of fastballs (or even just one start worth, lets say 40 fastballs) you can rewrite this article. It might still be the same, but it’s way to early to tell.

    Comment by Dave — July 26, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

  3. Not sure about that. The r value on ONE pitch is .5 and the velocity he showed in the game was consistent with the velocity he showed in the minor leagues. I don’t think more gas is coming.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — July 26, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

  4. It’s the way linear weights are constructed. The only way to measure linear weights is in base/run states. So, singles, doubles, triples, home runs, walks, that sort of thing. Linear weights were put together to create wRC+ and wOBA – how valuable is a double versus a walk, in other words.

    But for pitches, strike/ball is not part of the equation. only strikeouts and walks and at-bat ending results. In other words, from the perspective of linear weights, nothing is changed if the pitch doesn’t factor on the base/out level. So it’s not just about a pitch ending an at-bat, it’s about a pitch registering a single, double, walk, strikeout…

    It could be refined, but it’s still interesting.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — July 26, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

  5. I think there is not much choice here. If Lidge throws a fastball for a ball on pitch one and a slider for a ground out on pitch two, is the fastball in any way responsible for an out?

    It’s hard to say, in this case no but maybe in other cases yes? I think it just is more reliable to focus on the final pitch of ABs.

    Comment by eric_con — July 26, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

  6. “I don’t think more gas is coming.”

    You want to use 2 FB to declare his veloctiy, fine. But, both of those FBs were harder than what he was throwing in the minors. Adrenaline? Maybe. But that still represents a 2-3 mph gain over what he was hitting last week (according to the blurbs that I had been reading on yahoo).

    Comment by joshcohen — July 26, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

  7. @joshcohen He was throwing 89-90 in his rehab assignments, so it is pretty much on par with that.

    Comment by Josh L — July 26, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  8. Yeah, I’ve been following on RotoWorld, and they have gun readings that say 89-90 the whole way.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — July 26, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

  9. keep in mind this is still his spring training. he’s had ~6 appearances. i’d wait for judgement on fastball velocity till at least the end of august.

    Comment by Jamie — July 26, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

  10. He’s also been throwing less than 91 since the end of July last year. I don’t think we have to wait a full year.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — July 26, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

  11. Well Rivera has got it done with declining speed, and I’d put Lidge in the great closers catergory, and to be great they, guys like Hoffman and Rivera, have learned how to get it done with declining fastball speeds. Lidge should be able to handle this in my opinion. Sitting at 90 with a pitch with killer movement has and will work, as long as the pitcher can locate the 90mph fastball.

    Comment by Cliff Lee's Changeup — July 26, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  12. As someone whose followed Lidge as a Phillies fan over the last few years, the biggest thing that hurt him was his lack of COMMAND on his fastball. He was getting behind hitters, and therefore didn’t have favorable counts to allow for the slider.

    In 2009, when he struggled, his BB/9 was at a career high.

    During the first half of 2010, his ERA topped 5.00 and his BB/9 rate was a horrid 6. After July 31, his BB/9 dropped to 3.75, and his ERA was just 0.73 during that stretch.

    Comment by Tim L — July 26, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

  13. fair enough. i did a yahoo search and found very little on his V in lakewood (found two articles that said he didn’t hit 90 in reading) but obviously missed the rotoworld one–thanks for posting that!

    i don’t mean to be a dick bringing this up, of course. the point of the article is that 1 mph can make a significant difference.

    Comment by joshcohen — July 26, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  14. Hoffman succeeded with a slower fastball because there was still a large gap between that and his changeup speed. What’s the gap between Lidge’s fastball and slider? I think that’s a better indication of whether he’ll be effective with reduced velocity.

    Comment by JohnnyComeLately — July 26, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

  15. i don’t think he’s going to get past 91. He was qouted as saying that he’s stopped trying to throw hard and work on location more. Part of the reason for his success in the second half last year was less MPH and more location.

    i’d expect to top out at 92 and live in the 89/90 range

    Comment by Jamie — July 26, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

  16. Lidge’s slider in his heyday was unfair to opposing batters. 157 strikeouts in 2004, at a rate of 14.9 per nine innings.

    Comment by JP — July 26, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

  17. Eno, I do think you’re wrong. Pitch values are based on every pitch. I.e., the value assigned to a first pitch strike would be based on the run expectancy of a 0-1 count. The value of a ball after a 2-0 count would be the difference between the run expectancy of a 2-0 and a 3-0 count. Etc.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — July 26, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

  18. Good point Jamie. The pitchers mentioned with a lack of velocity in the article are all control pitchers, which Lidge is definitely not. I can say that confidently based on the dozens of games I’ve seen him pitch since he came to Philly. He actually locates his slider better (when trying to throw it for strike as well as to induce swings outside the zone) and uses it to get in a groove so he can pepper in the fastball. Would be interesting to see Pitch F/X data on his fastball location since coming to Philly.

    Comment by DD — July 26, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  19. Location is a big “if” there my friend.

    Comment by DD — July 26, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  20. From what I remember, his slider was low 80’s last year, around 82-83, fastball (as stated here) around 91. That’s a sufficient gap.

    Comment by DD — July 26, 2011 @ 4:06 pm

  21. Nah I’m wrong. Sorry guys. It’s judged on a pitch-by-pitch result, which is good. The run value of a strike or a ball or a foul ball is an input.

    Changed the article to reflect the real problem with using linear weights as a proxy for a pitch’s dominance: interactivity. We’ve been talking in the comments about the difference in speeds between pitches, and that’s basically the same conversation. If Hoffman throws two changeups in a row, that’s different than a fastball and then a changeup.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — July 26, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  22. Ya, and there would be no way for a reading to be off by 1 mph at a minor league game either.

    Comment by BS — July 26, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  23. Lidge throws three variations of his slider though:

    – Slider in the dirt which really makes Ruiz work.
    – Slider at the knees
    – Back-door slider he throws especially vs. right-handed hitters

    If he can throw that slider at the knees with a decent degree of consistency for strikes like he did last year, I like his chance to succeed again avoiding too many counts where he has to go with a fastball.

    I can think of another reliever though who used his slider though to set up his fastball? Anybody?

    Comment by MG — July 26, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

  24. Luke Gregerson? Sergio Romo?

    Comment by Eno Sarris — July 26, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

  25. Maybe not. But it wouldn’t be totally crazy if he ended up around 90.5.

    Comment by Dave — July 26, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

  26. Romo is a great example. Thanks. Complete oversight.

    Comment by MG — July 26, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

  27. “Back-door slider he throws especially vs. right-handed hitters”

    How does a RHP throw a back-door breaking ball to a RHH?

    Comment by Bill — July 26, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

  28. I could have sworn the only way to throw a backdoor pitch is for the batter and pitcher to be same handed, i.e. a left-handed pitcher can only throw a backdoor slider to a left-handed batter. I think this is due to the fact that the break causes the pitch to look as if it is coming in on the batter and then breaks into the zone.

    Comment by Lee — July 26, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

  29. No, that’s a regular breaking ball.

    A back-door slider (or curve) is one against the opposite-handed hitter. It starts outside the zone, and just crosses into the zone at the last minute. It thus enters through the “back door”–the outside part of the zone away from the hitter.

    Comment by Jimmy the Greek — July 26, 2011 @ 11:21 pm

  30. A breaking ball from a right-handed pitcher to a right-handed batter that appears to start at the batter’s hip and then break over the inside part of the zone is often called a “Back-up slider.” I’ve heard some analysts call it a “Front-door” breaking ball as well.

    Comment by Misfit — July 27, 2011 @ 9:03 am

  31. I agree with misfit. sliders and curves can be back door only to opposite handed guys, while a 2 seamer or some other pitch which tails the opposite direction is used on the outside corner by same handed pitchers.

    Comment by DD — July 27, 2011 @ 9:34 am

  32. I’m betting that he’ll eventually have a fastball that sits somewhere in between 91 and 93 mph, but it’s been a long time since his fastball was his best pitch. I don’t think I’ve seen him hit 96 or 97 mph in four years, and hit 100 mph more than a few times in a season since 2006. But knowing that he’s been a head case for a long time going from utter dominance to one of the most hittable pitchers with filthy stuff… I wouldn’t bet for or against him. I do think he needs to be able to top 90 mph for that slider to be as sick as it has been. With so many variations of his slider if he can locate his fastball for a strike instead of repeatedly miss with it, he can still be a solid closer.

    Comment by Kyle — July 27, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

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