FanGraphs Baseball


RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. too/to/two are different words.

    Comment by Derek — March 22, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

  2. It should also be noted that Hunter has been on the same Angels team as Hisanori Takahashi in 2011 (and 2012), so he’s certainly seen H-Tak’s arsenal up close, even if it’s not facing him in real MLB games.

    Comment by WestCoastMets — March 22, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

  3. “All of the Japanese pitchers have pretty much the same style”

    Is that kind of like saying all African-American outfielders play the same way? Sounds stupid to me. Though, no one ever accused Hunter of being bright. I’ve had to “pleasure” to watch his kids play.

    Comment by John — March 22, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

  4. Wait, what? What does hockey have to do with batting left handed? I grew up playing hockey and played a little baseball as a kid. The idea of swinging a bat or a stick from the left side makes my arms feel funny just thinking about it.

    Comment by byron — March 22, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  5. This was not an article in which I expected to find the phrase “gay porn scandal.”

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — March 22, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

  6. Interesting. I didn’t read Hunter’s comment as any more prejudiced than it would have been to observe 15 years ago that European basketball players who came to the NBA all played a different style from their US counterparts. And I think it is probably just as truthful as the basketball observation. Different leagues, different rules, different fan bases, different talent levels, different different equipment even… it is only logical that the players would learn to play differently, even in subtle ways. I think the “too many pitches” comment rings particularly true – I don’t care how good everyone says Darvish’s 7 pitches are, recent MLB history tells me that top pitchers see no advantage from learning that many pitches at the expense of mastering a smaller number, and I find it hard to believe he won’t be better off eliminating a few pitches from his repertoire.

    Now saying that they do pitch in a certain way doesn’t mean that they must pitch in a certain way, but after a whole career of a certain approach, change is probably difficult. In that sense the biggest advantage Darvish has is youth – he is coming to MLB on the upside of his career, not the downside, and he can make physical and mental adjustments just like any 25 year old rookie would be expected to. He can take a season to figure out which 3-5 of his 7 “plus” pitches really work in MLB, then take a season to focus on them, and then still be several years short of age 30 by the time he has settled into it a new approach permanently. I’m getting increasingly optimistic about his long-term potential even as I’m getting more pessimistic about his 2012 prospects.

    Comment by mcbrown — March 22, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

  7. Embarrassing. Fixed.

    Comment by Alex Remington — March 22, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

  8. This whole column is an attempt to answer that question. My answer is no.

    Comment by Alex Remington — March 22, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

  9. You have to pleasure to watch his kids play? I sure hope that is a typo… :s

    Comment by MJ — March 22, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

  10. Racist!

    Comment by colour — March 22, 2012 @ 4:52 pm

  11. There was very little, if any, statistical analysis here. Couldn’t you have taken pitch selection data from Japanese pitchers and compared that to the MLB average?

    Comment by thomasgrantham — March 22, 2012 @ 4:52 pm

  12. The top hand in hockey is often different from the top hand in baseball. Here’s an article offering advice for why that’s the case:

    Comment by Alex Remington — March 22, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

  13. “Style” is about more than just pitch selection data. I like to explore questions that can’t simply be answered with statistical analysis.

    Comment by Alex Remington — March 22, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

  14. Style is how they wear their pants. How they pitch can be analyzed with statistics. This is FanGraphs not a Rick Reilly column.

    Comment by thomasgrantham — March 22, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

  15. Sorry, the “pleasure” of scouting his kids. Talk about putting on a show. Money Hunter. lol

    Comment by John — March 22, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

  16. At least he didn’t say they all look the same to him, too.

    Comment by nosferatu — March 22, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

  17. Hockey? Really? That sounded like BS to me. I’ve always used a hockey stick from the same side I bat. But what do I know?

    Comment by Canuckistani — March 22, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

  18. I . . . what? I played hockey for 14 years and I’ve never even heard of this before. And that broom test, don’t you just switch off arms as they get tired, and put the more refreshed one on the bottom? That’s how I rake at least. And I’m not the least bit ambidextrous, my left hand writes like a kindergartner. My mind is blown.

    Comment by byron — March 22, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

  19. Arm-angle is at least one non-quantitative aspect of pitching that could fall under style. I’m sure we can think of others that are not how one wears one’s pants.

    Comment by LTG — March 22, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

  20. In light of Newman’s comment that “I think Torii’s perceptions are based on the 17 guys he’s seen in MLB, rather than the hundreds of Japanese pitchers that have been active in NPB over the last 10 years.” and if we take Torii’s statement to be true I wonder if this says more about Japanese pitchers or American baseball times who sign Japanese pitchers. Is it possible that Torii’s observations are true because teams just look for the same things in pitchers from Japan? It wouldn’t be the first time that teams have shown a lack of imagination and a reluctance to do things differently.

    Comment by Drakos — March 22, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

  21. Well, arm angles are 100% quantitative. That’s why they teach angles in math.

    Comment by thomasgrantham — March 22, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

  22. Imposter!

    Comment by Nate — March 22, 2012 @ 5:16 pm

  23. Japanese ball players are essentially trained to be unified in everything they do. The individual is supposed to be absent from the equation with this mindset. This is why the comment that Torii made was significant. He’s saying they’re easier to figure out because of how they play the game. The statistics in the article that back up that claim are there:

    “Including postseason play, Torii Hunter has 81 plate appearances against Japanese pitchers, the majority of them against Daisuke Matsuzaka (19 PA), Mac Suzuki (12 PA) and Koji Uehara (10 PA). In his plate appearances against Japanese pitching, he has hit .289/.333/.487, which, for what it’s worth, is slightly better than his career mark of .274/.332/.467, though it’s hard to draw too many conclusions from such a small number of plate appearances.”

    The point is that Yu Darvish does not fit “any” mold except his own.

    Comment by Christopher Benson — March 22, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

  24. Also, I’m a bit confused about “top” hand. When I stand up to swing a bat right-handed, my left hand is beneath my right on the end of the handle, right? Or am I doing it all wrong?

    Comment by byron — March 22, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

  25. Byron, I also like to play hockey, and I’m also very confused by this. I’m righty in both. Righties generally bat righty with their right hand on top (as you say), and most righties play hockey righty with their right hand lower on the stick. I don’t think I’d be nearly as effective trying to play hockey the other way around.

    Comment by Jon L. — March 22, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

  26. The problem here is that Torii said racially insensitive things before.

    Comment by David Pinto — March 22, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

  27. After reading the article, the best comparison I could think of also was the NBA. I don’t think it’s a race thing, it’s a league thing. That’s how they play ball in Japan.

    Comment by Boxkutter — March 22, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

  28. It doesn’t have anything to do with “race” per se, but rather where the players are developed. If certain styles and philosophies of pitch sequence strategy are predominant in Japan that are not as common here, you’d expect for a hitter to notice the differences in approach based on where the pitcher developed.

    This really isn’t any different than acknowledging the perception that hitters who develop in Latin America are more free-swinging and less prone to work a walk. If the developmental environment rewards young kids for swinging because they “are paid to hit” and that’s what gets them signed at the academies, then you’ll see more Miguel Tejadas, Vladimir Guerreros and Adrian Beltres.

    I think it’s far more telling of your own assumptions that you would immediately come to the rescue of Japanese players as the self proclaimed racism police and to claim that someone is stupid, rather than to bother considering if there was an actual reason for Torii Hunter’s statement.

    Thanks for the article Alex. I haven’t been the biggest fan of your stuff in the past, but I’m glad that you’re at least being open to the idea that some things in baseball aren’t caused by institutional racism or sexism.

    Comment by soladoras — March 22, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

  29. In baseball, yes, your top hand is typically the dominant hand. (Though Hank Aaron grew up hitting cross-handed and it didn’t hurt him any.)

    But in Canadian youth hockey it isn’t always. And the top Canadian hitters in major league history bear this out, as many of them apply hockey-influenced handedness to baseball. In baseball history, there have been nine All-Star position players who were born in Canada. They are:

    George Selkirk, throws: R, bats: L
    Jeff Heath, throws: R, bats: L
    Goody Rosen, throws: L, bats: L
    Oscar Judd, throws: L, bats: L
    Terry Puhl, throws: L, bats: R
    Larry Walker, throws: R, bats: L
    Russell Martin, throws: R, bats: R
    Jason Bay, throws: R, bats: R
    Justin Morneau, throws R, bats L
    Joey Votto, throws: R, bats: L

    Seven of those nine players threw right-handed, but five of those seven batted lefty.

    In addition, Corey Koskie, who never made an All-Star team, batted left-handed though he threw right-handed.

    Comment by Alex Remington — March 22, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

  30. Which begs the question… which articles do you expect to find that phrase?

    Comment by WestCoastMets — March 22, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

  31. I’m right handed in everything in life, including baseball, yet play hockey left-handed. Now, I’m basically ambidexterous with a hockey stick, but my natural preference is to play lefty. Some of that may be as result of playing goalie from a young age, so I always wanted my hockey glove hand to be the same as my baseball glove hand (on the left hand) and that would require you to play goalie “lefty” so to speak.

    Comment by MrKnowNothing — March 22, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

  32. Breaking news about Rick Santorum?

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — March 22, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

  33. This is hilarious about Canadians and hockey. We also supply the highest percentage of left-handed golfers, but whether it has anything to do with hockey is debatable. In the early days, hockey sticks were all the same: straight blade. Now there are right and left curved sticks. I think its about 55-45 left to right. I think it is really because the king of England shipped out his supply of left-handed shovels to Canada back in the 1820s, and we adapted. Or something.

    Comment by brian fawcett — March 22, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

  34. That’s true, but anyone seeing racism in this comment is really reaching.

    Comment by Tom — March 22, 2012 @ 6:07 pm

  35. Canadian hockey and American hockey must be different bc all the American players I know that throw right handed, hit right handed in baseball and shoot righty in hockey.

    Comment by Ronin — March 22, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

  36. I honestly can’t remember who first made the connection for me between Canadian youth hockey and right-handed Canadian baseball players batting lefty. Sorry that I can’t be of more help. It’s just something that someone mentioned to me once. Certainly, nearly all of the best hitters in Canadian baseball history have been righties who batted lefty. If hockey isn’t the reason then I’m not sure what is.

    Comment by Alex Remington — March 22, 2012 @ 6:10 pm

  37. boom, roasted

    Comment by jim — March 22, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

  38. they teach angles in math because arm angles are quantitative?

    i’m no math expert, but there’s absolutely no way that’s correct

    Comment by jim — March 22, 2012 @ 6:13 pm

  39. After reading that article I would have to say when the author refers to “dominant hand” he probably means agility wise. In this sense I would say my glove hand is my dominant hand despite the fact that I write and throw with my right hand. I bat right handed and I control my bat with my left hand more than my right, but my right hand has more power just like the author alludes to in the article. Want to test it out for yourself? Buy a tee ball bat and do the one handed soft toss drill, see which hand you control the bat with better.

    Comment by Ronin — March 22, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

  40. Alex, that’s a fascinating list. I’ve started to wonder if I’m so right-dominated, and so not-a-professional-athlete that my left hand is just useless. So it sits on top of the hockey stick and provides a pivot for the right to move around, or the bottom of the bat and just goes along for the ride. What Ronin brings up rings completely false to me, in that my left hand is TOO WEAK TO EVEN GUIDE A TEE BALL BAT WITH EASE. I also would struggle with the right-hand side of the drill because of how incapable my left hand is of tossing the ball two feet in the air accurately. So, in sum, this fascinates me because I apparently had a stroke when I was a kid or something, rendering my left side useless.

    Comment by byron — March 22, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

  41. Goalies wear their catching gloves on their non-dominant hands, just like baseball fielders. Unless my world is about to be rocked again. But I played goalie for six years, and the stick was always in my right hand.

    Comment by byron — March 22, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

  42. Should we start testing Japanese baseball players for Performance Enhancing Cybernetics (PEC’s)? They may be capitalizing on their technology to create a Borg like ‘hive mind’

    Comment by Chris — March 22, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

  43. agreed completely. This is more of a commentary about “Culture” and how it has impacted

    Comment by Christopher Benson — March 22, 2012 @ 7:20 pm

  44. Bill James thought that experimenting with multiple pitches was a short-run bad thing but a long-run good thing for pitchers.

    Comment by Richie — March 22, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

  45. Junichi Tarzawa did not play NPB. He played in the industrial league to avoid the posting system

    Comment by Mafrth77 — March 22, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

  46. Well, this is the group of players from whence came Hideki Matsui, he of the 100,000 porn video collection. So perhaps not wholly unexpected?

    Comment by Mac — March 22, 2012 @ 7:37 pm

  47. So basically Darvish being a different mold of pitcher comes down to how he knocked up a girl before marrying.

    Comment by jeff_bonds — March 22, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

  48. Yet the guy who was in the gay porn scandal isn’t “a wildman by Japanese standard.”

    Comment by jeff_bonds — March 22, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

  49. I wonder if Japanese league catcher’s call a game differently? With that open hitting stance, and tennis racket swing most Japanese hitters who move here use, it would lead to a very different view of hitting from a catchers perspetive. Interestingly, the Dallas media has seemed to think only Napoli had the gumption to catch Darvish.

    Comment by channelclemente — March 22, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

  50. for what its worth when i started golfing i played left handed – the same way i played hockey – although i batted righty – after a few years someone convinced me i should be “emulating” my batting swing while golfing, not my hockey shot – so i switched to a righty golfer and my game took off – this led me to look into some theories on the topic and like the author of this article i found a lot of theories about canadians being lefties because of their hockey experience – nothing proven but certainly a theory thats been around for a while …

    Comment by rob norton — March 22, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

  51. The basic premise of Hunter’s statement seems fine to me. It has nothing to do with race and everything to do with philosophy. Think of all the pitchers with a hitch or hesitation in their delivery. Outside of Dan Haren, what do they all have in common?

    Come to think of it, Dan Haren is basically everything that can go right with a Japanese-style pitcher: low 90s, four pitches in any count, etc. Hunter is describing a pitching philosophy that applies to several Japanese pitchers, but also to guys like Haren and Shields and Mussina. There really hasn’t been a Japanese fireballer to break the mold.

    Comment by Eric Cioe — March 22, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

  52. Didn’t realize was such a big Japanese baseball expert.

    Wonder if Torii can can also recommend where one can find good Japanese sushi?

    Comment by GonzoFlyBall — March 22, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

  53. You’ve obviously never watched Japanese porn

    Comment by adohaj — March 22, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

  54. I wonder if this has an effect on American (or MLB) players who go play in Japan. Colby Lewis is the first person I thought of when reading this. He had great success in Japan and is it possible that some of that was the idea that Japanese pitchers all have the same style, so the Japanese players would not be used to the different style of Lewis, thus making it harder for them to hit?

    Comment by zbelair — March 22, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

  55. Embarassing article Alex. I read Hunter’s comments and didn’t get even a whiff of what you were reaching for. I’m still unsure of what the hell you insinuating Hunter did wrong.

    You must be so deeply conditioned to racial insensitivity that you look for it every statement a person makes. God forbid if we call somebody a “Japanese-style pitcher” because he pitches in *GASP* Japan!!

    Comment by Josh — March 22, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

  56. Love it, Alex. Now it’s time to blow some minds:

    I bat right, throw right, shoot a hockey stick left, and yet somehow swing a golf club righty.

    This isn’t uncommon amongst Canadian folk.

    Comment by Kris — March 22, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

  57. Excellent point. Equally, it takes a certain type of pitcher (person, really) to want to leave his/her home country to pitch across the globe. Those ‘personality types’ may correlate with certain pitching styles. —Another perhaps less quantifiable aspect that determines Torii’s observable pool.

    Comment by delv — March 22, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

  58. Wow, the comments on this thread are really excellent. I’m “thumbs-upping” everything.

    Comment by delv — March 22, 2012 @ 11:38 pm

  59. You may have read Hunter’s comments, but you clearly did not read the article.

    Comment by delv — March 22, 2012 @ 11:41 pm

  60. Neither did Alex. If he did, he wouldn’t have published it.

    Comment by PrinceOfBeers — March 23, 2012 @ 12:08 am

  61. I got roasted recently by a few readers for having the gall to compare Darvish to other Japanese pitcher imports and their inability to have a long, successful career.

    Comment by bstar — March 23, 2012 @ 12:32 am

  62. I think you need another beer, Prince.

    Comment by bstar — March 23, 2012 @ 12:34 am

  63. I agree, but my first thought reading this was “doesn’t he play with Bobby Abreu?”

    Comment by TK — March 23, 2012 @ 12:53 am

  64. Exactly. We tend to eschew racial/ethnic claims that start with “All X…” Yet some are non-controversial. e.g. “All Hispanic persons are not 100% Korean.”

    When it is related to abilities though, we are much more skeptical (as we probably should be). But, of course, that does not mean that ability-based claims about races/ethnicities are not true. But, reasonable people recognize that many ability-based claims are actually NOT about race/ethnicity, but are rather about culture.

    So, when Torii says that “All Japanese pitchers have pretty much the same style,” he is not making a racist/ethnocentric claim unless that claim were coupled with the belief that this is the biological way Japanese people must pitch. I am sure Torii would recognize that if Yu Darvish had grown up in the USA, he might very well pitch differently. So, he must be merely commenting on the developmental system in Japan. And such comments do not strike me as the least bit offensive.

    Comment by jake — March 23, 2012 @ 1:09 am

  65. Test post for the Dark Overlord.

    Comment by RationalSportsFan — March 23, 2012 @ 1:25 am

  66. Is he the first Iranian player in the MLB? (I know he’s only half)

    Comment by Matty Brown — March 23, 2012 @ 3:15 am

  67. I’ll gladly rock it. I’m left handed and I’ve learned to do nearly everything left handed. I throw baseballs, basketballs, footballs and frisbees with my left hand, I bat left, shoot miniputt left (don’t care for real golf) and I shoot left-handed with a hockey stick. Being Canadian, I can attest to what Alex wrote as being pretty much on the mark, at least in my experience. While I may be left handed, I knew a lot of right handed kids who played hockey with left handed sticks.

    Now, I played goalie in minor hockey, but I started goaltending in street hockey games with my cousins before I even joined ice hockey. I learned to play goalie with trapper on my left hand and blocker on my right. This, I think, was attributable to the fact that street hockey gear was all made for right handed kids. While I could grab my ball glove to play the way that seemed most natural to me, trying to wear a blocker designed for the right hand on my left hand felt too uncomfortable, so that’s how I learned to play. But when I started ice hockey, the coaches wanted me to block with my left and trap with my right, so I learned to do that as well. As a result, I became equally comfortable playing goalie from either side.

    Comment by Slade — March 23, 2012 @ 5:54 am

  68. Probably deservedly.

    Comment by Simon — March 23, 2012 @ 6:50 am

  69. Yea. It’s pretty simple really. Hockey has a tendency to have opposite hand dominance from everything else. You might do everything right, but play hockey lefty. This is so that the “dominant” hand can control the top of the stick. The parallel is that SOME left handed hitters in baseball follow that exact same logic. They do everything righty, but are “bottom hand hitters”, thus swing lefty.

    Comment by Slartibartfast — March 23, 2012 @ 10:39 am

  70. Well, you’re wrong. There are tons of NHL players who are right-handed but shoot lefty (and vice versa). And it is more prevalent in Canadian players than Americans (although I don’t know about Europeans).

    Comment by BenS — March 23, 2012 @ 11:07 am

  71. Yup, as a goalie you play the puck as if you were a lefty even though your glove as a rightie is on your left hand. This is because the stick is slightly curved away from you. If it were the other way your 5-hole would be quite a bit more exposed. Years of puck playing drills as a goalie will make you comfortable from the left side even if it doesn’t feel completely normal at the beginning.

    Comment by Jeff — March 23, 2012 @ 11:34 am

  72. The times I saw Darvish pitch he nibbled way too much but could get away with it in Japan. And maybe pitching once a week let him have his 150 pitch pitch-counts. But I’m sure he’ll adjust…and just intentionally walk Albert.

    Comment by Nathan — March 23, 2012 @ 11:42 am

  73. Agree with adohaj. Google some hentai, and you’ll see what we mean.

    Comment by Baltar — March 23, 2012 @ 11:56 am

  74. Thank you for mentioning that, but Tazawa is not one of the 17 Japanese pitchers whom Hunter has faced.

    Comment by Alex Remington — March 23, 2012 @ 11:57 am

  75. To the best of my knowledge, but I’m not sure. Does anyone know?

    Comment by Alex Remington — March 23, 2012 @ 11:58 am

  76. Matt Stairs also batted lefty and threw righty.

    Comment by DD — March 23, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

  77. Breaking News about Barack Obama?

    Comment by Nathan — March 23, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

  78. Perhaps my eyes deceive me, but it seems every Japanese pitcher’s delivery looks like it was cut from the same mold. You know what I’m talking about: Highly compact, hunched over drop and drive delivery with lots of wiggling and movement; hardly what someone would call common in the rest of MLB pitchers. Just take a quick look through youtube, every pitcher looks the same when they throw the ball; there is variation in arm angles and little else. Even Darvish, with his more traditional delivery possesses a bit of this trademark i’ve seen in Japanese pitchers. Literally, the only exception to the rule i can think of was Nomo, but he was completely unique.

    Perhaps repertoire wasn’t the only thing Hunter was referring to.

    Comment by opisgod — March 23, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

  79. It’s not the same thing as saying all African-American outfielders play the same way. Pitchers out of NPB and the Japanese development system are likely to have stylistic similarities and tendencies based not on their race, but on the way the game is taught in that country. It would be more like saying that pitchers from SEC colleges or Texas high-schools have the same style than it is a generalization about race.

    Comment by Bonzi — March 23, 2012 @ 1:27 pm

  80. Could be that the difference between American and Canadian lefty/righty thing could be an issue of which sport you played first. There is no real difference between batting lefty or righty, but if you start with BB, and throw righty, they’ll probably teach you to bat righty. If you start with hockey first, they might well teach you to skate with the stick in your right hand, kind of forcing you to shoot lefty.

    Why kids don’t automatically become swithhitters right away is beyond me. Not teaching a kid to dribble with their left hand is child abuse, and hitting lefty is easier than dribbling lefty.

    Comment by Joebrady — March 23, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

  81. Well Hunter should know, he was named after the gates of a Japanese Shinto shrine.

    Comment by AJS — March 23, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

  82. Seconded. Really good conversation on a really interesting article. I like this article, and would also like to see someone pull some pitch data and see if there is some statistical grouping that would put this home (of course sample size and all) – but even without it – something to think about for certain.

    Comment by Garrett — March 23, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

  83. Or, really, don’t.

    Comment by Alex Remington — March 23, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

  84. Well, at least when it comes to Japanese HS baseball there are certain “certainties” regarding pitching that I’ve seen:

    – Every pitcher seems to have a slider.
    – Generally any pitcher who can hit 145+ kph (~>90 mph) just uses it to blow by batters and rack up K’s. There are exceptions, such as Shimabukuro Yousuke who actually had decent off-speed stuff. At Koshien, if all you can do is throw hard, your team lives a short life there.
    – Pitchers will tend to nibble and/or waste pitches when ahead in counts, and have a tendency to pitch away when facing good batters w/out protection behind them in the order.
    – As stated before, pitchers will throw off-speed pitches for strikes when behind in the count. In some cases it’s a necessity because the majority of pitchers in HS throw in the 130’s (~80-85 mph) and you just can’t really get a fastball like that past a batter if they know it’s coming.

    Now, I know most pitchers in HS will never make the NPB nevermind the MLB, but you probably get these things drilled into you when you’re young and the keep it as they move up the ranks.

    Comment by KaminaAyato — March 23, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

  85. I think that what Hunter meant was a valid view and backed up by what all of you have been saying. With that said I think his delivery left a lot to be desired. It may seem like pointless semantics but in the world we live in one must be careful in the way they choose to word statments dealing with making sweeping claims about a group of people based off their race.

    Comment by Rob Odden — March 23, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

  86. Read the article.

    Comment by bstar — March 24, 2012 @ 1:18 am

  87. Thanks for the input. Not being sarcastic.

    Comment by bstar — March 24, 2012 @ 1:20 am

  88. well I guess it’s that time of year

    Time for the yearly Torii Hunter race baiting comment.

    Comment by Shaun Catron — March 24, 2012 @ 4:45 am

  89. It probably was a better long run strategy back in the day of the complete game. An extra viable pitch is a nice fallback when a starting pitcher is expected to see the lineup a fourth time every game. But now, I don’t think there’s much added value to being able to draw on that extended repertoire when your manager can accomplish the same thing (switching things up late in the game) with more reliable results by going to the bullpen.

    That being said, I (anecdotally) think that swing styles have become much more standardized in recent decades, and that homogenization of batting mechanics may have lead to a much more standardized set of batter weaknesses than before. Also anecodtally, I see a lot more unusual batting approaches among Japanese players than US-developed ones. In a context where batters have more individualized swing styles, it may very well be that pouring resources into rounding out a full repertoire with some mediocre offerings and matching them up to each batter’s exploitable weakness is equally or more effective than focusing on developing 2-3 plus offerings to the exclusion of everything else.

    Comment by Bhaakon — March 24, 2012 @ 7:00 am

  90. Anyone know where i can find that sex tape? jk, i’m not gay or anything, I just made a gay porn video a while ago.

    Comment by henry — March 24, 2012 @ 10:17 am

  91. Never played hockey, but I’m primarily righty though I often like to pick things up lefty, like a drink, tend to start w/ my left foot/leg, which is very problematic as a righty bowler, and is apparently left-eye dominant, which adds the problem for my aim in bowling, pool, etc. :-p

    FWIW, violinists are all essentially forced to play righty though most non-violin-playing admirers tend to assume the left hand work is harder, which turns out to be untrue. On the violin, left hand technique is mostly very mechanical and can be trained a fair bit more easily w/ rote practice. But the entire bowing right *arm* requires a lot more varied nuance, fine control (over greater range of motion) along w/ natural fluidity. The bow is where most of the artistry derives.

    There are certainly enough diffs between the two that one would find different advantages (and disadvantages) depending on handedness (and the degree of such), but you’re likely disadvantaged overall (to some extent) to be a lefty learning to play the violin well in that completely righty-dominant world. Of course, it’s best to be ambidextrous (or at least not too lefty-dominant) since left hand technique isn’t exactly easy, but is certainly easier to acquire.

    Just some additional thoughts to throw in there… ;-)

    Comment by TheUncool — March 24, 2012 @ 10:48 am

  92. You know. In my bit about violin playing, I *was* going to relate it back to baseball, but somehow forgot to do so. :-)

    Not that there’s any scientifically conclusive relevance, but perhaps, the glove hand in baseball is a fair bit like the left hand in volin. And certainly, the throwing hand/arm is a lot more like the bow hand/arm in violin even if the glove hand may not very clearly parallel the violin’s left hand.

    But I guess this is probably too vague and/or obscure for most folks around these parts… unless there are more violin players here than I’d imagined. ;-p


    Comment by TheUncool — March 24, 2012 @ 10:57 am

  93. Ok, with “Stormfront’s” comment deleted, this sarcastic comment no longer has any context, and should be deleted as well.

    Comment by Phrozen — March 24, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

  94. Next up: Fangraphs dissects Torii Hunter’s insightful commentary on the racial dynamics of the Trayvon Martin case–with special guest authors Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama.

    Comment by opsz — March 24, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

  95. There’s some simple baseball logic for throwing righty and hitting lefty. If you throw righty you can play any position on the field and if you hit lefty you’ll have a platoon advantage against most pitchers.

    Comment by Bip — March 25, 2012 @ 2:55 am

  96. Yeah I noticed that too, though I can’t totally point to exactly what the similarities are. The thing that stands out to me is the leg kick. They seem to lift the knee quickly and then immediately kick the foot out which, from what I can tell, pulls their hip forward while letting their upper body drag behind so that they can swing their whole upper body forward at the moment of release. My main example of this is Hiroki Kuroda, who is the only Japanese pitcher I’ve watched more than a couple times.

    Comment by Bip — March 25, 2012 @ 3:14 am

  97. Yeah I thought I saw like 4 different breaking balls from Darvish. 7 pitches? That’s nuts.

    Comment by Bip — March 25, 2012 @ 3:17 am

  98. Daisuke was supposed to have 7 pitches but he found out most of them were not good enough against MLB hitters. Pretty much ended up using FB/slider/cutter 90% of the time.

    The better Japanese pitchers get a pretty big strike zone in Japan and have trouble adjusting to a tighter zone in the MLB, Also, Japanese hitters tend to go out of the zone more and they bunt a lot giving up outs. Much different game in the MLB.

    With a few exceptions, Irabau and Igawa for example, Japanese pitchers have done pretty well over here, collectively they are about league average (4.25 ERA in almost 100K IP.

    Comment by pft — March 26, 2012 @ 1:40 am

  99. Not quite. You have to delete the guys like Craig House who were born in Japan but didn’t grow up there.

    The 33 Japanese pitchers who have pitched in MLB have a collective ERA of 4.19 in 9961 innings. But the popular impression that Japanese relievers have done a good job while Japanese starters have struggled is entirely correct. (I didn’t look at the exact splits; I just considered as a “starter” any pitcher who had started more than half of his games in MLB, and a “reliever” any pitcher who had not.) Japanese starters had a collective ERA of 4.42 in 6984 1/3 innings in MLB, while relievers had a collective ERA of 3.67 in 2976 2/3 innings.

    Comment by Alex Remington — March 26, 2012 @ 9:15 am

  100. “There was very little, if any, statistical analysis here.”

    Yes, I didn’t bring my slide rule to this party for NOTHING, let’s get crackin’ here! *pushes thick, coke-bottle glasses up the bridge of my nose*

    Comment by Jason B — March 27, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

  101. I’m waiting for Hunter to say that Asians aren’t true pitchers and simply imposters….

    Comment by I. P. Freely — January 15, 2014 @ 1:15 pm

Leave a comment

Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Close this window.

0.234 Powered by WordPress