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  1. Took a look at Kaz’s pitch selection and he never did give up on that fastball. From 2009 on, his SwSt% just got worse and worse, even though the fastball only dipped about 1.0mph from 2008-2010 before the wheels fell off in the 2011 start. Just completely lost the ability to find the strike zone consistently and when you can’t do that, it doesn’t matter if you throw 97 it’s not going to work. Shame, he was the lone bright arm of a pretty bad Devil Rays team for a good 3 years.

    Comment by wespom9 — May 2, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

  2. Are we sure that age is the decay related factor here, and not workload/time in the league/arm damage/etc? Kazmir’s velocity decay doesn’t look strange at all if you move him to the right a bit.

    There seem to be quite a few examples of players who come up early and have early decline, and examples of guys who come up late and don’t retire until they’re older.

    Comment by Synovia — May 2, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

  3. I understand that he’s an outlier, yadda yadda, but check out Mariano Rivera’s BB/9 numbers against his aging chart — check the difference in walk rate up through his age 30 season (a period when he was still considered one of, if not the single, most dominant relievers in the game), and then compare that to his walk rate after age 30.

    In his first year as a reliever — one of the greatest seasons of all time for a relief pitcher — he threw up a 2.84 BB/9 as a 26 year old. In his first year as a closer, at age 27, he had a 2.51 BB/9.

    Eleven years later, at age 38, he put up a 0.76 (and a 12.83 K/BB). Last year, as a 41 year old, he put up a 1.17. His career average is 2.04; he hasn’t topped that number since 2005.

    Mind boggling.

    Comment by JimNYC — May 2, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

  4. Exactly. Pitching is a long-term damaging activity. If you keep the car in the garage, it won’t degrade anywhere near as quickly as if you drive it to work every day.

    Comment by evo34 — May 2, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

  5. I have to question the velocity decline from 22-28, small as it is. I think if you adjust for injuries, there is no decline, in fact, there would be an increase. Any decline before age 28 is almost always due to injury.

    Comment by pft — May 2, 2012 @ 6:23 pm

  6. I have to question the velocity decline from 22-28, small as it is. I think if you adjust for injuries, there is no decline, in fact, there would be an increase. Any decline before age 28 is almost always due to injury.

    How exactly would you propose adjusting for injuries? All injuries, or just the major ones? Are you talking about the pitchers still pitching with injuries? Or the ones who’ve had a career interruption?

    Comment by Robert Dudek — May 2, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

  7. Fascinating stuff here

    Comment by Bill but not Ted — May 2, 2012 @ 11:35 pm

  8. I don’t think that every decline in velocity before age 28 is due to injury. There are many factors that presumably contribute to a player’s velocity. Let’s say you start out at age 22 throwing 98 mph—really on the high end of the mph distribution. Irrespective of injury, per se, so many things have to go physically perfectly for you to throw a ball that hard. The expectation will be that you are much more likely to see a decline in velocity than and increase simply due to your position on the distribution (this is what “regression to the mean” is all about).

    Comment by Peter — May 3, 2012 @ 5:52 am

  9. Keeping with your analogy, if you never run your car for 5 years I doubt it will be in tip top shape the next time you do. If I throw 98 mph at age 22, don’t even touch a baseball for 5 years, and then let one rip at age 27, I doubt I’ll still be able to hit that speed. There’s some kind of “sweet spot” in there—an optimal workload for maintaining your velocity over time. Nobody knows what that is.

    Comment by Peter — May 3, 2012 @ 5:56 am

  10. Kazmir’s curve doesn’t look strange, period. The average curve among starters reflects that some players’ curves will resembles his, and some players decline later.

    In fact, even if the typical case were that players’ mph did not decline smoothly, but rather precipitously over the course of one or two seasons (at some random age in each player’s career), you would get the smooth curve if you averaged these individual curves.

    Comment by Peter — May 3, 2012 @ 6:01 am

  11. I submitted an article to community research on Saturday (“pending approval”) analyzing a hitter aging curve. It doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to get posted, but now I’m seeing the launch of a series of articles on pitcher aging two days later.

    Comment by Peter — May 3, 2012 @ 6:06 am

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