Daily Notes, Featuring Baseball’s Movingest Curve

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Daily Notes.

1. Finding: Baseball’s Movingest Curve
2. Today’s Notable Games (Including MLB.TV Free Game)
3. Today’s Complete Schedule

Finding: Baseball’s Movingest Curve
A Question a Sad Person Might Ask
Tyler Chatwood starts tonight for Colorado, which, for most reasonable people, is rightly regarded as “Neither here nor there” so far as life events are concerned. Of note, however, is that Chatwood’s curveball is inducing grounders at a rate of 73.3% in a smallish sample — considerably higher than the league average of ca. 50% on that same pitch. “Why is Chatwood’s curve inducing so many grounders?” is a question that at least one person — one sad and lonely and sad person — might ask himself, alone at a computer, drinking a magnum of chablis all by himself on (hypothetically speaking) a Thursday night in August.

Not the Answer to That Question
The answer to the above-asked question is not “Because Tyler Chatwood’s curveball has more movement on it than every other pitcher’s.” However, in trying to answer that question, a sad and lonely and sad person will find himself answering another question — namely, “Which pitcher’s curveball does have the most movement on it?”

The Answer to That Second Question
The answer to that second question is “Brett Myers’s.”*

*Or, actually, as commenter Josh notes below, maybe it’s “Kyle Weiland.”

How the Author Found That Answer
To determine which pitcher has the most movement on his curveball, I made a custom leaderboard of every pitcher with at least 10 innings pitched in 2012. The metrics I included on the leaderboard were: innings, batters faced, percent of curves thrown, curve average velocity, average horizontal movement of curveball (per PITCHf/x), average vertical movement of curveball (per PITCHf/x, again), total linear-weight runs above or below average on the curve, and linear-weight runs above or below average per 100 curves thrown.

How the Author Found That Answer, Part II
After making the aforementioned custom leaderboard, I added the absolute value of every pitcher’s average horizontal movement on the curveball to the absolute value on the vertical movement of his curveball.

Below are the pitchers with the greatest total movement on their curveballs who’ve also thrown the pitch at least 5% of the time. (Note: movement numbers are in inches, relative to a spinless ball.)

Name Team TBF % Thrown LWTS/100 Velo Hor. Vert. Tot.
Brett Myers – – – 162 29.9% 0.93 76.9 9.6 -10.5 20.1
Kyle Weiland Astros 79 10.2% 1.44 76.6 11.6 -8.4 20.0
Adam Wainwright Cardinals 576 23.9% 1.26 73.5 8.9 -9.9 18.8
Evan Scribner Athletics 66 32.4% -0.76 72.3 8.2 -10.4 18.6
Alex Cobb Rays 353 15.3% -1.34 78.0 7.4 -10.7 18.1
Dillon Gee Mets 463 12.4% -0.18 73.8 9.3 -8.7 18.0
Jesse Chavez Blue Jays 102 10.4% 0.26 74.8 9.4 -8.2 17.6
Miles Mikolas Padres 73 30.9% -1.71 76.6 7.7 -9.9 17.6
Jake Arrieta Orioles 443 14.9% 1.31 78.3 8.1 -9.4 17.5
Mike Fiers Brewers 318 18.9% 1.42 71.6 4.4 -13.0 17.4

What One Will Note
One will note, while consulting the above table, that Brett Myers’ curveball features the most total average movement in the major leagues, at 20.1 inches.

Footage of Brett Myers’ Curve
Here’s video footage from August 5th of Myers striking out Albert Pujols with his curve — specifically, with a curve featuring 7.4 inches of gloveside movement and 13.6 inches of drop, or 21.0 inches total (numbers courtesy Brooks Baseball).

Slow-Motion Footage of That Same Curve
Here’s slow-motion footage of that exact same curveball:

Complete Results
Click this hyperlinked text to see the complete results for pitcher curveball movement.

Today’s Notable Games
San Diego at Pittsburgh | 19:05 ET ***MLB.TV Free Game***
Starling Marte Status Update: 61 PA, 3.3% BB, 24.6% K, .281/.311/.561 (.308 BABIP), 130 wRC+. And Starling Marte Rest-of-Season ZiPS: 126 PA, 4.0% BB, 19.8% K, .274/.317/.436 (.322 BABIP). And finally, Pittsburgh’s playoff odds (per Cool Standings): 67.8%.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: None, Really.

Atlanta at New York NL | 19:10 ET
Matt Harvey makes his fourth major-league start, and first at home. His line so far: 16.1 IP, 32.4% K, 9.9% BB, 35.1% GB, 2.94 SIERA, 74 xFIP-, 0.4 WAR.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: New York NL Television.

Today’s Complete Schedule
Here’s the complete schedule for all of today’s games, with our very proprietary watchability (NERD) scores for each one. Pitching probables and game times aggregated from MLB.com and RotoWire. The average NERD Game Score for today is 4.7.

Note: the following Game Scores include the poorly conceived playoff-odds adjustment discussed in a recent edition of Daily Notes. Also note: the following table is entirely sortable.

Away   SP Tm. Gm. Tm. SP   Home Time
Homer Bailey CIN 6 4 4 1 7 CHN Justin Germano* 14:20
Clay Buchholz BOS 4 5 3 3 5 CLE Chris Seddon* 19:05
Luke Hochevar KC 5 7 2 0 2 BAL Miguel Gonzalez 19:05
Edinson Volquez SD 5 6 4 5 5 PIT James McDonald 19:05
Kyle Lohse STL 4 10 6 5 8 PHI Roy Halladay 19:05
Freddy Garcia NYA 4 7 2 6 2 TOR Ricky Romero 19:07
Paul Maholm ATL 4 7 7 3 14 NYN Matt Harvey* 19:10
Clayton Kershaw LAN 10 1 6 3 4 MIA Mark Buehrle 19:10
Max Scherzer DET 10 5 6 8 4 TEX Scott Feldman 20:05
Mark Rogers* MIL 10 8 6 4 6 HOU Bud Norris 20:05
Brandon McCarthy OAK 4 6 4 4 3 CHA Gavin Floyd 20:10
Jeremy Hellickson TB 2 4 3 4 3 MIN Cole DeVries 20:10
Stephen Strasburg WAS 10 5 7 7 5 AZ Trevor Cahill 21:40
Felix Hernandez SEA 9 4 5 7 3 LAA Ervin Santana 22:05
Tyler Chatwood* COL 5 8 5 4 7 SF Tim Lincecum 22:15

To learn more about Pitcher and Team NERD scores click here.
To learn how Game NERD Scores are calculated, click here.
* = Fewer than 20 IP, NERD at discretion of very handsome author.

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22 Responses to “Daily Notes, Featuring Baseball’s Movingest Curve”

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  1. Don Draper says:

    Who the fuck is mark Rogers?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Kenny says:

    Is there a logical reason why you provided Mark Rogers with such bountiful discretion? Or is it simply that he is a Brewer?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. wahooo says:

    a sad and lonely and sad commenter might say that you should use the Pythagorean distance rather than a straight sum, but I’m pretty happy so I’ll let it slide.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Josh says:

      A different sad and lonely and sad reader might be inclined to interrupt their sad and lonely Friday morning breakfast to apply the Pythagorean theorem or distance formula, if you will, to the data. With this metric, Kyle Weiland possesses said moving-est curveball (relative to spin-less pitch). Brett Myers, and Mike FIers round out the podium, followed by Adam Wainwright, Evan Scribner, Alex Cobb, Dillon Gee, Yoshinori Tateyama, Justing Germano and Miles Mikolas.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    Wow, did not expect Brett Myers to be the answer.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Jim says:

    Where’s Zito or Cliff Lee? They both have tremendous lateral and vertical movement on their CB’s

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Frank says:

    Does Manny Machado’s promotion not merit the addition of a single NERD point?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. crzy_guy says:

    Why is it everytime that Fangraphs wants to measure the total movement of the pitch they (wrongly) add the horizontal and vertical components of the movement linearly instead of quadratically.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. I agree 100% that the Dodgers are bad to watch but Kershaw is fun to watch. It’s miserable being a Dodger fan right now.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. I should also say that being 1 game out of first is nice, but it’s miserable watching this team “attempt” to hit. Both Ellises are doing well, and Kemp and Ethier are doing well, but the other 5 guys make for depressing television.

    Vote -1 Vote +1