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The Life of Brian’s Fastball Part 2

Illustrated edition.

Yesterday I talked about San Francisco’s closer Brian Wilson and his breakthrough season. I mostly attributed his recent success to an increase in horizontal movement on his fastball. Since I don’t have my own Pitch F/x database and am to lazy to learn MySQL, I asked our own Dave Allen if he could give me a hand with some Pitch F/x graphs. Dave was suffering with some internet issues and wasn’t able to oblige me until the post had already published, but I thought it would be a shame to not put the graphs to good use. They really bring out the dramatic change in the movement of Wilson’s fastball, and more.

pit_08

pit_09

Wilson’s 2008 fastball had the speed of a normal 4-seam fastball, but almost cutter-like movement. This year’s edition is much more 4-seamer’ish. What also stands out his his breaking pitches are a little ‘sharper’, for a lack of a better term.

According to the Pitch F/x data available here at FanGraphs, Wilson’s slider had five and a half inches of horizontal movement last season, and .8 inches of vertical movement. This year’s slider averages 3 inches of horizontal movement and 1.2 inches of vertical movement. I take it that Dave has his own smarter pitch categorization system that differs from straight Pitch F/x, which is why you see more cutters than sliders in Wilson’s 2009 graph.

Whether you want to classify the pitch as a hard slider, cutter or ‘slutter’ or what have you, it’s plain to see Wilson is a bit of a different animal this season.

Thank you Dave.