Recently, in these pages — and for reasons that oughtn’t be explored in any depth — the author attempted to construct an objective methodology by which to identify the most transcendent pitch from the previous day. So far as errands are concerned, this particular one was the sort most readily undertaken by a fool.
And yet, because he’s the sort of person who doesn’t learn from, but prefers rather to indulge in, his failures, this same author has returned a week later with a view, once again, to identifying (again, by objective means) the league’s most impressive pitches — in this case, from the past week.
What I won’t discuss here specifically are the shortcomings of that last attmept. Because they’re self-evident, is one reason. And because the thought of doing so bores me to whatever is right after death, is another.
What I will discuss, however, just below, is the criteria I’ve employed for this particular exercise — which exercise is little more than an attempt, really, to reverse engineer the aesthetic tastes a fan might have so far as impressive pitches are concerned.
To accomplish that, what I’ve done is:
1. Identified all pitches from the past week thrown for a swinging third strike*, the logic being that batters tend to be most protective of the strike zone with two strikes and therefore pitchers must demonstrate excellence even harder; and then
2. Calculated and then averaged together the z-scores both for velocity and break length** of all those aforementioned pitches, the logic being that it becomes easier to produce greater break at lower velocities — and that, therefore, pitches which exhibit a relatively high velocity compared to break length are probably more impressive; and then
3. Because the PITCHf/x classifications aren’t always entirely accurate, identified the highest z-score from each general pitch category — so, therefore, the best fastball (including four-seamers, two-seamers, and sinkers), best breaking ball (including sliders and curveballs), and offspeed pitch (including changeups and splitters). The issue of cutters — which sometimes more resemble fastballs and sometimes more resemble sliders — I have ignored completely, hoping it would sort itself out.
*Unless said pitch was thrown to a pitcher who was batting, in which case it was disqualified from consideration in this very important endeavor.
**About which one can read more here.
Pitcher: Evan Marshall, RHP, Arizona (Profile)
Batter: Scooter Gennett Date: Tuesday, May 6th
Velocity: 94.7 mph Break: 7.8 in.
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