Visualizing Spin Rate Effeciency in Breaking Ball Offerings

Spin rate has become the talk of the town when discussing the effectiveness of a pitcher’s repertoire. However, recent analysis alludes to the fact that traditional spin rates shouldn’t be taken at face value.

As the saying goes, pitching is as much of an art as it is a science. No argument here. However, my education and interest lends me towards the latter. As we’ve seen recently, the state of baseball is trending heavily towards science disciplines: biomechanics, muscle physiology, physics, and data analysis. And pitching is an area that requires insight from each of those branches. Continue reading

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Interpreting The Ray Searage Effect and All of Its Parts

Ray Searage

Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has a knack for taking on reclamation projects in the Burgh and revitalizing careers. So what’s Uncle Ray’s recipe for success and the expectation of this year’s newcomers?

A month or so ago, I wrote a few words in a Stat of the Week piece for my employer Baseball Info Solutions titled The Ray Searage Effect. Let me tee it up for you.

Since taking over as the Pirates pitching coach in August 2010, Ray Searage has demonstrated a unique ability to maximize pitcher effectiveness. Collectively, over the last five seasons, the Pirates have led the majors in soft hit percentage, groundball rate, and Batting Average on Grounders and Short Liners, and are second in two-seam fastball and sinker usage—all ingredients for sustainable success on the pitcher’s mound.

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Visiting the Fatigue Effect in Starting Pitchers – Part 2: The Times Through the Order Penalty

Understanding pitcher fatigue can be a troubling matter, especially when factoring in injury history. Stephen Strasburg's experienced his share of DL stints, but is late-game dominance where he shines over the rest?

Understanding fatigue can be troubling. Stephen Strasburg knows all too well, falling victim to an innings limit early in his career and battling injuries ever since, but has that affected his late-game performance?

Now that the framework has been established in Part 1 of our visit into starting pitcher fatigue, let’s stroll through recent seasons and see who the most bonafide workhorses are and who should be hitting the showers as the third time through the order nears. We’ll start at a broader sense and then work our way into much greater depth of why some pitchers succeed and fail in these circumstances. Continue reading

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Visiting the Fatigue Effect in Starting Pitchers – Part 1: It’s a Matter of When

Terry Collins pulls Matt Havery in the 9th inning of Game 5 of the World Series, but it may have been a half inning too late.

Mets manager Terry Collins pulled ace Matt Havery in the 9th inning of Game 5 of the World Series, but the move may have come two batters too late. Was the writing on the wall for Collins and his coaching staff?

Three outs away from extending their season and handing the ball to Jacob deGrom for Game 6 of the World Series, Mets manager Terry Collins went against his better judgement and let the heat of the moment get the best of him. To quote Collins after the fact, “I let my heart get in the way of my gut,” in regards to giving in to Matt Harvey’s request to return to the mound in the top of the 9th of Game 5, clinging on to a 2-0 lead over the Royals. It’s hard to blame a guy for letting his emotions get the better of him, except when he’s getting paid the big bucks to suppress those emotions and make objective decisions based on what gives the team the best chance of winning. I applaud Collins for holding himself accountable, but my applause doesn’t restore being two wins away from World Series glory. Continue reading

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The Unveiling of Our Newest Feature: MLBuzz

The 2016 baseball season is upon us. If that doesn’t make your heart skip a beat, you better check your pulse. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, I thought it was time to unleash the newest section of the site, MLBuzz, your one-stop shop highlighting all of the latest news from around the league. Continue reading

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Putting Pitch Data into Context: Introducing Contextual Pitch Type Linear Weights

One reason I find baseball so uniquely fascinating is because the game itself can be broken down on such a granular level, well beyond just examining it at the event level. We as fans of the game can take it much deeper, even attempting to explore into the strategic mind games between the pitcher and batter that formulates between each pitch of an at-bat. This relationship though, between the pitcher, the batter and the adjustments made after each pitch, make it a nightmare for analysts to try to dissect what makes a pitch truly effective and what makes any information we extract meaningful. Continue reading —>

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Quantifying the Unquantifiable: How Effective Velocity Sheds Light on Pitch Sequencing Through the Lens of Collin McHugh

Collin McHugh uses a calculated approach to sequencing pitches, an approach Perry Husband calls Effective Velocity. This technique has allowed McHugh to establish himself as a frontline starter in the American League.

Collin McHugh uses a calculated approach to sequencing pitches, an approach Perry Husband calls Effective Velocity. This technique has allowed McHugh to establish himself as a frontline starter in the AL.

Recently, I’ve been scrutinizing this idea of quantifying pitch sequencing. But before we even attempt to determine a numerical value for this pitching concept, we need to know what the heck it is we are trying to measure. So what exactly is pitch sequencing? In its simplest form, it’s the art of mixing pitches, changing speeds and locations, varying the hitter’s eye level and disturbing his timing at the plate. Semi-easily put, but much less easily quantified. On-field decision making is often a product of circumstance. Do pitchers deviate locations and speeds based on game situation and the pending risk-reward trade-off? Certainly. In favorable counts with the bases empty, pitcher-catcher batteries have more room for error. Conversely, when the leverage is highest, it’s assumed that taking more risks would be the road less traveled. But who are we to confidently say what a pitcher’s intentions are, or where his intentions should be? Continue reading

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Doors Opening and Doors Closing

yankee

I recently accepted a Baseball Operations position within the front office of the New York Yankees. Unfortunately, with that opportunity, I will no longer be able to publish anymore baseball-related material for the foreseeable future.

So until next time… Go Yankees!

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Major League Baseball Umpire Report

The accuracy of an umpire’s ability to correctly call balls and strikes has been one of the most controversial topics in Major League Baseball for quite some time. Umpiring adds a human element to the game that requires advanced research and analysis to understand the constants and trends of each individual umpire, especially if an organization is attempting to use this knowledge to their advantage. With the accessibility of PITCHf/x data following the system’s implementation in Major League ballparks in 2007, the eyes of the umpire have now become quantifiable, and subsequently, heavily scrutinized. Generally, the question this leaves us all wondering is: are umpires calling a defined and standardized league-wide strike zone, or are they actually calling “their own” strike zone? Continue reading

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Case Study: The MLB Free-Agent Market under the Current Collective Bargaining Agreement

The current free-agent market is a major concern in Major League Baseball, especially in relation to draft pick compensation under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The topic of discussion is something Major League Baseball is researching and monitoring closely. It’s impacting the way each front office approaches the free-agent market and their future MLB Draft selections. Given my desire to pursue a career in Baseball Operations, this topic and the future impact this subject will have on Baseball Operations personnel brings great interest to myself in pursuit of better understanding how to handle such decision-making processes. Continue reading

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