The Mockingbird

I Lied

with 8 comments

Ok, maybe it’s worth throwing Burnett’s last start out there, especially when being called out by the Tao for slacking. Here’s the scoop- if you haven’t seen one of these movement charts before, scroll down or something.

  • Burnett’s curve was actually a little different than last time out. This time it was all sideways curve and no drop. (“Limp noodle” does seem rather apt in retrospect). If you’ve ever tried to swing at one of these things you know the effect of 4-5 inches less bite downwards cannot possibly be described in words.
  • As the Tao points out, he threw the 5 curveballs marked with big gaudy X’s that did nothing. They’re more like sliders than anything, but nice and slow. Then he threw 15 straight fastballs. Not that their location was anything to write about, that’s the sort of thing A.J. gets away with when the other team doesn’t know that’s his only pitch.
  • Sometime later in the game (you know, when it started looking less like BP), he started throwing some decent curves.

Wilner posted a Burnett defense of sorts on his blog. I didn’t even bother because I assume that this blog’s demographic is a little more cerebral and patient about the whole thing. Man, if immediately after watching a disappointing game like that I was forced to engage in conversation with a horde of people going on about how A.J. is a “.500 pitcher” again because he had a @$%#@%$ bad start in April, I would shoot myself in the face. The only way I manage to stay so pleasant is an immediate pint and some pithy conversation about how super it is that Brandon League is back at 98 where he belongs (even if he doesn’t quite know where it’s going).

And just because I seem to be scooping their material, if you haven’t yet, go read the Southpaw, dammit. Yet another source of Jays commentary/information/conjecture (can you pull 19 roided ex-Jays out of your ass?!) that I would consider paying for if it was in some format you had to pay for unlike the garbage that is out there that you do have to pay for…


Written by halejon

April 9, 2008 at 6:29 pm

Posted in Seriousness

8 Responses

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  1. It’s funny, last night you said Burnett threw more changes than he ever had, and I got the same impression from watching Gameday, but it looks like there’s only 9 on your graph. Are they blending into the fastballs? Are the labels based on speed, what Gameday thought they were, or what? Or are there overlaps that screw up my count?


    April 9, 2008 at 9:51 pm

  2. Good point…I guess they just stood out more because he was throwing them when he was in trouble, and then he settled down later and resumed his normal 1-2 punch. But 9 changeups is STILL more than he’s ever thrown in a game, I’m pretty sure. 🙂

    The labels are what gameday called them- that’s new this year, and I don’t know how accurate it is. But I would be surprised if it was blending in a 2-seam fastball with a changeup because of the velocity, even though their movement is about the same.


    April 9, 2008 at 10:03 pm

  3. Gotta say, I think game recaps for pitchers are a great use of PITCH f/x. Once there’s enough data, it might be interesting to plot a typical fastball/slider/curveball/whatever, plus the distribution of pitches from the current game. I don’t trust announcers when they say a curveball was hanging (because I almost only hear it after a homerun), but you can’t argue with the data. Keep these coming.


    April 9, 2008 at 11:06 pm

  4. Yeah, you can probably tell I’m totally enthralled with this post-mortem analysis. How can you not want to know after a bad night what happened when heck, even the pitcher doesn’t half the time. Just the ability to pin down how many pitches a guy has working fascinates the hell out of me. I think I’ll keep them up seeing Neyer linked to my first one and I got more hits than I do in most months.

    That’s a good idea, maybe some shading for the average pitch instead of those circles like I was doing. I think there’s enough data- over at the hardball times there’s that article at the Hardball times that shows the average from 2007. I was thinking of changing the centerpoint from (0,0) to that of a BP fastball so the charts show what each pitch does as compared to a meatball, instead of this unintuitive “pitch with no spin but doesn’t knuckle” that it is now, but going back and forth might just be more confusing in the end.

    Haha- yeah, I know. Every single curve that is hit hard is either a “hanger” or “left up and over the plate”. Meanwhile, rumblings are that the high curve isn’t really such a bad pitch as it’s made out to be (although the changeup is).


    April 10, 2008 at 12:36 am

  5. Hey Jon, I’m new to Pitch F/X, what do the axes on all your charts mean?


    April 10, 2008 at 7:01 pm

  6. Ha- I was just working on a primer, too. It’s kind of confusing even if you do know what the heck is going on. In a nutshell:

    First, it’s from the catcher/hitter’s perspective.

    (0,0) is where the pitch would have gone without any spin on it (if the seams didn’t catch the air and make it knuckle). The axes represent where the pitch actually ended up compared to that. So a typical fastball has so much backspin on it, it “rises” about 10 inches and tails off to the side about 5 inches to the left when coming from a right-handed pitcher (because nobody releases the ball right over the top). A curve drops and goes the other way by about 20 inches.

    I think the best way to look at these pitches is to think of (-5,10) as a “straight” pitch. That’s a batting practice fastball, even though it’s not “unaffected by spin” by the strict physics definition. Then you can see how 2-seamers and changeups are going to cut down and in on the hands, and curves fall off the table away (to a RHB).

    The only other caveat is this doesn’t take into account “bend”. 2 seamers and changeups obviously look a lot different, because they have way more loop to them even though they end up at pretty much the same place. But that’s another story…


    April 10, 2008 at 7:17 pm

  7. Oh yeah, and the other charts are just In feet, with 0,0 being ground level dead center of the plate.


    April 10, 2008 at 7:17 pm

  8. A medium/large circle that contains a certain percentage of each type of pitch would be fine to define “normal”. It would also help to see WHERE pitchers are throwing things versus where they usually throw things. You might see a pitcher with the same movement of a splitter, for example, but some night he leaves it too high in the zone. Or he throws fastballs right down the middle and not on the corners.


    April 10, 2008 at 9:45 pm

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