The Mockingbird


with 6 comments

Hello, all…this Bird isn’t dead, I’ve just been laboriously assembling million-pitch databases lately, only to see one computer after the other that I put them on promptly explode (no doubt overburdened by the sheer volume of baseball knowledge contained within).

I did manage to squeeze out my first foray into hit f/x at The Hardball Times, though – so you should go read it and let me know if you think there’s anything interesting that could be done on the Jays with just the month of data for the Jays that is available (I’m already trying to figure out Vernon).

But for now, here’s the 0-2 pitch that Ichiro just plunked into center field for his first (MLB) walk-off hit ever:


The yellow box is Ichiro’s specific strike zone as measured by the pitch f/x operators (not a league average like I usually use). Downs’ final pitch was almost exactly six inches outside (it looks like less on TV due to the angle) and six inches below his knees. Now I know you know how not even remotely a strike that is, but for some fun try standing in front of an imaginary plate and swinging at something 6 inches on the other side of it. From my normal stance, I can’t even reach that far with a bat – and I’m not halfway to first base when I start my swing. Absurd! Inhuman! Not fair! Completely impossible to fault Downs on this one – despite it being an 0-2 count, that curve could hardly have been more of a “waste” pitch if it was rolled into the dugout.


Written by halejon

July 29, 2009 at 2:00 am

Posted in Seriousness

6 Responses

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  1. Is the location taken at the point the ball is struck? Because it seemed Ichiro’s bat head was well in front of the plate when contact occured. I actually thought the ball might have bounced around the plate.

    ugly duckling

    July 29, 2009 at 12:45 pm

  2. I was just thinking about that…if hit f/x was out, I could tell you exactly how far in front of the plate the ball was struck and where, but I think pitch f/x gives you where the ball would have crossed the front of the plate, which would make that hit a little less ridiculous since the curve was still moving down and away while it was struck. I’ll check, though.


    July 29, 2009 at 1:11 pm

  3. I came across this this morning on Twitter search
    I think this looks even more impressive than the F/X, as well as it suggests that Ichiro eyeline was probably focused on outside low.

    Tony T

    July 29, 2009 at 3:10 pm

  4. It’s a little misleading, though…that’s the same data as pitch f/x, but they (quite intentionally, I’m sure) don’t make any attempt to make the plate the size of the strike zone. So those first two pitches were not really borderline strikes (either horizontally or vertically), and there was a 8.5 inch in horizontal difference between the second and the third. That’s almost half the plate, and it doesn’t look like that at all. I’m sure he was looking down and away because the whole park was probably as well, but the way they squash the strike zone makes it look like Downs was a lot more predictable and a lot less careful than he was.


    July 29, 2009 at 4:03 pm

  5. Of course if the ball was rolled into the dugout it would have been a walk off wild pitch, and Downs put himself in position to get unlucky by loading the bases in the first place.


    July 29, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    • Yes when you follow up a lead-off single to a .195 hitter with a walk to a .215 hitter, you’re asking for trouble.

      ugly duckling

      July 29, 2009 at 8:26 pm

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