Arthur: Moving ahead of the curve

From SABR member Rob Arthur at Baseball Prospectus on May 10, 2019:

Few baseball trends during the last few decades have been as steady as the rise in fastball velocity. Dating back to at least the late 1990s, pitchers have thrown harder and harder, a pattern which has fueled the strikeout scourge and changed the requirements for major-league pitching. But alongside the surge in heat, pitchers have quietly upgraded their breaking balls as well, throwing nearly every pitch type faster and with more movement.

While nearly every pitcher has a four-seam fastball, different hurlers keep different variations of other offerings in their arsenals, and that makes it difficult to analyze league-wide changes in pitch movement for breaking balls. Let’s focus in particular on the curveball, a relatively common secondary pitch for which more drop (vertical movement) is positive for pitchers throwing from either hand.

Two things are immediately apparent: modern curveballs are being thrown harder than ever and with more movement.

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Originally published: May 10, 2019. Last Updated: May 10, 2019.