Choiniere: If you can’t take the heat: How hitters are adjusting to rising velocity

From John Choiniere at Baseball Prospectus on September 14, 2016:

In the last nine years, the number of pitches thrown at 100 mph or greater has increased by more than an order of magnitude, from 255 in 2008 to 2977 in 2015. Plotting the same data set with alternative minimum speeds (95 mph, 97 mph) shows the same results; while the shape of the curve changes slightly, the overall upward trend doesn’t. This isn’t anything a reader of BP doesn’t already know, but it’s nice to put real data behind your assumptions some times.

Something else the BP reader, or any baseball fan really, also accurately assumes is that it’s harder to hit a faster pitch. The following graph shows batter performance on contact from 2008-2016 as a function of fastball speed (using a LWTS-runs/PA metric I’ll describe later). Allowing for a bizarre spike upwards at 99 mph, the trend is evident.


With this data-supported theoretical background in place, we now come to the heart of the issue, which is a point BP’s editor-in-chief Sam Miller talked with me about back when I was first signing on here—batters will need to improve their currently-deficient ability to hit extremely fast pitches in order to keep up with pitchers, but it’s not yet clear whether they’ve been able to make any improvements in this area in the time period I covered above.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: September 14, 2016. Last Updated: September 14, 2016.