Crizer: Release points and points of emphasis

From Zach Crizer at Baseball Prospectus on February 21, 2019:

Spring training is here and with it comes the adjustments that will solve everything for those finicky pitchers. Someone is refining a changeup. Someone else is tweaking their arm slot. And many, many others are seeking a consistent release point.

The tunneling and sequencing stats here at BP measure some of the minute, vital details that make pitchers who they are. On a broader scale, they hint at what’s happening behind closed doors and in tight little huddles across complexes in Florida and Arizona.

One of those stats, release distance (RelDist), provides the distance in inches between a pitcher’s release point on consecutive pitches. We can examine the averages for individual sequences (when Clayton Kershaw throws a fastball, then a slider) or for an entire season. We can also catch a glimpse of organizational philosophies or priorities that would otherwise slip by unnoticed. Trade secrets or hush-hush Team Name Magic or something. By interpreting some of the team-level messages this seemingly individual measurement can send, we might even learn to identify the missions of March usually described only in the code of beat writer tweets and vague manager comments.

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Originally published: February 21, 2019. Last Updated: February 21, 2019.