Gleeman: Goin’ down slow: velocity and right-handed pitchers

From SABR member Aaron Gleeman at Baseball Prospectus on June 21, 2016:

Throwing hard has never been part of Jered Weaver’s success. His fastball topped out in the low 90s when he debuted with the Angels as a 23-year-old in 2006, and from 2007-2011 he consistently averaged 90. During that five-year stretch Weaver logged more than 1,000 innings with a 3.40 ERA, held opponents to a .240 batting average and .678 OPS, and finished runner-up for a Cy Young award. He was one of the best pitchers in baseball and did a lot of things very well—deception, command, movement—but he never threw hard.

And then his fastball started shedding velocity. Initially it didn’t seem like a big deal because most pitchers threw harder at 23 than they do at 28 and, really, who cares about dropping from 90.1 mph to 88.7 mph when Weaver was also winning 20 games with a 2.81 ERA and finishing third in the Cy Young balloting? That was 2012. Then his velocity kept vanishing and his results began deteriorating as well. Weaver was still having some success, but beginning with 2011 his average fastball basically lost 1-2 mph each year and his secondary numbers got progressively worse.


Plenty of pitchers have thrived throwing in the low 90s, and some of them have even continued to do so throwing in the high 80s, but nearly all of them fall into the “crafty lefty” category. Weaver is right-handed.

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Originally published: June 21, 2016. Last Updated: June 21, 2016.