How Much Does Spring Training Velocity Matter?

From Mike Fast at Baseball Prospectus on March 30:

Fastball speed in the major leagues is an important and oft-researched topic. As the 2011 season begins, the trickle of reports on pitchers’ fastball speeds that came out of spring training will turn into a flood of data. Some pitchers will be throwing a little faster than they were last year, while others will have lost a notch on their hard stuff.

Do these early fastball fluctuations matter, or does a pitcher who starts slow in March and early April regain the life on his fastball later in the year? Pitchers like Joel Pineiro and Mat Latos who have lost velocity this spring seem like candidates for injury or performance drop-offs, but maybe we should start paying attention to how pitchers perform only once their teams have headed north. Does what happens in Arizona stay in Arizona? Is fastball speed in April, when the games count and the opposing hitters are all of major-league quality, what really matters?

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Originally published: March 30, 2011. Last Updated: March 30, 2011.