Lindbergh: Is Washington’s Max Scherzer still peaking at age 30?

From SABR member Ben Lindbergh at Grantland on June 23, 2015, with mention of SABR member:

In the seven-plus seasons in which eyes in the sky have tracked every pitch thrown in Major League Baseball, 283 breaking balls have been thrown to right-handed hitters within one square inch of the 87 mph slider that Nationals starter Max Scherzer threw to Pirates pinch-hitter Jose Tabata on Saturday. Prior to that pitch, which came with one strike separating the Nats’ new ace from a perfect game, none of those balls had hit a batter. Tabata, with an assist from his elbow guard, broke the streak.

Three conditions must be met for a hit batter to be awarded first base. First, the batter has to take the pitch: check. Second, the pitch has to be outside the strike zone. This one was: A taken slider to a right-handed hitter, in that location on a 2-2 count, has a 0.4 percent chance of being called a strike, according to Pitch Info. Third, the batter has to make some attempt to avoid being hit by the ball. Tabata, who was widely criticized for not making more of an effort to get out of the way, told reporters that he didn’t bail out because he was waiting for the slider to break. Current and former MLB pitchers supported his story, and Scherzer didn’t disagree. Nor did any other Nationals, judging by the fact that Tabata survived Sunday without being beaned again (this time intentionally).

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Originally published: June 22, 2015. Last Updated: June 22, 2015.