Marchi: Reaching back for a little extra

From Max Marchi at Baseball Prospectus on May 25, 2012:

n my last article, I explored the rich subject of pitch velocities. I tried to isolate the many factors influencing speed, from weather, to PITCHf/x calibration issues, to in-game situations.

One of the things I noted was that pitchers tend to throw (slightly) harder with runners on than they do with the bases empty. I had expected the contrary, since the full windup delivery should give the hurler some extra power. However, I reasoned that pitchers might reach back for something extra when they are in a tight spot, thus (more than) making up for the deficit due to the set position.

That article was mainly focused on making comparisons between speed recordings possible, so the extra effort issue was not explored in greater depth. Later, after a conversation with Ben Lindbergh (a six-time-zone difference does not constitute a big barrier to chatting when one of the two guys is usually awake at 3 a.m.,) I decided to reach back for that little something extra myself and revisit the subject.

So, today’s questions are: Do pitchers try harder in certain situations? And if so, which ones, and how much harder?

Pitching in a tight spot
A couple of weeks ago, I noted that pitchers throw a mere 0.2 mph faster when runners are on base. Such a small difference could be the byproduct of chance and was worth noting only because a difference in the opposite direction was expected due to the aforementioned full windup versus set position issue.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: May 25, 2012. Last Updated: May 25, 2012.