Neyer: R.A. Dickey and the knuckleball effect

From SABR member Rob Neyer at Baseball Nation on November 26, 2013:

Among the many, many bits of [conventional wisdom] about which I was skeptical: the relevance of pitch-framing, and the notion that a knuckleball pitcher conferred some special advantage to the pitchers who followed him.

Pitch-framing just didn’t make any sense to me. The umpires were (and are) trained to follow the path of the pitch, and make their calls based on the location of the baseball, relative to the strike zone, regardless of what the catcher might be doing. Yet the ex-players in the booth, and particularly (as I remember) Tim McCarver, just couldn’t stop blathering on about how important the catchers were. How they could both “steal” and “lose” strikes, depending on their actions.

Well, thanks to the availability of PITCHf/x data and the fantastic work of some fine researchers over the last few years, it’s now hard to resist the conclusion that pitch-framing is both real and occasionally fantastic.

And the knuckleball thing? If anyone’s ever studied that, I don’t believe I’ve seen it. If anyone’s ever studied that and actually found anything, I know I haven’t seen that.

Until now.

Over at FanGraphs, Christopher Carruthers has conducted an extensive study of “the R.A. Dickey Effect” … as in, what happens to the pitchers who follow Dickey? Carruthers studied the relievers in the same game as Dickey, and also the starting pitchers in the next game (if the next game was in the same series).

Before I tell you what Carruthers found, here’s why I’ve always been skeptical about any suggestion that any sort of pitcher could “screw up” the hitters enough to benefit the next hitter

Read the full article here:

Originally published: November 26, 2013. Last Updated: November 26, 2013.