Passan: inside the new system that wants to revolutionze how we look at pitches

From Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports on March 12, 2015:

On Aug. 4, 2010, with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Boston Red Sox sent veteran utilityman Bill Hall to the plate as a pinch hitter. Hall quickly faced a 0-2 count, and on the fourth pitch of the at-bat, he grounded the ball weakly to second base to end the inning. This looked like just another dog-days plate appearance, that final pitch every bit as ordinary as the name of the man who threw it: Joe Smith.

At the time, Smith’s career wasn’t terribly distinguished, either. He was 26 years old, a sidearming right-handed reliever who overwhelmed right-handed batters like Hall but struggled enough that his ERA going into that game was 5.24. Of all the players to throw the single finest pitch of the last seven years, Smith was far from the likeliest candidate. And to the naked eye, it looked like little more than a regular 93-mph fastball in the upper-right quadrant of the strike zone.

“Nobody really understood how good that pitch was,” Jarvis Greiner said. He is 24 years old and wants to change baseball, and like many idealists before him, and many more to come, Greiner is convinced he has the tool to do it. On Thursday, at the Society of American Baseball Research Analytics Conference in Phoenix, Greiner will introduce his Quality of Pitch (QOP) metric, an attempt to leverage the massive swell of data available from baseball’s PITCHf/x system and calculate a single number that quantifies just how good a single pitch was.

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Originally published: March 13, 2015. Last Updated: March 13, 2015.