Woodward: In search of the perfect fastball: velocity, movement, and location

From Noah Woodward at The Hardball Times on May 7, 2014, with mention of SABR members Ben Baumer and Jon Roegele:

In a recent interview at Amazin Avenue, Matthew Yaspan asked former Mets analyst Benjamin Baumer what he’d like to see done with PITCHf/x data. Here’s Baumer’s response:

I’ve always thought the relationship between location and velocity would be interesting to study. That is, what velocity is required to make a fastball right down the middle as effective as a 90 mph fastball on the outside corner?”

Baumer asks a fascinating question. In fact, I’d argue his question couldn’t be more relevant to someone evaluating pitching talent today. With fastball velocities consistently increasing each year across the game, shouldn’t we ask ourselves if we’re overvaluing velocity as a requirement for success at the major league level?

I’m not sure if Baumer has seen this 2008 piece by John Walsh, but it begins to provide him with an answer. True, many factors come into play when we think about the “what” that makes a pitch effective. Baumer and Walsh allude to a few, like sequencing and contextual information, but I think that relationship between velocity and location is worth another look.

We like velocity because it is quantifiable. Radar gun readings are to scouts as SAT scores are to college admissions departments—they serve as quick and dirty estimates of potential success. Even better, quick and dirty benchmarks make it easy for scouts to weed out potential prospects.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/in-search-of-the-perfect-fastball-velocity-movement-and-location/

Originally published: May 7, 2014. Last Updated: May 7, 2014.