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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mad Dog

Greg Maddux is off to a nice start in 2007 with a 3-2 record and 3.20 ERA in 50 2/3 innings having given up only 45 hits and 7 walks. It turns out that of his eight starts this season five have been recorded more or less completely by the Enhanced GameDay system. In all, that's 358 pitches, 164 to right-handers and 194 to left-handers. Just fiddling around with some of the data today here are some random observations.

  • The fastest pitch leaving his hand was 94 mph. He threw the pitch to Garrett Atkins on April 6th in the top of the third inning. The pitch was called a ball. That pitch was also the fastest when it reached the plate at 83 mph.

  • The slowest pitch he threw was 71.5 mph to Kazuo Matsui in the 6th inning of that April 6th start. That pitch crossed the plate at 62.6 mph before Matsui hit a ground ball to third for an infield single.

  • His average velocity out of the hand was 85 mph and crossing the plate was 75.2 mph. But what's most amazing is that the standard deviation of his muzzle velocity was just 2.86 mph. By comparison, of pitchers who have thrown 100 or more pitches in 2007 with GameDay watching his pitches have varied the least. Jason Schmidt was close at 2.95 mph and on the other end Randy Wolf was at 8.85 mph.

  • The breakdown of the outcomes of his pitches were:
    Ball                         102   28.5%
    Called Strike 79 22.1%
    In play, out(s) 61 17.0%
    Foul 50 14.0%
    Swinging Strike 24 6.7%
    In play, no out 19 5.3%
    In play, run(s) 6 1.7%
    Foul Bunt 5 1.4%
    Pitchout 4 1.1%
    Foul (Runner Going) 3 0.8%
    Ball In Dirt 2 0.6%
    Swinging Strike (Blocked 2 0.6%
    Missed Bunt 1 0.3%
    Not Surprisingly he doesn't get many swinging strikes.

  • The break down of his pitches against lefties and righties is shown in the two graphs below (pictured from the perspective of the pitcher).

    Against lefties he clearly stays on the outer half and besides how few pitches he leaves in the middle of the plate, it would appear he gets a pretty good number of calls on balls that are actually outside the strike zone. Cory Schwartz was kind enough to answer a few questions on the system over at The Book blog recently and said that through testing they're confident that the tracking is within 2 inches with regards to a pitcher's release point and within 1" as the ball crosses the plate. Even with a 1" margin of error and remembering that the data points I'm using are much smaller than an actual baseball, that's still a fair number of pitches that Maddux seems to get the benefit of the doubt on.

    Against righthanders he seems to catch more of the plate and interestingly doesn't seem to pitch as much down in the zone.


    anthony said...

    Excellent analysis. I'd be interested to see the same chart for other pitchers in these games. It's possible that the wide strike is more a function of the umpire than the pitcher.

    I've been running similar charts at my site, Friarwatch, and I've found that it's fairly common for balls wide of the zone (according to Gameday) to be called strikes.

    Anonymous said...

    This is just a shot in the dark, but maybe Maddux's pitches move quite a bit to the right. That would explain the called strikes off the plate to the right and a lot of his pitches catching a lot of the plate instead of just the left edge.