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Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Dance of the Knuckler

This week in my column on Baseball Prospectus after rehashing some history of the pitch thanks to Rob Neyer and Peter Morris, I take a look at the knuckleball of Tim Wakefield from the perspective of PITCHf/x and Gameday. The system has tracked his starts from April 6th at Texas, April 18th and May 10th at Toronto, May 26th back in Arlington, and June 6th at Oakland, a sample which includes 461 pitches.

As you might expect a plot of the horizontal and vertical breaks aren't very informative since the pitch is all over the place and therefore doesn't form the tighter clusters you can see with more traditional pitchers. Still, his three pitches (the fastball and curve) are able to be detected when you add velocity to the mix as his knuckers are very consistently thrown with a release velocity between 65 and 70 miles per hour. His fastballs are in the mid 70s and his curve in the low 60s. After discussing classification the article goes on to answer the questions when he throws his various pitches, where he throws them, and what the results are.

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