Where and How Not to Pitch
just emerged from a trip through Baseball Savant’s new treasure trove of baseball data. It felt like a baptism into a new world of baseball data that I only caught glimpses of through Fangraphs pitch f/x screens. But there I was embroiled in thousands of data points and I didn’t know what to do. There’s exit velocities, pitch movement, release point, spin rate, and game situation available for every pitch thrown last year. Where does one possibly begin?
Well, first things first, I thought and so to the Catchers’ Interferences I went. Using Colby Lewis‘ two catchers interference calls to understand what I was looking at, I began to realize just how powerful this tool could be. I understood why David Cameron was encouraged that we would learn something very cool from Statcast in 2016. I also understood that that long-sought discovery would not be found by deciphering why Colby Lewis had managed to induce (throw?) different catchers interference on different pitches nearly five months apart, or further decipher why he managed to be the only pitcher to do it twice last year. And why are they both in that quadrant of the strikezone?!
Baseball is weird. It is full of oddities and plays that you’ve never seen before, but baseball nerds find inner peace in “sample size” that because of the length of the season results in normalizing of the all that is right and holy. Baseball itself finds peace knowing that today’s scorched lineout becomes tomorrow’s auspicious RBI flare double that lands on the chalk. So in this treasure trove of new data that is being collected by MLB Advanced Media, we’re supposed to filter through those Colby Lewis Catcher Interferences and find larger trends that help to educate the game. Supposed to. How can I possibly look away from those two red dots?
At least temporarily, I must look away. While on my trip through Pitch f/x data, I discovered something genuinely worth sharing. I figured out where not to pitch it.
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