Saturday, July 5, 2008

Having A 98 MHP Fastball AND Being Smart Is Unfair

Brain Bannister become quite a sensation this off-season when his level of statistical analysis was discovered. Banny was trying to use the numbers to get an edge and stay an effective major league pitcher despite less than stellar stuff. Rookie D'Backs pitcher Max Scherzer won't be confused with Bannister on the mound, as he throws in the mid-to-upper 90's with a good slider and change-up to back the heater. That doesn't mean he isn't trying to get any advantage he can though.

Scherzer sat down for an interview with Baseball Prospectus recently in which he revealed that he understands the theory behind BABIP:
"Last year he came across the whole BABIP theory and explained it to me, but I was initially very skeptical because I just could not imagine all pitchers were essentially the same. As my season went on, I kept an eye on it, and he was right—pitchers really do not have control over the balls put in play, [that's on] the defense and luck. I’m very numbers-oriented myself, so I kept digging into this wealth of information. Sure enough, the K/BB and HR/9 were really the driving numbers behind the success of pitching. It really made sense to me, but the pitcher inside couldn’t comprehend that, of everything involved, just three outcomes can determine one’s success."
And is even interested in the latest developments in ball tracking data, PITCH/FX:
"Basically, when I throw a really good slider it would be terrific to know everything I can about that pitch, so I can compare it to bad sliders. There are so many minute things that happen to cause a good and bad slider or good and bad changeup, so any type of data that can quantify what makes or breaks the pitch would be very useful."
Will it one day be the case that all (or at least most) pitchers are aware of this stuff? For some reason I doubt it - there are probably still guys that don't even know what their ERA's are.

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