Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Spending Gameday with Chien-Ming Wang...

I have to confess, I love the kid! I routinely call him ‘Cy’ Wang, I watch everyone of his starts, sometimes twice. Mixed in with a staff of stars, the quiet kid with the heavy ball has become my favorite pitcher!

The new MLB Enhanced Gameday (EG), and all its sick stats, has given me an opportunity to get further acquainted with that hard throwing, 6’3 man from Tainan, Taiwan. One of the first things I noticed with the new Gameday that intrigued me is that it displays both the speed of a pitch at the pitcher’s release point (55 feet from home plate), and the speed of the same pitch as it crosses home plate.

You know what I'm thinking, right? No more steroid injected local regional sport network radar guns. However, Wang seemed to stack up fine here. Maybe we are not being deceived, or maybe they just did that for Randy to keep him feeling good about himself and give a little spark to those old bones. Anyway, enough Randy bashing, back to my boy Wang, here’s a look at some of his averages. The average values are reprented as startSpeed and endSpeed, respectively. minSpeed and maxSpeed represent, out of all the pitches in my database, the slowest pitch to cross the plate and the fastest pitch to leaving his hands.

avg startSpeed-92.20537

avg endSpeed-82.38188



These numbers result in an average decline of 9.82mph from when the ball leaves Wang’s hands and when it crosses home plate. His fastest pitch caught with the new EG was 97.2 mph at 55 feet from home plate. That same pitch crossed home plate at 86.6mph, a differential of 10.6mph.

If you watch Baseball Tonight, no doubt you have seen them analyze a pitch in slow motion, follow the trajectory of the pitch by drawing a line making it clear for everybody to see how nasty that pitch exactly was, or in some cases how much it drifted back over the plate before it left town for good. MLB EG, uses similar technology and presents virtually every pitch in the same manner so you may get a clear picture of exactly how that ball travels. MLB EG also supplies a value, pfX, which shows, in inches, exactly how far a pitch moved versus a hypothetical pitch thrown to the same spot with no spin. These pfX values are what I will use to show both horizontal and vertical movement of Wang's stuff.

Below is a graph which shows the speed and horizontal movement of the 149 Cy Wang pitches I’ve been able to chart using the Enhanced Gameday (EG) technology. EG is currently only available in 8 ballparks. All the pitches I’ve charted for Wang have been against the White Sox at US Cellular Field.

First thing I noticed was three separate clusters, which in fact represent three different pitches. With horizontal movement, negative numbers indicate that a pitch moved toward a right hand hitter and positive numbers indicate movement in on a lefty. Wang has one type of pitch resulting in positive values, this is the cluster on the right. These pitches are all thrown around 85mph, and based on the fact that we know they must have moved away from a right handed hitter, it’s safe to say they represent his Slider. The large cluster in the top left represents his Sinker(likely including some four-seamers) and the small semi-scattered cluster in the bottom left is his change up.

Next, we'll take a look at a graph to show both vertical and horizontal movement for all 149 pitches I have data on. The horizontal break for Wang’s sinker shows great consistency. Working off a very small sample size, the vertical break on the change-up looks to be very consistent within itself, and also very similar to the vertical movement Cy Wang gets on the Sinker.

Note: Graph did not import well into the blog. The legend reads changeup_h, slider_h, sinker_h, changeup_v, slider_v, sinker_v. h and v represeting horizontal and vertical movement.

Negative vertical movement means the spin caused the ball to drop more versus the hypothetical pitch thrown to the same spot with no spin. Now we are talking more along the lines of a Barry Zito curveball.

There are a few inconsistencies here, I see some scattering within pitch type, but I am fairly certain that it is due to the small sample size from which I have had to work with. On the other hand I am excited to know that it is actually possible to decipher what exactly a pitcher is throwing with the information provided.

have really just touched on the information provided by EG. In addition to what I have mentioned, they provide data for release points, pitch location, and more.

My biggest hope is that Cy Wang will get a few more starts in Enhanced Gameday stadiums this year so I may continue looking at his data. Well now that I've got all that explaining done, phew, shit was tiring, my next installments can dive deeper into the actual numbers and what the heck it all means.

1 comment:

Brother P said...

You are a sick man. I'm most certainly the ra ra blogger about the Yankees and you the most greatest stat man ever. What normal human being posts graphs? Well done kid you have amazed Brother P