Author Archive

Pitcher Spotlight: Chris Sale

I’d like to introduce a new feature at FanGraphs: the pitcher spotlight.  While I will continue to try to highlight unique skills or aspects of the sport in other pieces, Major League Baseball is overflowing with quality pitching and interesting prospects worth addressing.  To cover a wider range of pitchers, these posts will be a regular but relatively brief look at a pitcher’s repertoire.

This week’s subject is 24-year-old Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale, who is fresh off a dominating 13 strikeout performance in his last start.  Sale is a deceptive low arm-slot lefty who fully utilizes his quality four pitch mix, which includes a four seam fastball, two seam fastball, slider and changeup.  Here are those offerings in the usual composite graphic with footage stabilized and synchronized to provide a relative look at their movement and velocity.

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Tracking R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball

You all know the R.A. Dickey story by now. Journeyman major leaguer reinvents himself as a knuckleball thrower in his 30s, then refines the pitch to become one of the better starting pitchers in baseball, culminating with his selection as the National League Cy Young Award winner last year. The knuckleball is always a fascinating pitch, and Dickey is a fascinating guy, so there has been no shortage of media attention focused his direction.

While I was not working here at FanGraphs last year, I could not resist taking a belated look at some of Dickey’s dominating knuckleballs from that 2012 season. I’ve selected three particularly impressive pitches from that campaign and used an effect known as StroMotion to help track their movement.

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Miguel Cabrera’s Ridiculous Plate Coverage

­Coming off the first batting Triple Crown in 45 years, Miguel Cabrera ­is making a bid to  be the first hitter to do so in consecutive seasons.  He currently leads the American League in batting average (.391), RBI (55) and is one home run off the pace at 14.  In a recent piece here at FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan commented on Cabrera’s impressive all fields hitting and ability to cover the full strike zone with power.  I have put together some imagery to highlight this ability and show a bit of why Cabrera is such a threat.

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Mariano Rivera Breaking Bats

Mariano Rivera’s 2013 victory lap prior to his planned retirement has been fairly remarkable thus far, returning from injury at 43 showing little sign of wear. He leads baseball with 16 saves (none blown), ranks first among AL relievers in WPA at 1.86, and has generally shown why he is a no doubt Hall of Famer to be.

There is not all that much to analyze with Rivera, his reliance on one pitch has long been notorious. Mariano’s late breaking cut fastball has gradually lost some velocity over the years, declining from the mid-90s to its current 90.2 MPH average speed but retaining its effectiveness.  I have provided a clip below comparing the movement of his cutter relative to a more typical fastball in a similar location.

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Matt Harvey’s Nearly Perfect Outing

Matt Harvey placed an exclamation point on his excellent start to the season Tuesday night with 9 one-hit innings, let’s take a look at how he’s doing it with a slant towards the visual.

Harvey is one of the hardest throwing starters in the league on a typical night, and he had a little extra on his stuff against the WhiteSox, averaging over 95 miles per hour on his fastball.  I’ve captured, stabilized and overlaid a selection of his primary pitches below.

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Visually Comparing Clay Buchholz, 2012-2013

Greetings FanGraphs readers, I am Drew Sheppard, and if you recognize my name it is probably from the Yu Darvish pitch selection GIF that made the rounds last week. Over the coming months, it is my goal to use similar techniques to put a visual spin on some of the information FanGraphs has always provided, including but not limited to similar pitcher breakdowns.

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