This is a post about the similarities between Matt Bush and Aroldis Chapman on the baseball field. On the baseball field.
Which, really, it’s remarkable that any similarities exist at all, given Matt Bush was first a shortstop, and then incarcerated, and has only since been pitching professionally again since April of this year. Seriously. April 7, 2016 was his first professional pitching appearance in more than four years. Two months later, here we are talking about the characteristics his fastball alongside the most powerful fastball in the game.
What makes a fastball dynamic? Well, velocity of course. That’s what you know Chapman for. That’s what a good fastball’s always been. But more recently, we’ve learned the importance of spin rate, too, which helps influence both movement and deception. There’s more to any pitch than just velocity and spin, but if you had to pick only two quantifiable characteristics to measure a fastball, you’d pick these two. Or at least, I did. And when I did that, the results looked like this:
That’s every starter and every reliever with at least 50 four-seam fastballs thrown this year. By velocity, Bush’s fastball ranks eighth, averaging 97.2 miles per hour. By spin rate, Bush’s fastball ranks second, averaging 2,626 revolutions per minute. Put the two together, and you’ve the closest thing to an average Aroldis Chapman fastball, and perhaps the most lively heater displayed by any right-handed pitcher in baseball this season.
Guy was supposed to be a shortstop.
August used to cover the Indians for MLB and ohio.com, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
spin rate matters to a degree, but it should be treated as a vector, no?
Treating spin rate as a vector would make it very difficult to plot in a meaningful way (though I guess you could give it two axes and approximate something useful). Also, it’s relatively easy to get a good idea of the normal of the hypothetical spin rate vector just by looking at arm slot. Bush and Chapman are both pretty over-the-top, which converts spin rate into a straighter fastball with more “rise”.