Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Did Pitchers of Yesteryear Throw With "Much Less" Velocity Than They Do Today?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • In terms of total wins created, yes that's true Chris.

    In terms of impact on any ONE game...no they weren't.

    Yeah...when you start 50 or 70 games for your team, you're going to amass a lot of raw value...but in terms of per-game impact...the pitching position as a whole was markedly less valuable.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by THE OX View Post
      I remember reading an anecdote by Billy Goodman (AL batting champ, 1950), probably in an old issue of Baseball Digest, concerning his first AB against Feller in 1947 as a pinch-hitter.

      After not even seeing the ball, he went back to the bench and heard veterans saying, "What a shame Feller has lost his fastball."

      Goodman supposedly said, "Whatever he lost, he doesn't NEED!" Apparently Feller still possessed a very impressive fastball 10 years after his major league debut, and after 4 years off as a gunner on a battleship.
      I very clearly remember an interview with Ted Williams on his ESPN Sportscentury hour episode commenting that not only had Feller not lost much on his fastball, but his fastball had actually gained movement in 46' as compared to 41'. And yes, he also developed the slider after WWII.

      I think his 1946 performance very clearly indicates that this was the case!!

      Comment


      • Originally posted by SABR Matt View Post
        But in terms of per-game impact...the pitching position as a whole was markedly less valuable.
        Sure, but impact "in any one game" is vastly less important than a pitcher's impact per season or over the course of a career.

        Moreover, the "per-game" impact is diluted given that pitchers throw far fewer games in the long run today!! We've gone from the 3 man rotation (Young, Alex, Johnson), to the four man rotation, which lasted until the mid 1970's, with the advent of the five man rotation.

        That's why Bill James arbitrarily chose to "halve" all the Win Share totals of 19th century pitchers. If he hadn't, every WS list would be completely dominated by those guys.

        Code:
        Career Win Shares
        Cy Young 634
        Walter Johnson 536
        Pete Alexander 476
        Roger Clemens* 440
        Christy Mathewson 426
        Warren Spahn 412
        Greg Maddux 392
        Lefty Grove 391
        Tom Seaver 388
        Phil Niekro 374
        Eddie Plank 361
        A majority of these guys pitched before integration, and only all were from eras where pitchers were more valuable to their teams (see: deadball, 60's-70's) than today.

        Of the top 10, only two are listed from the last 25 years. Clemens prolonged his career artificially twice with steroids; this is well documented. He wouldn't even be on this list without the massive doses of artificial help. OTOH, Maddux's career appears legit; no damning anecdotal or circumstantial evidence has come to light. And, given his skill set, he could/would be the best pitcher in the world in any era. He deserves a spot on this list.

        The point is, though, look at Maddux, with his 23 years and 5000 IP in the major leagues and how much less value he has accumulated compared to Alexander, who pitched a very similar # of innings.

        On top of the vastly disparate workloads they had to endure, when you also include the fact that deadball era pitchers not only had to field frequently, but were required to field well due to the level of infield plays/hits/bunts, it just solidifies that they were much more important then than they are today. A pitcher like RJ or Pedro can be an atrocious fielder and get away with it given the conditions.

        Going 5-6 every 5 days is nothing compared to going 8-9 every third day, while also being called in to relieve on short rest on your days off (Big Train, Alexander, and the other greats of his day were also asked to do this, in addition).

        You mentioned starts. Well, Maddux averaged 33 stars per season over his career, which is actually 1 more than Alexander did in his. Of course, he completed 22 games/season and Greg 5/season.

        Comment


        • Bob Feller was tested three times in his career. He was tested using a device developed by the Cleveland Plains Dealer around 1939. Accounts at the time indicate Feller threw into the machine while joking around. He threw 81 MPH. Atley Donald of the Yankees threw 95 and a couple other players did as well. It was set-up similar to a radar gun at a carnival.

          He was tested against a speeding motorcycle a couple years later. The motorcycle was going 88 and he beat it easily. It was determine that the ball was traveling 104 MPH.

          He also was tested using a chronograph in 1946. He threw 98.6. Here's a video of the test.
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMPxpOapRuU

          Note that the ball is measured as it crosses the plate. Most modern guns measure the velocity 20 feet from the pitcher's hand. The ball loses about 8 MPH from the mound to the plate.

          I agree that many of the old timer speedballers could throw 95-100. But I think they paced themselves. There's no reason to throw as hard as you can when many of the players were "punch and judy" types that didn't hit the deadball more than 200 feet.

          If the radar guns being used today are an accurate "apples to apples" comparison to the guns used 20-30 years ago, I think modern pitchers throw a few MPH harder than they did in the 70's through the 90's.
          Last edited by Bench 5; 07-23-2008, 12:32 PM.
          "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

          Rogers Hornsby, 1961

          Comment


          • "Ted Williams once stood in a spring training batting cage and took one pitch from Dalkowski. Williams swore he never saw the ball and claimed that Dalkowski probably was the fastest pitcher who ever lived."

            According to Steve Dalkowski (who should probably know), this is only partially right. In ST 1960, Williams went 1 for 2 against him. The first time, he got him up to an 0-2 count and threw his slider ("I think I hung it...it was high and outside.")...which Williams knocked half a mile for a homerun. The second time, he threw five four-seam fastballs...the first two missed, and then Steve threw three right down the middle. The first one Williams fouled off. The second one, a little higher, Williams took for a close called strike two. And the third? Well, that one Williams took a huge hack at missed.

            One thing that's been missing from this discussion is probably the most important thing of all...the distance at which a pitcher's heater is measured. A modern JUGS Radar Gun clocks a pitcher at 45 feet from the mound. But the device that recorded Nolan Ryan's record pitch at 100 mph, Bob Feller's 98.6 mph fastball, and Steve Dalkowski's 93.6 mph fastball (with no mound, he'd been pitching for fifteen minutes trying to get the chronograph to read a pitch, and he'd started the day before) all came at 60'6". I posted more about this in the trivia section, which I'll reproduce here...

            "[W]hile I believe Steve Dalkowski could probably hit 103 mph and probably threw slightly harder than Joel Zumaya, that's about the limit of the human arm without the tendons in your ulnar collateral ligament flying apart. Steve's arm structure was rather unique...his left arm was a lot like Satchel Paige's right arm. He threw with a max effort delivery, used an incredibly fast arm action, and take a look at a picture of Steve's stride and it's quite similar to that of Tim Lincecum in length. While Steve probably was among the fastest pitchers of all time, he probably seemed to throw even harder, as well. Could he hit 108 [an oft-repeated myth was that he was timed at 108 mph]? Depends on your definition of throwing 108 mph (see below). Could he do it all the time? Same answer as before. Was he ever timed at 108? No. Where did this myth come from? Read on.

            When Dalkowski threw a fastball that was actually clocked, it registered at (according to conflicting reports) 99.8 mph or 93.8 mph. Considering Steve's sister claims the latter speed is correct, we'll go with that. However, keep in mind the following: Dalkowski, like Nolan Ryan, was timed at 60'6". Today's pitchers are timed at 45 feet from the mound. Dalkowski also lost a few mph throwing off flat ground and throwing over fifty pitches before he finally registered one single speed. It's likely Dalkowski could hit 100-103 mph at 60'6", which is 1-3 mph more than what Ryan threw. Now consider that a pitcher loses anywhere from 5-7 mph from 45 feet to 60 feet 6 inches (let's assume 5 mph, since that's the minimum). Add in 1-2 mph from that loss of throwing off flat ground, and all of a sudden Dalkowski is throwing 99-100 mph with that pitch on a modern gun taking readings at 45 feet. Further, all of a sudden, Ryan is throwing 105 at least and 107 at most (since speed guns have registered that much on one of Joel Zumaya's best pitches at 45 feet, it's not impossible).

            But let's go back to answering our original question...how did this myth come about? Well, add 7 (max limit of pitch velocity loss from 45 feet to 60'6") and 1 mph (from having lost that throwing off the mound) to 99.8 (the incorrect measurement) and round up. What do you get? That's right...108 mph. Seems someone was guessing what that pitch would do on a modern radar gun and did it with the wrong info.

            This is all about perspective. Could Steve Dalkowski throw 108 at 60'6" (which is basically what matters)? No, that's not humanly possible. Consider that ASMI is referring to 60'6" when asked what the limit of the human arm is (about 105 mph). But could he throw that at 45 feet? I have no doubt. Considering he actually caught Steve Dalkowski AND Nolan Ryan, I'll go with Andy Etchebarren as saying that Dalkowski was definitely faster than Ryan, but not to the point where they were incomparable. Then we have the inevitable question that follows...could Nolan Ryan throw that hard at 45 feet? Almost certainly. When we see Ryan finally recorded on a modern JUGS Radar gun at 45 feet, he's played over 15 years of his career. Both Dalkowski and Ryan in their primes likely threw as hard or a little harder than Joel Zumaya...whose fastest pitches likely top off around 99-100 mph at 60'6"."
            "They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
            -Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

            Motafy (MO-ta-fy) vt. -fied, -fying 1. For a pitcher to melt down in a big game situation; to become like Guillermo Mota. 2. The transformation of a good pitcher into one of Guillermo Mota's caliber.

            Comment


            • One thing to note about Ted Williams and Dalkowski in 1960.

              During spring training Ted was suffering from the same pinched nerve in his neck that made him a .254 hitter the year before. He couldn't turn his neck much at all and he couldn't see the pitcher real well. The problem didn't clear up for him until around opening day against Washington. So it is entirely possible that Ted never saw Steve's fastball.
              Last edited by Ubiquitous; 07-23-2008, 01:31 PM.

              Comment


              • Makes sense...Steve said each of the three fastballs that he threw Williams was higher than the next.
                "They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
                -Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

                Motafy (MO-ta-fy) vt. -fied, -fying 1. For a pitcher to melt down in a big game situation; to become like Guillermo Mota. 2. The transformation of a good pitcher into one of Guillermo Mota's caliber.

                Comment


                • Dalkowski

                  All this stuff about Dalkowski is just speculation. Like the alledged "Roswell incident" the ledgend grows bigger every year. He was clocked at 93 point something? So I can believe that on a real good day he'd have been up around 100 on Pitchf/x or the Jugs Gun.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by evetts18 View Post
                    All this stuff about Dalkowski is just speculation. Like the alledged "Roswell incident" the ledgend grows bigger every year. He was clocked at 93 point something? So I can believe that on a real good day he'd have been up around 100 on Pitchf/x or the Jugs Gun.
                    You can find dozens of quotes from baseball people saying Dalko was the fastest pitcher they ever saw. Earl Weaver said this, and he managed Dalko in the minors...think of how many great fastballs Weaver has seen from Ryan, I'd assume Koufax, Tanana, etc. If Weaver says Dalko had a fastball like nobody else, he had to be throwing over 100 on a gun. Cal Ripken Sr. caught him in the minors and said the same thing. These guys know a little baseball, and they knew Dalko intimately, and had seen dozens of other flamethrowers...they said Dalko was the fastest, no question.
                    Weaver figured out that Dalko had a very low IQ and couldn't process a lot of information from coaches. Earl told Steve to throw his fastball and slider over the plate and not worry about anything else. After this, Dalko struck out 104, walked 11, and gave up 1 earned run in 52 innings during one stretch at AA. The next spring training, he was headed for the majors, and he hurt his arm. Never made the majors.
                    We'll never know exactly how hard he threw, and we can't compare him to Grove, Feller, or the Big Train...but, I think that it's impossible that he could have only touched 100 on a gun on a good night, and I think that it's very likely that he was faster than Ryan at his best. But, Dalko also couldn't throw strikes until the very end...I honestly wonder if he was so challenged intellectually that he didn't know to take a little off the ball to control it and just threw full effort without being that concerned about just where it would go.
                    Last edited by hellborn; 07-24-2008, 11:16 AM. Reason: wrong tense
                    "I throw him four wide ones, then try to pick him off first base." - Preacher Roe on pitching to Musial

                    Comment


                    • "He was clocked at 93 point something? So I can believe that on a real good day he'd have been up around 100 on Pitchf/x or the Jugs Gun."

                      Off flat ground, having thrown for fifteen minutes, and starting the game the previous day...yep, sure are ideal conditions...

                      "Earl told Steve to throw his fastball and slider over the plate and not worry about anything else. After this, Dalko struck out 104, walked 11, and gave up 1 earned run in 52 innings during one stretch at AA."

                      Yep. That was 1962 after about half the season had passed. Weaver pretty much realized that if he told Dalkowski (whose likely problems came with his release point...he was wild up and down, not in and out) just to throw the four-seamer right down the middle, nobody was going to catch up with it anyway. He was just pipelineing his best pitch and still put up those numbers (Steve had better control over his two-seamer and slider and could locate those a little better).

                      "I honestly wonder if he was so challenged intellectually that he didn't know to take a little off the ball to control it and just threw full effort without being that concerned about just where it would go."

                      Kind of. Steve's problems more or less had to do with his release point. But his coaches couldn't communicate that because they essentially got him thinking too much on the mound. As an example of this, Steve also said that the Orioles pitching coaches (namely Harry Brecheen) slowed him down on the mound around 1959 and wanted him to be more deliberate. While Brecheen's logic probably would have worked with most other pitchers, it got Steve thinking too much and too hard.

                      "We'll never know exactly how hard he threw, and we can't compare him to Grove, Feller, or the Big Train...but, I think that it's impossible that he could have only touched 100 on a gun on a good night, and I think that it's very likely that he was faster than Ryan at his best. "

                      Well put!
                      "They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
                      -Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

                      Motafy (MO-ta-fy) vt. -fied, -fying 1. For a pitcher to melt down in a big game situation; to become like Guillermo Mota. 2. The transformation of a good pitcher into one of Guillermo Mota's caliber.

                      Comment


                      • From the Bill James Guide to Baseball Managers, page 248. Dalkowski must have been incredible to watch. He must have scared bujeezus out of hitters!

                        .
                        Attached Files
                        Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 07-24-2008, 01:41 PM.
                        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                        Comment


                        • Ironically, Bill James didn't quite get it right with regards to how Steve injured his arm (also, Earl managed Steve at Elmira in '62, not '64). As you can imagine, something like that...even with a guy with an IQ of about 60...stays with you for a very long time. "I don't remember the count, but Joe Pepitone was up and he was bunting. I think it was a slider I threw him [and it] felt like my elbow popped." Although Hector Lopez, Phil Linz, and Jim Bouton have all come up as being names Steve faced, the articles where the writers have actually asked Steve, it's been Joe Pepitone.

                          I will give this to evetts18...there ARE a lot of myths out there to the point of where it's difficult to seperate fact from fiction in the case of Steve Dalkowski. However, it's also clear that with Steve finally beginning to regain control of his memory, which had once been nearly blank, that many of these myths will be undoubtedly put to pasture. However, one other thing is clear...Steve throwing so fast that he could come up in speed discussions with Nolan Ryan and Bob Feller (note that Feller and Dalkowski were clocked with the same machine at the same distance...Feller had the luxury of getting a pitch reading on his third pitch, being well-rested, and throwing off a mound) is NOT a myth.
                          Last edited by Dalkowski110; 07-24-2008, 02:06 PM.
                          "They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
                          -Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

                          Motafy (MO-ta-fy) vt. -fied, -fying 1. For a pitcher to melt down in a big game situation; to become like Guillermo Mota. 2. The transformation of a good pitcher into one of Guillermo Mota's caliber.

                          Comment


                          • 93 point something

                            Originally posted by Dalkowski110 View Post
                            "He was clocked at 93 point something? So I can believe that on a real good day he'd have been up around 100 on Pitchf/x or the Jugs Gun."

                            Off flat ground, having thrown for fifteen minutes, and starting the game the previous day...yep, sure are ideal conditions...

                            "Earl told Steve to throw his fastball and slider over the plate and not worry about anything else. After this, Dalko struck out 104, walked 11, and gave up 1 earned run in 52 innings during one stretch at AA."

                            Yep. That was 1962 after about half the season had passed. Weaver pretty much realized that if he told Dalkowski (whose likely problems came with his release point...he was wild up and down, not in and out) just to throw the four-seamer right down the middle, nobody was going to catch up with it anyway. He was just pipelineing his best pitch and still put up those numbers (Steve had better control over his two-seamer and slider and could locate those a little better).

                            "I honestly wonder if he was so challenged intellectually that he didn't know to take a little off the ball to control it and just threw full effort without being that concerned about just where it would go."

                            Kind of. Steve's problems more or less had to do with his release point. But his coaches couldn't communicate that because they essentially got him thinking too much on the mound. As an example of this, Steve also said that the Orioles pitching coaches (namely Harry Brecheen) slowed him down on the mound around 1959 and wanted him to be more deliberate. While Brecheen's logic probably would have worked with most other pitchers, it got Steve thinking too much and too hard.

                            "We'll never know exactly how hard he threw, and we can't compare him to Grove, Feller, or the Big Train...but, I think that it's impossible that he could have only touched 100 on a gun on a good night, and I think that it's very likely that he was faster than Ryan at his best. "

                            Well put!


                            How do you know he started a game the previous day? Have you seen a box score or something? Even if he had, remember Randy Johnson coming into the World Series game against the Yankees after having pitched the previous day? I don't remember him throwing 80 mph. He had pretty much the same fastball as the night before. Also, throwing off of flat ground vs. a mound doesn't make that much of a difference. I pitched a little in college and I can tell you that it just doesn't. And throwing for fifteen minutes before throwing the ball into the machine couldn't make that much difference, either. For all we know he rested every couple of minutes anyway. As for all of these people who supposedly have said that Dalkowski was the fastest they've ever seen, most, if not all of them saw him while they were first in the minor leagues (some were probably right out of high school). Therefore, they would have been comparing him to other minor leaguers. In comparison, I'm sure his fastball looked 110 when everyone else was probably throwing mid 80's. I'm not saying that he wasn't one of the fastest of all time, just that I bet he didn't throw any harder than Feller, Ryan, Zumaya or anyone else who's had a legit 100 mph fastball. And if he did, it was maybe by a half a mph. That 93.8 is pretty hard to get around.
                            Last edited by evetts18; 07-25-2008, 07:23 AM.

                            Comment


                            • Feller Youtube

                              I've seen the Youtube video of Feller supposedly hitting 98 or so. I don't mean to sound like Joe Morgan, but that just doesn't look to me like a fastball that crossed the plate at 98.6, which means it would have left his hand at around 107. While modern radar guns are frequently trashed as being inaccurate and "jacked-up" who's to say that the measuring device used for Feller was any more accurate. It was an Army device, but the government has been known to be wrong a couple of times. In addition, with all those fans in attendance just waiting to hear the news about how hard Feller was throwing, you don't think there was any temptation to exaggerate? Someone should place this video side-by-side (from the same angle) with a modern pitcher known to be throwing a certain speed and compare.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by evetts18 View Post
                                ... Also, throwing off of flat ground vs. a mound doesn't make that much of a difference. I pitched a little in college and I can tell you that it just doesn't. And throwing for fifteen minutes before throwing the ball into the machine couldn't make that much difference, either. For all we know he rested every couple of minutes anyway. As for all of these people who supposedly have said that Dalkowski was the fastest they've ever seen, most, if not all of them saw him while they were first in the minor leagues (some were probably right out of high school). Therefore, they would have been comparing him to other minor leaguers. In comparison, I'm sure his fastball looked 110 when everyone else was probably throwing mid 80's. ...
                                Earl Weaver was his MANAGER, not a player at the time. He was 32 then, I think that he had seen some baseball by that point. Cal Ripken Sr. was only 5 years younger than Weaver, so he wasn't a kid when he caught Dalko, either. BTW, Weaver also said that Dalko threw "a lot harder" than Ryan, not just harder. You don't think that Earl was pretty familiar with Ryan?
                                Of course the mound makes a difference...it wouldn't exist, otherwise. It sure made a difference when it was lowered 5 inches in the late '60s. Oh, but you pitched some in college, so you know better than Weaver, Ripken, and anybody who's ever pitched off a mound.
                                OK, is this good enough for you...Ted Williams stepped in against Dalko in spring training in '58, took one pitch, left the cage in fear for his life, and said Steve was the fastest pitcher he ever saw. You know better than Ted? I guess you faced Feller and Trucks back in your youth?

                                This isn't some Sidd Finch BS that somebody dreamed up or embellished, there are dozens of well known baseball people who have flat out said that Dalko was the fastest pitcher they ever saw. Pat Gillick played against him and still says that, for chrissakes.
                                "I throw him four wide ones, then try to pick him off first base." - Preacher Roe on pitching to Musial

                                Comment

                                Ad Widget

                                Collapse
                                Working...
                                X