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

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  • Originally posted by Myankee4life View Post
    I am pretty sure Lefty Gomez could have broken 90 in his sleep. When ever any one speaks about Gomez, they always say that he was armed with a "blazing fastball." In fact, in the book Lefty: An American Odyssey you see countless of references to his overpowering fastball, so fast at times, that Bill Dickey had trouble catching it.

    Cubs Manager Charlie Grimm said about Gomez,



    Anybody know how accurate this Gomez velocity reading was?

    Gomez himself:
    He was timed at 111 feet per second rather than miles per hour. That is about 76 MPH although it isn't clear how it was timed and at what point from the delivery it was timed. Most of the accounts of studies at the time used a different method than the one that Gomez describes in your post. I need to find the details of this test.
    "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

    Rogers Hornsby, 1961

    Comment


    • There is absolutely no reason to believe that pitchers of long ago COULDN'T throw as hard as those that play now. In throwing distance contests, the players then threw as far as those now. Their arms were just as strong. The question is whether they threw as hard as they could on every pitch. I think if one assumes that they did not, then one also must question the pitchers in the 1960s and 1970s. How did they pitch 350-400 innings, and complete almost every game, throwing as hard as they could every pitch?

      It's possible that the pitchers that play now are just too coddled, and could in fact complete almost every game.

      Comment


      • Several years ago in this thread I stated that throwing a javelin and pitching have somewhat similar motions. I found this article today from 1996.

        http://www.nytimes.com/1996/08/08/sp...his-stuff.html
        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

        Comment


        • there always have been guys throwing well over 90. throwing speed is natural talent more than anything.

          however what did go up a lot is the average velocity. 20 years ago we had lot lot of mediocre pitchers throwing 86-88. now it seems like even the last reliever on the bench throws 95. there are still some junkballers but they get fewer and fewer.

          MLB is systematically weeding out those guys. I read that from 00-10 the average velocity went up by about a mile. that means compared to 50 years ago it is probably 3-5 mph. doesn't sound a lot but it is significant.

          however I don't think this is necessarily a good thing. too many finesse pitchers never get a chance because some wild 98 throwing guy gets chosen before him. sometimes a good finesse pitcher is harder to hit than a bad fireballer.
          I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by dominik View Post
            20 years ago we had lot lot of mediocre pitchers throwing 86-88. now it seems like even the last reliever on the bench throws 95. there are still some junkballers but they get fewer and fewer.

            MLB is systematically weeding out those guys. I read that from 00-10 the average velocity went up by about a mile. that means compared to 50 years ago it is probably 3-5 mph. doesn't sound a lot but it is significant.
            In a nutshell, that's much of what's wrong with the game today. There is a distinct difference between "junk" and "finesse." The difference may well be only a matter of mastery of what many call junk. [One man's junk is another man's treasure].

            An effective finesse pitcher realizes a few things that many coaches today seem to have forgotten:

            -off-speed pitches usually have movement imparted to them as part of the package;
            -to complete the package, the pitcher must have control of those off-speed pitches;
            -control implies knowing how to be always around the strike zone [but not necessarily very obviously right in it];
            -off-speed pitches look invitingly hitable;
            -make the batter hit your pitch and you don't have to overextend yourself going for strikeouts;
            -conservation of effort helps keep an arm well-used, but conserved.

            :however I don't think this is necessarily a good thing. too many finesse pitchers never get a chance because some wild 98 throwing guy gets chosen before him. sometimes a good finesse pitcher is harder to hit than a bad fireballer.
            Amen.

            Comment


            • The average fastball is thrown at 92 MPH and the distribution looks like a bell curve. Starters actually throw faster than relievers (on average). In addition, most fastballs are thrown at 94 MPH or less.

              As Maddux would say so often, it's location and movement, far more than speed, that counts. Seaver was quoted the same: location, movement, then velocity. Unfortunately, young players are signed based on speed, and most fans are excited by fastballs and not slow curves, so we now have a lot more fastballers. It does not mean that we have better pitchers however, which as unforunate as it seems, is exactly what people seem to think.

              The greatest pitching seasons in the last 30 (Gooden, Martinez x2, Maddux x2) were accomplished by pitchers with great movement, location and off-speed pitchers to accompany fastballs that were typically slower than the top fastballers of the day.

              Maddux said he could have thrown harder. (Koufax had said the exact same thing and that it was slowing down his pitches that enabled him to become successful.) I'm not sure whether people threw harder 50 years ago or not. I think no one is sure whether or not they chose to throw slower, but because pitchers had that mentality in the early 1900's, I think it's plausible they chose to slow down a bit in order to get better location and movement.

              http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/ar...k-gain-a-tick/

              http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/ar...l-an-analysis/

              http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/ar...erage-pitcher/
              Last edited by drstrangelove; 07-18-2012, 01:33 AM.
              "It's better to look good, than be good."

              Comment


              • Originally posted by leewileyfan View Post
                In a nutshell, that's much of what's wrong with the game today. There is a distinct difference between "junk" and "finesse." The difference may well be only a matter of mastery of what many call junk. [One man's junk is another man's treasure].

                An effective finesse pitcher realizes a few things that many coaches today seem to have forgotten:

                -off-speed pitches usually have movement imparted to them as part of the package;
                -to complete the package, the pitcher must have control of those off-speed pitches;
                -control implies knowing how to be always around the strike zone [but not necessarily very obviously right in it];
                -off-speed pitches look invitingly hitable;
                -make the batter hit your pitch and you don't have to overextend yourself going for strikeouts;
                -conservation of effort helps keep an arm well-used, but conserved.



                Amen.
                Can't say for sure but seems to me in recent years, more change ups thrown and by some of the younger pitchers and some darn good changes of pace. Make some very good hittlers look real bad. The put away pitch doesn't have to be 96 MPH.

                Spahn was right on when he said, "hitting is timing................................."

                Comment


                • I would guess the average pitch coming to the plate now is the highest it has ever been. Thanks to more and more relief appearances. More and more guys throw serious heat because, well, there are more guys to choose from... and more pitching slots on teams for them than there have ever been. So on average I think pitchers throw harder today for sure.
                  "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”

                  Comment


                  • Pitchers are throwing faster

                    Comment


                    • ^ Nice article.

                      95mphpluschart.png
                      "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”

                      Comment


                      • NO from what I've read Goliath threw ched and Sampson was off the gun.
                        This week's Giant

                        #5 in games played as a Giant with 1721 , Bill Terry

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                        • Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
                          Mel Ott:

                          Vs Righties: .298/.410/.518 in over 6,600 PA
                          Vs Lefties: .208/.273/.328 in around 900 PA

                          About 3,600 PA of unknown hand.

                          In Mel's day Lefty NL'er that were not playing for the Giants completed about 40% of the games they started.

                          His line is now:

                          Vs Righties: .302/.416/.527 in over 7,400 PA
                          Vs Lefties: .253/.328/.434 in over 1,400 PA

                          About 2400 PA of unknown hand.

                          Against hard throwing lefties we have some data:

                          Vander Meer: .143/.200/.179 in at least 30 PA
                          Grissom: .387/.513/.903 in at least 39 PA
                          Hallahan: .241/.333/.414 in at least 33 PA

                          Comment


                          • Walter Johnson

                            Excerpt from "Walter Johnson Baseball's Big Train" by Henry W. Thomas:

                            On October 6 Johnson went form New York to Bridgeport, Connecticut, and the Remington Arms Company's bullet-testing range, for an attempt to gauge the velocity of his pitches. The frequent discussion about Johnson's speed prompted Baseball Magazine editor F.C. Lane to put it to a scientific test, after first clearing the idea with Griffith. Also to be clocked was Brooklyn's Nap Rucker, said to be the fastest pitcher in the National League. The rudimentary testing apparatus consisted of a tunnel of fine wires ending at a steel plate. A projectile tripped the wires as it passed through, registering the time, which was then compared to the time of arrival at the steel plate to gauge the speed.

                            After a few warm-up tosses against the steel plate, and still in street clothes, Johnson stepped in, but the tunnel was at shoulder height to measure bullets fired from a standing position and at first Johnson couldn't get his sideam throws to go straight through to the plate. "At length, however," it was reported, "after some effort and with the consequent loss of speed in an attempt to place the ball accurately, the sphere was successfully hurled in the proper direction, broke one of the fine wires in its transit and collided wit a heavy thud against the steel plate." Johnson's best throw was clocked at 122 feet per second (82 m.p.h.), Rucker's at 113, both on their third and last tries.
                            Last edited by bluesky5; 07-06-2014, 03:26 PM.
                            "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”

                            Comment


                            • Bluesky, I've read that Johnson threw 91.36 MPH through that thing. The sources aren't as credible as yours, but is there a reason for the discrepancy?

                              I've always imagined Johnson throwing about 94 MPH. I don't know why, it just feels right. Combined with my baseless, speculative theory that the average pitcher in his day threw 86 MPH, that is a 9.3% increase. That is the same increase that challenges hitters facing a 100 MPH fastball versus the average speed of 91.5. However, because Johnson was virtually alone in his day with his speed, he was truly unique in that he was the only challenging increase faced by hitters.

                              About a year ago, SI wrote an article about Albert Pujols striking out when he faced softball fireballer Jennie Finch. In essence, Pujols had about 0.3 fewer seconds to react to the pitch with the added difficulty of picking it up from a delivery totally unfamiliar to him. Or, as writer David Epstein put it,

                              "Since Pujols had no mental database of Finch's body movements, her pitch tendencies or even the spin of a softball, he could not predict what was coming, and he was left reacting at the last moment."

                              Given Johnson's deceptive delivery and lightning fastball, I believe this is what stumbled hitters for two decades. It was similar to the woes of facing Mariano Rivera: you knew what was coming, but there was simply no way of hitting it. Professional hitters were not fine tuned to face such a pitch. Even worse is facing someone who can locate it.

                              Throughout pitching history, the guy with the new invention steals the show.

                              -Tony Mullane initiated the practice of twisting the wrist with his delivery. Allegedly, he sometimes threw side-arm (illegal for some of his career).
                              -Charlie Radbourn baffled hitters with his arsenal of curves (including the screwball). Mathewson reintroduced it to massive success.
                              -Tim Keefe refined the change up.
                              -Jack Chesbro was the first to really successfully throw a spitball. Soon followed Ed Walsh.
                              -Russ Ford developed the scuff ball.
                              -Eddie Cicotte, if considered the first specializer with it, dominated the league with his knuckleball.
                              -Those pitchers who first used the slider (Lefty Grove, Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, perhaps Chief Bender) paved HoF careers.
                              -Bruce Sutter began using the modern splitter (there is a difference between it and the forkball) so that he could save 300 games. He admitted that, without it, he would have never advanced beyond AA.
                              -Mariano Rivera provided an unprecedented to move to his fastball, such that the human brain could work fast enough to react to its movement. Hitters played an unfair guessing game.

                              My sole advice to any upcoming pitcher: develop something few (if any) have ever thrown.
                              ----------------------------
                              That's the theory, anyway. I wouldn't bring it to court, but I believe it has enough value to post on the forum:atthepc
                              Last edited by Tyrus4189Cobb; 07-08-2014, 05:09 PM.
                              "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
                                His line is now:

                                Vs Righties: .302/.416/.527 in over 7,400 PA
                                Vs Lefties: .253/.328/.434 in over 1,400 PA

                                About 2400 PA of unknown hand.

                                Against hard throwing lefties we have some data:

                                Vander Meer: .143/.200/.179 in at least 30 PA
                                Grissom: .387/.513/.903 in at least 39 PA
                                Hallahan: .241/.333/.414 in at least 33 PA
                                Are you going through boxscores, yourself, Ubiq?
                                Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                                Comment

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