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

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  • Floyd Gondolli
    replied
    Extremely insightful article by Tim Kurkjian on why we're obsessed with pitch counts, why starting pitching has changed, etc. It is from 2009, but, all of the points not only still hold water, but I'd say even moreso in 2021.

    Baseball's magic number: 100
    https://www.espn.com/mlb/columns/sto...tim&id=4359938

    Excerpts:

    "In 1988, 18.5 percent of all starts were in the 96-105 pitch range. In 2008, that number jumped to 32 percent. In 2000, there were 454 starts of at least 120 pitches. Last season, there were 71 starts, or 1.5 percent, an 84 percent drop. In 2009, 1.9 percent of starts have been 120 pitches."

    SNIP

    "Since 1968, I believe the intensity of every pitch has gotten harder and harder in the big leagues," said Orel Hershiser, the National League Cy Young Award winner in 1988. "In 1968, guys threw over the top, the ball went downhill and became a moving fastball. When they lowered the mound in 1969, they took away the pitcher's leverage. They took away the plane of the baseball, and a straight pitch became more on the plane of the bat. At that point, pitchers had to move the ball so it was not on the plane of the bat, and to do that, they had to increase the intensity on every pitch. Movement became a key, not just velocity. So with all the elements we have today, if the intensity of one pitch is increased by, say, 10 percent, then 125 pitches becomes 115, which becomes 110, then becomes 100."

    Hershiser said the strike zone "now is the smallest it has ever been. When we lost the height on the strike zone, we added some width, but then there was a trend to cut down on violence in sports -- in hockey, the third man in -- in the early 1980s, and with the new rules in baseball, we lost the inside corner. So you pitch in, hit a batter, and a fight starts."

    Hershiser made his major league debut in 1983. "I could rest at certain times during the game: two outs, no one on, seventh hitter up in the National League," he said. "I didn't want to show all my bullets at that time, so I'd throw a BP sinker away and get a ground out. If the guy got a hit, no big deal; you had the eighth and ninth hitters up. But you can't do that today with these lineups. You can't throw only 80 percent of what you have. You can't get by with a get-me-over curveball. What used to not be a big deal is now a huge deal."

    High-intensity pitches are often high-stress pitches. Teams all across the major leagues don't just count pitches; they count the number of pitches a pitcher makes under duress.


    SNIP

    Today's young general manager

    "Twenty years ago, nearly 90 percent of all GMs had played in the major leagues. Now there are three out of 30: Philadelphia's Ruben Amaro Jr., the White Sox's Kenny Williams and Billy Beane of the A's. This decade has brought a new breed of GM, one who is highly educated, can run a spreadsheet and has mountains of data to support his theories.

    "We have a new wave of general managers who are deeply into mathematics, analysis, metrics -- I'm not saying it's wrong -- because that's what they charted in the minor leagues," said Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey. "I don't know the numbers, but the new wave of GMs are the ones who have charted that the chance of injury is, say, greater at 85 pitches than it is at 75. And with every five-pitch increment, there's a 22.8 percent more likely chance that someone gets hurt. With each 10 extra pitches, it goes up by five percent."

    The new GMs sometimes clash with the old-school manager about how the club should be run. Often, the GM wins.

    "My GM used to load reams and reams of paper on my desk about that night's game," one former manager said. "Sometimes I'd read it; sometimes I just throw it in the trash. But in the end, if it comes down to him or me, he's usually going to win. And if the discussion is about pitch counts, he is always going to win."

    Leave a comment:


  • Ubiquitous
    replied
    Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post

    His line is now

    Vs Righties: .305/..422/.534 in over 8,200 PA
    Vs Lefites: .277/.356/.493 in almost 2,000 PA

    About 830 of unknown hand.

    we now have Ott’s almost complete data.

    Leave a comment:


  • Floyd Gondolli
    replied
    Originally posted by Chadwick View Post
    It was easier to go 8-9 innings every 3-4 days when you were only throwing 90mph a few times per game.
    Why would you assume this to be true?

    Leave a comment:


  • SHOELESSJOE3
    replied
    Originally posted by Floyd Gondolli View Post
    Bump this up. (Inspired by the outstanding discussion going on right now in the Jacob DeGrom Thread!)
    How could we ever know.
    Seems to me since players are bigger and stronger, on average harder faster today.
    With that said in recent years some younger pitchers taking advice from some former pitchers, "pull the string". You can also get the hitter out with an 80 MPH pitch.

    The fact that pitchers today throw so fast makes the change up more effective, batter has less time to decide.
    Warren Spahn got it right to the point. "Hitting is timing, pitching is upsetting timing".

    Leave a comment:


  • Floyd Gondolli
    replied
    Bump this up. (Inspired by the outstanding discussion going on right now in the Jacob DeGrom Thread!)

    Leave a comment:


  • Floyd Gondolli
    replied
    Anybody have rough guesses as to average (and max) velocity by era?

    And how much pitching velocity has changed over time?

    Leave a comment:


  • Floyd Gondolli
    replied
    One of our more interesting old threads. Would love to hear people's thoughts!

    Frank Thomas on how much harder pitchers throw versus his prime:

    Leave a comment:


  • Honus Wagner Rules
    replied
    From Wired magazine.


    WHY IT'S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE FOR FASTBALLS TO GET ANY FASTER

    Leave a comment:


  • Floyd Gondolli
    replied
    This thread was started in the pre-Google Era....and is still exigent (seems impossible!!!) I mention this primarily to emphasize the drastic improvements in the exactitude of measurement since the genesis of this discussion.

    We now know, for example, that MLB fastballs were thrown about 3 mph faster in 2017 than they were in 2002. Same goes for all other pitches, also.

    So...to respond to hitchedtoaspark's original query: if that kind of quantum leap in average league velocity can occur in 15 years...how likely is it that 2017 pitchers throw with 10+ mph average velocity more than the median pitchers of 1950....or 1915?

    Leave a comment:


  • Toledo Inquisition
    replied
    I don't think the fact that pitching motion itself has so massively changed has been noted enough. Back in the day, many (most?) pitchers had much larger leg kick deliveries. How many pitchers today have the big leg kick? Do we have any? The big leg kick emphasized leg usage.

    Have any biometric studies been done to determine how the lack of leg kicks impact velocities? I personally think the lack of strong leg kicks puts stress on arms and shoulders which may have been alleviated in older generations.

    Leave a comment:


  • Honus Wagner Rules
    replied
    Who has seen the documentary "Fastball" on Netflix? It was very interesting and insightful I thought. Lots of great historical information about the fastest pitchers in baseball history.
    Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 01-12-2018, 10:44 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • philliesfiend55
    replied
    I'd have to think that pitchers do throw faster today. Back from 1920s to 1945 you had a lot of pitchers that stood 5'10 or 5'11 and weighed 160 to 175 pounds. They weren't built along the same lines as today's behemoths. Every MLB staff has a t least one guy who exceeds 6'6" several guys that are at lewast 6'4" and you have guys that weigh anywhere between 220 lbs. and 300 lbs. It stands to reason that these big guys can throw harder and today's pitchers' strikeout totals reflect it over the much more modest strikeout totals that were typical of baseball's yesteryear. Many more pitchers back then were "pitch-to-contact" types whereas today's hurlers have more overpowering stuff so they rack up more strikeouts..

    Leave a comment:


  • SHOELESSJOE3
    replied
    Funny thing is, all we keep hearing about is speed, 100 MPH or just under that speed. Has anyone noticed, I bring this one up often but little feedback........ the change up is back, big time. Some of the young pitchers finally taking the advice of some former pitchers, you can get hitter out, swing and miss or make poor contact with a much slower pitch. In fact with the high speed pitchers are throwing today makes the change up even more effective, the batter has little time to decide. Watching this game many years, never saw so many young pitchers featuring the change up, with some that is their specialty pitch. One of the greatest Warren Spahn in a few words said it all, hitting is timing, pitching is upsetting timing.

    Leave a comment:


  • willshad
    replied
    Originally posted by SHOELESSJOE3 View Post

    I hear ya, I like it to, a legend gives us his take.
    It just seems like those old timers were usually a lot more humble when discussing who was the 'best'. They wouldn't mention themselves on all time teams, and usually say another guy was better than them. It feels odd to hear Cy Young talk like that.

    Leave a comment:


  • SHOELESSJOE3
    replied
    Originally posted by dwj21792 View Post

    True. But I loved that quote from one of the all time greats.
    I hear ya, I like it to, a legend gives us his take.

    Leave a comment:

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