Starters' Pitch Movement

by on January 25, 2013 @ 11:52:28 PDT


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By Stephen Nickrand

Tampa Bay Rays SP Alex Cobb
Order the fresh Cobb

The implementation of the PITCHf/x system in the 2006 MLB playoffs and 2007 MLB regular season has allowed for the systematic collection of pitch velocity and movement.

While this data can add more to our analytical toolbox, the analysis of it is still an evolving process.

After all, pitch movement by itself doesn't really tell us much. The effectiveness of pitch movement varies by pitch type. It also differs based on the handedness of the batter.

Likewise, the amount of pitch movement does not have the same effectiveness for every pitch. For example, a small, late break of a slider might be just as or more effective than one with more movement.

In addition, some pitches benefit more from vertical movement than they do from horizontal movement.

Pitch movement, velocity, and location all play key roles in the success of a pitch.

That said, let's dig a little deeper to see which starting pitchers had the most movement on their pitches in 2012. We'll also look at those who increased their pitch movement the most in 2012 vs. 2011.

Here are the SP who showed the most aggregate movement on their pitches in 2012, calculated by adding together their weighted horizontal and vertical movement (in inches) by pitch type:

Pitch Movement 2012

*Min 40 IP

Name League Weighted H+V
Moore, Matt AL 17.4
Gonzalez, Gio NL 15.8
Lilly, Ted NL 15.3
Saunders, Joe FA 14.7
Price, David AL 14.5
Holland, Derek AL 14.5
Rodriguez, Wandy AL 14.4
Medlen, Kris NL 14.4
Detwiler, Ross NL 14.3
Happ, J.A. AL 14.3
Lee, Cliff NL 14.2
Griffin, A.J. AL 14.2
Arrieta, Jake AL 14.2
Miley, Wade NL 14.1
Estrada, Marco NL 14
Hamels, Cole NL 13.9
Richard, Clayton NL 13.9
Sanchez, Jonathan FA 13.8
Capuano, Chris NL 13.8
Doubront, Felix AL 13.8
Hughes, Phil AL 13.8
Kennedy, Ian NL 13.8
Verlander, Justin AL 13.7
Harrison, Matt AL 13.7
Chen, Wei-Yin AL 13.7
Delgado, Randall NL 13.6
Colon, Bartolo AL 13.5
Bedard, Erik AL 13.4
Blackley, Travis AL 13.3
Vargas, Jason AL 13.3
Harvey, Matt NL 13.2
Strasburg, Stephen NL 13.2
Wolf, Randy FA 13.2
Phelps, David AL 13.1
Corbin, Patrick NL 13.1
Stults, Eric NL 13.1
Milone, Tommy AL 13

While this list by itself doesn't tell us much, it does highlight the upside of guys like SP Matt Moore, Tampa Bay and SP Jake Arrieta, Baltimore, young pitchers offer both pitch movement and velocity.

Most pitchers maintain consistent aggregate pitch movement from year-to-year.

Which SP had significant movement changes?

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