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Off-days can be fun, too

April 19, 2012

Introducing Off-Day Notes, a baseball feature written on, you guessed it, days the Giants are off. It shall cover all the parts of the league I want to cover, but naturally will always start with the Giants.

Giants
My that was some game last night. Worthy of not one, but two write ups from national publications. Oh yeah, and I was there. Journeying for free food cost me two innings, the game moved at such a brisk pace. As usual, the nosebleeds smelled of weed every other inning or so. The stellar pitching performances from Matt Cain and Cliff Lee were hard to appreciate when sitting up there, though. From that view, it just looked like a bunch dudes hitting into double plays. Lee was the star of the game, getting through 10 innings in only 102 pitches, 81 of those for strikes. That’s also known as a dayum, boy.

Tim Lincecum’s struggles have perplexed and worried fans, but I don’t see much reason to panic. His fastball has slowed by about 2 mph, but it has slowed temporarily before, most notably during August 2010. We can use the internet’s new favorite baseball nerd tool, BrooksBaseball.net, to see this.

Pitch Count Frequency H. Mvt V. Mvt Mph
Fourseam (FA) 91 34% 0.68 -13.58 90.86
Sinker (SI) 30 11% -5.48 -14.83 90.72
Slider (SL) 29 11% 4.33 -31.29 84.80
Curveball (CU) 32 12% 5.07 -44.03 79.07
Changeup (CH) 82 31% -0.48 -28.45 83.49

April 2012. Note the slow fastball. The other columns aren’t important for this discussion, so I won’t explain them here.

Pitch Count Frequency H. Mvt V. Mvt Mph
Fourseam (FA) 171 36% 1.45 -12.13 91.70
Sinker (SI) 96 20% -4.26 -14.09 91.21
Slider (SL) 10 2% 6.79 -37.32 80.47
Curveball (CU) 60 13% 5.58 -42.51 79.19
Changeup (CH) 139 29% -3.03 -26.97 83.60

August 2010. The fastball is similarly slow here, about 1 mph slower than his average the other five months of that season.

No one knows if some of his old velocity will return, but the panic I’ve seen people exhibit is far too premature. Lincecum is a small person; fair or unfair, some people are always going to assume that this time his diminutive frame has finally betrayed him. But even with his reduced velocity, Timmy still has 16 strikeouts and only four walks in 13.2 innings pitched. His SwStr%, the percentage of pitches that induce a swing-and-miss, is 11.7%, the best since he made batters miss 11.8% of the time in 2008, his best season.

Around the league:
– I have no thoughts about any other teams right now.

– I can say that MLB Network fully embraces advanced stats and shit. It’s a delight to watch, I prefer whatever the name of their nightly recap show is to ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, which I grew up with.

– Here is a pertinent ballad:

Rey Ordóñez in 1999 might be the best defensive shortstop ever. I’m off to write the next post!

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