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Pitch F/X: The Movers, the Shakers, the 14-inch Breakers

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*** This was posted earlier, but I'm dumb and didn't realize it was a day game today. So...yeah, enjoy!***

 

Hello Rowbots! How about that game last night? Pretty solid I'd dare say. Ubaldo appears to have shaken off his spring jitters and come out ready to fight.

You'd think I'd be sick of writing about this guy, but he's really one of the most intriguing young players to grace the Colorado Rockies organization.

Strong points from last night:

Ubaldo Jimenez: 7.0 IP, 4H, 0R, 8K, 3BB, 7GB:6FB

The other strong points is that while the hit from Mark Reynolds COUNTS AS A HIT, it was a grounder deep in the hole to Tulo, and I don't think many shortstops not named Vizquel or Ozzie can make that play - and even with them I don't know. This is where BABIP and FIP come into play a bit more.

My point was more it was 2 line drive singles (one to LF, one to CF), a flyball double to RF, and then a groundball out that just didn't convert, you know?

Weak points:

Definitely worked a few counts, and obviously lost 3 guys. Left a few pitches up, but it's still early in the season.

I was really impressed with his outing. Ubaldo is really showing himself to be the guy.

But you already knew all that.

What I brought you in here to look at is Pitch F/X data.

BOOOORING I know, but this is where I feel we can all meet up and just have a good time looking at what Ubaldo can do. This is where the rubber meets the road: This is where the pitches actually land.

Join me after the jump for some analysis of Ubaldo's pitches, graphs, and there might be cake and punch.

Pitch F/X data comes from MLB, and is made available for analysis from such fine analysts as Josh Kalk from The Hardball Times. Josh has compiled a script that will take the online data made available to us and plot it in terms of either location or break, depending on which you want to see. Check it out at http://baseball.bornbybits.com/php/2008_tool - this link only has the 2008 data, but we're what, 2 games into 2009? He'll have more.

FOR EXAMPLE

Let's take a quick look at Ubaldo's curve. What I'm looking at specifically is the break. (You could look at Ubaldo's location, but I wouldn't recommend it. It's really all over the place.)

Fx_medium

This is a collection of Jimenez's curveballs.

You can see the mass of the data really hovers around about 2 inches downward break and about 4 inches horizontal, but we also see a good chunk of the data closer to the 5 inch downward break and 7-10 inches horizontal. That's a pretty decent curve right there. Jimenez also got about 76mph on his curve last season, right where you'd expect it to complement a 95+ fastball.

Now let's take a look at that fastball. We know Jimenez gets good movement on his fastballs, which is absolutely critical. Much as I want Juan "Live Arm" Morillo to make it as a successful member of our team, we all know that that 98+mph heat is in the form of a straight, flat ball. In the show, everyone can hit heat. And yes, they've seen his heat.

So what does Jimenez do to set himself apart?

He gets movement.

Fastball_medium

Take a look at that. He typically gets about 5-7 inches break on his fastball (Negative break means pitch is breaking in to a right handed batter), and what appears to be a bit of rise. But there's also a nice little peninsula off to the left of the bulk that shows about 12-16 inches movement. That's not really an easy pitch to hit, especially when located.

Eric Byrnes was quoted during the game last night as having said that Jimenez once threw him a 97 mph fastball that ran 2 feet. Well, let's take a look at what Ubaldo did to Byrnes in 2008.

Eric_byrnes_fastball_medium

He averaged 99.24 mph on those fastballs. Dis-Gusting. And that movement? Maybe Byrnes was telling the truth, eh?

So yeah, movement's a big deal, am I right?

I'm going to go ahead and cut this short here for the week, but Pitch F/X basically is the tool we can now use to put money where the mouths are.

And when Ubaldo is pitching, that money is about 15 inches inside of where the mouth thought it was.