Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Called Strike Three

Yesterday, I took a look at swinging strike threes on four-seam fastballs, changeups, curveballs, and sliders. To summarize, I found what most baseball fans expect, that many swinging third strikes come on high pitches for four-seamers, low pitches for breaking balls, and low and away or sometimes just outside of the zone for sliders. These findings were expected for all four combinations of handedness.

Today, I'll look at called strike threes. Here's what I've got:

Not that I expected to find anything particularly enlightening from a sample of several thousand called third strike pitches (to reiterate, I am learning the elementary art of PITCHf/x graphing as I continue to tackle filled coutour heat map plots, while also trying to figure out how to fetch 2010 PITCHf/x data for new analysis).

Four-seam fastballs paint the outer parts of the strikezone for same handedness matchups, while opposite handed matchups tend to the fool the batter with both inside and outside pitches (and the proverbial called strikes that are out of the zone).

Changeups tend to hit the strikezone, except for the RHP vs. LHH matchup where several changeups hit the outside of the plate as they "come towards the batter." (One thing that I didn't note previously: The LHP vs. LHH matchup does not feature many changeups on swinging third strikes OR called third strikes. I realize that the changeup is rarely thrown in same handedness matchups in general, but I don't recall the exact reason why they are rarely used to get the third strike).

Similar to changeups (both breaking balls), curveballs painted most of the zone, except in the RHP vs. LHH matchup where many curveballs hit the outer part of the strikezone, sometimes even missing it. It's one of those pitches when you see the batter's eyes follow the ball all the way to the end of its path, and he slightly bends and looks at the catcher's mitt before looking up at the umpire's call for a third strike. Many of these batters proceed to argue the call, but that's another story. THOSE pitches occur in this particular matchup with the curveball.

Finally, the slider acts much like the curveball on called third strikes. Fools the batter nearly everywhere in the zone, but for the RHP vs. LHH matchup, most of the sliders come toward the outside.

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