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The Bullpen and Fastball Velocity

The Bullpen and Fastball Velocity

PostPost #1 by Tucker Blair » February 7th, 2012, 2:16 pm

The Bullpen and Fastball Velocity
The Orioles come into the 2012 season with a much stronger bullpen on paper. The returns of Jim Johnson, Pedro Strop, and the newly acquired Matt Lindstrom make a formidable 7-8-9 combo. All three of these pitchers have averaged a fastball velocity over 94mph in their careers.

Strop- 94.5 Average FB velocity
Johnson- 94.2 Average FB velocity
Lindstrom- 96.3 Average FB velocity

That is a lot of heat packed at the end of the bullpen. Add Alfredo Simon to the mix and you get even more fire-power. But does fastball velocity mean a stronger bullpen? Does it make the team better having more fire-power?

I went back over the past 4 years and took a look at the average fastball velocity of each pitcher on the club.

A few quick notes :

-In order for a pitcher to qualify for this list, they must have at least pitched 15 innings for the Orioles that season. I wanted to stick with using players who were primarily active that season. This limits out guys such as Armando Gabino (4.2 IP in 2010), who pitched less than 10 innings and really had no relevance.
- Some players started games as well, but I decided that as long as they pitched more than 15 innings out of the bullpen, they were eligible. Some players like Alfredo Simon, and Mark Hendrickson both pitched 15+ innings in the bullpen and played a role in the rotation.


Image
*** I also calculated the FB velocity without players such as Clay Rapada, Chad Bradford, Cla Meredith, and Jamie Walker. This just shows the speeds without them as outliers, since they primarily hovered around 85mph or lower***
As you can see from above, The Orioles' average fastball velocity has gradually increased each season since 2008. Does this mean that they were more productive though? Let's take a look at the Orioles' ERA, FIP, xFIP, and fWAR over the past four years.

Image
As you can see from the chart to the right, the Orioles have hovered around the 2.7 fWAR ranking over the past three years, which is a significant increase from the terrible 1.3 fWAR in 2008. That year also happened to be the year with the worst average fastball velocity in the bullpen. Based off the ratings above, one could make a point in saying the Orioles had an average bullpen over the past three years. But does fastball speed really have any part in that? The Orioles bullpen has surely gotten better velocity-wise over the past couple years. The main reason why is probably not because of harder pitches, but better arms. In 2008 the Orioles had players such as Fernando Cabrera, Randor Bierd, Jamie Walker, and Chad Bradford.They were either "non-factor" players that pitched over 15 innings, or veterans on the decline. Each year after 2008, the Orioles' bullpen saw less and less "non-factor" players (although they still had their fair share, let's be honest). This could attribute more to the bullpens rise to mediocrity than the speed of their fastball. But it could possibly show that a better bullpen is probably filled with players whose average fastball is higher, rather than lower.

Another point to consider is that the starting rotation affects the bullpen as well. The more innings the bullpen pitches, the more likely their velocity will decrease due to getting overworked.

2008- 882 IP (29)
2009- 877.2 (30)
2010- 947.2 (24)
2011- 881 (30)

So looking at the innings pitched, it seems that the Orioles simply got more talented in the bullpen. The only year that I think less innings pitched helped the bullpen is probably 2010.

Looking forward to 2012, the Orioles seem to have a bullpen packed with better velocity. Here is my projected bullpen and their average fastball velocity from 2011:

Image
-The projected average velocity is faster than all four past years.
***If you take out O'day, the outlier, it averages out even faster.
Of course, this average will drop once the season actually happens. Injuries, demotions, trades, and other things factor into play. But as of now, it seems the Orioles have a ton of fire power in the pen, and it seems to be the best pen yet in four years. If the bullpen could get ANY help from the rotation, they could actually be very good.

*All credit to Fangraphs as usual*

http://entoriole.blogspot.com/2012/02/b ... ocity.html
Last edited by Tucker Blair on February 10th, 2012, 3:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Bullpen and Fastball Velocity

PostPost #2 by PasadenaPaul » February 7th, 2012, 5:52 pm

Throwing hard is nice, but can you command it. We all know if it's constantly 2-0 , your 96mph fastball means nothing. So speed stats mean nothing if you can't control it.
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Re: The Bullpen and Fastball Velocity

PostPost #3 by Matt P » February 7th, 2012, 7:24 pm

PasadenaPaul wrote:Throwing hard is nice, but can you command it. We all know if it's constantly 2-0 , your 96mph fastball means nothing. So speed stats mean nothing if you can't control it.


Agreed
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Re: The Bullpen and Fastball Velocity

PostPost #4 by Old Sneakers » February 8th, 2012, 5:51 am

That TuckerBlair89is a great post and very enjoyable.

However, it's all about command. Being able to place your pitches where you want them and each of those pitches having good movement. The fastball is still the best pitch in baseball. But if it's flat, the advanced hitters will time it and hit it over and over again.
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Re: The Bullpen and Fastball Velocity

PostPost #5 by Tucker Blair » February 8th, 2012, 10:24 am

I agree with command. It was a little hard to factor that in though without taking an hour for each player though.

If I ever get the time I'll make sure to look at command a little more.
Also maybe the offensive side of the ball and see if that factored in any way.
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Re: The Bullpen and Fastball Velocity

PostPost #6 by Don » February 8th, 2012, 12:04 pm

While fastball command is important, it depends on the speed of the offering. In a late game situation, guys can start to press and if you are truly throwing gas in the 98, 99, 100 mph range, you command can waiver slightly and still get guys to chase.

The key for any bullpen pitcher is getting ahead early in the count. It is why I stress to start off with your bread and butter, no matter what it brings to the table. If you have a saw off cutter, this is your first pitch, no matter the speed. If you have a hammer or change up that you can hit your spot with ease, this is what you throw.

You get ahead early, it allows you the point to "grip it and rip it". So command, technically is important with all pitchers, it not all that important beyond getting that first pitch strike.

If you want to get a good calling card, what do these guys throw on that first pitch and where is it located. This is the starting point to see how effective your bullpen really is for the team.
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Re: The Bullpen and Fastball Velocity

PostPost #7 by Tucker Blair » February 10th, 2012, 3:37 pm

Updated WITH Koji's velocity in the chart since no one even told me that I had forgotten it :oops:

Nothing really changes, besides the fact I look dumb.

I am going to add Ayala to this once I figure out who gets DFA'd
Last edited by Tucker Blair on February 10th, 2012, 3:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Bullpen and Fastball Velocity

PostPost #8 by ofahn » February 10th, 2012, 3:39 pm

TuckerBlair89 wrote:no one even told me that I had forgotten it


I just thought you were getting OLD.
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Re: The Bullpen and Fastball Velocity

PostPost #9 by Tucker Blair » February 10th, 2012, 3:40 pm

ofahn wrote:
TuckerBlair89 wrote:no one even told me that I had forgotten it


I just thought you were getting OLD.

It's one of those mistakes that I will never understand. Read over the chart like 100 times haha!
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Re: The Bullpen and Fastball Velocity

PostPost #10 by ofahn » February 10th, 2012, 3:43 pm

TuckerBlair89 wrote:It's one of those mistakes that I will never understand. Read over the chart like 100 times haha!


I can assure you that you're in VERY good company.
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Re: The Bullpen and Fastball Velocity

PostPost #11 by markakis_and_me » February 10th, 2012, 6:47 pm

ofahn wrote:
TuckerBlair89 wrote:It's one of those mistakes that I will never understand. Read over the chart like 100 times haha!


I can assure you that you're in VERY good company.


I can confirm that. :D
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Re: The Bullpen and Fastball Velocity

PostPost #12 by Old Sneakers » February 11th, 2012, 2:31 pm

Don wrote:While fastball command is important, it depends on the speed of the offering. In a late game situation, guys can start to press and if you are truly throwing gas in the 98, 99, 100 mph range


Aren't guys with that much velocity really rare though? I thought most quality pitchers sat in the 91-93mph bracket.
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Re: The Bullpen and Fastball Velocity

PostPost #13 by Tucker Blair » February 11th, 2012, 2:49 pm

Old Sneakers wrote:
Don wrote:While fastball command is important, it depends on the speed of the offering. In a late game situation, guys can start to press and if you are truly throwing gas in the 98, 99, 100 mph range


Aren't guys with that much velocity really rare though? I thought most quality pitchers sat in the 91-93mph bracket.


They are a prized commodity. But as he did say, Fastball velocity isn't everything!
But it sure doesn't hurt to have a cannon for an arm.
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