June 8, 2009 at 5:00 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Pitching, Player Analysis, Velocity Chart
Update 06/08/2009: Velocity Chart Changed: more aesthetically pleasing.
I just finished compiling all the pitch f/x data for Tommy Hanson’s MLB debut so I could make a velocity chart and analyze his outing. Hanson’s final like was 6.0 IP (18 outs recorded), 7 runs (6 earned), 6 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 1 double, 3 home runs, and 1 batter reached on an error on the infield.
And here is the velocity chart:
(The blue squares are fastballs, the yellow up-side down triangles are sliders, the orange diamonds are curveballs, and the maroon side-ways triangle is the change-up)
Now, for the raw data. Hanson threw 91 total pitches. He threw 55 fastballs, 16 curveballs, 19 sliders, and 1 change-up (a ball WAY outside to Prince Fielder). The average velocity of his fastball was 93.6 MPH. The average velocity of his curveball was 75.88 MPH. The average velocity of his slider was 88.0 MPH. And the change-up he threw clocked at 83 MPH. I’m wondering if that change-up was something that he wasn’t trying to do and the ball slipped out of his hand but it charted as a change-up. I don’t know, but it isn’t really important to the analysis.
There were 20 action pitches on Hanson’s fastball. 12 outs, 2 singles, 1 double, 3 home runs, 1 walk, and 1 batter reached on an error (J. J. Hardy courtesy of Yunel, though it was a tough play). Hitters posted a line of .316/.350/.842 off of his fastball. There were 3 action pitches on his curveball and they all resulted in outs. There were also 3 action pitches on his slider that also all resulted in outs. Of the 5 strikeouts he got, 3 were on his fastball. 2 of them were swinging and 1 was looking. The other 2 were swinging through his curveball.
So why was his fastball getting hit so hard? Well the velocity was certainly there with an average of 93.6 (that’s very fast). And just looking at the game you’ll see that the movement on his fastball was there. Not flat by any means.
3 of the times his fastball got hit were in 2 strike counts. A single was hit in a 1-2 count, the double was hit in a 2-2 count, and one of the homers was hit in an 0-2 count. I don’t know if this was the Management’s decision or David Ross’s decision or Tommy Hanson’s decision, but why throw a fastball 0-2 or 1-2? OK, it’s fine to throw a fastball 0-2 or 1-2, but probably not for a strike. David Ross kept calling for fastballs with 2 strikes on the hitter. I was thinking to myself, “0-2, go to the slider or 1-2, give ‘em the hook”, but the fastball kept on coming. Organizations frequently encourage young starters to throw more fastballs. Which I can’t really argue with. But after you’ve established your dominance with the fastball (in the words of Tim Lincecum ha.), there’s nothing wrong with throwing an 0-2 slider in the dirt or a 1-2 slider or curveball or whatever. You have pitches to waste. Anyway, after striking out Prince Fielder on a 95 MPH Fastball and Mat Gamel on a 96 MPH Fastball in the 2nd, it seemed like every time Hanson got 2 strikes he tended to favor the fastball. And it also seemed like he was over-throwing it, because it moved more. Into the right-handed hitters. And all 3 home runs were hit off right-handed hitters. The first home run was hit by Braun in a 1-0 count. And he’s Ryan Braun, every now and then he’ll hit one in a 1-0 count. One of the singles was hit in a 2-0 count. When you fall behind a hitter you frequently give up hits. At least it was only a single. And the final home-run was hit by Mike Cameron in an 0-1 count, again trying to over-throw the fastball when he’s ahead in the count. The batter that reached on an error was in a 1-2 count, but that’s an error and not very significant to my analysis.
The moral of the story is: don’t try to over-throw your fastball when you’re ahead in the count. And don’t throw an inside fastball to a right-handed hitter when you’re ahead in the count. I’d like to see Hanson go down and away with the fastball 0-1 more often and come back with a slider or curveball 0-2. He threw a lot of 0-1 curveballs today. Not that that’s bad, but you like to save your “out” pitches for “out” situations.
He did a fairly good job of mixing his pitches and keeping the hitters off balance. He threw a few too many fastballs, and that’s probably not his fault (may be, but probably Ross’s or Management’s/the Organization’s). One thing is for sure, he was impressive. Not super-effective, but very impressive. He got 18 outs on 91 pitches. If he does a little bit better job of mixing his pitches next outing he should be perfectly capable of going the distance.