Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sinker Release Points

After reading tonight's Cubs F/X post regarding Derek Lowe, it made me think about sinker ball pitchers. About a week ago while watching rookie Justin Masterson pitch, I decided to take a quick look at the release points of various known sinker ball pitchers around the league.

Three questions keep popping up for me when looking at these numbers.

1. Is this data skewed because of the various parks?
A: Yes it is. I don't know how much though. Josh Kalk would be able to explain better.

2. How much of this data is affected by differing mound heights at each park?
A: I asked Mike Fast this a couple weeks back and he basically said the errors in last years data had much more to do with park inconsistencies than mound height. This is an unknown area still waiting to be explored.

3. Is the release point data affected by where you stand on the mound?
A: I haven't read anything on this, but my guess would be yes. Some pitchers like to stand on the right of the rubber, others like to be off to the left. Some pitchers choose the rubber side based on the hitters hand. Has anyone done more work in this regard?

Lastly, if we can normalize all of this data, how much can teams, players and fans learn about release points? Will there be a time when we can look at a pitcher who is standing on the right side of the rubber and see that his breaking pitches would be more effective from the left side? Will we be able to evaluate release point data from a medical point of view? Will we be able to have a better understanding of arm slot in regards to injury history?

The great thing about looking at this data everyday is that you always find more questions you want answered. As Tom Tango said yesterday "You are all on the path to reach the pinnacle of sabermetrics". The more data that becomes available, the more questions that arise.

Isn't it wonderful?

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