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The science behind Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez's nasty stuff

Categories: Sports

ubaldo jimenez mug.jpg
Ubaldo Jimenez.

Numbers and stats are absolutely central to baseball, adding immeasurably to the fun of the game. That's why DriveLine Mechanics' ultra-wonky breakdown of Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez's approach is fascinating rather than bizarre.

Jimenez, the probable starter tonight against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim -- who fell to the Rocks last night, giving Colorado's ballers seventeen victories in the last eighteen games -- is only 6-6 this season. Like the team as a whole, however, he's been on an upward path of late, and blogger vivaelpujols thinks he knows why: Jiminez usually relies early on his devastating fastball, but begins mixing in other pitches to a greater degree as the game goes on, allowing him to maintain fastball velocity while adding to hitters' uncertainty. And Driveline Mechanics offers a slew of graphs to prove it. Check them out:

jimenez pitch distribution.jpg
This scatter chart shows the distribution of Jimenez's pitches, graphed by their relationship to vertical and horizontal movement.

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This graph tracks Jimenez's pitch selection through seven innings.

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As seen here, Jimenez's number of off-speed pitches goes up later in games.

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Likewise, his fastball percentage dips in later innings.

The piece concludes: "It's likely that throwing less fastballs and more offspeed pitches improves the effectiveness of both of them. When you are mixing a 95 MPH fastball with slow stuff, the fastball looks a lot faster and hitters will have less time to react to it. Similarly they will be out in front of the slower pitches. Conversely, hitters can hit a fastball, no matter how hard it is, if they know it is coming. This certainly seems like something worth looking at more in depth, in relation to Jimenez and the league as a whole."

That probably means more charts like the ones above -- and I'm all for that.


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