Thursday, May 22, 2014

Masahiro Tanaka: Start Nine

Masahiro Tanaka's ninth start of the season, pitched against the Cubs in Chicago (the first team he has faced twice), was his worst outing of the year so far. While he still struck out seven and walked one, he gave up a season high four runs, a tied for season high eight hits, and a season low six innings. On a positive note, he did not give up a homer for the third straight start.

Here is his spin and speed chart from the outing:

Here are his average spin and speeds by pitch type:

Tanaka's release points:

Average release points by pitch type:

Tanaka's pitch locations:
Average pitch locations:

Tanaka's movement chart:

Tanaka's average pitch movement:

Here is Tanaka's average result locations:

Tanaka's average locations by platoon:

Friday, May 16, 2014

Masahiro Tanaka: Start Eight

Masahiro Tanaka's eighth start of his MLB career proved to be his best so far, as he went all nine innings, didn't give up any runs, and gave up just four hits. He also struck out eight and didn't walk any.

Here is his spin and speed chart:

To give a cleaner view, here are his average spins and speeds for each pitch type:
 His splitter had by far the most spin, while his sinker was usually slightly slower, but spun more. Here is where he usually located those pitches:
 His slider was only slightly more glove side than arm side, though he got his curve to be lower than it normally is, even though it stayed arm side. His sinker also stayed a little lower than his fastball. If you wanted to see all of his pitch locations, they are below. Notice the cluster glove side and in the middle of the plate and high.
 Here are his result locations on average:
 When he threw high and glove side, he gave up hits, while low and glove side got him whiffs, just like it has all season. When he threw balls, it was usually because he couldn't get it glove side enough. Here are the release points of all his pitches:
 Going back to location, here is where he located his pitches by strikes in the count:
 As usual, he continued throwing lower and more glove side as he got more strikes on the hitter, going for that location where he was getting the whiffs.
 When he got three balls in the count, he threw his four seam fastball, or at least this is what the graphs show. Otherwise, there wasn't much of a difference between no balls and two balls in the count. Here is his movement chart:
 Here is his movement data by average pitch type:
All of his pitches, even the ones you think would be similar to each other, have vastly different movement.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Masahiro Tanaka: Start Seven

Masahiro Tanaka's seventh start of the season took place in Milwaukee versus the Brewers, where he tied for his shortest outing of the year at 6.1 innings. Despite this, it was still a good start for him, as he struck out seven hitters, walked one, and most importantly, gave up no home runs. The Brewers did get seven hits and scored two runs off him, and Tanaka faced the fewest amount of batters (26) as he had faced all year on tied for the second highest amount of pitches he had thrown on the season.

First, let's take a look at his spin and speed chart for the game.

 It seems like he threw a lot of sliders, and just four curveballs, a little lower than his normal number. For comparison, here is what his movement chart for the game looked like:

 The splitter seemed to have the most spin out of all of his pitches, but it had less vertical movement than his sinker and fastball. His fastball also moved more vertically and less horizontally than his sinker, while there was no real difference in spin and very little difference in speed.

Here is where Tanaka located his pitches on average, along with his average release point.
 Tanaka was actually a glove side pitcher for the game, and that maintained throughout until his very final inning.
 Early in the game, he was an extreme low and glove side pitcher. He steadily moved higher and more arm side (with the third inning coming out of the pattern completely) as the game progressed.
 All of his pitches except the sinker, yes even the curveball this time, were glove side pitches, and basically all of his results were on the glove side of the plate.
 The swinging strikes average location most closely matches his first two innings of work. He worked extremely away from both platoons
The lack of left-handers in the Brewers lineup contributed to his heavy glove side pitching. The later in the count he got, when it came to strikes, the more likely he was going to go low and glove side.
 With balls in the count, we actually see the opposite pattern. Instead, he was more likely to throw down the middle of the plate when he got to two or three balls in the count.
 As we saw his location by inning change, I thought it would be helpful to look at what his average release points looked like by inning
The biggest differences were his last inning and his second inning, though not surprisingly looking at location, his third inning was slightly different as well.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Breaking Down Chihiro Kaneko's Most Recent Start

Chihiro Kaneko has blossomed into the most effective starting pitcher in the NPB, especially with Tanaka now in the MLB. So, with Yuki Matsui still in the Ni-Gun, I thought he was a logical choice for an article concerning one of his starts. In his most recent, against the Fighters, he went seven innings, 126 pitches, striking out nine, walking five, and giving up three runs (one earned) on six hits.

As a warning, some pitches didn't have velocity numbers, so all of them aren't going to show up here on the velocity and pitch count chart:

Kaneko's velocity clearly declined as the game went on, and his max pitches were all at the beginning of the game. It doesn't seem that his change and slider had much speed differential, especially compared to the extreme difference of the curveball.
 Kaneko's fastball percentage was a little low, but he spread his other pitches of his deep repertoire pretty evenly, with his slider being the most prevalent. As far is how he located his pitches, he was about evenly split on pitches in the strike zone and out of the strike zone.

As far as how he located his pitches in more specific terms, his favorite locations were low, both to the arm side, and the glove side.

If he located the pitch high, it was usually middle/high. As far as results go, it seems that only about 6 % of the pitches he threw out of the strike zone didn't turn into a ball:
Despite this, he had a good whiff percentage, and an okay foul and called strike percentage. To further break down his locations, lets look at where he located the pitches that turned into balls:

The Glove/Low location is even more prevalent here, as is the arm/low, showing that he was trying to go low for whiffs more than high for whiffs out of the strike zone. For comparison, here are the called strike locations:

 Arm low gets a big boost here, and he threw a few pitches right down the middle that did not generate a swing. Here are where his whiffs were located:

 Middle and low was the most prominent location, which probably means that he should have kept it there more than the glove side and low locations. Using more pitch specific locations, here was where he located his fastballs:

 Middle/high sees a big increase, and the low locations saw decreases, nothing surprising. Here are locations of his second most used pitch, his slider:

This is where his glove/low heavy locations come from, as nearly half of them were thrown there, like most sliders. His second most common location was the middle/high location, probably ones he couldn't get down as much as he wanted to.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Masahiro Tanaka: Start Six

Masahiro Tanaka's sixth start of the season for the New York Yankees saw him going seven innings again, this time against the Tampa Bay Rays at home in New York. Tanaka gave up eight hits and three runs, along with two home runs. He didn't walk anyone and struck out five.

To start, let's look at the home runs he gave up. The first chart is the at-bat to Desmond Jennings in the first inning that ended with a home run.

 Jennings is a right-handed batter, so Tanaka went low and away with two different pitch types to start the at-bat, but then went up and in (though obviously in the middle of the plate enough for Jennings to extend his arms) with the fastball. It isn't particularly surprising that this pitch turned into a homer. What about in later at-bats against Jennings?

 Tanaka got Jennings to hit the ball twice more off of him, both for outs, and both lower and closer to the center of the plate than the home run ball. He also very clearly wanted to keep the ball away from him, and when he did, he was successful.

Wil Myers hit a home run off of Tanaka later in the game, and did it in a one pitch at-bat.
 Myers is also a right-handed batter, so this pitch was away, and nearly out of the strike zone. Compare this to how he pitched him the rest of the game:
 Tanaka had no intention of throwing inside to Myers save for one pitch that was very far inside. he kept the ball mostly high and towards the center of the plate, where he had success. He also got him to hit the ball and turn it into outs twice, just like Jennings.

Here is Tanaka's spin and speed chart from the game:
 One slider had particularly odd spin, but the chart seems relatively normal. There wasn't the large schism between splitters this time when it came to spin. Here is where Tanaka located his pitches on average throughout the game:
 He kept his splitter very low, but was barely able to get his curveball in the strike zone. This is higher and more arm side than it has been all year, and it has been a high and arm side pitch all year. The slider location is one of his better of the year, though his sinker was very arm side. His result locations show that almost everything happened arm side.
 His hits allowed were the most arm side, and he got whiffs when he was able to go glove side and low, suggesting his slider and splitter being very effective.

The following is a very basic chart that shows where he released the ball, and where his average pitch, regardless of type or result, was located.
 Clearly, he was an arm side pitcher, and worked low slightly more than high, but not dramatically so. Here is how he worked depending on the handedness of the opposing batter:
 He threw higher to lefties, and of course, more arm side. To righties, it looks like he couldn't keep the ball away from them consistently, or at least worked both sides of the plate to them. I think this has a lot to do with the sinker and curve being extremely arm side and his slider and fastball only being nominally glove side. He would probably be more effective if he pitched more on the glove side of the plate.

I was curious as to why he threw higher in the zone to lefties than righties, especially when you would think the splitter would be more of a weapon against lefties than righties. So these are the splitters he threw to lefties, labelled with results:
He obviously kept everything down the middle or arm side, but about half of them stayed in the middle or high in the zone. This lead to a couple of hits, but a couple of outs as well. Not surprisingly, none of these turned into whiffs. Instead, he got whiffs when he went at the bottom of the zone, or below it, but also threw it in the middle part of the plate.