Saturday, September 12, 2009
The extinction of Zito’s hard curve: a brief follow-upPosted by Max Marchi
On September 11, I published this article on Barry Zito, where I stated that he dropped a hard curve, while adding a slider to his arsenal.
Many readers commented that what I noticed might just be a change in the MLBAM classification algorithm, rather than in Zito's repertoire.
I'm not surprised, since I had the same concern myself.
What follows won't end the matter and maybe I'll get on this again in a few weeks.
Here are the speed/movement charts of Zito's 2008 hard curve and his (alleged?) 2009 slider.
I see quite a good separation in all of the graphs, that makes me feel like they are two different pitches, whether they are a slider and a hard curve or something with different names.
Speaking of names, here's what his catcher Bengie Molina said after a gem pitched on July 7 (I happened to be at the park that night): "He did a great job. The curve ball was working, the slider, the changeup—everything was working".
It seems that a slider is indeed in Barry's quiver, and if Bengie says it was working, he might have called for it a few times.
MLBAM algorithm sees a slider among Zito's pitches; BIS video scouts see a slider too (they were also seeing one before 2008, but they are seeing it twice as much this year); Bengie Molina talks about a slider; for the time being I'm going to stick with the new pitch hypothesis.
I'm currently watching some videos of this year and 2008; I hope to give you an update.
After creating a baseball rendition of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper cover, Max began his baseball writing because he needed an excuse to show the picture. He wrote for an Italian audience for six years before making the jump to The Hardball Times. You can contact him by e-mail.