Pitch classification is not an exact science. It requires a lot of review and rechecks over time to ensure no funny IDs have snuck in and that a pitcher’s arsenel is accurately reflected. That last point can be the most difficult, especially if a pitcher changes things over time. And then there are changes in arm angles.
So, what’s an PITCHf/x junkie to do? Well, the Brooks Baseball player cards are a start, as they’ve given anyone with the urge to review data the chance to do so, even if that’s not what they’re setting out to do. Take a recent effort by Adam Foster of Project Prospect, mix in a little Twitter and, voila, you can polish up some pitch classifications with relative ease.
Oh, that little Twitter put in the blender? It is especially helpful if the pitcher in question is active in the micro-blogging space. And an ESPN The Magazine feature rounds it all out.
Brandon McCarthy’s arm slot changes were reviewed last April by Kyle Boddy right here at The Hardball Times. The feature on both Mr. and Mrs. McCarthy (“Chicks dig the ground ball” is declared on the cover) talks in detail about his injuries and overall progression.
McCarthy has gone from an overhand fastball/curveball specialist to a three-quarter cutter/sinker guy. He’s in the process of dropping his four-seam fastball altogether and may not throw it at all in 2011, according to his remarks on Twitter. He also confirmed he experimented with a slider as a Ranger (a very inconsistent pitch, so I wasn’t sure if it was a slurve or what, but a tweet or two cleared that up).
One of McCarthy’s latest pitch-related tweets referred to his desire to settle on a change-up. He’s experimented with a few over the years, and that can be seen if you break down his PITCHf/x data game by game. He also threw two-seam fastballs before really developing the true sinker he throws now. They were tailers and came and went over the years.
This may not be everyone’s favorite picture from the article, but it’s mine. It shows his two-seam grip used for his sinker. I’d like to see another one of the two-seam cutter he throws. But I guess more pictures of Amanda McCarthy were preferred by the ESPN editors.
ESPN photo of McCarthy’s two-seamer