Madison Bumgarner’s missing velocity

Madison Bumgarner worked in a Spring Training game for the Giants on Wednesday. He happened to be facing the Mariners in Peoria. Peoria happens to have PITCHf/x installed. This is the sixth game of Bumgarner’s seen by PITCHf/x. Here’s each game, the park, and his average fastball velocity (lumping four- and two-seam varieties together, using my own pitch classifications). And, yes, there were a few Spring Training games captured by PITCHf/x last year (all in Scottsdale, March 15-19, 2009).

I wouldn’t expect to see him at top velocity already, but FYI dead-arm trackers (h/t JD Sussman):

03/17/2009 Scottsdale     93.4 mph
09/09/2009 San Francisco  88.7
09/19/2009 Los Angeles    91.8
09/22/2009 Phoenix        90.6
10/03/2009 San Diego      91.6
03/03/2010 Peoria, AZ     89.3

The Giants will be in Peoria two more times and Surprise twice (site of the other PITCHf/x installation) by March 15, with a split-squad pair at each park on the 15th. Hopefully we’ll catch some more data on Bumgarner. Until then, the worriers can worry.

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  1. SharksRog said...

    According to Giants beat writer Andrew Baggarly, Mad Bum was hitting 86-89 on the scouts’ guns today. Not bad for this early in the spring, although Tim Lincecum was said to be in the 91-93 range.

    Bumgarner said he lost the velocity by throwing too much between starts in the minors.  He said that when he was called up in September, he was surprised a how little the Giants’ starters threw between starts.

    Will Madison regain his lost velocity?  I don’t think today’s outing provided great hope, but it is still quite early.  And Mad Bum did get all but two hitters out in his two innings, even though he was working a lot on his slider and change up and left at least one of each up in the zone.

    It appears to me that even without the velocity Bumgarner will be an average big league starter.  If he regains it, he could have ace potential.

    Bumgarner’s strengths have been his outstanding control for a young southpaw, his motion being hard to pick up, his high level of poise and competitiveness for a 20-year-old, and and an outstanding pickoff move.

    His weaknesses are inconsistency with his two secondary pitches and perhaps the velocity on his fastball.

    The good news appears to be that the effective speed of his fastball to the batter is higher than its actual velocity.

    And last spring Mad Bum struck out Juan Pierre on a slider and Manny Ramirez on a change up. Although his minor league strikeout rate tailed off along with his fastball speed, he did strike out a batter per innings in his 10 frames with the Giants in September.  Many of those strikeouts were called, and many came on the slider and change up.

  2. Harry Pavlidis said...

    Lincecum was 90-93, Bumgarner 88-91 today. Interesting that the scout’s gun agrees on Lincecum, but not Bumgarner (all his off-speed stuff was 82 and below).

  3. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    Here is some detailed news from Chris Haft, the reporter:

    “Bumgarner’s fastball was clocked in the 89-90 mph range, a tad slower than his best velocity readings. Then again, pitching coach Dave Righetti advised him not to overthrow. “He said, ‘You’re not going to make the team on the first day,’ and that makes a lot of sense,” said Bumgarner, who’s competing for the fifth starter’s spot.”

    And if his average was 89 (noted in PITCHf/x stats in article), then wouldn’t the range be more like 87-91?

    I think it deserves to be monitored, but it’s too early and too small a sample to take anything from yet.

    Great info, Sharksrog, particularly about his September strikeouts and how, thanks for sharing!

  4. Harry Pavlidis said...

    @obsessivegiantscompulsive I’d guess Haft is talking top velocity, and the value I use is adjusted to five feet further away from the plate, so my numbers will be just a touch faster.

    @Sharksrog I’m beginning to wonder if he throws a slider and a curveball. His arm slot makes the curve work 2-to-8 but he also has something more slider-ish. I need to look through all his games again.

  5. Harry Pavlidis said...

    Here are the FB speeds for Bumgarner’s appearance in Peoria. One may have been a two-seam fastball, but it didn’t deflect much more than some of his four-seams.


  6. Kampfer said...

    This early in the year, his velocity is pretty impressive. Looks like a starter who can throw 92 in the season.

  7. Yeti Monster said...

    I was lucky enough to see some of MadBum’s starts in SJ and his first start in SF last year.  His breaking pitch seemed slurvy to me, partially due to arm slot.

    Also, per SharksRog’s comment, I’d rather Bomber’s strike outs be of the swinging variety rather than the looking.

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