Pitch f/x nomenclature

I’ve always been an avid reader of baseball analysis and sabermetrics. Pitch f/x in both research studies and on Gameday has been a specific point of interest, although I’ve never gotten around to doing any research (of consequence) of my own. But the main thing on Gameday that always bothered me was the column in the pitch-by-pitch section titled “BRK” which stands for “break.”

I had been reading pitch f/x studies before I noticed this “BRK” column, and realized it was different than either the horizontal movement or vertical movement that had been quoted in those articles. Well I went on for months not really knowing what BRK actually meant. It was never quoted anywhere, so I figured it must not be important. I eventually asked Mike Fast to explain it to me, and it was pretty damn simple. I felt kind of embarrassed I had never taken the time to figure it out before or ask anybody what it actually meant in real terms.

For those of you who were in the same predicament as I was a long while back, I’d like to share this piece by Dave Allen over at The Baseball Analysts, which explains the difference between break and movement. For the sake of Mike Fast’s inbox, I suggest you go ahead and check it out.

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  1. Alan Nathan said...

    The difference between “movement” and “break”, as this was discussed extensively in a THT article by John Walsh two years ago:
    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/in-search-of-the-sinker/.  Since then, there has been lots of discussion at the blogs about which of the two is more intuitive to the players (I think the consensus was “break”) and which was more useful for baseball analysis (consensus was “movement”).

  2. Dan Novick said...

    I remember the article, but the point about movement versus break is a pretty minor one. I figured Dave Allen wasn’t the first to talk about the difference between movement and break, I just didn’t know who else had.

  3. hilarie said...

    I doubt players, especially batters, see two separate phenomena at all. They see a little white ball spinning towrds them, following a trajectory which they can or can’t anticipate and handle.

  4. Dan Novick said...

    They don’t see two separate things. This is solely for the people watching gameday and looking at pitch f/x.

  5. hilarie said...

    I was commenting on the discussion referenced above: “which of the two is more intuitive to the players (I think the consensus was “break”).” I doubt player intuition parses pitch trajectory the way gameday viewers and statheads do.

  6. Dan Novick said...

    Oh I see what you mean. Yea I guess it wouldn’t matter much outside of a few players like Banny or Scherzer.

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