Analyzing PitchF/X: Rick Porcello
It’s been awhile since I’ve made a post here, but there has been good reason for that and it’s a reason I won’t delve into too much. But I thought analyzing through PitchF/X might be a good way for me to break back in.
Now up til now my primary medium for analysis has been video and still shots. It’s got it’s advantages such as seeing the whole motion, which gives me the opportunity to spot what’s wrong with a pitcher. Often though, the problem with a pitcher comes down too a very simple thing, arm slot. I started a series on arm slot a month ago (I’ll finish it eventually) and basically arm slot accounts for a lot. Things like location, velocity, and movement can be affected, but location and movement are the big two.
But arm slot is pretty hard to pick up through video. First you need good video that you can analyze frame by frame. Then you need to watch every single pitch and look for even the slightest of changes in the slot that the pitchers arm is coming out of. So saying off of video alone that his arm slot is inconsistent is really more of a guessing game. But there is a system in place that makes this much much easier. It’s called PitchF/X and basically it takes information from things like the radar gun and translates that into useful information such as release point, movement, and velocity.
So lets begin the analysis.
It’s no secret that Rick Porcello of the Detroit Tigers has been struggling thus far. Reasons probably being mechanical because even without really analyzing you can see that the movement just isn’t there. So first we look at his arm slot/release point.
Now the graph above covers a sample from 6-1-2010 through 6-9-2010 which captures a couple of starts. Now each dot shows us each pitch and the different colors and shapes tell us what kind of pitch. What we’re seeing here is that there is essentially a large discrepancy at Porcello’s release point. The lowest pitch is being picked up at around 5ft off the ground while the highest is being picked up around 6.5ft off the ground. That’s a big difference. However, it’s important to remember that these charts are not made off data coming right at the moment of release. The pitch is picked up a few feet afterward. These charts merely serve as strong indicators, but a discrepancy this large tells us that there is definitely a problem here. So we see the mechanical flaw, but what is the issue that it causes?
Now this is a unique chart because it takes gravity into consideration by virtue of an equation figured out by Trip Somers at TexasLeaguers.com (great place for pitchf/x charts btw). By taking into account gravity, we see a truer representation of the movement that the pitches have and how they’ll end up when they cross home plate. Looking at the chart, figuring out how many inches above the plate Porcello’s fastball’s (FF and FT) are ending up, I can see the problem. The fastballs are staying in the happy zone for alot of hitters. For a sinker baller, Rick isn’t really getting much sink.
Now normally I’d jump into finding out what might be causing the slot issues but after tentatively watching Rick pitch, I can say that he should think about his arm slot first. If he makes that his priority any other issue should be resolved as a result of trying to fix the main problem. It’s less fun analysis wise, but hey, I don’t feel like finding video right now.