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#1 Alex S.

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 03:08 PM

I'm not sure if this belongs here or in the MLB section of the message boards, so my apologies is this isn't the place for this.

 

I've had a love of baseball for quite some time, going from being a casual childhood fan to maybe a moderately less uninformed fan of the game.  By that I mean to say that I understand some of the organizational aspects of baseball as well as some of the statistical/sabermetric aspects, but I always feel I lack the understanding of even some casual fans when it comes to the game itself.

 

Just another little preface, I'm really only going to focus on pitching for these questions, but any hitting and fielding notes would be greatly appreciated.

 

With that background, what I'm asking is, how do scouts or even fans make certain distinctions based on watching alone?  I understand the obvious, like throwing in the mid to high 90s makes for a more effective fastball (though if you can't locate it...eh...), movement on any pitch being another indicator of pitch quality for the most part, and the ability to locate and whatnot, but are command, movement, and velocity (in some regard) really it when it comes to determining whether a pitch is below average to plus?  Also, with the insane number of pitchers with different, but effective, mechanics, how is it that a scout determines a "hitch" or something in a guy's mechanics?  Does that have to do purely with inconsistency in their delivery?  Is it that there are certain ideals for pitching mechanics?  Is it just a hunch that a certain change might allow a pitcher to get more on a pitch? 

 

Also, when it comes to pitch selection/sequence/etc, what separates the good from the bad?  Is it just a hindsight/don't make stupid mistakes thing?  Like supposing a young Kenny Lofton is on first with one out, the pitcher knows he's a base stealing threat, so he starts the next hitter off with a fastball, but the hitter would be expecting that, so is it just a matter of locating it in a spot where the hitter isn't looking for it?  Does location then determine whether it was a smart pitch selection in some cases?  Or was throwing the fastball a smart choice, leaving it up to location and luck?  Would it have been a wiser choice to throw an off speed pitch, and is that subject to being called a poor decision if Lofton steals on the pitch and a good decision if he doesn't?  Or does it have to do more with the batter's tendencies than the circumstances?  It just seems that so many pitches are only determined to have been mistakes in hindsight.  If a pitcher throws a fastball low and away for a strike on a hitter in his first at bat, then starts him off the same way in his second at bat, couldn't that be called predictable if the batter happened to be looking for it but unpredictable if he was not expecting to see the same first pitch and ends up in another 0-1 count?

 

 

I apologize if this ended up convoluted and silly, or my lack of baseball understanding is astounding or something, or I'm just completely missing something.

 

 



#2 #1lahairfan

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 03:20 PM

You're a pretty curious guy Alex.

#3 Alex S.

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 04:20 PM

You're a pretty curious guy Alex.

 

It's a gift...and a curse.



#4 Patrick G

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 04:23 PM

I played some college ball as a pitcher and all I really know for the "hitch" can be anything in your delivery, arm angle, release point, etc. My college coach played in the bigs as a catcher and knew alot about these things, as far as he noticed that my index finger sticking out of my glove was raised when I threw a curveball and firmly pressed against my glove when throwing a fastball. I had no idea I was doing it either. Some pitchers also slow their arm down when throwing a change up, so hitters can pick up on these little things as the game goes on. And remember, these are MLB hitters who will notice alot, so even little things that college pitchers picked up on me, I'm sure it's 10X more obvious to them.

#5 chirogerg1

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 05:12 PM

Stuff wise, it is basically velocity, movement, command and deception that determine how good it is. But in a game, most of what determines whether a pitch is quality lies with the hitter. Sometimes the batter will be looking for a fastball when the pitcher throws one, and sometimes they'll be looking fastball when the pitcher throw a curveball. All the pitcher really should worry about is locating, because after the pitch is released, most things are out of his control. You can usually tell if the pitcher hit his spot based on where the catcher was set up and where the pitch ended up. Also, it is generally much more dangerous or less quality when the pitcher misses up in the zone rather than down in the zone, especially with breaking balls and change ups, which become very easy to hit if left elevated, especially with two strikes, when hitters may be looking for secondary pitches more often. This is what is known as "hanging" an offspeed pitch. 

Also, concerning mechanics, some adjustments are to prevent injury or allowing a pitcher's delivery to become more repeatable, meaning that foot strike position, stride length, and release point become more precise. This allows for easier location of pitches, especially repeating location.



#6 Luke

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 09:06 PM

For many minor leaguers, particularly the top prospect variety, consistency is the key.  If they are able to repeat their actions smoothly and consistently and correctly over an entire game, then the coaches can make the adjustments that will push them onwards towards success.  If they are all over the place though, then we are going to be waiting awhile.  Consistency is the foundation.






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