How Much of a Velocity Bump is Enough of a Bump to Matter, Game 163 Memories, and Other Cubs Bullets | Bleacher Nation

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How Much of a Velocity Bump is Enough of a Bump to Matter, Game 163 Memories, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Brother just sent me his results on one of those genetic history things, and since we share the same parents, it was basically a buy one get one free (and I got the free! Thanks, bro!). While it generally confirmed things we knew from word-of-mouth genealogy on one side of the family, there was a huge chunk that we didn’t know about, presumably on the other side – turns out a whole bunch of my people came from Ireland. Kiss me, I’m Irish.

•   Just as Ben Clemens sets up in his intro, I’m dreading reading this article because, it’s like, what if fastball velocity spikes don’t actually matter when you analyze the data:

•   But good news! The data strongly indicates it does matter! Obviously that’s the result you’d expect, since pitchers are always trying to add velocity, and we know that batters have a harder time counteracting it. But you never know if there’d be some other surprising reveal when you dug in over such a large data set like Clemens did. He also found that the bump in velo in one year is not typically followed by a drop the next year beyond the normal relative drop you’d expect for all pitchers. In other words, typically, when a guy bumps his velocity a meaningful amount from this year to that year, it helps his performance AND it stays with him thereafter. These tend not to be flukey one-year things.

•   OK, so there is a question embedded in there, though: how much of a velocity bump is required for it to be a “meaningful” change (my word, not Clemens). Well, Clemens’ data set included pitchers who added at least one MPH to their fastball from year to year, so that’s the extent of the bump you’d probably be looking for in order to really expect some improved performance (specifically from fastball velocity – this isn’t saying anything about mechanics, or movement, or spin, or tunneling with other pitches). Basically, your very, very short-hand takeaway here? If you see a pitcher bump his velocity by one MPH or more, it’s probably a good sign.

•   Oh, and if you were wondering, the effect was still there for lower-velocity guys and higher-velocity guys. Indeed, Kyle Hendricks was a guy in the sample thanks to his bump from 2017 to 2018 – though that raises a separate issue that we know about with him, specifically: part of the reason his velocity bumped in 2018 was because he had the middle finger issue in 2017 … but his overall results were actually better in 2017 than 2018 (but his fastball was better in 2018), so I don’t think we can easily say that “health” is a confounding factor here. That is to say, whether by health or mechanics or training or whatever, having more velocity on your fastball is a good thing in isolation.

•   I will never not love everything about this game:

•   One weird thing about that game is that, while I remember so much, I don’t remember Barry Bonds’ presence at all. He didn’t reach base in the game, but he came up with the bases loaded in the 9th, and the Giants down by four. I mean, he was the tying dang run in the 9th with nobody out! And he is Barry Bonds! What kind of blacked out memory hole must I have put that at bat against Terry Mulholland into? And he absolutely smoked a ball to right field, nearly to the track, caught by Sammy Sosa only because it was right at him. Clearly, I didn’t want to remember it.

•   With that sac fly, the Giants were within three, and there was one out, two on. Rod Beck entered from there, so maybe that’s why I don’t remember Bonds? Because I just remember Beck shutting things down and leaping off the mound? I’m watching that Bonds at bat and it’s like I’m watching a brand new play I’ve never seen before. Weird.

•   Bonds hit .303/.438/.609 that year … the 10th best season of his career by wRC+ (170). Yup. He had NINE seasons better than that. He was absurd beyond all reasonable measure.

•   Huge promo today for the return of the NBA, so make sure you check it out. And thanks for supporting BN in the process:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.