If you head over to www.brooksbaseball.net, there’s a new tool available that’s so impressive I barely know where to start using it. I’m not really in the business of the sort of in-depth and complex statistical analysis you can get from writers who really know their way around pitch f/x, but even I can appreciate the new player cards the site now has on offer.
Let’s take the player card of NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. At the top of the page you get the sort of breakdown of his repertoire that has become fairly commonplace when using pitch f/x to look at a player. The number of line drives a pitcher gives up when he throws a changeup is interesting and useful but probably not particularly ground breaking at this point. What is more impressive is what comes next.
Every pitcher in the database has, I believe, 25 pitch charts which brings together just about every tool one could ask for in order to exactly how a certain pitcher goes about his work. You can see just be glancing at Kershaw’s pitch movement v LHB map that the Dodger’s ace has just about junked his changeup against same handed hitters. The different variation of these maps also allow you to visualize just how much movement Kershaw gets on his curveball. On the subject of which there is also a usage map that shows how Kershaw came into the league as a fastball/curveball pitcher, then partway through the 2009 season he started working in a slider to the point where he now throws it considerably more than his curve. Why make the change? Well there’s a chart that outlines just how much movement Kershaw gets on the pitch and there’s also a pitch map showing how good he is at locating the pitch both down and below the strikezone.
I’ve given only the most basic of overviews but it really is fun to play around with a just look through the cards of some of the pitchers you like watching most. They also have the facility to look at specific games so if you’re convinced the reason AJ Burnett only lasted 3 innings against the Indians last May was because his fastballs were all down the middle (to take a made up yet plausible example), Brooks gives you the chance to look that up. It may be above my pay grade, but I’m sure once the experts start digging into the 3.2 million pitches (not a typo) that have been charted for this project we’re going to get some fascinating insights.
Hats very much off to everyone involved in putting this together.
(Don’t be afraid to sponsor a player page either to help support them. I’m off to spend $10 on Stephen Strasburg right now before someone else beats me to it)