The updated version of this catalog is now hosted by The Hardball Times.
In the 2006 postseason, Major League Baseball introduced a feature they called Enhanced Gameday, based on the PITCHf/x camera system from Sportvision. Based in Mountain View, California, Sportvision is also the creator of the yellow first-down line that appears on football telecasts. The PITCHf/x cameras capture the speed and location of the pitched baseball throughout its flight to home plate. Dr. Alan Nathan has a good description of how the system works on his Physics of Baseball site. MLB has, for now, made this data accessible in the XML files freely available for download from its Gameday website.
This summer, a number of baseball analysts have begun using this new data to tackle questions heretofore out of the realm of the common researcher. Others have made brief summaries of the published research, but I haven’t seen a comprehensive catalog. What follows is an attempt at such a catalog. If I have overlooked anyone or left out any articles, please bring it to my attention. Order is not necessarily a reflection of importance, but I have tried to list the earliest and/or most groundbreaking work first.
(If you want a quick introduction to the field without having to read through all the articles below, I recommend John Walsh’s “In Search of the Sinker” and Joe P. Sheehan’s “More Fun with Enhanced Gameday”.)
- On February 28, he published “Fingerprinting Jeff Weaver”, an article about pitcher Jeff Weaver, classifying his pitches based on his performance in the 2006 playoffs with St. Louis.
- On March 29, he published “Enhanced Gameday”, an article about various pitchers from the 2006 playoffs, looking at pitch location, release points, and classifying pitches for Mike Mussina.
- On April 18, THT published “Another Look at Enhanced Gameday”, an article about pitch selection, velocity, and classifying pitches for Felix Hernandez and Kevin Millwood.
- On April 19, he published “More Fun with Enhanced Gameday”, an article about consistency of pitch movement, location, and release points, and classifying pitches for John Lackey.
- On April 26, he published “That Sinking Feeling”, an article about the two-seam fastball, examining pitchers Derek Lowe, Aaron Cook, Brandon Webb, and Carlos Silva.
- On May 11, he published “Location, Location, Location”, tracking the location, BABIP, and swing percentage of pitches in different grid locations around the strike zone.
- On May 25, he published “Dangerous Curves”, on the break of the curveball and pitchers Barry Zito and Rich Hill.
- On June 14, he published “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…”, on the effectiveness of the changeup and pitchers Cole Hamels, Josh Beckett, Trevor Hoffman, and Johan Santana.
- On June 28, he published “Is There Something in the Way It Moves?”, on pitcher Roy Halladay and the consistency of his stuff from start to start.
- On July 13, he published “Under Pressure”, on pitchers Jake Peavy and Dan Haren and their pitch selection in high-pressure versus low-pressure situations.
- On July 26, he published a collection of PITCHf/x-related notes under the title “Not an Article about Pitching at Altitude”. He discusses preliminary data about the effect of altitude on the break of pitches, and updates his BABIP charts from “Location, Location, Location”.
Another major researcher in the field is Dan Fox, author of the Schrodinger’s Bat column at Baseball Prospectus and the Dan Agonistes blog. Most of his work is available for BP subscribers only. His June-July series on Hernandez, Wakefield, and Matsuzaka is a great primer on classifying pitches.
- On October 26, 2006, BP published “Information Revolution”, an introductory article about the PITCHf/x system.
- On May 10, his article “Phil Hughes, Pitch by Pitch” discussed Hughes’ May 1st start in detail, including release point and fastball velocity throughout the game.
- On May 24, BP featured “Batter Versus Pitcher, Gameday Style”, an article about pitch velocity and strike zone accuracy.
- On May 31, BP published “Physics on Display”, an article about fastball deceleration from release to the plate and pitchers’ fastball velocity throughout the game.
- On June 7, BP published “Gameday Triple Play”, an article about pitch deceleration, establishing the fastball, and measuring hitters’ plate discipline.
- On June 14, BP published “The Science and Art of Building a Better Pitcher Profile”, about pitcher Felix Hernandez and methods for classifying his pitches.
- On June 21, in “Gameday Meets the Knuckleball”, Dan looked at pitcher Tim Wakefield and his knuckleball.
- On July 5, BP published “Searching for the Gyroball”, an article about pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and classifying his pitches.
A third important contributor is John Walsh, a nuclear physics professor at the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare in Pisa, Italy. He has published several articles at The Hardball Times:
- On June 6, THT published “In Search of the Sinker”, one of the definitive articles on classifying pitches. In this process John examines the sinking fastball and pitcher Randy Wolf.
- On June 26, THT published “Schilling’s Aching Schoulder”, an article about detecting Curt Schilling’s shoulder injury in the Enhanced Gameday data.
- On July 11, THT published “Strike Zone: Fact vs. Fiction”, an article about the strike zone, as called by the umpires, versus right-handed and left-handed batters.
- On July 25, THT published John’s followup article “The Eye of the Umpire”, containing some refinements to the previous article. The pair of articles are an excellent beginning to strike zone analysis.
Next we come to John Beamer, author of a couple articles at The Hardball Times:
- On May 7, THT published “Under the Skin of Enhanced Gameday”, an important article about the park-to-park accuracy of the PITCHf/x data, particularly release points.
- On July 2, THT published “A Close Look at Tim Hudson”, an article about pitcher Tim Hudson and classifying his pitches using a statistical clustering function.
Over at the Go Rangers! blog, Steve West is another PITCHf/x researcher.
- On June 14, he published “Rotation Release Points”, an article about the release point consistency of the starting rotations of Texas, Anaheim, and Oakland.
- On June 18, he published “Rangers Rotation Pitch Types”, an article classifying the pitch types of Texas pitchers Kevin Millwood, Brandon McCarthy, Kameron Loe, Vicente Padilla, and Robinson Tejeda.
- On June 25, he published “Rangers Rotation Release Points Redux”, an article examining whether the Texas starters were tipping their pitches by varying release points.
- On July 12, he published “Pitch Break Angle vs Length”, and article about classifying pitch types using these two new PITCHf/x parameters. This article is a useful complement to the pitch classification work of Fox, Walsh, and Beamer.
- On July 30, he published “Do Pitchers Affect the Strike Zone”, a look at batted ball results plotted against pitch location in the strike zone.
Next up is Bill Ferris at the Detroit Tigers Weblog with a few articles on Tiger pitchers. Because Bill is so prolific a blogger, I may have missed something of his on the topic.
- On April 13, he published “A Different Look at Zumaya’s Outing”, an article about velocity and relaease point in Joel Zumaya’s two-inning save on April 12th.
- On April 14, he published “A Different Look at the Bonderman-Halladay Duel”, an article about Jeremy Bonderman’s April 13th start.
- On April 29, in his “Game 24: Twins at Tigers” recap, he used Gameday to chart pitcher Mike Maroth’s release point.
- On June 3, he published “A Different Look at Andrew Miller”, an article about pitchers Andrew Miller and Kenny Rogers and classifying their pitches.
- On July 29, he published “Comparing Kenny Rogers to Kenny Rogers”, an article about, guess who…You’re right! Kenny Rogers.
Louis Chao has one article on The Hardball Times. Hat tip to Whither for pointing me to his first Chinese-language article at Andre’s Baseball Blog.
- On June 26, he published, in Chinese, “Diggin’ in on the Sinker”, an article looking at sinkerball pitchers. Putting this article through Google Translate to English makes it clear why that tool is still in beta. 😉
- On July 12, THT published “Another Look at the Sinker”, an article comparing the two-seam and four-seam fastballs and looking at pitcher A.J. Burnett.
At the beansTown blog, Steve Calcagno has one article.
- On June 19, he published “Spending Gameday with Chien-Ming Wang…”, an article classifying Wang’s pitches.
Over at the U.S.S. Mariner, Dave Cameron has one article using Enhanced Gameday.
- On June 21, he published “Weaver: Better Stuff?”, an article about the velocity and movement on Jeff Weaver’s pitches.
A Devil Rays’ fan who posts around the web as ultxmxpx has a website where he posted some Enhanced Gameday pitch analysis.
- On June 3, he posted “Shields/Kazmir pitch selection” as a topic on the RaysBaseball forum.
- On July 10, he published this list of pitchers and contact rate on their various pitches, which he had classified.
Anthony has Enhanced Gameday stuff scattered here and there throughout his blog at Friar Watch.
- On April 23, he posted “How to use MLB Gameday Data”, describing some of the PITCHf/x data fields.
- On April 25, he posted “Mark Buehrle’s No Hitter”, looking at the pitch location and umpire strike zone for the game from April 18th.
There are also some other Chinese language articles on this topic. I wish I could understand a bit more than what I can gather from Google translations, but I’ll present them here for those of you who do know Chinese.
Even if you’re an English speaker, you might be able to gather something from the Google translation and the graphs at Cafe Whither. Thanks to Whither for the first link.
- On June 7, he published “Analysis of Wang’s Pitching Stuff via New Gameday Data”, an article about pitcher Chien-Ming Wang.
- On June 13, he published an article about pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo: http://blog.roodo.com/Whither/archives/3458611.html
And here are a couple other Chinese language articles.
- On June 26, about pitcher Josh Beckett: http://blog.xuite.net/stfo/blog/12293879
- On July 3, also about Hong-Chih Kuo: http://badassbaseball.blogspot.com/2007/07/enhanced-gameday-4-seamerslider.html
I hope to contribute a little of my own work in the near future, but I felt the right place to start this discussion was with a recap of what has been done. Enjoy!
Update: New articles listed in this post.
Full list of articles by author.
Full list of articles by date.
Articles about pitchers listed by pitcher.