Thursday, September 03, 2009

I was watching some ESPN baseball highlights Tuesday night and saw a special focus on Rangers' phenom Neftali Feliz throwing 12 straight strikes in one inning. I have annotated the strikes in's pitch-by-pitch record below (on which you can click to enlarge). Such "micro-level" data can be obtained by going to the game article, selecting play-by-play, and then pitch-by-pitch.

A streak of consecutive strikes is an interesting one. Most major-league pitchers presumably could throw pitches in the strike-zone for an indefinitely long time. The problem, however, is that hitters would likely figure out what's going on and start driving the ball. Hence, pitchers often purposely throw pitches out of the zone (especially when the pitcher is ahead in the count) to get batters to "chase" a ball away from the prime hitting area. It says something about Feliz's ability (thus far at least) to vary the speed and trajectory of his pitches, all while keeping them in the strike zone, so that batters can't take advantage of the pitches' being in a relative consistent location.

Feliz's spectacular inning Tuesday night is part and parcel of his successful arrival in the big leagues. Quoting from the aforementioned game article:

Feliz has 26 strikeouts and one walk in 11 appearances spanning 19 2/3 innings since being promoted to the majors Aug. 2. The 21-year-old right-hander had a major league-best 0.51 ERA in August before lowering his career mark to 0.46 on the first day of September.

1 comment:

Daryl said...

I didn't get to see the game, but I wonder how much a pitcher's perceived command affects the ump's calling of balls and strikes. As in, if Perez looked like he was on, then he might also get the benefit of the doubt on borderline calls. (The Greg Maddux strike zone.) So each pitch may not be a 100% independent event.