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Where Did VMI Come From?

Posted: 2019-03-28 16:17:25 (ET)    [ 469 views ]

BaseballVMI was founded in 2011 by Clifton Neeley.  Can it help fantasy players and gamers?  Of course, as it is essentially reality from the perspective of the pitcher and catcher vs. the hitter.  BaseballVMI uses what we call ADI to determine how well the pitcher's ball will move in today's game.  So, what is ADI? 


ADI is an Air Density Index (see https://www.baseballvmi.com/neeley-scale).  But wait a minute.  Don't we all know that both teams must play within the same ball park and therefore in the same climate?  If so, then is it not an equal contest except that the home team is more familiar with the Park?  Yes, we all have been thinking that way for decades in sports, but the Colorado Rockies Baseball Club has presented both a quandary and a classroom. 


The quandary is; how can a baseball team be so extremely dominant at home for so many years, while scoring an average of 6 to 8 runs per game and at the same time, be so poor on the road as to be normally the worst road team in baseball over the course of a quarter century?  And, having no Hall of Fame players voted in due to their poor road hitting.  Yes, good enough to get to the Majors, good enough with defensive ability, good enough to beat most any team at Coors Field, but not considered good enough overall because of those road numbers.  Yes, every player who has been signed to play for Colorado from the draft to free agency to trades if any, all have fallen in the same category.  It's enough to drive someone to drink.....

So, what happens to top quality players when they are introduced to Coors Field?  How long does it take to become "conformed" to a venue?


The classroom is;  we all know a baseball, golf ball, football and probably all other balls flying through the air, will fly further in Colorado.  But, making Coors Field larger didn't tame it and make it play like the rest of the league.  And, neither did the "Humidor."   So after studying the Rockies for 8 years without saying anything to anyone, Clifton Neeley began wondering why no one was talking about the things he learned while playing baseball from Grand Junction at 4,000 feet to Telluride at 9,000 feet to Durango at 6,000 feet in the mountainous southwest towns of Colorado back in the 1960's and 70's.   He had transferred what he learned from elementary school to high school in baseball, adult men's fast-pitch softball, basketball and football to a college experience in baseball. 


Clifton knew that pitches hop, dive and dart more so at sea level than Colorado, but he didn't know there had been a book written by a physics professor about the subject.  Yes, Dr. Robert Adair, Professor Emeritus, Yale University wrote a book called the Physics of Baseball.  Now Physics sounds like a really complicated mathematical genius' subject, but it really is just attempting to put into mathematical expressions, the things we all began learning at the age of about two.  Things like falling off a couch to understand gravity.  Coasting on a bicycle slightly downhill, but slowing due to air resistance, or playing in a large container of colored plastic balls stacked to about 2-1/2 feet in height. 


Molecules of air are stacked up on the earth just like those colored plastic balls, except that they repel each other.   They stay evenly spaced, slightly apart and will vigorously push back against anything that tries to push them too closely together or stretch them apart.  They won't be stretched apart, because of all the molecules of air stacked up on top of them, pushing downward and side-ways with the weight that gravity causes.  So at sea level there are more molecules stacked than at Denver, Colorado by about 5,200 feet of air. 


The truth is, that if one were to take a sealed container of sea level air to Denver, Colorado--large enough to have a man-sized door installed--the air molecules inside would be so much closer packed than outside the container in Denver that it would put about 7,000 pounds of pressure on that door.  So, at Tucson, AZ it would be about 3,500 pounds, at Kansas City it would be about 900 pounds and in the Anaheim park where the Angels play it would be almost 200 pounds of pressure on that door.  So throwing a 6 oz. baseball through air in each stadium is different, because of air pressure alone.  Add to that, the temperature differences (which decrease and increase the space between molecules) that change dramatically each day, and anyone can see that a baseball thrown in the 90 mph range would fly very differently--each day of the baseball season.  At BaseballVMI, we have indexed all of this on a 100 scale that is easy to understand.  We have also made it automatic so that we present the ADI two days ahead of the game from weather forecasts. 


But, isn't all of this just part of baseball?  Of course, but we all know that the most dominant teams in baseball have all been from very near sea level.   Every other team must take their turn getting to the World Series and staying there, year in and year out, has been a challenge supreme.  Regardless of the nature of baseball, it is still very gauge-able.  In fact, every team who has ever played a series in Coors Field, has struggled on the ensuing series with a win percentage similar to the Colorado Rockies.  Most teams increase their scoring dramatically in Colorado's thin air and then decrease their scoring upon leaving, taking as much as two series to return to their normal scoring average. 

So, BaseballVMI created another index.  It is called the Visual Memory Index, because the hitter must have an idea where the fastball is going to end up at the strike zone, as related to what he remembers from the most recent experience which is the one he will first recall.  He also must set his body and stance to prepare for the fastest pitch, and the expected movement near the very end of the pitch travel.  So, the Visual Memory Index (VMI) keeps track of each ADI the team has recently played within and can therefore determine how much movement the starting players have become used to seeing.  VMI has provided the answer to the question about--how long it takes to conform to the venue!  Interestingly, much of the conformity to the climate happens within one three-game series and a team leaves a ballpark being substantially like the home team.   VMI--gives us an idea how long it may take to adjust to each new pitcher, as well, because each pitcher must perform his magic within the allowable air resistance. 


We now have 5 years of data on each type of pitch to each hitter and 3 years from each pitcher in MLB.  The data aligned with the air resistance available (ADI) and the performance aligned with the comfort level of the hitter (VMI) is quite telling.  Anyone can see the historical data on our website at Baseballvmi.com, but a membership is required to see today's ADI's and the opponent's VMI's prior to game time for fantasy players wishing to determine how their player may perform, in advance. 

When looking at date related historical game match-ups, you can match up a particular game by using the date of the game and the teams involved, or you can compile the data by using the year (2018), or dropping the last digit of the year (as in 201) to see an accumulation of the data on pitch-type through various air densities (ADI's) and/or various levels of comfort for the hitter (VMI's).  

 

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Article Summary

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