Posted: 2021-04-20 21:55:26 (ET) [ 306 views ]
Yes, Wyatt Mills broke the new MLB law on 2-seamers. He threw 10 of them last night, must have missed the big meeting during the offseason and Seattle's pitch identification system accidentally picked them up, so his days are numbered. Of course the hitters were so surprised by this month-long, so called absence, that they were unable to barrel any of them into a hit.
What the heck is going on? Yeah, the two seam fastball has been eliminated. By whom?
(For those of you who are wondering what it looks like and what it does, it is the pitch in the video on our home page--the one that runs in toward the hitter in the last few feet. It is not a sinker, but does not lift as much as the 4-seamer.)
Well, I don't think it is gone from the game, but it has not shown up in MLB stats all month, so far. It is definitely not because it has little or no place in the game. In fact, the last few years it has been quite relevant.
For those of you who are not familiar with the pitch, its movement and why (and when) it has been used over the past 100+ years, the pitch is typically used to offset the 4-seamer. This is because it does not lift (or rise) as much as that pitch and hitters looking for the 4-seam will more often hit it on the ground for an easier out.
In 2014 it was used 14% of the time by MLB pitchers as both a groundball out and by certain pitchers as the primary pitch. We have designated such a pitcher to be a Reverse pitcher, because his primary high velocity pitch is not the lifting four seamer. Since 2014 the use of the pitch has moved downward in the stats in terms of its frequency of use. In 2018 it was used 12.2% of all pitches thrown or over 87,800 pitches out of a total of 721,000. In 2019 there were 741,000 pitches thrown and 8.6% of them were 2-seamers. Of course, in 2020 we had a short, essentially 1/3 of a total season, so there were 2,100 pitches out of 275,500 overall for a 7.7% usage.
So—all the MLB pitchers got together one night in a biiiiiiiig bar so they could stay 6 feet apart---and decided among themselves to quit throwing the two seamer for 2021. NOT!
Certainly not every pitcher uses the two-seamer, but it is neither hard to throw, nor inaccurate. So, why would pitchers, all seeking the Cy Young award, decide not to turn the ball 90 degrees so the long threads are perpendicular to the ground instead of more horizontal as in the 4-seamer grip? Well, first of all, they probably haven’t decided as a group, not to throw that pitch. Secondly, it is a well-known adage that each pitcher must have at least three quality pitches to survive in MLB. So why would all of them decide to eliminate it from their repertoire just so they can learn and perfect a new pitch? They probably didn’t. Something else is going on, in my opinion.
If the pitch were totally ineffective, or gave up too many home runs, then I would feel like it may be that the 2-seamer could have gone by the same way of the Knuckleball. But it is effective at groundball outs, has had an approximate 11% hit to strike thrown ratio and the more perpendicular thread configuration allows seams to catch the air and slide horizontally more similar to a cut fastball (cutter). Some pitchers live and die with that as their main pitch. Could it be that the new pitch detection system cannot detect the difference and therefore all two seamers are classified as cutters? Sliders and curves spin forward; two seamers and cutters spin backward.
It was noted on the Athletic this week that when there is a discrepancy as to the pitch type, the system defaults to the pitcher’s identification of the pitch. Where has that gone wrong? So, not one pitcher has thrown a two-seamer all month, but we are to believe the pitch detection system administrators actively poll the pitchers to get their determination of what pitch they threw? Okay, so maybe that is a reach to ask pitch detection to go that far, but no one is trying to get the pitch detection system to identify the difference in these pitches?
How do fantasy players compete when the data is corrupt? How do bettors do good research to make sure they don’t lose money when the pitch detection systems can’t be trusted?
If there is a proper explanation, why has it not been made public, so the betting and fantasy competitors are not on the wrong end of the competition?
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