Revisiting Volstad with new Pitch f/x tools


The first thing I should mention is that there are two awesome new Pitch f/x tools recently released for the lazy analysts like you and me. Of course, you know about Dan Brooks’ site, Brooks Baseball, which gives us live updates on pitchers, complete with awesome graphics. But TexasLeaguers now has a tool that conglomerates that data for pitchers and hitters and gives us some awesome rate data.

In addition, I’ve done some work with Pitch f/x in by gathering player data by collecting all of the data from Brooks Baseball, a tedious task no doubt. However, Joe Lefkowitz has made this awesome Pitch f/x tool which lets you sort and filter available data by a variety of different fields. For me, that makes finding individual player data extremely easy. Also, it makes doing real Pitch f/x research possible on Excel, rather than using mySQL, which has not always been kind to me.

With the awesome tools we now have available, we can take a look at a lot more interesting studies for the Marlins. The first thing I wanted to look at was a revisiting of the issue of Chris Volstad and his main problem, the home run.

We all knew that Volstad’s major problem was the home run this season. Volstad allowed 29 homers this season, a ridiculous (and terrible) accomplishment given his reputation as a ground ball pitcher. Previously, I posited that Volstad’s home run problems might have something to do with his stuff. Volstad gave up 21 homers via his fastball. I had postulated that perhaps the fastball’s vertical break was increased for his gopher balls, or that the fastball velocity was down and thus easier to get around on. Back then, I found that this hypothesis was wrong, and that the stuff Volstad was showing in home runs and overall pitchers was mostly the same.

What about now, with the season completed? Well, the long and short of it is that there was no difference this season. In fact, the similarities were very strong. According to the TexasLeaguers tool, Volstad had an average four-seam fastball (I did not include the lone Fastball or the two-seam fastballs recorded) of 91.7 mph, with an average vertical break of 9.31 inches. According to the data I gathered from Volstad’s 21 homers from the fastball, the average velocity for those fastballs was 91.7 mph and an average vertical break of 9.28 inches. Essentially there was no change to be determined.

You have to figure pitch location had something to do with it, but the locations were not all that bad.

You can see why the curves were perhaps beaten up, but the locations of the other pitches were not all that telling. The higher and middle locations were poor, but pitchers get away with plenty of those locations. Given the HR/FB Volstad saw this season, it’s hard to believe that this horrendous season was more than poor location and bad luck. It should come down for next season, but we are going to have to see an increase in ground balls for Volstad to be significantly better.