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The Bishops Gaiters are showing they belo

in Hier könnt Ihr Umfragen erstellen und Posten 09.11.2018 16:16
von riluowanying123 • Gaser Meister | 2.685 Beiträge

There are two things I suspect every pitcher who ever stepped on a major league mound have in common: They all said, at some point:And they all failed to imagine Aroldis Chapman.Ive thrown it up near 100 mph sometimes, Roger Clemens once boasted. But, little man, if you throw it 97 down the middle its going to go a long way.This is absolutely true. Major league pitchers threw 1,206 pitches this year that were between 96.5 and 97.49 mph, that were in the middle third of the strike zone vertically, and that were in the middle third of the zone horizontally. Major-league batters hit .350 on those pitches. They slugged .613. They homered on 1 in 17 of those pitches. They hit, as a league, almost exactly as Miguel Cabrera did the year he won his second MVP award.Almost every pitcher is bad when he throws the ball there, no matter how hard he throws it. Noah Syndergaard, when he throws it right down the middle, has allowed a .543 slugging percentage in his career. Dellin Betances has allowed a .556 slugging percentage. Andrew Miller,?.484; Chris Sale, .515; Madison Bumgarner, .529; Max Scherzer, .562. Even Clayton Kershaw, who Ive written is the king of down-the-middle excellence, has allowed a .399 slugging percentage on such pitches, 100 points higher than his opponents have slugged against him overall. Mariano Rivera was only nine points better than Kershaw, at least in the years after PITCHf/x was introduced in 2008.Then theres Chapman (note -- all numbers are regular season only). In his career, batters have slugged .311 off his pitches down the middle. This year, it was .231, as he threw 106 pitches down the middle without allowing an extra-base hit. When its a fastball down the middle, batters slug .317. When we talk about the best pitch in baseball -- Chris Archers slider, or Kershaws curveball or Felix Hernandezs changeup -- we might include Aroldis Chapmans pipe shot.Consider: Chapman has thrown 554 pitches down the middle in his career, and batters have swung and missed at more than a third of them. Its not just the highest whiff rate in baseball, no other active pitcher is higher than 26.5 percent, and Chapmans whiff rate is more than five standard deviations from the mean. I mentioned this to Dan Brooks, of Brooks Baseball, and he responded: ?Stephen Hawking has a 160 IQ?, which means Chapman is better at getting whiffs in the middle of the zone than Stephen Hawking is smart.? (The IQ scale is based on standard deviations, where the population mean is set at -- actually, forget it. Just trust Dan.)??Consider, as well, that hes roughly as tough to hit when he throws it down the middle as when he throws it anywhere else in the strike zone:Most baseball skills actually require a whole bunch of subskills working together. You cant just be fast to be a good outfielder. You must be fast and have a quality arm and know how to track a baseball and be able to hold on to it. You cant just be a big, strong guy to hit homers; you must be able to hit breaking balls, fastballs, inside and outside pitches, to identify pitches and adjust as you go. You cant just have a good curveball or a good slider to strike batters out; you must have multiple pitches to keep hitters from sitting on your primary pitch. If youre blessed enough to defy this last rule, like Mariano Rivera was and Zach Britton and R.A. Dickey are, you must still put the ball close to where you want it to go. (Down the middle when Britton throws it: .502 slugging percentage; R.A. Dickey: .541.) The inability of each player to master every facet of the game is what keeps balance in the game, what makes scouting reports useful.Even pitchers who throw as hard (or nearly as hard) as Chapman have to do more than right down the middle, just right there down the middle. The hardest-throwing pitcher of the PITCHf/x era is not Chapman, but a reliever on the Atlanta Braves named Mauricio Cabrera. A 22-year-old rookie this year, Cabrera has averaged 101.1 mph with his fastball in his short career, more than 1 mph faster than anybody else has averaged and nearly 7 mph faster than the median pitchers heat in 2016. Cabrera is fine -- he had a 2.82 ERA in the majors this year -- but he hasnt been dominant. He struck out fewer batters per nine innings in 2016 than hundreds of other major league pitchers. He struck out exactly as many batters, in exactly as many innings, as Tim Lincecum did. And when he threw the ball right down the middle, batters hit it. Not hard, to be fair, but they whiffed about half as often as they have on Chapmans fattest strikes.Same goes for two pitchers whose perceived velocities, based on how close to the plate they release the ball, are faster than Chapmans. Carter Capps has a 20 percent whiff/swing rate and a .589 slugging percentage allowed on pitches down the middle. Jordan Walden: 16 percent, .540.So Chapman has a singular ability to make mistakes in the middle of the zone and not just live but thrive. This raises the question of why Chapman isnt even better than he is. That sounds absurd -- over the past three years he has the third-lowest ERA in the game, the eighth-lowest WHIP and the highest strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate -- but there is seemingly no defense against his pitches. He can throw fastballs down the middle and turn the entire league into Jeff Mathis. How have two pitchers been even better than him at preventing runs? How have Pat Neshek and Mark Melancon and six others been even better at preventing baserunners?The key is that there is, in fact, one way to beat him: ball one. Chapman can throw a fastball right down the middle and get away with it as long as hes ahead in the count. Put him behind the count, however, and hes barely better than the league as a whole. Heres Chapmans OPS allowed in pitchers, batters and even counts in his career, and the leagues overall numbers in the same time period:When Chapman is ahead in a count and he throws a pitch down the middle, batters isolated power -- slugging percentage minus batting average -- is .036; when batters are ahead, its .300. When hes ahead and he throws a pitch down the middle, batters hit .270 on balls in play; when hes behind, its .444. His home run rate goes up by a factor of four. He still gets plenty of swinging strikes, but he becomes nearly hittable.The difference is that when hes behind in counts, he throws fastballs 93 percent of the time, which might as well be 100 percent of the time for a batter trying to guess whats coming. Batters can ignore his slider and sit on the heater, take a big swing and connect enough to do damage.When Chapman is ahead in the count, he still throws more fastballs than most pitchers do, but he throws the slider often enough -- roughly one in four pitches, plus a few changeups -- that batters have to expect something other than a fastball. The difference between knowing the fastball is coming and suspecting the fastball is coming makes all the difference.What makes Chapman so great is that his fastball is unhittable, no matter where he throws it. But what makes his fastball unhittable, no matter where he throws it, is that he has a slider that batters have to take seriously when they fall behind in the count. 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