Last week, at the request of some members in the Viva El Birdos community (mainly Aaron Finkel), Nick Lampe and I co-authored an introductory post on effective velocity (EV) using PITCHf/x data I had already collected on St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn for a previous post. Overall, at least for an introductory post on a new(ish) topic, I believe the concept of effective velocity was pretty well received by the community, but as with most things, it understandably had a few detractors as well. Honestly, I wholeheartedly expected that. Well, Nick and I have sifted through the comments section of the post, and there are things we plan on addressing in future posts on EV, especially this comment from brackenthebox.
In the meantime, Perry Husband, one of effective velocity's pioneers, graciously took the time to produce three videos that help enhance what Nick and I tried to portray in writing last week. While the videos are pretty long (~16 minutes in total) and require audio (likely an issue for those at work), they really are helpful resources that I highly recommend watching at some point, especially if interested in learning more about the theory of effective velocity. Disclaimer: If you have not yet read our introductory post, I strongly suggest you do so prior to watching any of the videos because otherwise much of the terminology used will sound foreign.
Game action versus the Boston Red Sox (8:54):
I included this video first because this is the one that I found particularly interesting. Now, to get the full picture, watching all three videos is your best method, but if your time is limited—I definitely recommend this one. Two terms (that go hand in hand) one must know when watching these videos are "pressure zone" and "pressure pitch." A "pressure zone" is defined by "pressure pitches," and a "pressure pitch" is defined as a pitch that goes through the tunnel that "strike pitches" go through, but they actually end up out of the strike zone.
At roughly the 2:00 mark in the video, Husband talks about Dustin Pedroia being "eight or nine MPH late" on one of Lynn's pitches. Personally, I found this slightly hard to believe given that my eyes perceived Pedroia being very slightly behind the pitch. I passed my concern along to Husband, and he put together this very informative video that provided me with an easy-to-grasp answer.
My favorite part of the entire video can be found from ~7:25 to ~8:07. Here, Husband touches on Lynn's use of pitch tunneling—a concept that is being discussed more and more of late. During this 40 second segment, Husband overlays a fastball set-up pitch with a breaking-ball chase-pitch, and you'll see that even as the pitches pass the halfway point between the mound and home, they look nearly identical to the hitter.
Fastball usage from an EV perspective (4:35):
Lance Lynn EV Usage Report (4:19):
Visual of Lynn's use of tunneling (ideal scenario)
One of the main reasons behind my continued interest in learning more about Lynn's introduction of a new and improved changeup is the concept of pitch tunneling, as discussed in Husband's third video as well as elsewhere on the internet. At present, all four of Lynn's main pitches have the potential of staying in the same "tunnel" for a measurable distance before reaching home plate. Despite starting and maintaining on a very similar path, all four pitches reach home plate at very different locations (as you can see in the diagram above).
The one location Lynn was missing was "down and away/out" to left-handed hitters, and as shown by the diagram, this will be remedied if he is able to consistently throw an effective changeup in 2015 and beyond. This obviously shows the ideal situation as not all of Lynn's pitches make it through the "tunnel," but the mere threat of Lynn effectively using tunneling can be especially worrisome for opposing hitters, especially considering many of them are likely guessing fastball on nearly every pitch.
Lance Lynn is a fantastic MLB pitcher, and effective velocity is a fascinating topic to explore further. I hope you found these videos as interesting as I did, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say about them in the comments section. Also, if interested, you can follow Perry Husband on Twitter: @EVPerryHusband or check out his website: www.hittingisaguess.com.