I already mentioned (in Italian) this piece by John Walsh and this one by Joe Sheehan. I will never end being fascinated by the studies done by them and others working on the Pitch F/X system implemented by MLBAM this season.

To make a long story short, if certain pitches, and certain locations of those pitches, induce a way lower BABIP, then can pitchers actually influence BABIP beyond what we believed to be possible?

 

Sure, McCracken’s original DIPS theory has been disproved (by himself as well) but we still thought that a pitcher could only do so much to induce poor contact and help his own defense out. Maybe he can do more, instead, by consistently and conspicuously altering his pitching trends and having a great command. This could revolutionize not only the way we see the Majors, but also the way we see prospects. Strikeouts would be way less important for command artists, provided they had “low-BABIP pitches” in their repertoire. Now, we know that lines and flyballs hit to the pull side also induce a lower BABIP. What can we conclude?

Stay away, keep the ball low on changeups and breaking balls (for fastballs it’s important, but not as much as the rest), don’t let the hitter pull the ball and alter significantly your patterns with respect to the rest of Major League pitchers. I think this could be studied more rigorously by testing certain pitchers (such as Glavine and Bonderman for example, as opposites). What are they doing? What should they be doing? How do they stack up against Major League average? Can we divide the K-Zone in 9 subzones and figure out BABIP and SLGBIP for each pitch type in each of these zones while separating like-handed matchups and platoons? Can Glavine’s above-average BABIP have something to do with him staying on the outside consistently? Can Bonderman’s fastball-happy (and strikeout-happy) approach have anything to do with his own BABIP allowed (or BIPA or DER or whatever you want to call it)? I am coming to think that we could just be a step away from revolutionizing conventional wisdom. No more “establish the fastball”, and more “throw your best BABIP-pitch to get ahead and keep your pitch count low”. We should have learned something from the emergence of the Webbs, Wangs, Westbrooks and Lowes and their power sinkers. Now maybe we can take that a step further. I’m excited and waiting for their next pieces. I wonder if there is something to what I’m thinking here.