AJ f/x

Miranda stars on Opening Day
A not-so-glowing review of the new stadium

For the first time this season we can take a look at some Pitch f/x data and not have to try to figure out what went wrong. Except for a minor third inning hiccup, AJ Burnett handled the Orioles well yesterday afternoon, throwing 98 pitches in five and a third innings of work. You’d like to see him be more efficient, but it’s only April. Plus the ump was a little tight on the corners, which certainly didn’t help AJ or Alfredo Simon.

Those 98 pitches were made up of 59 fastballs, 34 curveballs, and just 5 sliders. Pitch f/x says he didn’t throw any changeups, which is kind of surprising, but whatever. Burnett was pretty overpowering at times, but when he missed his spots the O’s really put a charge into it. It was great to see a Yankee pitcher be able to get out of a tight spot by striking a guy or two out; in years past we were stuck watching contact oriented pitchers rely on a shotty defense to escape a jamb.

Let’s kick this off with the usual, the flight paths. Hopefully you’re familiar with these by now. Remember, click on any graph in this post for a larger view.

Bird's Eye View

The bird’s eye look doesn’t tell you much, except that his slider slides and his fastball runs a little bit. The first base view is much cooler:

First Base View

CC Sabathia and Chien-Ming Wang are both fastball-slider guys, so the first base view wasn’t all that exciting. Burnett’s a fastball-curveball pitcher though, so this angle becomes a little more useful. Check out the hump in that curve, cool stuff, no? It also looks like his slider might be more of a slurve, that is a curveball thrown harder than usual, but not as hard as a typical slider.

Each tick mark represents 1/100th of a second, so the farther apart the ticks are, the faster the pitch. You can definitely see the difference in velocity between Burnett’s heat and his breaking stuff in the graph. Here’s the catcher’s view:

Catcher's View

The tick marks are all bunched up at the top of the curve because of the hump, but it drops off the table pretty good at the end. Here’s Burnett’s release points:

Release Points

His release points are nice and tight, fitting in a 12-inch tall by 13-inch wide box. I took a look at one of Burnett’s better starts last year, and the release points from that game fit right into this same box, which was pretty cool.

Unlike CC & CMW, Burnett didn’t have any obvious mechanical issues and was throwing the ball free and easy all afternoon. Check out his velocity:

Fastball & Curveball Velocity

I plotted both his fastball and curve so you can see the difference between the two pitches easier than squinting at the flight path graphs. That’s nearly a fifteen mile an hour drop between his heater and curve, and that’s just not fair. Imagine gearing up to hit a guy who’s throwing 95 with ease only to have him drop an 80 mph hammer on you. Not fair. Burnett did tire towards the end of his outing, but tiring in this case means throwing 94 instead of 97. I heart power arms.

Tomorrow I’ll take a look at Andy Pettitte’s season debut, but I think we’re all looking forward to seeing how CC rebounds on Sunday.

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Miranda stars on Opening Day
A not-so-glowing review of the new stadium
  • steve (different one)

    his slowest fastball was 92. awesome.

  • jeremy

    This is some of the most interesting analysis on this site. I don’t comment often, but visit often for the perspective, and great breakdowns you fellas offer on all aspects of the game.

    Oh and… AJ throws wiffle balls.

  • A.D.

    Man being able to consistently juice it in there at 95-97 is just insane, plus still being able to juice it at 97 late in the game is impressive.

    • ramsom

      Teh roids!

  • Klemy

    That was definitely a better pitching performance. Thanks for the breakdowns.

  • Pete

    I heart power arms too, but I might hear this kind of analysis even more…eiland should take a look at this site erry morning. Couldn’t hurt to look at some raw data like this. You guys are the best.

  • http://www.blueseatblogs.com Dave

    Yankees win, Rangers in the playoffs. Yesterday was a good day.

  • Pel

    Great, great stuff, as always.

    That’s nearly a fifteen mile an hour drop between his heater and curve, and that’s just not fair. Imagine gearing up to hit a guy who’s throwing 95 with ease only to have him drop an 80 mph hammer on you. Not fair.

    This is exactly what he did to get his 7th K.
    But since the plate umpire was just as fooled as Wiggington was by the 84 MPH curveball, which was preceded by a 95 MPH Fastball, he called it low. Ball 2. And A.J.’s 7th K doesn’t exist. Meh.

    Good work, Mike.

    • MattG

      I think a good 30-40% of curveballs that get caught where Molina caught that ball are strikes, but very few actually get called. Its just the way it is with the curveball.

      I know after that pitched popped up on the game cast, I expected to see Burnett and Molina freeze, waiting for a strike call (my game cast was ahead of the streaming broadcast, so I knew what happened before I saw it happen), but it looked like so many other borderline to low pitches. Burnett seemed only a tad miffed.

    • Rob D.

      I’m glad there’s something to backup what I saw on that pitch. I was screaming at the TV, but I’m never completely sure.

      Regardless, great performance from Burnett. It’s gonna be fun watching him this year. I hated facing him when he was with Toronto, but I loved watching him.

      • http://heavysoundsandtheabstracttruth.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/alg_burnett-sabathia-3.jpg Mike Pop

        Yea, I love watching him pitch. Hopefully he pitches the whole year.

    • http://heavysoundsandtheabstracttruth.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/alg_burnett-sabathia-3.jpg Mike Pop

      That’s what I was thinking yesterday also.

  • Steve A

    What are you producing these graphs with?

    • MattG

      Proprietary YES secret!

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      No secret, MLBAM has the raw data online for anyone to download, and I just used Excel to plot everything. The tricky part is developing the flight paths, because you need to know a little bit about physics.

      • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

        The tricky part is developing the flight paths, because you need to know a little bit about physics.

        So my D+ in Physics 101 last semester won’t help you out? Awesome.

        Ironically enough, despite my love of numbers, I was only able to rack up a D in Stats 101. Maybe I should’ve actually paid attention and stopped thinking about WPA during our huge section on probability…

  • http://www.newsday.com/media/photo/2009-02/45088362.jpg Mike Pop

    Keep it up A.J., my man. Just gotta be a little more efficient and go deeper in the game next time.

    When he spun around and fist pumped, got me all excited. Some people probably were afraid he’d get injured ;)

    Drink that Kool-Aid, yo!

    • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

      I’m with you, Pop (unlike when I beat you in the tournament pool).

      • http://heavysoundsandtheabstracttruth.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/alg_burnett-sabathia-3.jpg Mike Pop

        2 points, ahhh!!! 2 freaking points!!

        • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

          That’s how I roll.

    • jsbrendog

      man crush alert haha

      • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

        Who’s got a bigger man crush: Pop for AJ or me for Swish?

  • Corey

    I love this info. Awesome.
    If I’m reading the pitch count / speed variance chart correctly, he didn’t throw a curve after the 35th pitch? I didn’t see game, but that seems odd….

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Nah, it’s just numbered by individual pitch. The first curve it #1. The second is #2, third is #3, and so on. Same with the fastballs. It doesn’t matter what actual pitch it was. It’s easier to separate and plot the data that way.

  • Daniel P

    Are there any units on the Y-Axis in the 1st base view, or are the numbers just arbitrary?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      The units for each axis is feet from the front center of home plate. I just shut them off because they clutter the graphs. Obviously there’s some exaggeration, because the release points are 50+ feet away on one axis, but just 2 or 3 feet away on the other.