Mapping the Red Sox Pitches

Mapping_Red_Sox_Pitches

Every season, thousands of fans flock to Fenway Stadium (the oldest ballpark in MLB history) to witness the highly praised Boston Red Sox dominate their enemies.

The immense pressure between the pitcher and batter seconds before he throws a payoff pitch is exactly the type of suspense that fans are craving. Some like to predict what pitch is coming next, but these edgy flamethrowers are known for throwing an unexpected pitch from their repertoire. So keep your heads up high and your eyes on the ball because you’ll never know what pitch will soar across the dirt strip next.

Using Carson Sievert’s PITCHf/x tool, we took a deeper look into this pitch data by visualizing each pitch type over the past nine seasons. Read on to explore the modern-day pitch type of the beloved Red Sox pitchers.

A Whole Lotta Pitches

After analyzing all pitch types and trends, we decided to visualize the path of every pitch thrown by famed Sox pitchers throughout the past nine seasons. The pitch-zone charts are quite simple to follow – each chart represents the stance of the player at bat (lefty or righty), while the different pitch types are identified by color.

At a glance, the first colors that stand out are blue and green – the majority of these pitches being four-seam and two-seam fastballs. No surprises here: The four-seam fastball is considered one of the easiest pitch types to control. Their speedy tactics may be working; the Red Sox are currently ranked second in the American League East – treading closely behind division rivals, the Baltimore Orioles.

Setting aside the overwhelming number of fastballs, curveballs, knuckleballs, change-ups, and sliders make up the rest of the crowd. Our analysis shows that this repertoire of pitches is responsible for about 50% of pitches thrown so far this season. As you may have noticed, some of the pitch types break back across the plate – displaying the typical path for the change-up or cutter. Often pitched by the trickiest pitchers to take the mound – both pitches are thrown as an attempt to confuse or disgruntle the player at bat.

Mix-Up Pitches

Red_Sox_Pitch_Count

The Boston Red Sox have some interesting percentages among their pitch count distribution. As mentioned earlier, the four-seam (31.12%) and two-seam fastball (18.67%) take the cake – comprising just about half of their entire pitch count.

It’s safe to say that any opposing batter has a 50-50 chance of getting a taste of fastball zipping down the dirt mound. When this power-pitch is not being thrown, the Sox also enjoy beaming curveballs (9.55%), change-ups (10.57%), sliders (7.03%), and knuckleballs (10.78%) across home plate. Although their pitching team has not been the most successful this year – ranking 19th out of the 30 teams – they were able to nail down a definitive rotation that is surprisingly producing fan-pleasing results.

Taking a closer look at the starting pitcher rotation for the Red Sox, we identified each pitcher’s hardest-thrown pitch type (computed as the highest average exit velocity):

David Price (No. 24) – Two-Seam Fastball, 90.88 mph

Steven Wright (No. 35) – Knuckleball, 86.80 mph

Rick Porcello (No. 22) – Two-Seam Fastball, 91.24 mph

Drew Pomeranz (No. 31) – Knuckle Curve, 91.91 mph

Eduardo Rodriguez (No. 52) – Four-Seam Fastball, 89.83 mph

Three of the five pitchers in the rotation throw variations of the fastball the hardest – a typical stat among MLB pitchers. Pomeranz appears to be the black sheep of the herd, as the Knuckle-Curve only makes up 2.39% of the total pitch count. Needless to say, these flamethrowers must maintain this momentum if they’re looking for success heading into the playoffs.

Right Down Broadway

Pitching is widely considered to be a form of art rather than a calculated science. The beauty of pitching derives from the freedom of the man at the mound to pitch whatever comes naturally to him. Perfecting this craft takes practice, and honing specific mechanics may take years – these are the applications a major league pitcher must dedicate himself to.

Before stepping up to the mound, or heading to Fenway Park, make sure you’re decked out in the latest #RedSox gear. Look no further than Fanatics.com for all of your Boston sports merchandise and memorabilia.

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