Felix, Pitch Selection, Part 843

Dave · June 11, 2007 at 8:39 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The M’s just completed a sweep of a pretty good baseball team. Hooray. They’re now only 4 1/2 games out, and with some lousy NL Central teams coming up after today’s distraction in Cleveland, they have a chance to keep the winning going.

But, you know me, I’m generally a lot more interested in the process than the result. I like to find out why things happen, rather than just settling for accepting that they did. And, one of my obvious obsessions over the past 18 months has been the pitch selection of Felix Hernandez. It all started with the Charting Felix series last year, and in the last few days, I’ve spent some time talking with Dan Fox, who is doing great work plotting velocity and break data from MLB.com’s enhanced gameday, which basically turns game charting into an automated process and makes my life a lot easier.

So, to help Dan be able to translate the velocity/data numbers from gameday into understanding pitch types, I watched yesterday’s game with Gameday open simultaneously, so I could quickly associate the pitch that he threw with how gameday described it. He’s going to use the pitch descriptions and his data to do some cool stuff pretty soon. But, since I have the information from yesterday’s game now, and I find this stuff remarkably interesting, here’s a look at Felix’s pitch selection against the Padres.

Since he threw 93 pitches, I’ve broken them out into 15 pitch segments, which allows us to view his start in 1/6th chunks and watch the transformation as the game goes on. To the charting – by request, the italicized pitches in the sequence charts are the first pitch of an at-bat.

Pitch 1-15

Sequence: FB, FB, FB, FB, FB, FB, FB, CH, FB, SL, CB, FB, FB, SL, FB

Percentage Breakdown
FB: 80%
CB: 0%
SL: 13%
CH: 7%

Results: Walk (fastball), Groundout (curveball), Strikeout (slider).

It’s the same gameplan he takes to the hill every single time. He begins the game by just throwing fastball after fastball, to the great surprise of no one. Because it’s his worst pitch and the one he has the least command over, he falls behind hitters, gets in more fastball counts, and generally struggles. We’ve pointed this out for over a year now, and it’s blindingly obvious – Felix’s struggles in the first inning are completely related to his pitch selection. Yes, if he had pinpoint command of his fastball, it wouldn’t be a problem, but he doesn’t. So when he goes all fastballs, all the time, he struggles.

Pitch 16-30

Sequence: FB, FB, SL, FB, FB, SL, FB, FB, SL, FB, CH, FB, CH, SL, CB

Percentage Breakdown
FB: 53%
CB: 7%
SL: 27%
CH: 13%

Results: Groundout (fastball), Single (fastball), Strikeout (slider), Single (fastball)

After feeling that the fastball was significantly established, Felix converts to using his entire arsenal. Of course, it’s still a pretty predictable two-fastballs-then-a-slider pattern to start off, but when he works in the change-up and curve at the end, he’s good. Both hits came off badly located fastballs up in the zone early in the count, but when he threw anything that moved, the Padres were helpless.

Pitch 31-45

Sequence: SL, CH, FB, FB, CB, CB, FB, FB, FB, CH, FB, FB, FB, SL, SL

Percentage Breakdown
FB: 53%
CB: 13%
SL: 20%
CH: 13%

Results: Strikeout (change), Groundout (fastball), Groundout (fastball), Single (fastball), Double Play (change), groundout (fastball)

This was Felix at his best. He threw a couple of nasty change-ups, including a first-pitch change to Adrian Gonzalez that produced an inning ending double play directly after throwing another badly located high fastball that got hit for a single. Even when he threw the fastballs, he was keeping hitters off balance, getting Marcus Giles to groundout on a sinker after starting him with back to back curveballs.

Pitch 46-60

Sequence: SL, CH, SL, FB, FB, FB, FB, CH, FB, FB, SL, CB, FB, CH, CH?

Percentage Breakdown
FB: 47%
CB: 7%
SL: 20%
CH: 27%

Results: Home Run (fastball), Groundout (slider), Single (fastball), Home Run (change-up? I’m not sure, honestly)

The crappy fourth inning. Generally, you’d expect some rant from me here about bad pitch selection causing the home runs, but really, it wasn’t. The 3-2 fastball to Cameron was another badly located high fastball, but it came after five consecutive offspeed pitches to start the at-bat. It was the only fastball Cameron saw the whole at-bat, as they clearly had a gameplan off attacking him with stuff that moved. On a 3-2 count, throwing a guy a fastball after seeing a lot of breaking stuff isn’t a bad idea. It was just put in a bad spot, and Cameron jumped on it. It happens.

The Sledge homer, though, is the one that just makes you shake your head. After giving up a single on a fastball, Felix threw a first pitch change-up to Sledge, and again, there’s nothing to complain about there. He was still mixing his pitches and staying away from first-pitch fastballs to every hitter. But, the second pich… I honestly don’t know what it was. 88 MPH, no movement whatsoever, belt high, and just a Weaveresque meatball. I’m guessing it was a change-up that he just overthrew, or maybe he took an awful lot off a fastball, but either way, the result was horrible. It was a mistake pitch, a marshmellow soft meatball with no movement. It’s not something you ever see Felix throw, so we certainly can’t call it predictable. Something just went wrong with that pitch and Sledge made him pay for it.

Pitch 61-75

Sequence: FB, FB, FB, SL, CB, FB, FB, SL, SL, CB, CB, CH, CB, FB, CH

Percentage Breakdown
FB: 40%
CB: 27%
SL: 20%
CH: 13%

Results: Strikeout (slider), Popout (curve), Strikeout (slider), Groundout (fastball)

Here, again, is Good Felix. If there’s a pattern to his pitches, I can’t see it, and he kept throwing offspeed pitches on the first pitch of an-bat with great success. By keeping the hitters off balance so they couldn’t look for a fastball early in the at-bat, he got ahead and put them away with the nasty breaking balls.

Pitch 76-93

Sequence: SL, FB, CB, CB, SL, CB, CH, SL, FB, CB, FB, SL, FB, SL, FB, FB, CB, CB

Percentage Breakdown
FB: 33%
CB: 33%
SL: 28%
CH: 6%

Results: Strikeout (curve), Flyout (slider), Single (fastball), Flyout (curve)

The last segment is 18 pitches, but again, we see the continuing de-evolution of Felix from his establish-the-fastball start to him practically overthrowing his breaking balls as he gets near the end of the game. But, as we continue to see, it works – the soft stuff gets outs, and the hard stuff gets hit.


Percentage Breakdown
FB: 49%
CB: 16%
SL: 22%
CH: 13%

Results By Type:

Fastball: 6 for 12, walk, home run
Curveball: 0 for 4
Slider: 0 for 6, 4 strikeouts
Change: 1 for 3, strikeout, double play, home run

The evolution of Felix during a game is fascinating to watch, at least, when it’s not aggravatingly frustrating. For whatever reason (be it organizational philosophy or just stubbornness of youth), he will begin every single game exactly the same way, despite the fact that it’s never done anything other than dig him a hole and run up his pitch count, before he settles into a pattern of varying his pitches and getting outs with breaking balls.

We all know that Felix’s fastball is his worst pitch. Yesterday, he threw it less than half the time, and with the exception of two swings, he mostly had success.

All I’m asking is that one of these days, the Mariners send him to the hill with a gameplan other than nothing-but-fastballs early. It’s not good for Felix, it’s not good for the team, and it’s frustrating as hell to watch.


50 Responses to “Felix, Pitch Selection, Part 843”

  1. Chris Miller on June 11th, 2007 8:57 am

    I’m pretty certain the 88 mph meatball was a failed change too. I’ve seen that pitch from him before (can’t remember exactly, but I know I’ve seen it), flat and flatter, high 80’s. How does he grip his change-up? Is it a strait-change/3-finger type? From what I see, I expect it’ll get pounded when people realize what’s coming, epecially if it’s over the plate in the high 80’s, but as long as he’s fooling people into thinking it’s a fastball, he should get lots of outs with it. I think, beyond “learning how to pitch”, I’d LOVE to see Felix work on his change-up a little more, I think it’s got promise of being his best pitch if he could figure out when to throw it, and how to locate it. Right now it seems pretty flat, and as you said looks (to me at least) like it will be a meatball more than once before his career is done.

  2. built2crash on June 11th, 2007 8:58 am

    doesn’t Felix trow a 2 seamer at 92-95(sinker), and a 4 seamer at 95-97? what are the breakdowns between the 2 fastballs? felix’ fastball is HIS worst pitch , but at 97mph and used correcty (by mixes his pitches), or when he locates it where he want to, this should prove to be a pretty decent out pitch as well.. IMO

  3. Chris Miller on June 11th, 2007 8:58 am

    I meant as you said (as in, for that At Bat, not in general, that part was my inference).

  4. Chris Miller on June 11th, 2007 9:01 am

    95-97 4-seamer is a nice pitch to have, but many MLB hitters can hit it if they know it’s coming. It works to throw 4-seamer after 4-seamer if you’re a reliever coming in for one inning. No MLB starting pitcher, not even RJ in his prime could get away with throwing nothing but 4-seamers, it just made his slider that much nastier. Being able to locate it helps though. Felix doesn’t do that so well, he commands his sinker much better.

  5. Chris Miller on June 11th, 2007 9:08 am

    I think there’s a bigger point, as Dave points out, is he needs to mix up his pitches and not let batters figure out a pattern. Most pitchers that don’t do that is worse than their stuff, and the ones that do it well are often better than their stuff. It’s obviously going to be a big part of him becoming an elite pitcher. That and control.

  6. DarkKnight1680 on June 11th, 2007 9:15 am

    It might just be me (and I could just be confused about the terminology), but I haven’t seen much of what I’d call a sinker in the last few starts from felix. What I think is his 2-seamer looks like a back-up fastball, and his four seamer just seems to go dead straight. I like the two-seamer backing up against lefties, but I remember seeing him throw a ball that actually dipped in his first couple starts that I haven’t seen since then. Am I missing something?

  7. msb on June 11th, 2007 9:17 am

    oh, well this sums it up for all of us 🙂

    Cameron had a critique of plate umpire Rick Reed – and Mariners starter Felix Hernandez.

    “Felix was throwing a whole bunch of stuff and getting calls on a whole bunch of stuff, that’s about it,” said Cameron.

  8. Seth on June 11th, 2007 9:23 am

    I see your point Dave, but Hernandez can’t just throw all breaking balls, it would put too much stress on his young (precious, wonderful) arm.

    Even Jamie Moyer throws 50% fastballs, even though that pitch gets hit at a .307 clip.

    What would you have the M’s do? Move Felix to the pen so he can throw only breaking balls?

  9. patl on June 11th, 2007 9:25 am

    Dave, thanks for this superb analysis. It’s information like this that makes this my favorite sports blog by a mile.

  10. lemonverbena on June 11th, 2007 9:28 am

    i’m a long long way from being an inside-baseball guy like y’all, so i can’t much speak to what pitch was thrown when. but from my seat in sunny right field yesterday, i had a bad feeling with Sledge up there (the local yokels on call him ‘secret pop’) and was begging for Felix not to give in to him with the starting pitcher on deck and 2 out. after Sledge took him deep i bitched that:

    – Grover insists on sitting Kenji on the night/day starts
    – neither catcher seems to spend much time coaching Felix out there… just because he’s the ace doesn’t mean he isn’t barely 21, and Burke should have told him to pitch around the guy with the pitcher coming up.

    but hey, Burke is definitely hitting great and Jo obviously can use the rest… but he did get damn lucky with that slide. using the off-hand to tag the plate took too long, he could have jabbed his left hand in there after passing by Bard’s knee and been safe for real.

  11. lemonverbena on June 11th, 2007 9:29 am

    local yokels on Channel 4, feh.

  12. AuburnM on June 11th, 2007 9:30 am


    Brilliant. I’m convinced.

  13. Dave on June 11th, 2007 9:30 am

    doesn’t Felix trow a 2 seamer at 92-95(sinker), and a 4 seamer at 95-97? what are the breakdowns between the 2 fastballs?

    The two-seamer is more 90-94, and the four seamer is more 95-99. But yes, they are different pitches. One of the things the gameday data from Dan Fox will show is that he throws more four-seamers than two-seamers. I’ll hold off on that discussion until Dan posts his stuff, which is going to be very cool.

    It might just be me (and I could just be confused about the terminology), but I haven’t seen much of what I’d call a sinker in the last few starts from felix.

    Yesterday, most of his fastballs were of the four seam variety. You’re right, he’s not throwing as many sinkers.

    I see your point Dave, but Hernandez can’t just throw all breaking balls, it would put too much stress on his young (precious, wonderful) arm.

    I’m not asking him to throw all breaking balls. I’m asking him to pitch less predictably. Every Felix start is the same – all fastballs early, varied pitch selection late.

    All I’m suggesting is that the M’s throw the stupid establish-the-fastball crap out the window, let him pitch the first inning like it’s the 5th, and use all five of his pitches at all times.

  14. joser on June 11th, 2007 9:31 am

    For a fastball pitcher, throwing anything other than a fastball on the first pitch is considered “pitching backwards” according to the received wisdom of baseball, right? Between that and the machismo of blowing fireballs past guys to make a statement establishing your presence on the mound (and absolute right to be there), I can understand why a kid would want to do what he does, and why the whole organization would encourage it. Doesn’t mean it’s not stupid.

  15. dw on June 11th, 2007 9:38 am

    If you take away the Sledge BP pitch, he threw pretty damn well. Right now, he’s still underachieving, but he’s looking a lot better than he has the last few starts.

    I think this “announce his presence with authority” BS must end. OTOH, he still needs to mix in the fastball.

    That slider is just brutal. I’ve never seen one that breaks so hard in two directions — left, then down. He could saw off lefthanders all day long. I wish he’d throw that more early.

  16. Dave on June 11th, 2007 9:43 am

    If you take away the Sledge BP pitch, he threw pretty damn well. Right now, he’s still underachieving, but he’s looking a lot better than he has the last few starts.

    Yea. He basically had the lousy at-bat to Giles to start the game (6 fastballs, none well placed, walk) and the horrible pitch to Sledge for the home run, and beyond that, he was fine. He left a few fastballs up in the zone that got slapped for singles, but the Cameron HR was more good hitting than bad pitching, and from pitches 16-93, he did a good job of mixing in other pitches with the fastball.

    If he pitched like he did yesterday all year, just without the horrible 88 MPH meatball, he’d win 20 games.

  17. Joe on June 11th, 2007 9:48 am

    If he has less control over his fastball, then I guess I can understand him wanting to use it early in the count when he can afford to give up a few balls without walking the guy — but he’s going to give up a few hits that way too. And if he doesn’t know how much command he actually has on any given day, I guess I can understand him wanting to throw it a lot in the first inning so both he and the catcher get a sense of how reliable it is. But isn’t that what warmup is for?

  18. fwombat on June 11th, 2007 10:04 am

    Great analysis Dave. Confirms my feeling watching the games – when Felix tries to blow away hitters with raw speed over and over, they jump on him.

    Just a quick readability request – any chance could you indicate (bold or italics or something) the first pitch of each AB? I like the overarching breakdown you’ve got now, but per-batter sequences are illuminating too.

  19. Dave on June 11th, 2007 10:15 am


  20. bookbook on June 11th, 2007 10:25 am

    Any chance that Felix throws mostly fastballs in the early going because it takes him a few live batters to get his feel/get comfortable throwing any other pitch?

    If that’s the case, the flaw is in his warmup routine rather than his pitch selection. I’d actually feel better about this, because it’s a little trickier to solve, so maybe Felix, Joh, Chaves, et al aren’t totally oblivious…

  21. Dave on June 11th, 2007 10:26 am

    Not really, no. The M’s have made it clear for years that they believe in establishing the fastball. When the data backs up their stated beliefs, it’s pretty easy to call this an organizational philosophy.

  22. williebfan on June 11th, 2007 10:44 am

    Can’t we just admit that he isn’t as sharp as he was at the beginning of the season (or hitters were slow out of the gate) and is pitching pretty much how he pitched last season? Perhaps he’s still hurting?

  23. williebfan on June 11th, 2007 10:47 am

    …meaning, there is only so much you can blame on the management. He’s the one throwing up the meatballs.

  24. Chris Miller on June 11th, 2007 10:50 am

    #23, WBF, if you read Dave’s post, there was only one true meatball, a change-up that acted more like a Washburn fastball. The rest was good hitting. I believe (can’t really speak for Dave), the jist was that he’s still trying to establish his fastball early, and isn’t throwing enough sinkers, the pitch that makes him so unhittable when he’s on.

  25. cipole on June 11th, 2007 10:51 am


    This is a great post…extremely interesting. I have a couple of comments and a question.

    1) I, like most everyone else, can’t even imagine why the organization wants Felix to throw 80% fastballs in the first, but, then again, we also traded Soriano for Ramirez, so it’s stil the Mariners organization.

    2) Felix’s 2-seamer is clearly far superior to his 4-seamer and his change is usually outstanding. I think his change is his second-best pitch; it’s often almost as effective as his slider. That said, he doesn’t seem to be getting the same consistent downward tilt on his 2-seamer and change as he was at the beginning of the year…even when he’s throwing 2-seamers, they don’t have quite the same movement. 2-seamers and change-ups are released with close to the same elbow and wrist pronation, so the (relative) lack of movement would seem to be related. I still think he needs to throw more changes, and I hope his 2-seamer and change will continue to improve as he comes back from the DL.

    3) Now the question–Felix still has an ERA that is a full run higher than his FIP, and his xFIP would be the best in the league if he had enough innings to qualify. So why does he continue to give up more runs than he should? It still seems every mistake he makes gets hit hard…I’d like to call it luck, but it’s a long-standing pattern now. Is he tipping his pitches? I don’t know, but something odd is happening to make him give up more runs than he should. Let’s hope it’s a long run of bad luck that will end soon.

    Finally, we’re all still incredibly lucky to have the most talented pitcher in the history of the game pitching once every five days. If you have any interest in baseball and don’t make every effort to watch every Felix day, you’re making a huge mistake.

  26. Dave on June 11th, 2007 10:59 am

    That said, he doesn’t seem to be getting the same consistent downward tilt on his 2-seamer and change as he was at the beginning of the year…

    Yea. If I wanted to be worried about his arm, this is what I’d worry about. There were 2-3 change-ups that he just totally lost the grip on and missed way high, plus the meatball to Sledge. Combined with the lack of two-seam fastballs, he is pitching differently than he did last year. Yesterday, he was mostly four-seam, slider, and curve. It worked, but it’s not the same formula we saw when he was unbelievably dominating Felix.

    Now the question–Felix still has an ERA that is a full run higher than his FIP, and his xFIP would be the best in the league if he had enough innings to qualify. So why does he continue to give up more runs than he should?

    The predictability of the fastball is my best answer. I think part of it is bad luck, but part of it is also that hitters are jumping all over Felix’s fastball early in the game, so he gives up his hits in bunches. He’s not stranding runners because his struggles are consolidated into short time frames, and giving up four hits in one inning and then shutting everyone down for the rest of the game will lead to more runs allowed than scattering one hit per inning the whole game.

    If hitters didn’t walk to the plate in the first inning knowing what they were going to hit, they wouldn’t have the same level of success, and Felix’s ERA would be significantly lower.

  27. Chris Miller on June 11th, 2007 10:59 am

    #25, regarding point 3: Dave’s explaining why, his over-use of his 4-seam fastball is leading to him getting hit harder when he falls into a pattern with it. Basically, he has a home-run problem, and the way to fix it is throw more sinkers, and start mixing his pitches up more.

  28. tgf on June 11th, 2007 11:10 am

    God, this is so stupid. Pitching coaches will view film for hours to try to find if a pitcher is “tipping” his pitches. It would take Chaves or Hargrove or someone two minutes to read this post and see how obvious the pattern is and how easy it would be to fix. If anyone in the M’s FO is reading this, please, for the love of God, make Chaves read it.

  29. Dave on June 11th, 2007 11:12 am

    The M’s know this. Their basic answer is along the lines of “the problem is command – if he gets the fastball down at the knees, then it won’t matter if the hitters knows what is coming.”

    In one sense, they’re right. If Felix had pinpoint command of his fastball and could keep it down in the zone, other teams wouldn’t have a chance.

    But he doesn’t, so the M’s are basically building in a degree of difficulty while wishcasting that he had an ability that he doesn’t have.

  30. Chris Miller on June 11th, 2007 11:18 am

    What irks me, is he can keep his sinker low, and has shown the ability to do so consistently, so if he’s going to insist on “establishing his fastball”, why doesn’t he throw 2-seamer after 2-seamer instead of 4-seamer after 4-seamer. At worst he gets dinged for a couple singles between the fielders, and at best the infield gobbles it up. Of course optimally he’d be willing to start a batter off with anything.

  31. joser on June 11th, 2007 11:20 am

    we’re all still incredibly lucky to have the most talented pitcher in the history of the game pitching once every five days

    Uh, look, I love Felix and all but that’s just an incredibly sweeping statement and no matter how much talent you think he has, at this point in his career it is pure hyperbole. Which doesn’t change the fact that we should try to see him every chance we get.

  32. VaBeachMarinersFan on June 11th, 2007 11:21 am


    Say, hypothetically, Felix continues to do this for the next few months. Is there a point where the “wishcasting” stops? When do you think Hargrove or Chaves would step in and say “Let’s do it differently”?

  33. Dave on June 11th, 2007 11:21 am

    He doesn’t have good enough command of the two seamer to repeatedly throw it for a strike. If he just threw two-seamer after two-seamer, he’d be pretty likely to fall behind in the count, and at that point, he’d come in with his get-over four-seam fastball that generally gets crushed in hitters counts.

    I’d be happy if he threw a curve or a change on the first pitch 70% of the time. The curve gets a lot of stares, and he can locate it in the zone better than the fastball. It’s his best get-ahead pitch, and the change induces a lot of weak swings when hitters are looking fastball.

  34. Dave on June 11th, 2007 11:23 am

    Say, hypothetically, Felix continues to do this for the next few months. Is there a point where the “wishcasting” stops? When do you think Hargrove or Chaves would step in and say “Let’s do it differently”?

    I’m not confident that the M’s recognize this as a problem. In my experience with the organization, they are more than willing to blame the player for the shortcomings.

    If this continues, I think we’ll just hear a lot of quotes about Felix being 21 years old and not maturing as fast as they had hoped.

  35. cipole on June 11th, 2007 11:56 am

    I’m preaching to the choir here, and I wish I could talk to Hargrove and Chaves instead, but of course Felix wouldn’t get hit if he had pinpoint command. Any major leaguer with pinpoint command would be awfully effective, and Felix has the most stuff in the major leagues. But he doesn’t (because almost no one does), so why not let him dominate by mixing up all of his pitches? No one knows…

    #31–Hyperbole? Maybe…I clearly haven’t seen all of the pitchers in the history of the major leagues. From a pure talent standpoint, however, Felix has got to rank right up there in the history game. Who has had more pure stuff than Felix (obviously there are a lot of pitchers who have been better pitchers than Felix is right now), but pure stuff…Koufax, perhaps, though he was really a 2-pitch pitcher. 2 incredibly amazing pitches, I grant, but Felix has 4 pitches that CAN be exceptional. Gooden? Maybe–he’s often regarded as having the most talent in the history of the game…I think he’s probably fairly comparable to Felix. Pedro? Again, maybe, although I think his command was such a huge factor in his success. Do I know Felix has the most talent in the history of baseball. Of course not. Am I confident he’s in the top 5? Yes.

  36. PositivePaul on June 11th, 2007 1:18 pm

    I guess from a ‘scientific’ standpoint, I’m curious what the other M’s pitchers throw in comparison. I’m not sure any of the other M’s starters have quite the fastball that Felix does (or any of his other pitches, for that matter).

    I’m also curious about how this pattern looks with the handedness of the batter facing him (and, for switch-hitters, what handedness they were using in that AB). For instance, does he throw changes for more lefty bats and curves for righties, or whatever…

  37. Dave on June 11th, 2007 1:20 pm

    Since Safeco is an enhanced gameday park, these will be relatively easy questions to answer with Dan Fox’s database. We’ll know soon enough.

  38. colm on June 11th, 2007 1:30 pm

    Is there any way we can get this informed insight into the mind of, say, Bill Krueger. Bill was last reported to be going to tell Felix to concentrate on his fastball and lay off the breaking stuff.

  39. Chris Miller on June 11th, 2007 1:35 pm

    Bill Krueger thinks?? Who would have guessed.

  40. terrybenish on June 11th, 2007 3:26 pm

    29. Hitters hit certain pitches hard. They don’t hit all strikes hard. They hit stuff down the middle of the pipe better than low and away on the black. Most hitters if they swing at stuff outside the zone have poor success. Bill Jame’s early stuff showed strike zone success in different parts of the zone.

    If Felix can not command his fast ball, his four seamer specifically, he should not throw it in the zone, rather he should throw a two seamer that runs across the zone from out to mid or mid to inside.

    He has no command pitch and the curve ball was his out pitch, which is ok. There is no point in throwing a pitch that is belt high down the middle no matter when you call it. It will get belted.

  41. Edman on June 11th, 2007 4:54 pm

    Here’s a thought…..maybe if Felix hit his spots, that’s the real problem……not trying to establish his fastball as a generic statement.
    Felix has to establish his fastball, to make the other pitches work. It’s been used in baseball for quite a while now.

    Felix has to find is location. He’s good enough that if he keeps his fastball out of the center of the plate, he can win games.

    I just don’t buy into the need to change his game plan. That promotes bad habits. His fastball is his strength……and he has to establish it. Yes, he may suffer a little until he gets his control back…..but that’s how he’s won and there is no need to change it now.

  42. moocow on June 11th, 2007 5:18 pm

    A couple of things I’m wondering–one of your central points is that the M’s organization in particular preaches establishing your fastball. Do you have any data (pitch charts) that suggests that other organizations are actually different on this point? I haven’t done any research nearly as in-depth as yours, but just from casual observation it seems to me that most pitchers start the game off with mostly fastballs and gradually work in their other pitches the 2nd and 3rd times through the order. So it seems to me to be a common practice, though I admit I have no data to back this up.

    The other thing I’m wondering is is it not possible that establishing his fastball is the thing that is making his other pitches so effective? I thought that was the point of establishing the fastball. Perhaps if he started the game throwing curves and changes, your pitching chart would come out differently, i.e. hitters would hit those pitches better in the middle and latter parts of the game.

  43. nathaniel dawson on June 11th, 2007 6:24 pm

    Did you track balls and strikes for each type of pitch? Might that not be important when analyzing pitch selection?

  44. Dave on June 11th, 2007 8:02 pm

    Feel free to read the links to last year’s many articles in the Charting Felix series, when I laid out exactly how Felix pitches in certain counts and situations. While we understand that we have a lot of new readers, at some point, we can’t continue to go over things we’ve laid out, and linked to, in many different places.

  45. Dave on June 11th, 2007 8:39 pm

    Do you have any data (pitch charts) that suggests that other organizations are actually different on this point?

    Yep – Dan Fox just did an article on this last week. According to his data, approximately 57% of all pitches in the first inning in major league games are fastballs, with the league average for other innings being about 55%.

    Felix is generally 80% fastballs in the first inning and 50% the rest of the game. It’s a ridiculous way to pitch.

  46. halibuthank on June 11th, 2007 10:02 pm

    I just have to say, thank you. i roll to the the good ship USS mariner and am continually thankful and thrilled to read all the well-researched, thoughtful and fun content. Helluva job, mates. Cheers and keep up the good work. PS-I love the fact that by having high standards and kicking ass USSM gets more and more props by the day (KJR, ESPN, Etc.) Yeah, Baby!!!

  47. moocow on June 12th, 2007 3:13 pm

    Re: #44

    Thanks Dave. Hard to argue with that!

  48. billy1 on June 13th, 2007 12:50 am

    Well, I’m gonna have to come up on the other side of this one, and if you’ll bear with me, throw out some opposing views.

    1)Felix is a young power pitcher, learning his way, and is going to have some hiccups regardless of his pitch selection.
    2)Most starting pitchers don’t come into every game “hot” with all of their pitches (thumbers like Moyer excluded).
    3)Getting hit early or not at all, is very common with good pitchers. They walk a fine line between getting loose, and getting tired before the game.
    4)The M’s org. wants to see him succeed, at least as much, and more, than the fans do. And like them, I am greedy when it comes to his career.
    5) What separates him now, even at his age, from the true greats of the last 15 years is command of the fastball.
    6)#5 puts the M’s in a tough spot, sure, he can succeed(for the most part), now, throwing the kitchen sink at teams from the start, but that does not bode (as) well for the future. They need him on the mound, they know he needs to harness his stuff, what to do? Well, either put him down in AAA, or live with the growing pains.
    7)Its tough to constanly call out the M’s for trashing prospect arms, rushing them through, etc., without realizing that they are taking a decidedly carefull approach towards Felix.
    8)Almost all 3 pitch guys save 1 of their bullets for the second time through the order.
    9) There would be no issue to be fretted over if he could get the ball down. But where and when is he to learn this skill? Let’s give the M’s some credit, they do have a plan for him, one which I believe speaks well for the long-term, though we will have to live with a little short-term pain.
    10) And just for kicks, comparing Felix vs. the league in the 1st inning is cool, but aren’t we bringing in all pitchers to the issue? What would be more interesting would be to see how his fb % compares to other power pitchers, as oppossed to league-wide. I would guess that he is similar to Santana, Oswalt, Peavey, and so on.

  49. Dave on June 13th, 2007 12:53 pm

    I’d be a lot more inclined to give your opinions credence if there was any evidence behind them. There’s not, and of your provable assertions, the data says you’re wrong.

  50. billy1 on June 14th, 2007 6:51 am

    Well, based on your response, I probobly don’t owe it to you to go back over a years worth of “data” . Your thesis is flawed, and you really haven’t shown much (above) except that he has lousy command of the fb. There are scores of pitching coaches, managers, ex-players, scouts, etc.who provide ample evidence on my side of the argument. You seem to want to relish in flying in the face of 50-100 years of how to develop pitchers of his archetype, I certainly won’t convince you otherwise. If you base wanting to have him coming out throwing a lot of junk on your observation that he seems to do a bit better with the curve, that leads to a pretty obvious point. He has to have a mechanical flaw that would prevent him from throwing a much easier to control pitch, with regularity.

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