With a flick of the wrist. A quick strike is a throw that’s fast enough to get the runner out of the batter’s box. The faster you throw the ball, the more likely it is to be a strike, even when pitchers aren’t trying. There’s no such thing as an un-flickable pitch. That’s a fallacy.
Flickability of pitches
One problem many pitch faders face is figuring out how fast a pitch is supposed to be. To get fast and accurate information on the speed of pitches, it’s important to know how fast different pitches are supposed to be.
Most of the world’s baseball data comes from the American League, where pitcher IP tends to be reported as a fast (i.e., fastballs tend to be fastballs) with some of that data only coming from the first half of the season. But many data sources report data a year later.
If you look at Pitch F/X data for the entire season (since 2011), you are looking at a pitch in the 30-mph range in three states: Massachusetts, Massachusetts-Lowell and Kansas City. These were the highest-quality locations for this pitch. (It is important to note that I’m a big proponent of pitch locations and have used them to create charts above that are better visual representations of how fast a pitch is.)
Now, I’ll admit, not all of us would consider Boston to be a great location, but it’s not bad by any means. I know many people think of the Boston area as having the worst hitters but that is not entirely accurate. For example, the Red Sox have the top average fastball velocities in the league and are ninth in the league in fWAR this year according to baseball-reference.com. They have also ranked 13th in strikeout rate. In terms of pitch location, Boston could make for a really unique pitch locale, especially if one wants to use PITCHf/x data because they have a reputation for providing exceptional results even under the toughest conditions.
Using this data to figure out how fast a pitch was is relatively simple. You just look for location in the middle of the release. Pitch faders don’t need to use the PITCHf/x chart because they just want to find locations. There’s no data available for the location of a curveball, for example, but I would say the fastest curveball for my tastes is this one from Jake Arrieta. And Arrieta is the
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