Monday, December 21, 2009

AFL Pitch f/x: Gorgen, Phillips, and Rollins

This is going to be a shorter post than I wanted especially since Mitch Talbot got traded to the Indians. And also because only 93(!) pitches were recorded by pitch f/x from these three pitchers combined, which is somewhat disappointing considering over half of the pitchers who pitched in the Arizona Fall League had over 100 pitches recorded. However, the data is still useful namely the pitch movement and pitch types in pretty graphics.

I decided not to provide a table of the basic pitch f/x stats like O-Swing and Whiff considering the very small sample size of the data which only recorded an appearance or two. But the following table is important since it shows the average movement, spin, and the velocity.

afl numbers

Now for the player by player graphs:

Matt Gorgen- A short pitcher at 6-0, Gorgen can generate decent velocity on the fastball and features a change,slider, and a curve. With those pitches, he produces a lot of Ks in his short career in the Minors. Here are two graphs, the first is the basic horizontal and vertical movement, and the next is the spin direction versus the pitch speed (All classifications are Gameday’s):

gorgen pm 

 gorgen spin

Not sure if everyone who reads RaysProspect is efficient in pitch f/x so I will provides some links to help you with that at the end of the post. The first graph shows that Gorgen probably throws both a four and two seam fastball. Gorgen supposedly throws a plus slider but the two sliders classified(one mis-classified) are little slurvey which is evident in the velocity being less than 10 mph off the fastball. But that doesn’t mean it is bad. It is just is more like a Sabathia slider. The changeup is supposed to be a plus pitch as well, which is very likely as it has some nice tail off the fastball.

Heath Rollins- Rollins only had 21 pitches recorded in Arizona.

rollins pm

rollins spin

Pretty basic stuff. His fastball ranges anywhere from 88-92 mph. Hard to discern is Rollins what type of fastball Rollins throws, he could throw mainly two-seamers, or it could be his four-seam that is being thrown from a low arm angle. Only one change that had excellent tail, but one. Rollins’ curve is hard separated 8-12 mph from the fastball and with moderate break. Very similar to Wade Davis’s curveball.

Paul Phillips- The senior of the group.

phillips pm

phillips spin

Reminds me of Dale Thayer. A low arm angle, tailing fastball, and a slider that varies in break. And by watching this video, he looks to be a slinger so command of his slider might not be above average. Not a top prospect, but a possible Dale Thayer type pitcher several years down the road.

Arm angles- I have been tinkering with this over at my personal blog. Here are the approximate arm angles of these three pitchers using pitch f/x data.

afl arm angle

Remember that these release points are recorded 50 feet from the front of home plate so that there aren’t the exact release points. I usually like to see video to confirm these angles which we do have for these three pitchers and they show (to me anyway) that the above arm angles are pretty accurate.

Pitch f/x links-

Harry Pavlidis’s work on the Arizona Fall League (more links in the article).

Pitch f/x for dummies by Jonathan Hale.

Basic pitch f/x movement from BTB.

Some basics from FBAL.

A average pitch movement graphic form Sons of Samhorn.

Email me ( if you have any questions or place them in the comments.


  1. Welcome Ricky! Great stuff, thanks for the links at the end too, very informative. If it's handy, I'd love to see Talbot's charts (he's only been gone a few hours, what did we lose).

    Also, if you have your own "pitch f/x for dummies" (me), would love an overview from your POV as to what you look at as important. I can read and understand it, but what do you focus on?

  2. Talbot might be informative for Indian fans.

    I did make a pitch f/x overview series at my old blog but I didn't link it since the images were taken off and that it will soon change domain name.

    What I focus on differs on the subject(s). This post focused more so on stuff like movement, velocity, and spin. Good movement on the fastball relative from the point of origin (0,0). A tailing changeup and/or two seamer can help a pitcher greatly if he uses them properly. And there should at least one breaking pitch with a lot of movement separation from the fastball. It is usually the curveball but could be a slurve or even a slider.

    With more data, we can find how often a pitcher uses a pitch and slice that up into count. Also the location of the pitches is useful when talking about control and/or command.

  3. what does FF and FT stand for? I couldnt find that in any of the links provided

  4. The first F must be for fastball, I think the second letters are for two-seam and four-seam. So FF is four-seam fastball, FT is two-seam fastball. Or I could be wrong.

    Also, if I remember right, the pitch f/x systems were only set up at the (two?) AFL parks in Phoenix. The other fields didn't have it. That's why there isn't much data.

    On Talbot, I think both Indians and Rays fans would be interested. Everyone on both sides seems to be debating whether Talbot was too much or too little return for Shoppach. My opinion is that it was a fair deal. Shoppach was a likely non-tender by the Indians since he was arb eligible, so Talbot was better than nothing. Talbot wasn't likely to make the 25-man out of spring training, and out of options, so likely lost on waivers, so Shoppach was better than nothing.

  5. You are right Doug. FF is four-seam fastball and FT is two-seam fastball. Usually the pitch f/x classifier misses most of the two-seamers. You are also right about the pitch f/x only being installed in two parks. I failed to mentioned that it was the primary factor for the small amount of data for those three pitchers.

    I think a Talbot analysis would be good to do. Might get that done today or tomorrow.