BDD: Sit On It

At Baseball Daily Digest, I refute the claim that one should sit on Brad Lidge’s slider.

Hitting a slider is, as one might expect, really difficult, especially one thrown as well as Brad Lidge throws his. Add in that Lidge had a 94 MPH fastball that, on average, was more than 9 MPH faster than his slider, and you have a tremendous task in front of you to A) differentiate between the release points of his slider and fastball, if there is a difference; B) pick up the movement of the pitch as it makes its way towards home plate; and C) be able to keep your hands back when you expect fastball and instead get a slider — you can’t expect his slider and adjust for the fastball.

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Lidge doesn’t just choose to throw his slider 13% more than his fastball because he likes the pitch; he bases his decisions on scouting reports (the hitters’ tendencies), past experience, and so forth. Likewise, the hitter goes up to the plate looking fastball most of the time because they are more likely to hit it (and hit it well) if they see one than if they get a slider that they are anticipating — based on scouting reports (Lidge’s tendencies) and past experience.

The hitter’s best strategy is to go up ready to hit a fastball most of the time but anticipate a slider some of the time so that Lidge will stay honest and throw that fastball. Lidge’s job is to effectively mix up his pitches so that hitters are unable to sit on one pitch or another, and that’s a job that Lidge has done extremely well over his career.

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