Hamels and Release Points

I’ve been pawing through some Pitch F/X data on Cole Hamels and the only significant finding is his differing release points.

Yesterday, he was releasing higher and more towards first base. The effects weren’t significant:

  • He threw 64% of his pitches for strikes yesterday as opposed to 61% in Washington
  • He had slightly more vertical movement on both his four-seam fastball and cutter

The differences are small enough that they could have been caused by complete randomness given the relatively small sample of pitches (103 and 109 respectively).

For comparison, here is a graph of Hamels’ release points on all of his pitches from last year.

Last year, Hamels released the ball from a slightly higher point than he did during his April 7 start. It appears Hamels actively made a decision to alter his release point for yesterday’s start. It will be interesting to find out if this was something he did on his own or if it was suggested by pitching coach Rich Dubee, manager Charlie Manuel, or someone else.

Leave a Reply



  1. WholeCamels

    April 13, 2010 12:33 PM

    You’re overlooking the fact that he’s a sissy and a nancyboy. I never cottoned much to book-learnin’.

    Now that that’s out of the way, this is quite an interesting find. Calibration issues maybe?

  2. Bill Baer

    April 13, 2010 12:35 PM

    Yeah, there’s always the chance the Pitch F/X data differs from ballpark to ballpark. I’ll see if I can find anything out about that.

  3. Phylan

    April 13, 2010 12:53 PM

    Injury is another thing that causes pitchers to noticeably alter their release point, but I haven’t seen anything else indicative of that. Intuitively I would think that his lower arm angle in the second start would lead to more horizontal movement on the ball, but that seems to only have been the case for his changeup. Like you said, not much data to work with yet. It seems as if he mixed in cutters yesterday, and did not in his first start. That pitch breaks further in on right-handers than anything else he throws, perhaps that necessitated the release point adjustment?

    Anyway, this seems like as good a place as any to ask this question — I’ve always wondered about the preferred vertical movement for four seam fastballs. My instinct tells me that less “rise” (i.e. positive vertical movement) is better for your vanilla four seam fastball, since it’s fighting gravity less and will sink more on the hitter, and possibly be easier to keep low in the zone. Then I read this fascinating work by Dave Allen — baseballanalysts.com/archives/2009/05/fastball_and_ch.php — that suggests that, at least in same-handed at bats, more “rise” is tougher on hitters. I can’t think of why that would be, other than maybe the unexpected “hop” fooling hitters when gravity doesn’t do as much as they expect.

  4. John K

    April 13, 2010 03:15 PM

    Nothing stuck out about the FB velocity?

  5. defendingphillyagain

    April 13, 2010 09:45 PM

    Yea, there’s always the chance that my blogs are bulls#!t… er.. the Pitch F/X data differs from ballpark to ballpark.


  6. defendingphillyagain

    April 13, 2010 09:49 PM

    Pardon the drama Bill…

  7. pounded clown

    April 19, 2010 09:32 PM

    Interesting…I was toying with the idea that he was showing batters the ball too much when he has his pitching arm in the L-position.

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