wilson_2013-09-07

Brian Wilson and Pitching Inside

wilson_2013-09-07

On Saturday, Brian Wilson had a very frustrating outing. He faced five batters, walked one, struck out one, and allowed two hits. He allowed one run (and allowed an inherited runner to score), but Kenley Jansen was able to close out the game in the ninth and sealed the Dodger victory. It took Wilson 23 pitches to finish the inning, and just 11 of them were strikes.

It seemed like he was constantly doing this, and batters wouldn’t bite:


GIF Link

As Mike said during the recap: “[Wilson] refused to throw inside. Ever.” I had the same thoughts as the inning started to unravel. As you can see, Wilson has been targeting (and missing) the outside corner against right-handed batters a lot so far this year, and not throwing inside very often:

Wilson2014UsageRHH

The above chart shows where every Brian Wilson pitch to a right-handed hitter in 2014 (minus the Australia games) has been located. There are definitely more pitches outside than inside.

wilson_pitch_distribution

However, this isn’t a new pattern. The chart at right shows the change in percentage from 2008-2013 to this year. Green (positive) means that the percentage has increased this year. Red (negative) means that the percentage of pitches in a particular location has decreased this year:

The percentage of pitches inside and off the plate has actually increased a bit. Wilson just doesn’t throw inside to right-handed batters in general. The inner 1/5 of the plot (off the inside part of the plate) has a net increase of 4.84% this season. If that area is expanded to include the next column (inner-most 2/5), there is a net increase of 0.38%. The distribution has changed slightly, but the intent hasn’t.

More discouraging is that the total percentage of pitches inside the strike zone against right-handed hitters has decreased by 7.8%. There’s a big increase in green off the outside portion of the plate (+10.67% in the outer fifth of the plot). At least that much of the perception is true. He is missing the outside corner more against right-handed hitters than he has in the past (he’s “nibbling”).

Wilson throws pitches that break in both directions to right-handed batters, so that doesn’t immediately solve why he likes to live outside. He does the same thing against left-handed batters too:

WilsonCareerUsageLHH

Really, the best person to ask about Wilson’s aversion throwing inside is probably Wilson himself. If anything, Saturday’s outing revealed a piece of Wilson’s tendencies, even if he wasn’t quite hitting his spots. His control seems a bit off ever since he came back from injury, even if his velocity is back to where we would expect it to be.

The plot in pitch distribution change should be taken with a grain of salt. The sample of this year’s Pitch FX data is still really small (three appearances), so things will change as the season progresses. It’s meant to be descriptive of the past, not predictive of the future. But, at least when we see Wilson target the outside corner in the future we’ll know that it isn’t something new. Maybe he’ll throw knuckleballs inside.


About

Daniel Brim grew up in the Los Angeles area and remains a Dodger fan despite currently residing in Salem, MA. As an engineer, he’s fascinated by the math and science behind the game of baseball, which probably explains a lot. He started “Blog To The Score” in late 2013 to dig deeper into the numbers behind the Dodgers. In its brief lifespan, it gained attention from local and national media. You can find him spending too much time in the comments section or on Twitter.


398 comments
Lobo
Lobo

VND's BIPing rates a 2 on the Bip'o'meter

JackedNate
JackedNate

@Lobo  She just couldn't handle seeing Saxon in Telemetry.

Catfishin
Catfishin

You know Drank, Rizzo took time out of her busy day to connect with you on Twitter, making a concerted effort in your general direction. That's more than some of us will ever get from a Dodgers employee.

Purple Drank
Purple Drank

@Catfishin  if you block drank, I will not provide intelligent baseball discussion on kumquat baseball.

Purple Drank
Purple Drank

what. Alanna Rizzo blocked Drank. WHATTTT

Catfishin
Catfishin

Hm. Maybe I shouldn't have used my work email to register for livefyre for my tumblr.

BlueMarvin (Not Freaking Out)
BlueMarvin (Not Freaking Out)

Does anyone have any theories as to why platoons go bad when they do in fact go bad?  I'm thinking here of Ethier.  He SHOULD be getting a lot of hits given how he's been used, but he's looked just awful, awful, awful,

DBrim
DBrim moderator

We're not past the small sample period for most stats.

BlueMarvin (Not Freaking Out)
BlueMarvin (Not Freaking Out)

@DBrim This would be the only thing that really makes sense at this point... but I can't shake that nagging feeling that even if Ethier played all year and started only against righties, he's be hitting no better than .260 at the finish line.

moneynow27
moneynow27

@BlueMarvin  

No theories on that.  But regarding Ethier, with a steady diet of RH pitching, the expectations are for way more run production than this.  Frankly, even though he's only 32 now, I think he's on the back 9.  I think we've talked about this, but for me, play Puig and Kemp everyday against everyone, and alternate CC, Ethier, and SVS in LF.

Purple Drank
Purple Drank

@efb @TheConman  He puts up with a lot more than Drank. At least he has made a conscious attempt to understand advanced stats at times. 

efb
efb

@TheConman  Damn I hope he's alright, although his articles are generally terrible and he seems to be late to every single party, he's nice and puts up with Drank, and for that I respect him. 

KMT59
KMT59

Hey anybody here remember @capnsparrow  saying anything about going somewhere or anything to keep him posting here?

Just haven't seen him the last few days 

efb
efb

@KMT59 @capnsparrow  No, but what is right protocol here? Is there any way to contact him?