Command PostOctober 12, 2007
Beckett vs. Sabathia
By Joe P. Sheehan

With the ALCS starting tonight, I wanted to take a quick look at the Game 1 starting pitchers, Josh Beckett and C.C. Sabathia from a PITCHf/x perspective and show some charts that I enjoyed analyzing when I "scouted" Jake Peavy. There will be a full series preview up later today, so be sure to check back for that.

Here are two charts, showing the difference between each pitch and a non-spinning version of that same pitch, which compare Beckett and Sabathia.

beckett2.png sabathia.png


Pitch   N     Speed   Pfx    Pfz    BreakX   BreakZ
FB      624   94.7   -7.58   8.87   2.67     3.55
CB      252   77.3    5.24  -5.03  -2.29     12.38
CH      52    86.1   -8.47   3.47   3.08     6.98


Pitch   N     Speed   Pfx    Pfz    BreakX   BreakZ
FB      561   94.0    6.46   9.37  -2.19     3.38
CB      187   81.5   -4.49   0.27   2.31     9.31
CH      166   86.1    9.47   6.21  -3.44     5.89
SL      22    80.8    -0.02   1.47   0.41     8.95

There are some basic differences between the two pitchers, such as Beckett's curve having more downward movement than Sabathia's (which is probably closer to a slider in terms of movement), but overall, the way their pitches move are relatively similar. The biggest difference, besides throwing hands, is that Beckett throws his fastball more often and is pretty much a two pitch pitcher, while Sabathia uses three pitches.

Another graph I thought was interesting in my analysis of Peavy was the pitch frequency by inning.

beckett3.png sabathia2.png

One neat thing on Beckett's frequency chart is that he throws his fastball much less as the game goes on, almost following a linear pattern. The 6th inning is the only inning that deviates from this pattern, and rather than saying Beckett must throw a lot of curves in the 6th, I would think that this inning is when he would usually face the best hitters in the lineup for a third time, so he throws fewer fastballs than he otherwise would. For what its worth, the 6th inning has been one of Beckett's least successful innings this year. Sabathia appears to follow a similar pattern for fastball usage as Beckett does, but he has more off-speed pitches to work with. You can see from his chart how, unlike Peavy, he doesn't show the dramatic increases in certain pitches every couple innings. Sabathia throws his off-speed pitches more frequently as the game progresses, but it's a gradual increase, as opposed to the sharp transitions of Peavy.

Be sure to check back later for a Baseball Analysts staff preview of the series.


Excellent. I would be nervous if I were an advance scout.