A common sentiment amongst pitching coaches, dads, and your regular everyday baseball fan is that if you try to throw harder, you will be more wild. I’ve written plenty on this topic about it being a load of crap, because the human body learns to throw a ball effectively and more efficiently – not “harder” and “more controlled.” In a properly designed training program, kinesthetic sense improves and force application improves, so velocity and control both go up – not necessarily in lockstep, but they do improve together.
The idea that you first learn how to throw strikes and then learn how to throw hard is the cornerstone of every pitching coach out there that charges for a lesson, throws on a catcher’s mitt, and has the pitcher throw 24 pitches off a mound – regularly being interrupted to demonstrate some drill or pausing at the balance point. It’s garbage, and that’s why we don’t do very many private pitching lessons here – it’s generally a giant waste of time.
Enough Talk, Show Me the Data
Despite all of our experimental data that shows that pitchers in our MaxVelo program improve both velocity and control through the use of strength training, high-speed video analysis, weighted baseballs, and other training methods, I figured I’d show everyone some data from MLB pitchers in 2012.
This first chart shows the results of a regression analysis between average fastball velocity of MLB pitchers and the PITCHf/x Strike Zone % – so whether or not their pitches landed in the strike zone (click for full size):
As you can see, there’s basically no relationship between fastball velocity and strike zone %, despite there being a wide band of strike zone % represented.
This next chart reaffirms what is common sense – that the more pitches you throw in the zone, the fewer walks you will issue:
This last chart shows the relationship between higher fastball velocities and walk rates:
Interestingly enough, despite there being no relationship between higher fastball velocities and strike zone %, there is a moderate relationship between higher fastball velocities and walk rates – so another factor must be involved.
Send people this post when they repeat the mantra that “throwing harder means throwing with less control.” The data just doesn’t back it up.
We'd also love it if you followed us on Twitter! We post some fun stuff, we promise.