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Baseball’s five biggest second-half stories, by the numbers

Baseball fans, your long (two-day) national nightmare is over. The season’s second half kicks into gear Friday night, and with it come a number of intriguing storylines. There have been a lot of big surprises this year, and watching how things play out through the late summer and early fall should be fascinating.

Alexander Edler Elite Jersey Which of those storylines are the most interesting? Let’s take a different approach and dive into five of them — by the numbers:

A guy with a high curveball spin rate is probably more likely to be getting grounders, because curves have topspin, and the spin helps to push the pitch into the dirt. But of course, none of this is in isolation: Location, velocity, deception, spin… it all works together. Even a 100-mph fastball will get hit if it’s straight and a hitter knows it’s coming. Spin is another piece of the puzzle that helps to explain things like how Chris Young gets outs with an 86-mph fastballs, or how Justin Verlander bounced back.
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The Astros are a great example. They are throwing more two-seamers than have ever before in the MLB this season and throwing offspeed pitches nearly 50 percent of the time. Other teams have followed suit as well because straight pitches get hit, even if they’re 100-mph.

So how does Judge come in here? Well, the consensus for years has been when pitching to long and tall men like Judge to throw up and in to eliminate his bat speed. The more a player like him gets his arms extended, the more bat speed and power he has. But two-seamers are not thrown up and in. It would be silly to because the pitch is slightly slower and naturally moves down away from the hands and into the dropping bat head. Of Judge’s 30 home runs this year, just four have come off of four-seam fastballs. Meanwhile, 13 came off of two-seamers.