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Bryce is Seeing Some Filthy Heat

The Man, The Myth, The Legend.  It’s quite apparent that teenage superstar Bryce Harper’s mediocre AA/AAA numbers were not indicative of his true MLB talent.  With a triple slash line of .286/.367/.497, Bryce is performing at All-Star caliber levels as a 19 year-old.  With so few professional at-bats, it’s quite impressive that Bryce continues to exhibit plate discipline above league-averages (K%, BB%): Bryce – 18.6, 11.2, and the MLB – 19.6, 8.2, respectively.

With Bryce’s skill set and much-deserved hype, this really isn’t much of a suprise – even though he is as old young as some freshmen in college.  One particular piece of data that I find interesting is the average fastball velocity Bryce sees relative to the rest of the league.  The table below depicts the hitters who are pitched with the fastest average fastball velocity. Here, one can see  just how hyped pitchers are to either brush back or throw heat by the phenom:

Player Fastball % Avg. Fastball Velocity
Alex Rodriguez 59.4 92.5
A.J. Pierzynski 55.3 92.4
Jose Bautista 53.0 92.2
Paul Konerko 53.5 92.2
Derek Jeter 66.6 92.2
Miguel Cabrera 59.4 92.2
Bryce Harper 45.8 92.2
Curtis Granderson 52.9 92.1
Adrian Gonzalez 60.2 92.0
Prince Fielder 51.4 92.0

First of note are the names we see squaring off against the fastest average fastballs by opposing pitchers: A-Rod, Joey Bats, Konerko, Jeter, Miggy, Granderson, A-Gone, Prince.  We know A.J. Pierzynski isn’t exactly BFF’s with most players, so the extra juice on fastballs that he sees isn’t much of a surprise.  In fact, #blameAJ has trended on twitter on a couple occasions.

And then there’s Bryce.  The 2nd most glaring feature of the table is how significantly fewer fastballs Bryce sees compared to the other hitters facing elite heat.  This is likely due to his inexperience seeing MLB off-speed pitches, which are far more advanced than those that a hitter might see in the minor leagues – even at AAA.  That being said, when opposing pitchers do throw him fastballs, it is evident they reach for a little something extra.

Case in point: Cole Hamels’ drilling of Bryce in early May this season.  Hamels intentionally pummeled Harper with a 93-mph fastball in the lower half of Harper’s back.  Per Pitchf/x data, Hamels’ average fastball is clocked at 91.5-mph – and, yes, this does exclude his cutter, which he throws frequently and slower – so the average isn’t diluted with his slightly slower cutter.

Hamels Drills Harper      (Note: apparently MTV has moved from playing music to editing sports GIFs.)

 

R.A. Dickey “in the Zone” and Inducing Swinging Strikes

Let this simmer a moment…

R.A. Dickey’s last 6 GS: 6-0, 48.2 IP, surrendered just 21 H and 1 ER, with a 63:5 K/BB ratio. His ERA/WHIP during this outrageous span: 0.19/0.54, respectively.  Yeah, his ERA is lower than his WHIP.

Per Elias, Dickey is the first player in modern day ball (since 1900) with back-to-back complete-game one-hitters of 10+ strikeouts!  Furthermore, he is the 1st in ALL of MLB history with five straight starts of 0 ER and 8+ strikeouts.

Now consider that Dickey throws two pitches, essentially: the knuckleball 85% of the time and a fastball 14% of the time.  Not only does he lead all of the MLB in Zone% (% of pitches the hitters see in the strike zone), but he somehow manages to also induce the 2nd-lowest Z-Contact% (% of pitches in the zone with which hitters make contact) and highest SwStr% (% of total pitches on which a batter swings and misses).

In other words, Dickey throws the greatest percentage of his pitches in the zone out of every SP in baseball, and yet he simultaneously manages to induce the greatest number of swings and misses per pitch, and consequently, the least amount of contact per pitch.  This is astounding.

For comparison’s sake, let’s take a look at some of the elite pitchers in the game:

Zone% Z-Contact% SwStr%
Dickey 53.4 76.9 12.7
Hamels 46.3 79.4 12.6
Strasburg 46.4 82.5 12.3
Verlander 43.1 76.8 11.7
G. Gonzalez 42.7 81.6 10.7
Cain 45.8 85.5 9.9
“League Avg” 45.0 88.0 8.5

Here, you see Dickey is getting more swinging strikes per pitch than anyone, while throwing the highest rate of pitches in the zone!  This is the most forthcoming depiction of just how dominant R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball has been through 14 starts this season.  In fact, after Peavy’s 2-seam FB, Dickey’s KN has been the most effective/valuable pitch in baseball thus far.

I plan on taking a deeper-dive into additional Pitchf/x data to compare the vertical and horizontal movement of Dickey’s knuckleball versus some of the premier knuckleballers.

Noted Meme Enthusiast Bryce Harper Wears “Clown Question” T-Shirt to the Stadium! Get Yours Today!

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/dailypitch/post/2012/06/harper-dons-thats-a-clown-question-bro-shirt/1#.T-Kwi7We5Vs

Well, if the “That’s a Clown Question, Bro” t-shirts are cool enough for Bryce Harper to wear to the stadium before games, then that means they’re sure as hell cool enough for you!

GET YOURS at the official Skreened store: www.skreened.com/bryceharper

Bryce Harper Walks up to the Plate to…Justin Bieber?

Edit (6/20/2012): Apparently Bryce has walked up to Justin Bieber music a few times over the last several days. More to come as I learn exactly when Bryce became a fan and whether or not he bought the “Believe” CD at the store or on iTunes.

Last night, Bryce Harper approached the batter’s box with none other than the Biebs as his walk-up music.  The song: “Boyfriend.”  I mean, how does he not go with the “Boyfriend (Remix) featuring 2 Chainz, Mac Miller & Asher Roth?

Alas, Bryce hit a weak grounder to SS for an out – which was too bad, considering Ryan Zimmermann followed with a single and Mike Morse drove him home with a 2-R BIG FLY to deep right-center.

Question now is: funny prank by stadium personnel? Bryce getting all symbolic on us, insinuating he was about to make David Price his boyfriend by going yard?  Or did Bryce lose a bet?

Bryce’s Cannon in LF

Remember: Bryce throws 90+ MPH.  He’s already approaching Vlad/Ichiro “Don’t think about sending him” status…

Official Skreened.com Bryce Harper “Clown Question, Bro” Apparel



Bryce training with a 36-in, 47-oz. bat

No words.  For frame of reference, Alfonso Soriano, known to swing the heaviest bat in MLB, swings a 33-oz. bat.