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Price's Speeding Two-Seamer

David Price's best pitch is the fastball, being able to reach back and hit triple digits when he has the chance. His two-seam fastball has been a bit of a project this season, having introduced it to his Major League repertoire halfway into the 2009 season. I looked at his pitch selection earlier in the year and noted that his improved pitching may have been the result of adding a two-seamer. Price kept using his two-seamer for the 2010 season until July, when he abruptly ended its usage. After six starts, Price reintroduced it. Except this time, it was a different pitch.

I divided the year into three periods: April 9th to June 26th (15 starts) is the OLD phase, July 2th to August 4th (6 starts) as the BETA phase, and August 9th to September 29th (10 starts) as the NEW phase. Here is a chart of his two-seam usage for the 2010 regular season.


And a more comprehensive table of his pitch usage during the three phases.

numpit FAST FF FT CH SL CU FT of Fast
Old 1597 72.1% 53.5% 18.6% 2.9% 7.6% 17.3% 25.8%
Beta 666 74.8% 74.3% 0.5% 8.0% 2.7% 14.6% 0.6%
New 1059 77.7% 48.3% 29.5% 5.4% 3.0% 13.9% 37.9%

David Price threw more two-seam fastballs at the expense of his breaking pitches. This may be because his two-seam was better than it was earlier in the season. Here is the mph and break of the pitch.

MPH Break
Old 89.3 6.11
New 94.9 5.92

A five mph average increase is astonishing. Although the pitch f/x break numbers are park-biased, it appears the pitch didn't lose much of its sinking action. So did the increase in speed get better results?

rv100 rv wOBAc Strike Whiff Plate Swing InPlay LD GB FB BABIP ISO
Old -1.72 - 5.12 .274 0.636 0.091 0.461 0.455 0.229 .235 .426 .324 .227 .126
New -1.42 -4.42 .299 0.692 0.087 0.497 0.554 0.228 .183 .465 .338 .232 .191

A marginal difference in my view, although I have to give the whole small sample size disclaimer. The batted ball data suggest it improved the groundball rate just a little bit. But even with a lower line drive rate, the pitch was hit for more power by opposing hitters.

It is difficult to tell if it was a better pitch with the added velocity due to the small sample sizes. One stat that I believe is a good sign regardless of results is that in the new phase, Price actually threw the two-seamer to left-handed hitters, something that Price did not do in the old phase.

For more reading on David Price's pitch selection, here is an excellent article by Mike Fast.

Data from MLBAM. Pitch classifications by author