A First Look at Gerrit Cole's Pitch F/X Data

Gerrit Cole pitching for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. Anyone have any idea what a Solar Sock is? via-http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/

In last Saturday's Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game, Gerrit Cole gave up 4 hits, 2 home runs and 5 earned runs in .2 innings for an ERA of 67.50 and I was very impressed. What impressed me was not his statistics, but rather that, we got our first batch of Pitch f/x data on Cole and boy did it exceed my already high expectations.

Cole threw only 29 pitches, but my pitch type re-classification found that he threw 5 different pitch types. He threw both  four-seam and two-seam fastballs with average speeds of 98 MPH.  He also threw a cut-fastball averaging 92 MPH. He complemented his three fastballs with a change-up and a slider with average speed of 87 MPH and 85 MPH respectively.

Let's look at his average pitch trajectories so far.

NOTE: He has only thrown between 3 and 10 pitches of each pitch type, so these are still subject to much variation. The main thing to take away from these charts are the basic shape of his pitches and less so where the pitches actually end up. I would also recommend clicking on each graph to get a larger and clearer view, it gets a little cluttered with 5 pitches.

Gerrit_cole_pitch_trajectory_catcher_medium

 

Gerrit_cole_pitch_trajectory_vertical_medium

A few things jump out  right away to me.  Cole's change-up moves very similarly to his four-seam fastball for the first 30 feet and then breaks down and in (to right-handed batters)  heavily for the final 20 feet, one of the reasons why many scouts regard his change-up as his best pitch.   Also, his four-seam fastball does not have much movement on it, though that could just be due to 4 out of the 6 four-seams thrown being in the bottom right part of the zone from the catcher's perspective. Cole's slider and cut-fastball also have similar movement, the main difference between the two as you'll see below, is the speed.

For another perspective on Cole's pitches, I have include a chart of horizontal movement vs. pitch speed.

Gerrit_cole_pitch_movement_medium

As you can see, Cole's pitches are grouped in fairly distinct clusters just based on these two variables.  I am still amazed that someone his age has a 5 pitch repertoire. Even if three of them are fastball varieties, it is still something that is a rarity. We'll have to wait and see if he sticks with all 5 or decides to drop any of them and focus on his plus pitches

I am hesitant to dig much deeper into this data as it is an extremely small sample size,  but I wanted to let everyone take a look a Gerrit Cole's initial data. I am very excited to get more data on Cole. Hopefully he will pitch frequently in the two Pitch f/x equipped stadiums during the second half of the AFL season and we can dig deeper into the nastiness of Cole's pitches.

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Pitch f/x data is provided by MLBAM and is downloaded using altered scripts originally created by Oliver Wells and Mike Fast

Graphs were made in R using the RGL and ggplot2 packages

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