clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Mets pitchers and their perceived fastball velocity readings

New, comments

Statcast has finally released "perceived velocity" to the public.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Statcast, a tracking technology that debuted last season, has created new baseball metrics to play around with. It's installed in all 30 MLB ballparks, and it's used to measure things like speed, in miles per hour, on the bases and in the field, batted ball velocities, route efficiency on defensive plays, launch angles on batted balls, and extension for pitchers off the mound, among others.

Statcast had previously only released data in limited amounts. But yesterday, director of baseball research and development Daren Willman announced that the 2016 version of his website, baseballsavant.com, had been released. The new website contains a statcast search engine for perceived velocity, a metric that was only released to the public in limited amounts in 2015.

Perceived velocity is pretty much what it sounds like: it's what the velocity of a pitch plays up to, or down to, in hitter perception, primarily based on pitcher extension towards home plate. Here's how MLB.com defines the statistic:

Perceived Velocity is an attempt to quantify how fast a pitch appears to a hitter, by factoring the Velocity of the pitch and the release point of the pitcher. It takes Velocity one step further -- because a 95 mph fastball will reach a hitter faster if the pitcher releases the ball seven feet in front of the rubber instead of six.

To attain Perceived Velocity, the average Major League "Extension" must first be obtained. Any pitcher who releases the ball from behind the average Extension will have a lower Perceived Velocity than actual Velocity. On the other hand, if a pitcher releases the ball from in front of the average Extension, he'll have a higher Perceived Velocity than actual Velocity.

And here's how MLB.com defines extension:

A pitcher must begin his throwing motion while standing on the pitching rubber -- which is 60 feet, 6 inches away from home plate. This does not mean pitches are actually thrown from 60 feet, 6 inches away from the plate.

The point at which a pitcher releases the ball is actually a few feet closer to home plate than the pitching rubber itself. Extension quantifies exactly how much closer a pitcher's release point is to home plate.

Not surprisingly, a longer Extension can be a major advantage to pitchers, because they are essentially shortening the distance between themselves and opposing batters.

In this regard, Extension is a key component in the Statcast metric "Perceived Velocity."

You sometimes hear how tall, long pitchers have their fastball velocities appear quicker to hitters because they release the ball closer to home plate than the average pitcher. Mets fans heard this all the time with Chris Young back in 2011 and 2012 as a way to attempt to explain how he could be effective against major league hitters while throwing 85 mph fastball. As a side note: that's not actually why he's effective.

Here are some notable Mets pitchers and their average perceived fastball velocities from 2015—combining both their four-seam and two-seam fastballs—in order of fastest perceived velocity as measured by statcast:

Pitcher
Perceived velocity
Regular velocity
Noah Syndergaard
98.38 mph
97.18 mph
Jeurys Familia
96.59 mph
97.32 mph
Jacob deGrom
95.82 mph
95.06 mph
Hansel Robles
95.53 mph
95.97 mph
Matt Harvey
95.25 mph
96.15 mph
Steven Matz
94.84 mph
94.51 mph
Addison Reed
94.30 mph
92.99 mph
Rafael Montero
91.26 mph
92.32 mph
Sean Gilmartin
87.99 mph
88.92 mph
Bartolo Colon
86.85 mph
88.68 mph

Newcomer Jim Henderson had his fastball play up about 1 mph in his appearance against the Royals Tuesday, with a perceived velocity of 96.73 vs a regular velocity of 95.80.

Syndergaard gets about 7 feet of extension towards home plate, which is towards the top of the leaderboard. deGrom gets about 6.7 feet, with Matz at 6.6 feet. Harvey and Familia get significantly less extension, at about 5.9 feet.

Syndergaard amazingly had a 100.21 mph average perceived velocity on his two-seamer during his start against the Royals earlier this week, a difference in about 1.7 mph from his regular velocity, which was clocked at 98.56 mph. His hardest single perceived velocity reading from that start was 101.93 mph on a pitch to Sal Perez. That's not his fastest reading of his career, though: Thor had an incredible 102.8 mph reading on a four seam fastball thrown to Adrian Gonzalez in last year's NLDS, the highest perceived velocity reading in the playoffs.