Exploring the Arsenal – Bud Norris

Exploring the Arsenal will run prior to each game, providing you with a brief scouting report on the starting pitcher expected to oppose the Pirates. The chart below shows the horizontal and vertical movement of every pitch thrown by that particular pitcher in 2012. This chart is from the catcher’s point of view. For a general guide to pitch types for a right-handed pitcher, please check out this image created by Sons of Sam Horn. Graphs are courtesy of Brooks Baseball and The Hardball Times , unless otherwise specified.

Pitch Types  
FA: Four-Seam Fastball FT: Two-Seam Fastball FC: Cutter
CU: Curveball SL: Slider CH: Changeup
FS: Splitter SI: Sinker


Thursday, 7:05 PM – Bud Norris

Norris has good life on his fastball, throwing it at 91-93 MPH and occasionally touching 95. His velocity has been down this season, averaging about one MPH slower than in 2011. He makes heavy use of an 83-86 MPH slider and an 83-86 MPH changeup. The slider is his big swing-and-miss pitch, with a whiff rate of about 40% in 2012. Norris’ four-seam fastball has slowly become more hittable over the years, and has not missed many bats this season. However, his two-seamer and slider have both been difficult to put in play, keeping his overall whiff rate well above average. He generally goes with the fastball/slider combo against righties and mixes in the two-seamer and changeup more frequently against left-handed batters. Overall, he has cut down on his use of the change a bit this year.

  • I think I have an idea of why it works that way, but whats the explanation as to why fastballs, even sinkers, as well as change-ups have positive vertical break?

    • Operation Shutdown
      July 5, 2012 5:41 pm

      Short explanation is that “rise” is the difference between how many inches a ball at a given velocity would vertically fall due to gravity’s effect and how many inches it actually does. Long version is over at fangraphs: http://bit.ly/MJsLa7

      • Ok, great thank you. I knew starting out that the idea of a “rising” fastball was a misnomer, so I figured it had more to do with the amount of resistance the ball had in relation to gravity (most likely to do with the back spin).

        • At some point I would be interested to see comparisons between pitchers and what that means when you factor in things like pitching on a downward plane. I just feel as though while the pitch f/x information provides a valuable insight, it doesn’t really incorporate all the given information that may be relevant.

          An interesting thought, since a knuckleball ideally has no back spin, does that mean that it’s movement on a pitch f/x would register as 0/0? I realize that’s assuming that it’s a perfect knuckleball, or at least an ideal offering, but just out of curiosity.