A Brilliant Analysis of Mariano Rivera’s PitchesPosted: November 13, 2011 Filed under: Measurement and Analytics | Tags: baseball statistics, Edward Tufte, graphical analysis, Mariano Rivera, pitch analysis, scatter plot 1 Comment
This excellent video was produced by The New York Times back in 2010, but I was reminded of it this week when Rivera broke the all-time baseball record for most saves.
You do not have to like or understand baseball to appreciate the analysis performed. They mapped and animated each and every pitch he threw in 2009 (about 1,300 pitches) to analyse the trajectory and end-spot of each pitch to demonstrate why his pitches are so hard for batters to touch, keep in fair territory, or connect well enough to have a chance at a hit.
If you would like to watch the video, click here: http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/06/30/sports/1247468158551/how-mariano-rivera-dominates-hitters.html?scp=1&sq=mariano%20rivera&st=cse
They also analyze the aerodynamics of his pitches, comparing his fastball, to his cutter and to a typical slider thrown by other pitchers but which betrays its identity through its distinctive red dot that provides a valuable clue to hitters.
The next graphic is the scatter plot of all 1,300 pitches thrown by Rivera in 2009. A neat bit of work that would do a Black Belt (or Edward Tufte) proud.