First and foremost, I want to wish you all a happy new year as this is my first blog post of 2018. Second, it appears that I will be receiving media credentials for the Winter Warmup this year (thank you, @C70), so if you have any player-specific questions you want asked, feel free to send them my way -- either on Twitter (@stlCupofJoe) or via email (stlcupofjoe at gmail dot com). I cannot promise I will be able to ask all of them, but I will most certainly attempt to entertain some of them.
Moving on, as you can see by the title, I am writing this introductory post for a reason. As you may recall, last year, @cardinalsgifs and I -- in what served as our first true collaboration (and look where we both are less than one year later!) -- kicked off a Twitter-based event that ended up being -- in my opinion -- a resounding success. The event? Battle of the Pitches. A king was crowned, and as you'd expect, Carlos Martinez came out on top.
*this pitch crowned Carlos Martinez 2017 'Battle of the Pitches' King*
Now, it wasn't exactly fair as only two pitchers were included -- Martinez and Alex Reyes. Plus, the news of Reyes being out for the season due to Tommy John surgery obviously put a damper on his pitches. Regardless, @cardinalsgifs and I have been planning the second edition of #BattleofthePitches for quite some time. Many collaborations have taken place since the original event, and I truly believe we have produced some trail-blazing analysis, pun very much intended. Heck, I have written at three sites since then -- Viva El Birdos, The Intrepid STL, and here.
Regardless, we are quite excited to kick of the sequencing edition of #BattleofthePitches. Much of the pitching analysis I have produced over the last year has had some basis in pitch sequencing.
Pitch tunneling is so intriguing to me, and after conversations with professional hitters, I strongly believe in the influence and effect of pitch sequencing. Similar to last year, there will be four regions -- with four sequences in each region. Ultimately, 16 different sequences will vie for the crown. I have expanded the competition to include more than just Martinez (unfortunately there are no Reyes sequences due to him being out all of last season).
The four regions -- in the order of their release date on Twitter -- will be Fastball-Fastball, Offspeed-Offspeed, Fastball-Breaking Ball, and Fastball-Changeup. Yes, Martinez is included, but so are Johns Gant and Brebbia. It should serve as a fun, interactive event on Twitter as we wait for the Cardinals to (possibly) make another offseason acquisition). Just as we did last year, voting will take place via Twitter polls, so if you intend on participating, be on the lookout for tweets from the @BirdsontheBlack account.
Honestly, this introductory post would not be complete without taking the time to thank Zach Gifford (@zjgifford) for his behind-the-scenes work in my final selection of pitch sequences. His Excel abilities played a vital role in creating a leaderboard to help rank the value of the thousands of swing-and-miss sequences thrown last season. Zach's leaderboard was used in an attempt to remain as objective as possible, while admittedly, my experience in sequencing analysis led to some subjective decision-making as well.
Bottom line, @cardinalsgifs and I simply cannot wait to kick this off.
Region 1: Tuesday
(Fastball/Fastball Sequence Region)
Region 2: Wednesday
(Off-speed/Off-speed Sequence Region)
Region 3: Thursday
(Fastball-Breaking Ball Sequence Region)
Region 4: Friday
(Fastball-Changeup Sequence Region)
The semifinals will occur one week from today, and the finals, temporarily, are scheduled for Tuesday of next week.
We look forward to your participation and hope to make this year's event even bigger!