Hello Birds on the Black family! I hope your COVID-19 "break" is filled with health and...really nothing beyond that matters. Just be healthy. Please.
In the absence of MARCH Madness (with NCAA's cancellation of that incredibly exciting event) and in the absence of PITCHes actually being thrown off of mounds (with the postponement of the MLB season), Ben and Nick would like to bring a fun tournament-style, poll-driven "game" of sorts to you, BotB family, via Birds On The Black Twitter!
This will only be as fun as the audience participation allows it to be, so please, please have fun with this. Tell stories via tweet or via the comments below on this article. Just have fun with this. We all know we could use a little fun in these trying times.
So here's the background information on what and how I am seeding this tournament of sorts. I had an idea earlier this offseason to attempt to create my own plus stat.
An example of a plus stat is OPS+. What OPS+ does is attempt to take a player's individual OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) and scale it to a very easy to read number that shows what percentage above or below league average that player is as a hitter. To make it very easy to read, a 100 is a player who is 100% of league average. He is exactly league average. Every point above or below that is one percentage better or worse than league average. So, a 110 OPS+ means a hitter who is 10% better than a league average hitter; while a 90 OPS+ means a hitter who is 10% less than a league average hitter.
While I'm not exactly ready to spill the tea on exactly HOW I came up with my numbers, here is what I'm trying to do. I want to be able to take an individual pitcher's pitch - like Adam Wainwright's "Uncle Charlie" (curve ball) - and tell how much that pitch is above or below league average. A CV+, if you will. And I want to be able to do that with 4-seam fastballs (FB+), sinkers/two-seamers (SI+), cutters (CT+), sliders (SL+), and change ups (CU+) as well.
For this fun little experiment, I have used 2019 data for all pitchers and pitches except for Austin Gomber and Brett Cecil. For them I'm using 2018 data and pitches - it helped to seed a 64-pitch bracket by adding that 2018 data. I did scrap a few pitchers least used pitches because there was not really enough data to support the statistic using those pitches.
There are going to be 64 individual pitches by St. Louis Cardinals pitchers.
They will be going up against each other March Madness style (thus PITCH MADNESS).
Two pitches, one round, only one can move on.
Besides doing all of the art for this article, Nick Childress has also created the .gifs that will be shared on Twitter, where all the voting will occur.
On one half of the bracket, there will be 32 fastballs. There will be 4-seam fastballs, sinkers, and cutters in that half of the bracket.
On the other half of the bracket, there will be 32 non-fastballs. Those non-fastball varieties will include curves, change ups, and sliders. We will call all of these "Offspeed" pitches, despite some of them typically being classified as breaking balls. The pairs of pitches will go up against each other until we find the best Cardinals' pitch of 2019!
With that said, here is the bracket we will be using. This post will be updated (at the very bottom) at the conclusion of each round.
The top half of the Fastball Region will be released on Thursday, March 26th - the original first day of the baseball season.
The bottom half of the Fastball Region will be released on Friday, March 27th.
The top half of the Offspeed Region will be released on Saturday, March 28th.
The bottom half of the Offspeed Region will be released on Sunday, March 29th.
If you would like to be eligible to vote on these, please follow the Birds On The Black (link) twitter handle ASAP.
HOW WILL THIS WORK?
What you (thank you in advance) will be doing is voting for which pitch in each match up you think is a better pitch. The Birds On The Black twitter account will put out series of three tweets. The first two tweets will be .gifs of each pitch in the matchup and the third tweet will be a poll to vote in. It will look similar to what the Cardinals are running from their account regarding Moment Madness if that helps you out at all in terms of what this will look like once we get it going.
So please. Follow the account. Ignore the real world. Watch some fun baseball. Vote. Make this happen! It's all up to all of you! Thanks for reading and playing with us!