BCTips: Release Point Dispersion

BaseballCloud’s platform is changing the way players and coaches analyze and learn from both practice and game data. BCTips blogs will highlight the functionality of different features and explore the various ways they can be used for player development.

When you view a pitcher’s profile, game report, or bullpen report on BaseballCloud you will notice that one of the common visuals we use is the Release Point Dispersion plot. We chose to have this graphic represent release point from the pitcher’s perspective after consulting with numerous pitching coaches from college programs. They felt it was easier to explain to a pitcher and have him visualize himself from that perspective since that is what he is used to.

As you can see in the chart above this collegiate pitcher does a decent job of consistently releasing his pitches out of the same slot. We have begun to quantify how consistent a pitcher is at repeating his delivery with a metric called “Release Point Dispersion.” In the table below you can see the different values for each of this pitcher’s pitch types. These values measure how closely concentrated a pitcher’s release points are; a higher value represents less consistency, whereas a value of 0 would represent that all pitches were released out of the same exact point. A sample of MLB data showed that big league pitchers have a dispersion of approximately 0.20.

Through our research we have also seen that a huge differentiating factor between amateur and big league pitchers is the ability for big league guys to repeat their release point more consistently. Top college arms a lot of times will have similar metrics to big league guys as far as velocity, spin, and movement. The success doesn’t always translate though, at least at that stage in their career, until they learn to repeat their delivery at a higher rate. Below you will see a chart from Brooks Baseball showing the release points for Jacob deGrom during his 2019 Cy Young Award winning season. You can see that his release point dispersion is very similar to the pitcher above (besides the fact that Brooks Baseball presents their release plots from catcher view).

We recognize that not all consistency or inconsistency in a pitcher’s release point is created the same. For example, look at the release point plot for the pitcher below who clearly throws from a few different slots.

Former Mets scout and current President of Digital Scouting and Player Development Solutions here at BaseballCloud, Jon Updike, has coined the phrase “trickshot guy” over the past year, which describes exactly the type of pitcher you see above. Obviously this pitcher’s dispersion metrics will be wildly skewed because of his different arm slots; however, this graphic can still be extremely valuable when looking at where he releases certain pitches. You can see that this pitcher only throws his curveball from over the top (which makes sense) and then throws fastball, sinker, and slider from 3/4 and side arm.

We understand that there is still a lot more to learn about release point consistency and I’m sure this feature will change over the next year, two years, and five years; but we look forward to researching this topic and many others topics during that time!

Check back soon for a look at more present and future BaseballCloud tools in our next BCTips post.

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