Saturday, July 12, 2008

Experimenting in Baseball

PHOENIX - OCTOBER 11:  Pitching coach Bryan Pr...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeBuster Olney is one of the best baseball writers and because he writes for, he has tremendous reach. He get's to comment on everything in the game and players make themselves available to him because of the size of his audience (there's a business lesson in here somewhere). I read him everyday because it's a great way to keep up with the league and there are a lot of little nuggets in his columns.

I really liked this little anecdote about how Brandon Webb, a stud pitcher for the Diamondbacks, experiments when he faces Brad Hawpe, a good but not great hitter for the Rockies who just so happens to crush Webb.

Brad Hawpe of the Rockies has been Webb's professional nemesis, a left-handed hitter who hammers him the most: a .333 batting average in 45 at-bats, with four homers. Consequently, Hawpe has been used by Webb and catcher Chris Snyder as something of a lab rat because, hell, nothing else works. As Webb refined his changeup, in 2006, they measured its improvement by how it worked against Hawpe. And earlier this season, Webb started tinkering with a cut fastball, a pitch that veers into the hands of left-handed hitters. Naturally, Hawpe was the first to see it. Hawpe grinned and looked down at Snyder and said, "Oh, OK, we've got a new one."
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