The curveball is often used as an ‘out’ pitch. This implies either it is difficult to hit or is often taken for a called strike. I was interested in exploring both of those possibilities, and as such, I have decided to present research addressing both. Part I, presented below, addresses the questions of how difficult the curveball is to hit and what makes it difficult to hit.
Earlier this week, I shared some research about the relative importance of velocity, location, and movement with respects to major league fastballs. The approaches I used to answer the curveball problem were very similar to the approaches I described previously. Again, I used the 2011 MLB season as my dataset, and included only pitches to right handed batters. Since curveballs are thrown far less frequently than fastballs, this time I included both right and left handed pitchers to increase my sample size. Another reason I wanted to include lefties is I wanted to know if the direction of the horizontal break mattered.
Is a curveball more difficult to hit than a fastball?