What International Knuckleball Academy Links To

A quick look at what the baseball sites we link to (here) have to offer:

Baseball Analysts. Described by former contributor Sky Andrecheck as “the go-to place for sabermetric research….” Although the site does not seem to have been updated since early 2012, Andrecheck and a rBlogger with bugleoster of nine other bloggers have built a large archive of thought-provoking articles inspired by what Bill James, describing sabermetrics, calls “the search for objective knowledge about baseball.” An article by Dave Allen on “The Breaking and the Knuckling” observes that “unlike other pitches, knuckleballs do not have a consistent pattern of movement, but a random horizontal and vertical movement each anywhere from -15 to 15 inches (for Wakefield, at least). The success of an individual knuckleball varies directly with its seemingly random amount of movement; batters make less and poorer contact the more movement a knuckleball has.”

Baseball Think Factory. A site “dedicated to providing unique baseball content (information, blogs, links, news, forums, chat) to thinking baseball fans.” We find a recent discussion of Ohka’s prospects as a knuckleballer that was provoked by the same Ricky Doyle post IKA mentioned the other day.

Baseball Prospectus. All about which players and teams are likely to do what, what they have done already, risk assessment, forecasts, hypotheses that didn’t pan out, changes in the game, etc. (Some articles are behind a pay wall.) A provocative analysis of the knuckleball by Alan M. Nathan aims to show, with the help of PITCf/x data, that “within the precision of the data, there is no significant difference in smoothness between knuckleballs and ordinary pitches.” Nathan suggests that it’s the “randomness of movement, both in magnitude and direction,” the you-never-know-what-you’re-gonna-get factor, that gives rise to “the perception of erratic behavior.”

Beyond the Boxscore. This SB Nation site bills itself as “your best source for smart baseball analysis from the fan perspective.” The home page links to an SBNation.com directory of 310 sports blogs, one category of which is baseball. The baseball blogs are divided into “general baseball” blogs and league-specific or division-specific blogs.

Brooks Baseball. Analysis of baseball stats. The homepage includes links to a Dashboard (“View today’s current pitchers and probables with direct links to game logs, player cards, and strikezone maps”), Player Cards (“Career-spaning gards with manually reclassified pitch-type data for every player in baseball”), and a PITCHf/x Tool (“The original way to get detailed information about pitching performances”).

Cressey Performance. A training site dedicated to helping athletes (“and those looking to make a serious commitment to their long-term health”) to “identify and work toward quantifiable improvements both inside and outside the training facility.” Cressey claims success in “in improving throwing velocity, bat speed, and sprinting speed—while markedly reducing injury rates.” Their training facility is located near Boston.

Fangraphs. Graphs made by baseball fans. If you think that there are only a trillion ways that baseball stats can be organized to extract new insight, think again. An Fangraphs article by Dew Shepherd focuses on “Tracking R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball,” in which he cannot “resist taking a belated look at some of Dickey’s dominating knuckleballs from that 2012 season.” Includes slow-motion video of Dickey pitching. “Holy awesome post man!” is typical of the sentiment expressed in reader comments.

The Hardball Times. The home-page legend: “Baseball. Insight. Daily.” (And concise, too.) The site includes an “article calendar”; click on the date and you’re taken to articles published on that day. A cofounder of the site, Mathew Namee, was a research assistant of stat guru Bill James. The Hardball Times describes itself an “edited online magazine” with “several long articles each day” of baseball analysis. Paul Swydan’s 2012 retrospective on knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (“Here’s to You, Mr. Wakefield”) concludes that he was “Boston’s Mr. Anything and Everything; and for stretches of time, he was also the game’s only knuckleballer.”

The Physics of Baseball. University of Illinois Professor Alan M. Nathan has pretty much finished his work on the quark structure of nucleons. He now devotes much of his time to “the mysteries of the knuckleball,” as categorized by Analysis of Knuckleball Trajectories, Wind Tunnel and Related Research, Other Studies Using PITCHf/x Tracking Data, and Knuckleballs in the Media. Among the articles Nathan sends us to is one by Dan Fox published in Baseball Prospectus in 2007: “It is the first article of which I am aware to use PITCHf/x data to study the knuckleball and the first to examine, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the movement of the pitch. Fox shows that, unlike normal pitches, the movement on the knuckleball is erratic and unpredictable, both in magnitude and direction.” As we noted above, a 2012 article by Nathan, also at Baseball Prospectus, would argue that while the knuckleball is unpredictable, it is not in fact “erratic.” Well, regardless of the exact physics involved or what adjectives may best characterize the knuckleball’s confounding course, everyone seems to agree that it can be a devil of a pitch to hit.

SABR. The acronym for Society for American Baseball Research. With the help of a vowel, SABR is where the first half of “sabermetrics” comes from. “SABR members [comprise] more than two dozen groups devoted to the study of a specific area related to the game—from Baseball and the Arts to Statistical Analysis to the Deadball Era to Women in Baseball. In addition, many SABR members meet formally and informally in regional chapters throughout the year and hundreds come together for the annual national convention, the organization’s premier event.” The site includes sections devoted to Latest News, Research, Chapters, and Events.

The Book. As you might guess, this site promotes a book─about “playing the percentages in baseball.” The home page features a blog, and links to other commentary by authors Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman and Andrew Dolphin. The knuckleball, we’re told, may be “the single most interesting and unique aspect of baseball.”

Texas Leaguers. A blog about pitching (“biomechanics, mechanical analysis, and training methods”), the economics of baseball, and the Texas Rangers (“since I am a life-long Rangers fan”). The site also includes a PITCHf/x database.

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