The Phillies closer took issue with reporters following yesterday's 1-0 win over the Braves saying,"Why do you guys care about velo[city] so much, man? Does that matter? Does that really matter? Do you really think that matters?" According to Matt Lombardo of NJ.com, Papelbon said "doesn't make one damn bit of difference whether you threw 93 or 94 or 84." Then proceeded to cite the writers worrying about Roy Halladay's velocity over the last two seasons.
Crashburn Alley's Bill Baer tweeted out a rather simple explanation for the concern about Papelbon's velocity. Opposing hitters batting slash lines when Papelbon's fastball velocity is:
95+ mph: .182/.251/.291
92-94 mph: .246/.308/.379
91 mph or less: .286/.333/.429
The numbers basically prove that Papelbon's effectiveness is directly correlated to his ability to blow a fastball by a few hitters. I think the point Papelbon is making is velocity isn't everything and Major League hitters can adjust and catch up. I agree. But there is a reason there are very few closers in the league that don't throw hard. Velocity isn't the only thing but it is certainly part of the equation. The numbers support that.
It also did not work in Papelbon's favor that he cited Roy Halladay and his velocity concerns. Did the media make a big deal out of Halladay's decreased velocity? Yes. Was it warranted? Yes because it turned out Halladay had a shoulder issue which was messing with his velocity and, along with that, his effectiveness. Halladay was forced to retire following the 2013 season.
Probably not the best example.
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