The Secret Benefit (and Cost) of Sweeping Sliders

© Kirby Lee USA Today Sports

I, for example, am not a fan of hacking.”sweeperIn recent years. It’s not because I don’t enjoy Frisbee stadiums that seem to pull up a map, ask for directions, and take a sharp turn on their way from the hill home. A big part of my job is making GIFs of fun stadiums, so obviously I love this Part I personally don’t like the inconvenience involved in labeling them.

To give you an example, I decided to do some research on sweeping slides, or swirls If you are a fan of exotic labels. Actually, that’s what this article is about. However, on my way to doing this, I had to spend some time getting an obnoxious technique. First, I downloaded all the sliders thrown by right-handed shooters this year. I separated them by motion coil, and then started asking questions.

I asked a few people, “Does this scattered plot seem to separate you from sweepers who don’t use brooms?” I kind of did it, and it kind of didn’t do it either. Are pitches with 30% more horizontal spacer than vertical brooms? How about 50%? What about the pitchers that cut a foot horizontal but move six inches down? I’ve sent several variations of this graph to try to install it, but nothing feels right – I’ll save you having to look at the mess I ended up with.

The best definition I could find as a sweeper comes by Dan O’Quinn, but until then, there are strange issues with bright fonts. Should a step that breaks a foot horizontal and 1.75 inches down be a sweeper, while another that breaks a foot horizontal and 2.01 inches down is a normal slide? How about his speed? And what about a millimeter step less than having a sufficient horizontal spacer? It’s hard to define definitions of such an action, and it’s a good reminder that pitching is very difficult when a pitcher doesn’t tell you exactly what he’s throwing.

Regardless of that little rant, I eventually ended up figuring out how to define sweeping so I could continue my research. It was a revelation seeing the Dodgers, Rays, and Yankees take advantage of the changing vigilance to revitalize the careers of different shooters. However, I had a sneaking suspicion that as elegant as the pitch is, it’s not a panacea. I’ve seen enough matches where the right bowler floats in a bunch of big breakers to the left opponent to wonder how effective the sweepers without the platoon advantage are. For every perfectly positioned rear foot slider, I can call many no-changers to mind, whether squashed for line drives or comfortably taken for balls.

To measure this effect, I divided all the sliders into buckets: sweepers and non-sweepers. You have destroyed them even more. Here are the physical characteristics of my group when thrown by right-handed bowlers against right-handed hitters:

Slider shapes (except gravity)

characteristics MPH HMov (in) VMov (in)
Not sweeping 85.3 0.43 0.15
sweeper 82.6 1.17 0.19

Here’s how both types of sliders perform in those right matches:

Regular and sweeping sliders, RHP vs RHB

characteristics SwStr% whiff% GB% PU% baby HR / CON running value / 100
Not sweeping 17.0% 35.3% 45.6% 13.1% .277 3.9% -0.26
sweeper 17.1% 36.4% 33.0% 20.3% .246 4.0% -0.94

Holy mackerel, this is a low BABIP. If you’re wondering why the Dodgers allowed their .258 BABIP this year, their defensive positioning certainly helps, but also the fact that the pitch they’ve deployed turns balls in play to ends in an intoxicating clip. I included the percentage of popups (which I manually defined as balls struck at 45 degrees or higher) because I was reminded of Owen McGrattan Research in that particular phenomenon. Want some outs on the balls in play? Carry them in the air at a lazy angle. It’s not rocket science, although Los Angeles probably employs a lot of rocket scientists.

If you want a brief summary of the advantages of a sweeper, this chart is exactly what you’re looking for. The pitch misses as many hits as the “normal” slider, and gives up as many home runs for every ball in play. But it does get more balls and soft pops, resulting in lower BABIP and therefore much better results for the bowler.

When you put it this way, it’s no wonder shooters try to throw more sweepers. If a show coach approaches you and says “Hey, you have a medium slider, let’s turn it into a regular sweeper”, why refuse? You will lose as many bats as the old pitch, and you will also get better results on contact. If you prefer it in terms of wOBACON, the sweeps allow 325 wOBA on call, and the “normal” sliders allow 0.357. very easy.

How to withstand sweepers in the face of leftists? Bad News:

Regular and sweeping slides, RHP vs LHB

characteristics SwStr% whiff% GB% PU% baby HR / CON RV/100
Not sweeping 15.6% 31.8% 38.4% 14.6% .268 5.2% -0.35
sweeper 12.9% 28.5% 32.8% 16.1% .284 4.4% -0.05

In essence, this calling feature is gone. The left hit more streak drives against the playing field, and it doesn’t show up at the same high rate. In terms of wOBA, both normal and wide sliders allow 370 wOBA on contact, but sweepers are at a disadvantage when it comes to missing bats. This makes sense to me. It’s easy for them to see the pitches fracturing toward the batter; That’s why shooters use changes to fight opposite hitters.

If your sweeping slider has no feature when connected, that’s a problem. This is the whole reason for throwing the field. If it doesn’t do better on contact, and it’s going towards the left bat, you really should leave it on the shelf. Pitchers know this somewhat; They halved sweeper usage to the opposite hitter.

This probably isn’t a big deal, because shooters halve their overall use of the slider when they don’t have a platoon advantage. I would argue that they don’t need to, at least not to the same extent – bullet sliders show smaller platoon divisions, although not always to the extremes that have occurred this year. Although the term “sweeper” only got into baseball slang recently, people still throw it in. I have used the same criteria to track the phylum of divisions in the two sliding diversifications in the past four years:

Slider Platoon Split (run value/100 steps)

year VL . system Normal vR platoon gap vL . vacuum cleaner vR . vacuum cleaner platoon gap
2019 -0.26 -0.54 0.28 -0.39 -1.59 1.2
2020 -0.32 -0.59 0.27 -0.75 -0.34 -0.41
2021 0.07 -0.19 0.26 -0.3 -1.26 0.96
2022 -0.35 -0.26 -0.09 -0.05 -0.94 0.89

I don’t want to act like this irreplaceable reasoning, proof that I’ve deciphered this difference in pitch. There are huge demographic issues. Shooters who throw sweepers are not the same as those who throw regular slides, at least not in every case. Average presentation quality may vary; The average opposition may also be different. Sample sizes aren’t even huge; There were already nearly twice as many sweepers dumped in 2022 as there were in 2019, and the season is not over.

But even with that in mind, I have a few points for you the next time you watch someone throw a big slider that breaks sides a little faster. First: You’ll get a ton of popups and a BABIP suppression, even if you don’t miss the extra bat. Second, he has a real weakness in the face of opposite shooters. For what it’s worth, the left hand pitcher sweeper data looked similar, but the sample was so small that I just ignored it.

what does that mean? First, I think plunger/slider pitchers should mostly throw sweeper slides only if they are mitigators. Thinners get the edge of the platoon more often, and they also don’t have to see the same mixture twice; You can get away with four straight to left-handed dips, but maybe not eight. If your job is to get right out, and you can learn to throw a sweeper instead of a tighter slider, that seems like a good trade-off to me.

Second, if you are a Yo DarwishAgile classes, capable of throwing anything and everything, the kind of guy who doesn’t run Pitch Com because he doesn’t have enough buttons, so why not add a broom? If your arsenal is already too deep against the opposite hand pitchers to need a slider in there, it seems like something worth playing around with. Communication suppression appears to be real; Across all four years of data, right-hand/right-handed cleanouts allowed 248 BABIP.

I don’t think this will continue indefinitely, for the record. This is still a competitive advantage for some teams, but more teams are teaching it, and there is a natural cycle for pitches like this: more and more bowlers throw it until too many bowlers throw it, which affects the overall quality. Then its popularity wanes, leaving only the experts to throw it away. Divers experienced a similar pattern. I think the split might be next. The sweepers are tidy, and they have a lot of work to their advantage, but don’t expect them to replace narrow, lead-style sliders overnight.

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