For those of you who are impatient baseball fans, the Wall Street Journal covered an interesting topic earlier last week. Their stat deemed SLOTH (Seconds to Launch One Throw Home) determines how long it takes for a starting pitcher to deliver a pitch to home plate.
To help speed up games, Major League Baseball formalized a rule change in 2007. Before the institution of the rule, pitchers were taking roughly twenty seconds to a deliver a pitch. Major League Baseball stated that pitchers have twelve seconds to pitch before a balk or ball is called (depending on the situation). Umpires haven’t been very strict in enforcing this rule. I can only think of one instance where a pitcher (Jonathan Papelbon) was penalized for taking too long.
According to the WSJ study, 28% of pitchers still take more than 12 seconds to pitch.
Here is a list of their fastest and slowest pitchers (all in terms of seconds):
Tim Lincecum (SF, 8.08);
Mark Buerhle (CWS, 8.18);
John Lannan (WSH, 8.38);
Ben Sheets (OAK, 8.81);
Justin Verlander (DET, 9.16)
Josh Beckett (BOS, 14.88);
Derek Lowe (ATL, 13.3);
Scott Baker (MIN, 13.24);
CC Sabathia (NYY, 13.16);
James Shields (TB, 12.54)
We really can’t make many generalizations about this list. Only starters were studied and many of these pitchers are high-velocity arms. Obviously Tim Lincecum doesn’t want to think about his pitch selection for too long while Josh Beckett masterfully crafts each selection.
We covered this topic on Friday about game speed and umpiring. The Opening Day match-up between SLOTH culprits, CC Sabathia and Josh Beckett, did take roughly four hours to complete. However it was Opening Night and a great game. The fans enjoyed the game and it was ESPN’s highest rating ever on Opening Night.
When you try to explain SLOTH to someone, tell them that it doesn’t originate in the jungle, but the stat is just as cute.
Would a more strict enforcement of the rules speed games up? Would pitchers become more upset?
Photo Credit: xrv.org; AP Photo/Charles Krupa