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Downright Filthy Pitching Book 1: The Science of Effective Velocity (Downright Filthy Pitching Series) (Volume 1) Paperback – July 7, 2005
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First, there seems to only be one new thing here - the author Perry Husband measured the time differences for a swing to get to each part of the strike zone, and gave it a name. Ahem.... that there is a difference is neither new, nor "revolutionary" as the book seems to claim several times. We all know that you throw hard stuff up-and-in because the bat has to travel further to get to a point where it can hit it hard and fair. On outside pitches the bat doesn't have to travel as far, so you throw slow stuff low-and-away to accentuate the slowness, as well as max out the difference between the up-and-in fastball. The so-called "revolution" here is that Husband calculated the "effective" mph difference from a hitters perspective. His most common example is a 90 mph fastball which appears 2 mph faster when thrown in the upper and inner most quadrant that is still in the strike zone. And in the lower most and outer quadrant it is 2 mph slower. So the same 90 mph fastball thrown in these two locations appears to be 4 mph different to the batter. He calls this "Effective Velocity" or EV or EVMPH. And get this - he's copyrighted it so if you're a HS coach and mention EV you could be sued. There's an entire paragraph about this - "The ideas behind Effective Velocity and the conversion of initial velocity into Effective Velocity cannot be used in teaching pitching or hitting techniques by professional instructors without obtaining a license..... or.... certification". Seriously? You measure something just about everyone in baseball knows exists, coin a name, and now you can sue over it? Good grief.
But here's the kicker. Apparently he studied thousands of MLB at bats and pitches and found that "50% of hard hit balls happen when the previous pitch was within 6 EVMPH of the pitch that was hit". THIS is the revolution. Wow. I must be dumb because this had me intrigued during my first read through. But.....doh. That also means 50% of hard hit balls happen when the previous pitch was greater than 6 EVMPH. It's a coin flip, and yet I'm supposed to change my entire repertoire to move from one area of hard hit balls to the other area of hard hit balls? PLEASE - someone in the comments section tell me what I'm missing here.
Now please note I'm giving the book 3 stars and not 1. The best part about this book is it gets you to think about what you're throwing, and why. There's a discussion of arm slots - or as he calls it "horizontal plane" and "vertical plane". But here again I have an issue with how he presents it because he claims no one realizes there are two planes, when I personally thought the entire baseball world knew, and taught, that the best combination of pitches came out of the exact same arm slot and release point. I do like to hear this repeated, but I don't like to hear that the concept is new.
I'm glad I read this book, but I'm pretty disappointed because the concept is over-hyped and I fail to see a "revolution". I personally already throw an up and in fastball, a down and in two-seam/change, a low and away slow slider - all with the exact same release point, and I throw a "freeze" curveball. This is pretty much his ideal pitch selection. Granted I've been pitching in an adult rec league for 19 years now, and I've learned a lot about pitch selection, arm slots, movement and so on, but most of what I know is through self discovery because I've never had good coaching. So plenty of inexperienced pitchers will learn form this book, but to read that this is new info is ridiculous. If I know this, pros sure as heck know it too. The "revolution" is measuring the "effective" speed differences, and then using it to discuss pitch selection with pitchers. I guess this makes it easier to communicate.... but I can get sued if I get paid to teach it to someone else. Ugh.
But the thing that bugged me the first time through..... it is that the book fails to deal with the reality of pitching. EV assumes perfect command, but I bet the research would prove most pitches hit hard are mistakes (or 50%, which would be a "revolution" if proved :), and I best most HR's are in the middle of the plate or in a zone the hitter likes (high ball hitter getting a high pitch, low-ball guy getting low, etc). He likes to point out that some fastballs down the middle are missed, and some purposefully thrown up and in are hit for HR's. But come on - that is "some". He supposedly did tons of research, but the research isn't presented here so we can't all see what was actually hit hard most times. He also claims that hitters go into slumps only because their timing is off. This is nonsense. You hear all the time that a hitter spent an entire season, or month, etc, with an injury they were compensating for and therefore changed their mechanics. You get guys who hit 4 homeruns in 4 days and next thing you know they're trying to pull everything - sure, this is "timing", but these are mental or physical issues. And batters really do sometimes time pitches perfectly and just swing under or over it - he seems to claim hitters don't do this - rather they're late or early. He fails to cover hitters who have weaknesses - like the guy who is a sucker for a low slider - you start him with a slider at the knees for a strike, the next one is ankle high, the last one is in the dirt. You know the EVMPH difference on these? Exactly zero. Yet it results in a K. How about the high fastball - you can throw this 3x in a row to the same guy. No EVMPH difference, yet you get a strike out. Sorry, but if you want to become a "filthy" pitcher, this book is but a couple of aspects of it, and is hardly a "revolution".
By the way - if you do read the book - which I'm not recommending against - the "lefty" profiled in the book.... I think it is Andy Pettite.