If you didn’t already know it, Fan Graphs has taken some cool data on pitch usage as well as velocity over the past three seasons. I decided to take a look at some of the members of our staff to see if we notice anything. What will we pull from the data? Who knows, maybe nothing. Let’s take a look.

Carlos Zambrano
A lot have said that big Z has lost some velocity on his fastball, yet he maintains that he hasn’t. Let’s let the data do the talking here. The following are the average velocities of his fastball over the past three seasons.

2005 – 92.8 mph
2006 – 92.2 mph
2007 – 91.6 mph

On the whole it doesn’t look drastic, but there is no doubt that the fastball has, in fact, declined in velocity. Whether or not that indicates any type of dead arm or concealed injury is up to you to speculate. One thing I know is that it bears watching this year to see if the decline continues. If he averages in the range slightly below 91 this year, I’m going to be a little concerned.

As for pitch usage, I noticed something interesting about his pitch selection. In 2005, his usage of the slider was roughly 16% of the time and he used his cutter just 1%. Fast forward to last year and you see roughly the same fastball usage, but the slider use has declined to 13% with the cutter use increasing to 9%. That’s a significant change and I wonder if it’s the result of his feeling less confident in the slider or more confident in the cutter.

Ted Lilly
Lilly appears to provide absolutely nothing to discuss other than his consistency in approach. His pitch usage breaks down to 56% fastball, 15% slider, 17% curveball, and 12% changeup. His fastball averaged a velocity of 88.4 mph.

The only other thing worth noting about Lilly’s pitch usage is his increase in curveball usage from 2005 – 2007 as he’s gone from 13.6% to 16.9%.

Rich Hill
I was very excited to look up Hill’s numbers because I wanted to see if he had changed anything over the past two years as he begins the process of being a legit Major League starting pitcher. What I found was exactly that. Hill did make a change last year.

2006 Pitch Usage – Fastball (70%), Curveball (23.4%), Changeup (5.0%)
2007 Pitch Usage – Fastball (60.6%), Curveball (27.3%), Changeup (8.3%)

He threw some sliders in there as well, but not really worth mentioning. What I see is a pitcher who is beginning to trust his off speed and breaking stuff a little more and rely less on his fastball. It’s no secret that his curve is one of the best in the Majors and it’s good to see him begin to trust it more.

All stats and information provided by Fan Graphs. Go check them out. In addition, have you gotten your entry done for the 2008 Home Run Derby Contest? The prize this year is a copy of MLB 08: the show for PS3. Click Here to enter

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail