Pace of play has been one of the bigger topics of the winter. Some fans are all about trying to figure out ways to speed up the game, and the MLB execs have heard them. We now have a pitch clock that now reminds a pitcher he needs to get going and throw that ball. Also, we have the new rule where batters have to keep one foot in the batters box or be penalized. This is supposed to get rid of all the unnecessary glove tightening, helmet shifting, crotch adjusting, practice swinging batters who feel the need to ponder life's existence every time they step out of the box. One player though may not have gotten the memo to speed things up.
Pitch F/X tracks the pace of the pitcher from pitch to pitch calculated by Fangraphs as:
...by taking the difference between the start time of the first pitch in the plate appearance, and the end time of the last pitch in the plate appearance. I then divide by the number of pitches in that plate appearance (minus 1). Pickoff attempts are considered just another pitch, since they don't have time stamps of their own.
So essentially we can see which pitcher/batters take the shortest/longest between pitches. Dave Cameron has found that pace of play recently has gone quicker, while Jeff Sullivan has found that it's probably both the pitcher and the batter who control pace.
As of this writing, here is Hosmer's PACE scores from his rookie season on:
The 2015 sample size is obviously small and it's likely to come down a bit, but Hosmer has slowed down each year more and more. From 2011 to 2012 is was a minor change, but then started jumping up seconds at a time until this year when he's jumped more than 6 seconds longer than his rookie year.
How does this compare to the league?
Hosmer has gone from being 1.7 standard deviations below the league average to being 1.8 above. Now again remember 2015 is probably going to come down rather than being almost 2 standard deviations above the league average, but the narrative might stay the same that he's getting slower pitch to pitch.
WARNING: LARGE GIFs BELOW. WILL TAKE TIME TO LOAD
That last one is from opening day this year, the year in which batters are supposed to keep one foot in the batters box. Now according to the official rules:
(d) The following rule shall be in effect for all National Association Leagues:
(1) The batter shall keep at least one foot in the batters box throughout the batters time at bat, unless one of the following exceptions applies, in which case the batter may leave the batters box but not the dirt area surrounding home plate:
(i) The batter swings at a pitch;
(ii) The batter is forced out of the batter's box by a pitch;
(iii) A member of either team requests and is granted Time;
(iv) A defensive player attempts a play on a runner at any base;
(v) The batter feints a bunt;
(vi) A wild pitch or passed ball occurs;
(vii) The pitcher leaves the dirt area of the pitching mound after receiving the ball; or
(viii) The catcher leaves the catcher's box to give defensive signals.
We don't know exactly how far Hosmer walks away from the plate (the camera zooms in at the last second) but it would seem that Hosmer is breaking (d)1 both by not keeping a foot in the box (he didn't swing nor meet any of the other qualifications) and leaving the dirt surrounding home plate.
Now all the above GIFs are somewhat random games (every game from 2012-2014 is from the second Wednesday game in June - why... I don't know) and they aren't necessarily representative of the population data, but there seems to be some slowing down going on from 2012 on.
One thought that I had that perhaps was slowing his pace down, likely a by product of the pitcher, was that he was batting after someone like Escobar/Cain. This would likely mean that the pitcher would take more time between pitches as he has to keep his eye on those two when they are on base. Most common lineups by year:
|Year||2 Before||1 Before||-|
So for the final two years there was a guy with at least moderate speed batting two before him (Escobar/Aoki), but directly before him has never been anyone that would really ever be on the pitchers mind if he were standing on 1st (Francouer might be).
How about his pace score ranking overall each year (the slowest player being 1st overall)?
Note that 2015 has a higher population size because of the large amount of qualified hitters this early on. It will likely lower down to that 145ish range.
As 2015 continues his pace score will likely drop a bit as the sample size increases, but you probably shouldn't be surprised if it continues a 4th straight year of getting slower. Maybe he'll even hit the 23 second mark.
What does this all mean? I don't know. Probably nothing, but does every article have to have a point? Are you readers so point thirsty? If you aren't then I hoped you just enjoyed the article, if you are... I'm sorry.