What’s Up this Wizard’s Sleeve?

ATTN: Nerds

This is not a lesson in quantum mechanics nor my TAKE on Statcast.

Included below are regular words.

Michael Kopech has a damn hose for a right arm.  To say there has was some hype leading up to his MLB pitching debut on 08.21.18 would be a severe understatement.  Whenever a baseball player from Chicago is trending on Twitter – I don’t know the exact numbers – but we’ll call it 100% of the time they play for the Chicago Cubs.  For #KOPECHDAY to be trending for his first start, is legitimate hype.

I refrained from writing after his first start, as a significant rain delay prevented Kopech from returning to the mound after pitching only two innings of the game.  Small sample size; dude looked good though.

In short, a lot of the public hype around Kopech stems from the straight gas he throws.  Last offseason, he posted a video hitting 110 MPH with a training baseball.  Women like the way he looks too.  To date, the average velocity of his 4-seam fastball is 95.9 MPH (96 pitches).  What?…Not impressed?  “Aroldis Chapman throws faster!”  I know.  Plenty of pitchers in the MLB and MiLB are faster.  Kopech ranks #15 of 298 Starting Pitchers in the Average Pitch Velocity for a 4-seam fastball (minimum 50 pitches thrown).  What’s all the commotion around this dude then?  Spin Rate.

Justin Verlander and Garrett Richards are the only Starting Pitchers with a higher Spin Rate on their 4-seam fastballs than Michael Kopech.  Cool.  Moreover, Kopech’s Average Pitch Velocity is greater than that of both Verlander and Richards.  Also cool.  Conclusion – high expectations.

The fuck does Spin Rate have to do with anything?  I said I was not going to burden you with science, theory, and numbers similar to material found in Nate Silver’s spank-bank.  If you’re into that kind of stuff – or if you are Nate Silver – get the breakdown, experiment included, here.  When a baseball has Spin Rate like Kopech’s, it basically has a stronger resistance to gravitational force (gravity, falling downward) as it travels from the mound to the plate.  This sorcery of spin results in most hitters swinging below the ball as it crosses the plate.  Nuts.

With Kopech being just 22 years old, the White Sox will closely monitor Kopech’s Spin Rate in similar fashion to your significant other’s curiosity of liking or commenting habits on your other “friends’” Instagram.  If the team were to notice a drop in his Spin Rate, an injury may be present and the young stud will not able to get away with toughing it out while hurt.

Ultimately – Kopech is a generational pimp.  He has other pitches too – by the way – and if you’re familiar with White Sox Pitching Coach, Don Cooper, you understand Kopech has all the tools for success.  I won’t say he definitively is the next Justin Verlander, but he will be close if healthy.

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