The Hardball Times' Mike Fast (a terrifically apropos name) has an article out today that looks at the speed at which a pitcher works and checks to see if there is an correlation to the defensive support that pitcher receives. It's an old baseball adage that pitcher's who work quickly are a defender's best friend, and get better defense, while pitcher's who work slower tend to get their defender's flat-footed and complacent, which results in the slower pitchers getting poorer defense behind them. As Cub fans we've heard this debate in past; concerning Carlos, as to whether or not it's good for him to work fast, and concerning Dempster, as to whether or not his apparently quicker pace has played a significant role in his amazing resurgence. Fast draws some interesting conclusions, to wit:
For the bulk of the pitches thrown between 11 and 50 seconds after the previous pitch, there doesn't seem to be much of an effect. However, at the extremes, the pitches thrown within 10 seconds after the previous pitch have a notably lower BABIP (.281), and the pitches thrown more than 50 seconds after the previous pitch have a much higher BABIP (.366). This finding is definitely noteworthy, but further investigation is needed to determine how much of the disparity is due to defensive play and how much is due to other situational differences.
That's interesting, but here's our bit: the Cubs rank second among fast-working staffs, with Jon Leiber being the fastest at 17.8 second between pitches, and yet, as cwyers noted over at GROTA, the Cubs infield defense hasn't really been that great.
So, here's what I want to know: what do you think of Fast's study?