Delivery and Pop Time Significance

We often hear coaches and players talk about delivery time to the plate. Fans complain about how a runner was able to conjure up such a strong jump for a stolen base. In reality, baseball is just like any other job in the world. Players and coaches are constantly looking for ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness. If a pitcher and catcher could both cut down time from when a pitchers’ delivery starts, they should absolutely do it.

MASN‘s Steve Melewski talked with Dylan Bundy the other day about delivery time and speeding up the process. I highly recommend reading the entire piece, but here is a snippet from it:

“I’ve been working on that since the middle of last year,” he said. “When I came into the minor leagues, I was about a 1.5 or 1.6. Now I’m at a 1.35. That is all right if you have a good catcher back there. They’ll throw guys out if you are a 1.3.”

So it is clear that Dylan has been working hard on cutting down his delivery time to home plate. Below are some numbers that every pitcher, coach, and player need to know. These are the numbers that each pitcher, catcher and runner should strive for.

Time to Plate (T2P):  ~ 0.42 seconds
RHP Delivery Time (DT): ~ 1.30 seconds
LHP Delivery Time (DT): ~ 1.40 seconds

Catcher Pop Time (PT): ~ 1.70 seconds

Baserunners 1st to 2nd:
Burners: Sub 3.00 seconds
Above Average: ~ 3.00 – 3.30 seconds

Time to Plate (T2P) is simply the time from when the pitcher releases the ball to when it hits the catcher mitt. This is important, but Delivery Time is more useful.
Delivery Time (DT) is the time from the pitchers delivery to the catcher mitt. This begins on first movement from the pitcher, mainly their first step. This is from the stretch, as Delivery Time and Pop Time are largely irrelevant in the windup.
Catcher Pop Time (PT) is the time from when the ball hits the catcher glove to second base.

A true 80-grade runner, like Tim Raines or Billy Hamilton, will be below 3.00 seconds from first to second base. These are the premier burners in the league and most catchers are not going to have much chance getting them anyway. So in return, the goal is for a catcher to attempt gunning down the next group in line. Consider this:

1.30 + 1.70 = 3.00 seconds (RHP DT + PT)
1.40 + 1.70 = 3.10 seconds (LHP DT + PT) *

* LHP can have a lesser time because they typically have the advantage of holding the runner more effectively.

This is why the delivery times and pop times are so important. There is a reason that you see scouts and coaches with stopwatches in their hands during games and practices. A stolen base is a calculated risk, and each player and manager should know how much of a risk it really is.

I became mildly obsessed with the stopwatch last season. In return, I happened to snag quite a few PT metrics. I spent a large amount of time conducting these times during the past two seasons, but I will admit that they are not 100% perfect. It really depends on what day you see a player. They will give you a good baseline though. Below are the catchers I have PT metrics on from within the Orioles system:

Matt Wieters – Averages around 1.86 seconds
Taylor Teagarden – Averages around 1.90 seconds
Luis Exposito – Averages around 1.94 seconds
Brian Ward – Averages around 1.80 seconds
Adam Davis – Averages around 1.90 seconds
Joe Oliveira – Averages around 1.91 seconds

The numbers really speak for themselves, with Brian Ward having ridiculous PT numbers. That is top of the line right there. The other guys in the system (that I have recorded) are still pretty darn good though.  So it’s really up to the pitchers to keep runners in-check for the Orioles.

I have done some research and conducted the delivery time for the following pitchers within the Orioles system. Keep in mind that the DT can alter based on the runner(s) on base. Obviously a pitcher does not need to be as quick to home if a runner like Matt Wieters is on base instead of someone like Xavier Avery. That being said, think of these as a baseline if anything. They are not set in stone, and pitchers can often improve these over time. Dylan Bundy is a perfect example of that. The DT metrics below are all from Spring Training:

Pitcher Delivery Time 2013

I will be adding pitchers to this list as I track them this year. Again, these times are mine alone and there are bound to be discrepancies. So use these as a baseline. I did find it interesting that certain pitchers were able to replicate their DT each pitch, compared to some whom fluctuated tremendously.

Dylan Bundy, Jim Johnson and Brian Matusz are your top three. Considering Matusz is a LHP, his Delivery time is ridiculous.

The bottom three are Jair Jurrjens, Michael Belfiore and Mark Hendrickson. Two are LHP, so this is not tremendously surprising. Hendrickson is also a giraffe in terms of height. Belfiore is slow on purpose sometimes to freeze the runner. I’m not quite sure what was up with Jurrjens, but he did not register one DT under 1.50.

Although I did not track these last season, I can surely guess that most of these pitchers have improved off their DT from last year. With Matt Wieters behind the plate, the Orioles already have a good start towards controlling the running game. With improvement in DT from the pitchers, the Orioles can only get better. It is important to note that most of the younger pitchers had solid DT.

Delivery Times and Pop Times may just be one little aspect of a baseball game. However, over the grand scheme of a season, they can play a large role in the ebb and flow of success.

*A big thanks to Don Olsen for helping me with the baseline numbers*

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About the author


Tucker Blair  

Tucker Blair was born and raised in the Baltimore area and currently lives in Elkridge, Maryland. He graduated from York College of Pennsylvania with a B.S in Entrepreneurial Studies and is currently a Project Analyst for a Management Consulting Firm in Federal Hill, Baltimore. Tucker was previously the Managing Editor at Orioles Nation, where he worked on prospect lists, reports, and analysis on the Orioles minor league system. He also previously wrote his personal blog, The EntreprenOriole.


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3 Responses to Delivery and Pop Time Significance

  1. Matt says:

    Could Jurrjens’ times be due to his possibly being hyper focused on his mechanics as he attempts to return from his injury?
    When / if he feels confident in his knee’s health and his motion he could begin to work on cutting down his DT, I’d assume. Or maybe he’s just always been slow to the plate?

    • Tucker Blair says:

      Matt, that is a very good point. I’m not quite sure how much his return from injury relates, as he is “supposedly” 100% healthy now. But it is certainly possible.

      I will reach out to some Braves people and see what they say. I did find it very curious that he was so far off compared to mostly everyone else.

  2. Pingback: Matt Wieters: Effects of Tommy John Surgery | FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball

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