Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/15/14
I’m not going to go over what Pace is again, because not only have I written about it several times — it’s also perfectly intuitive, such that you should understand it on the first try. Pace isn’t important, for baseballing purposes, but Pace is important for watchability purposes, therefore Pace is of some importance to us as fans. It’s tracked at FanGraphs, for both pitchers and hitters, and also for whole teams and leagues. It is a statistic not unworth examining. In the past, I’ve played with opposite extremes. In September, I wrote about Mark Buehrle facing Carlos Pena. Pace tells us that Buehrle is the fastest-working pitcher, while Pena is the slowest-working hitter. I wanted to see what would happen to their Paces during head-to-head showdowns, and the results split the middle. More recently, I wrote about Jonathan Papelbon facing Michael Bourn. Similar idea in mind, with Pace telling us Papelbon is the slowest-working pitcher, while Bourn is the fastest-working hitter. Preliminary results showed a Pace right on Papelbon’s slow average. Bourn didn’t make Papelbon speed up. So, there’s some amount of evidence that a slow hitter can slow down a fast pitcher. There’s not much evidence that a fast hitter can speed up a slow pitcher. Those are the two opposite extremes, and they could be studied in greater depth, but we can also compare same-side extremes. What happens if, say, a slow pitcher faces a slow hitter? We know that Papelbon has, historically, been the slowest-working pitcher, and we know that Pena has, historically, been the slowest-working hitter. They’ve faced each other. What was the tempo like? I went into this assuming I wouldn’t find any meaningful change from Papelbon’s usual Pace. Through the PITCHf/x era, Papelbon’s posted a 30.9s Pace, while Pena has posted a 27.6s Pace. Pena has a whole little routine he goes into between pitches, and Papelbon’s a deliberate sort, and I figured Pena’s Pace fits within Papelbon’s Pace. I figured that Pena could do his thing while Papelbon could do his thing, and then we’d observe a matchup Pace right around 31 seconds or so. Well, a few things. What you’re going to find isn’t official PITCHf/x Pace, but rather approximated Pace, based on MLB.tv video I could get to load. I put in a request for official Pace data and if and when I get that I’ll see about putting it in the post. And I could watch only four Papelbon vs. Pena matchups — three in 2010, and one in 2011. One of them was one pitch long. One of them oddly took place in the seventh inning, when Papelbon wasn’t going to be all Papelbony. We’re dealing with hardly any data at all, but we might as well examine what we’ve got. Here’s a plate-appearance breakdown: April 16, 2010. First pitch crosses home plate around 3:12:13 mark in MLB.tv window. Eighth pitch crosses home plate around 3:17:03 mark. May 25, 2010. One pitch only. However, as an estimate, Pena appears to step up around 2:59:46 mark. The pitch is thrown around 3:00:26 mark. July 7, 2010. Papelbon strangely faces Pena in the seventh inning. It’s the only time Papelbon has pitched in the seventh since 2005. Papelbon, therefore, isn’t serving as a closer. First pitch crosses home plate around 2:29:55 mark. Sixth pitch crosses home plate around 2:31:50 mark. May 22, 2011. First pitch crosses home plate around 2:49:51 mark. Seventh pitch crosses home plate around 2:54:12 mark. This was the first such plate appearance that I watched, and it made me hate myself for coming up with this idea. Put it all together, and you divide 699 seconds by 19 pitches, for an average Pace of about 36.8 seconds. Leave out the seventh-inning showdown and the Pace goes up to 41.7 seconds. Papelbon’s career Pace is about 31 seconds, against a wide variety of different hitters. Based on this very limited data, Carlos Pena found a way to make Jonathan Papelbon slow down. You’ve got a slow pitcher, a slow hitter, and a hitter who likes to get himself into deep counts. The research for this little project was unbearable. And now you get to share in the unbearability of it all. Here is what I consider to be a representative .gif of Carlos Pena facing Jonathan Papelbon. That’s from the one-pitch plate appearance on May 25, 2010. There was a lot more, too, but I couldn’t include it, because then the file size of the .gif got too large. Carlos Pena was happy to go through his whole routine. Jonathan Papelbon was happy to give Pena the time, and then go through his own. I knew these matchups would be hard to watch, but I think I underestimated their unwatchability. So much more research could be done. For this study in particular, we could use a way bigger sample size of Papelbon vs. Pena showdowns. But it’s probably in the world’s best interests that a way bigger sample size of such showdowns doesn’t exist.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bills will return to Ralph Wilson Stadium for Sunday's game

Miller to Oregon transfer rumor originates on Reddit

Valencia FC ditches bat logo amidst DC Comics challenge

Paul Pierce: Celtics' Big Three was like 'Holy Trinity'

Cubs reportedly offer Jon Lester more than $135 million

Colin Kaepernick: Jim Harbaugh will be back in 2015

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jeremy Maclin not happy with Riley Cooper’s contract remark

Broncos reportedly waive kicker McManus, sign Connor Barth

Report: Browns not committed to Brian Hoyer long-term

Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox officially agree to contract

Ex-NFLer passed out in Wendy's drive-thru, arrested for DUI

Ex-NFL DB Fred Smoot arrested on domestic assault charges

NBA rookie rankings after 1st month of 2014-15 season

Statistic about Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler very revealing

Aaron Rodgers blasts those who accused him of trolling Vikings

The century's 10 most one-sided college football rivalries

WATCH: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of NBA's first month

Sherman mocks NFL media policies in press conference

Why Packers' offense continues to evolve despite success

'Fire Idzik' billboard updated with suggestion for Jets owner

Watt buys pizza, shows gratitude to Houston firefighters, cops

College football's post-Week 13 Playoff projection

Which teams have the best shot at an undefeated season?

Infographic: Terrell Suggs' sack victims after notching 100th

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Braxton Miller headed to Oregon?

The century's 10 most one-sided college football rivalries

Pierce: C's Big Three like 'Holy Trinity'

Maclin unhappy with Cooper comments

Post-Week 13 CFB Playoff projection

What has Masai Ujiri built in Toronto?

How L.A. should replace Hanley

Lester, Red Sox still talking contract

Why each NFL team should be thankful

Could Kentucky beat the 76ers?

Greatest college football rivalries

LeBron on losing streak: 'I stink'

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.