As we wait to see what lady luck holds for us in Las Vegas in terms of our starting rotation, here's some food for thought on Brandon Backe's long ball struggles in 2008:
Those look like some hittable pitches. Josh Kalk's tool doesn't allow you to break it down by pitches (unless you want 4 or 5 different graphs) but it makes me think there wasn't a lot of bad luck in his home runs, just bad pitching. FYI, that's the strike zone and the location of the ball as it crossed home plate.
Two more graphs.
First the speed and break of Backe's home run pitches (x is horizontal movement with negative numbers indicating breaking in towards a RHB from the center of the plate and z is vertical movement):
Then, Backe's averages for 2008:
His slider, splitter, and change up lose a ton of movement, his fastball hangs just a bit more over the plate, and his curve just gets a little bit sloppier. Can we draw any real conclusions? Probably not, but lets debate.
(My thanks to Josh Kalk for implementing such a fantastic tool for the non-coding saavy baseball fan)