Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic has an interesting article about the questionable accuracy of the radar gun readings used on various ballpark scoreboards, which is something I’ve noted in the past regarding people citing velocity figures well beyond a pitcher’s usual range.
It turns out not all of the inaccurate scoreboard readings are on the high side, as current Diamondbacks general manager and former Padres general manager Kevin Towers told Piecoro:
We used to dial it down. I know for a fact that every time Brad Penny pitched for the Dodgers in San Diego it was probably the lowest velocities he ever had. He liked velocity. He’d stare at the board. He was throwing 95-96, but we’d have it at 91 and he’d get pissed off and throw harder and harder and start elevating.
Sure enough, I checked the numbers and Brad Penny is 1-5 with a 6.47 ERA in 10 career games pitched in San Diego. Towers also admitted that the Padres “would bump it up on a couple of our pitchers” because “we felt it gave us an edge.”
Towers is no longer able to mess with the radar gun readings in Arizona because Chase Field utilizes MLB’s pitch-fx technology for scoreboard readings rather than relying on people to record and relay the data. Some teams still rely on those mischievous humans, though, which is why I always trust technology when it comes to miles per hour.