Real-Time Illustrations and Analyses of
Improper Pitching Mechanics
Pitching Mechanic - February 2007
Francisco Liriano and "Proper"
The other day I stumbled across a
web site on which a guy did an analysis of a clip of Francisco
Liriano. At the end of the day, I think the guy got the analysis
pretty much wrong. He loves Liriano's arm action (he labels it
"excellent"), and in particular the position that Liriano reaches
in frame 20.
I completely disagree.
As I said
back in September, and at the same time that this guys was
singing Liriano's praises, I believe that Francisco Liriano's
problems are directly attributable to his arm action, and in
particular to what he does in frame 20. Notice how his Pitching
Arm Side (aka PAS) elbow goes both above and behind his shoulders
(ala Mark Prior). Some people call that the "M" or the "Inverted
W" and think it's a good thing (and teach pitchers to do it), but
I think it's a bad thing and contributes to both shoulder and
elbow problems. In my opinion, any
pitching coach or guru who teaches young pitchers to make the "M"
or "Inverted W" should be banned from the game.
Frame By Frame Analysis: Chris
I have been wanting to do a frame
by frame analysis of Chris Carpenter's mechanics for a while, but
haven't been able to find a clip of him on the Internet. Well, I
just bit the bullet and bought a basic VHS to MPEG conversion
setup and created a clip from his start in the World
Series. From this, I have created an analysis of the pitching motion
and mechanics of
Proper Elbow Positioning
I recently received the following
e-mail from a confused parent of a young pitcher...
I have a 9 yr. old son who pitches a little.
I saw on a site that you mentioned a pitcher should not raise his
elbow above his shoulder. Is this throughout the entire pitching
motion? I have heard the opposite. That you must raise your elbow
above your shoulder. Can you help me?
Because this is a
very important topic, I just put together an essay
Proper Elbow Positioning.
What The Statheads Are Missing
let me say that I am a huge fan of the book
Moneyball. Having said that, let me also say
that in my brief (one month and counting) foray into
the world of professional baseball scouting, I have
come to realize that the statheads may not in fact
have it all figured out and that the old-time scouts
may have a point.
In my opinion, the pure Moneyball -- stats are
all that matter -- approach falls short in two
The first place where the pure Moneyball
approach falls short is makeup. Basically, makeup is
the intangibles that help to determine whether a
player will be able to take full advantage of the
tools that he has given. Now, I would argue that On
Base Percentage (aka OBP)
is actually a makeup-based statistic; basically, OBP
is a measure of a hitter's patience, which is more
of a makeup thing than a Five Tools thing. However,
there are other intangibles that will determine a
player's level of effectiveness and that are hard to
isolate using a spreadsheet.
The second place where the pure Moneyball
approach falls short, and which applies only to
pitchers, is mechanics. I have spent a non-trivial
amount of time studying the concept of Pitcher Abuse
Points (both PAP and PAP3) and have come to the
conclusion that, while well-intentioned, they aren't
of much practical value. Bill James has also come to
this conclusion. The problem is that on the lists
that the PAP and PAP3 scores generate are both
long-lived and short-lived pitchers. In my opinion,
neither PAP nor PAP3 have much predictive validity
in determining which pitchers are more or less
likely to be injured.
I believe that that is due to the fact that whether a
pitcher is likely to be injured or not is due more
to their mechanics than it is to their workload. As
a result, when trying to judge the prospective value
of a pitcher, you have to look at both their
statistics, their mechanics, and their other
here, I am very concerned about the long-term
prospects of Anthony Reyes. I was
Googling around for pictures of pitchers today and
stumbled across this photo, which shows exactly what
I am talking about. Notice how his PAS elbow is both
above and behind his shoulders. This is really bad
for his PAS shoulder.
Concerns About Cole Hamels
thinking today about pitchers like
Adam Wainwright and
Jonathan Papelbon who I think take their PAS
elbows too high above their shoulders and who I
believe are vulnerable to impingement problems as a
result. I then stumbled across a few photos of Cole
Hamels doing something similar, and that might help
to explain the problems that he has had with his PAS
how high his PAS elbow is in the photo above. It
looks to me like Cole Hamels could have a problem
photo above shows that his elbow is just as high
just a moment later.
reverse angle above is from the same moment in time
and shows the same thing.
this on top of the problem with habitual
rushing that this photo shows, and
that I have talked about before, suggest that
Hamels will continue to struggle with injuries.
Frame By Frame Analysis: Mark
many people have liked it, I have caught and
incredible amount of flak for the analysis of Mark
Prior's pitching motion and mechanics that I did
based on a large number of still frames. I had to do
it that way because I didn't have a good clip of him
throwing. Well, I recently found a good clip and
have just completed a frame by frame analysis of the pitching
motion and mechanics of
Mark Prior. It
reinforces everything that I have said in the past
and even points out a few things that I didn't catch
How To Choose A Pitching Coach
I recently received
an e-mail from a parent asking me to help him choose
the right pitching coach for his son. People at my
son's school have been asking me this question as
well, so I decided to put down my thoughts in this
how to choose a pitching coach. The idea is for this to serve as a
kind of buying guide for pitching coaches.
Like Swallows To
I can tell from the e-mails that
I am getting, and the traffic on the discussion boards that I
participate in, that people are starting to get ready for the
upcoming baseball season. I am certain that I will soon see an
uptick in inquiries from people with shoulder problems and medial
(inner) elbow problems. To try to nip this in the bud, let me
point you to three things. The first is an article that I wrote
Pitching Mechanics That May Prevent Medial (Inner) Elbow Pain that
describes what I think are some mechanical tweaks that pitchers
can make that may help to protect their elbows. The second is a
workout program called
Throwers Ten (.pdf)
that I believe is both safe and effective. The third is a new book
called Tuff Cuff that Steven
Ellis just published and that describes a full-body workout
plan for pitchers.
Of course, as with any workout or exercise routine, you
should consult your physician first before following this advice.
Football Quarterbacks and
Rotator Cuff Problems
One reason that I think I have a
good understanding of the injury mechanism of baseball pitchers is
that football quarterbacks throw differently and, I believe as a
result, experience different problems. One thing that football
quarterbacks do is always keep their elbows below the level of
They are pretty much forced to do
this by the shoulder pads that they wear.
What I find interesting is that,
I believe as a result, they experience far fewer problems with
their shoulders. When they do experience problems with their
shoulders, these problems tend to result from acute stress -- from
being sacked and landing on their shoulders -- rather than from
Full Disclosure: Freddy
Garcia's Sore Shoulder
In the past, I have said that I
am a fan of Freddy Garcia's pitching mechanics; I believe that
they will reduce the likelihood that he will experience a serious
However, in the interests of full disclosure I have to
point out that Garcia apparently had some Tendonitis in his
shoulder at the end of last season.
This evidently wasn't serious and in my opinion more
than likely was a result of his being overworked. He pitched late
into the 2005 season as a result of the World Series and then got
off to an early start in 2006 due to the World Baseball Classic.
All of that put more strain on his arm while at the same time
giving him less time off than he is used to.
It will be interesting to see if these problems persist
in the 2007 season. I don't think they will.
I Got The Call!
I'm sorry that I've been quiet of
In part, it's because I was on vacation with my family
on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
It's an amazing place.
However, the bigger reason that I have been quiet is
that I have started working with a major league baseball team
(sorry, but I can't say who it is). I am helping them evaluate
pitchers that they are interested in drafting or signing and am
helping them identify pitchers with problematic mechanics who should
either be avoided or regarded with caution.
It's pretty interesting work.
Pitching Mechanic - December 2006