Real-Time Illustrations and Analyses of
Improper Pitching Mechanics
Pitching Mechanic - March 2007
Concerns About Adam
The season hasn't even started
yet, and I'm already nervous about Adam Wainwright's shoulder (again). His
Pitching Arm Side (aka PAS) elbow is a little high in the photo
I'm concerned that
Adam Wainwright might start to experience shoulder problems
similar to the ones that
Jonathan Papelbon and
Cole Hamels have (and for the same
reason). This is particularly an issue because Wainwright is
looking to move into the starting rotation.
All of this is too bad because, as you can see in the
photo, Adam Wainwright achieves a gigantic hip/shoulder
separation. I'd put him at close to 90 degrees in the photo above,
which is top 5%.
Down Year For The Cardinals?
As long as I'm at it, let me say
something that I've been thinking for a while.
I am concerned that this may be a down year for the
Cardinals, and not just because of the standard post World Series
These thoughts started when a couple of guys around
town asked me which Cardinals pitchers' mechanics I like. I hadn't
thought about it before, but I realized that I don't have a good
answer for that question. Now that Jeff Suppan, Jason Marquis, and
Jeff Weaver -- all of whom had solid mechanics even if Marquis and
Weaver were total head cases -- have left town, there really isn't
anyone in the Cardinals' pitching staff whose mechanics I really
like. I am hopeful about Kip Wells based on some stills of him that
I have seen, but I am concerned that Anthony Reyes, Adam
Wainwright, and Chris Carpenter are vulnerable to injury problems
(particularly their shoulders).
I hope I'm wrong, but we'll have to see how things play
out over the course of the season.
I'm glad I that, due to the scouting work I've been
doing, I now have another team to root for in case my Cardinals
Marshall Arm Action
For those of you who, like me,
are interested in the ideas of
Dr. Mike Marshall, another one of
his followers -- whose son has trained with Dr. Marshall -- has
posted to the web two videos of his son doing his drills. One
video gives a good sense of
Dr. Marshall's desired arm action. The other video shows him
Dr. Marshall's wrist weight exercises.
Don't Show The Ball To Center
Field (or Second Base)
I recently had a virtual
conversation with a father whose son was having medial (inner)
elbow problems. After a little bit of digging, I learned that the
boy's son was told that he should show the ball to Center Field
(or Second base). I told that boy's father that this was bad
advice and that his son should do what the pros do, which is show
the ball to Short Stop or better yet Third Base.
If you want to understand why I
believe that showing the ball to Center Field (or Second Base) is
bad advice, then you should read my essays
Pitching Mechanics That May Prevent Medial (Inner) Elbow Pain
Pronate Early (And Often).
The Great Long-Arming Myth
I just had a virtual conversation
with a father who was convinced by someone, probably a follower of
Paul Nyman, that he had to change his son's arm action because his
son was long-arming the ball. This person incorrectly believes
that it is impossible for a pitcher to throw hard or well if they
are long-arming the ball. Instead, this person seems to believe
that a pitcher must short-arm the ball, ala Billy Wagner, if they
are to throw the ball well. I explain why this is total garbage,
by pointing out that Roy Oswalt long-arms the ball in the clip
below, in an essay
The Great Long-Arming Myth. Oh, and for the record there is
no sign of the
Inverted W in Roy Oswalt's arm action, which is one reason
that I think he will have a long, injury-free career.
What Deception Looks Like
I just finished an interesting
conversation with a very experienced baseball scout that I thought
others could learn from.
I know I did.
We were talking about Wind-Ups and deception and he
made the point that many current pitchers' deliveries aren't that
deceptive. Instead, too many pitchers' deliveries look the same. I
then made the point that if you want to understand what a
deceptive Wind-Up looks like, and why it's deceptive, check out
this video of
Daisuke Matsuzaka on YouTube.
There are two things about Matsuzaka's Wind-Up that
make it deceptive...
- He seems to
change the timing of the jerks from pitch to
At a minimum, Daisuke Matsuzaka's
Wind-Up has to be distracting as heck for the hitter (ala Bob
Gibson's sprawling follow-through), and it probably helps to ruin
the hitter's timing as well (especially if the hitter has a more
complicated swing). With Matsuzaka, you never know for sure when
to start your stride or your load because his time to the plate
probably varies slightly from pitch to pitch.
What's more that variation is both deliberate and
Predictions for 2007
I was recently asked to put my
money where my mouth was; to identify guys that I think are less
likely, and guys that I think are more likely, than average to
experience problems with injuries.
Here is a list of guys that I would expect to be more
durable than average (because I think their
mechanics are better than average)...
1. Roy Oswalt
2. Freddy Garcia --- SEE NOTE BELOW
3. Dan Haren
4. Johan Santana
5. Justin Verlander
6. Kip Wells
7. Jeff Suppan
8. Beltran Perez
9. Casey Fossum
...and here is a list of guys who I expect to have more shoulder
problems (especially Subscapularis) than average...
1. Anthony Reyes
2. Joel Zumaya (especially if made a starter).
3. Adam Wainwright (especially if made a starter).
4. Aaron Heilman
5. Cole Hamels
6. Jeremy Bonderman
7. Shawn Marcum
8. Dontrelle Willis
NOTE 6/22/2007: In the
light of Freddy Garcia's recent shoulder problems, I have removed
him from the list above of pitchers who I expect to be more
durable than average.
Recently I stated that I believe that in analyzing Freddy
Garcia's mechanics, I may have missed some signs of
Death To The Inverted W
As anyone who has been reading
this blog for any length of time knows, I have a huge problem with
pitchers who take their elbows both above and behind their
shoulders (ala Mark Prior, Anthony Reyes, Billy Wagner, Joel
Zumaya, and many others).
I believe that doing this, in
addition to not being necessary to throw at a high velocity,
dramatically increases the likelihood that a pitcher will have
shoulder (and in some cases also elbow) problems.
I have recently learned that there are some pitching
coaches, and at least one pitching "guru", out there who are actually teaching pitchers
to make the Inverted W as they break their hands. I give my
opinion of this cue in a new essay that I wrote called
Death To The Inverted W.
Questions About Barry Zito
I got an e-mail question today
and I thought y'all might be interested in my response.
Barry Zito's start this past year was horrible. His
fastball slowed to around 80. Mills was right when he said that
Zito had slowed his stride when compared to time when he had
more velocity and was more successful. It sure seems logical
that a quicker stride, then rotation, would produce more speed.
just as the crow hop does. Doesn't the speed of the stride or
the distance matter? Or does your research bear out the fact
that hip/shoulder separation is solely responsible for velocity
or most of it to the point that stride doesn't matter?
I believe that the stride is over-rated as a source of power.
I agree with Tom House when he says that 80% of a
pitcher's power comes from the hips and torso (which means the
hips rotating ahead of the shoulders). I also think that taking
too long of a stride can interfere with the process by limiting
how much a pitcher's hips (and thus his shoulders) can turn.
That's why I believe in relatively shorter strides.
In terms of what's going on with Barry Zito, I haven't
been able to study him too much since I don't have any good film
of him. However, I do have some thoughts about him based on an
analysis that I did of a number of photos of
First, there seems to be a lot of variability in his
mechanics, which can cause problems. He was harder to sequence
Second, as the photo above shows, he's got a horrible hook in
his wrist, which suggests tension there (and possibly elsewhere)
which can interfere with one's velocity. Third, I don't like how
high his PAS elbow gets relative to his shoulder in some of the
pictures of him that I have seen, and I wonder if that could be
causing him shoulder problems (without his realizing it). His
shoulder could be starting to develop problems, and the velocity
drop could be a symptom of that.
Roy Oswalt: What Good
Mechanics Look Like
Lest anyone label me a nattering
nabob of negativism, let me discuss for a second a pitcher that I
think has near-perfect mechanics: Roy Oswalt.
The photo above
shows several of things, all of which are good. First, the GS foot
is just about to plant (to the heel side of flat) and the PAS
forearm is just passing through the high cocked position. Second,
the GS elbow is just below the level of the shoulders. Third, his
hips are rotating just ahead of his shoulders. Fourth, he is
bringing his glove into his GS pec. Finally, he is showing the
ball to SS/3B, not to CF/2B.
Roy Oswalt may have the best mechanics of any active
major league pitcher, next to Greg Maddux.
Pitching Mechanic - January 2007