Real-Time Illustrations and Analyses of
Improper Pitching Mechanics
The Pitching Mechanic -
The Great Monster Pig Hoax
Don't ask me why I'm
writing this, why I care about this, why you should care about
this, or what this has to do with baseball.
I don't have a good answer to those questions.
It probably has to do with the fact that I spend so
much time looking at and interpreting photos.
Anyway, the recent photo of the kid who shot the
monster pig has been bugging me, because something isn't quite
right about it. The photo makes it look like the kid is leaning on
the pig, and if you use the kid for scale that puts the pig in the
rhino category (e.g. 2000+ pounds rather than the stated 1000+
I know this because I have 4 kids and have spent a lot
of time at the St. Louis Zoo.
I originally thought
the image had been Photoshopped, but now I realize that the
photographer (intentionally or not) has exaggerated the size of
the pig using a technique used by bass fishermen (who are known
If you want to make a fish look bigger, take a picture
of it while holding it at arms length away from your body. That
will increase the perceived size by 30 to 50 percent. To get a
true sense of the size of a fish, you have to hold it next to your
The photographer has done basically the same thing in
The kid in the picture is actually kneeling on one knee
7 to 10 feet behind the pig. However, the way the kid and the pig
line up in the photo, it looks like he is leaning over the pig
with his elbow on its spine. You can further this effect by
shooting the scene with a telephoto lens, which will tend to
compress the foreground and background of the scene.
I don't know if this was done intentionally or not, but
it's a little suspicious.
P.S. I just found
this larger photo of the pig which makes it clear that this
photo is bogus (intentionally or not). Notice how the boy in the
background is in focus but the pig in the foreground is out of
focus. Also the barrel of the gun is 15 inches, which if the boy
was leaning directly on the pig would put the length of the pig at
15+ feet, which is bigger than the claimed length of 9 feet. You
could figure out the exact distance that the boy is behind the pig
using the 15 inches and 9 feet numbers.
Thoughts About The Draft
I have spent the
last few weeks looking at pitchers in preparation for the draft.
While I can't talk about the people I have looked at, I will give
a few thoughts about guys that I have not (yet) been asked to look
DAVID PRICE = THUMBS UP
I have not been able to get my hands on any high speed
film of him, but from what I see in this video of
David Price, his mechanics seem to be solid. In particular, I
like his arm action because it is very much like Greg Maddux's in
that he does not make the
MAX SCHERZER = THUMBS DOWN
As I have said before, I am not a fan of Max Scherzer
due to his arm action. He has a very pronounced Inverted W in his
motion, and I don't think it's a coincidence that he had shoulder
problems while he was at Mizzou.
PHILLIPE AUMONT = THUMBS UP(ISH)
I have also not been able to get my hands on any high
speed film of him, but from what I see in this video of
Phillipe Aumont, his mechanics seem to be solid. I like his
arm action, due to the lack of any significant Inverted W. The
only thing that concerns me about him, aside from his obvious
rawness, is how he strides closed and then throws back across his
body. I am not exactly sure what the implications of this are, but
it's something to keep an eye on.
Anthony Reyes: The Saga
As of a couple days
ago, Anthony Reyes was sent down to AAA Memphis. I am concerned
that this may be the last the Cardinals see if him, if not for a
couple of years.
While it could be that, ala Kip Wells, Reyes' problems
are in his head, I believe that Reyes' problems could be a sign
that his elbow is starting to let go. While I am also concerned
about Reyes' PAS shoulder, his velocity hasn't dropped
significantly, which means his shoulder problems probably haven't
started to crop up yet. If Reyes follows the pattern of Mark
Prior, as I think he will, the first thing to go will be his elbow
followed a couple of years later by his shoulder.
I wish the Cardinals had traded Reyes either last
Summer or during the off season, while they still could have
gotten something for him. Heck they could still trade him now and
get more for him than they probably will be able to get in a year
Randy Johnson and Proper
I have spent the
past week trying to get out my message that the Pitching Arm Side
(aka PAS) elbows of major league pitchers tend to be much lower
Scapular Loading phase of the delivery than many people
believe. As evidence of this fact, I use this clip of Randy
I have pulled out the
most important frame of this clip and have marked it up below.
In this frame, the solid white line
represents the degree to which Randy Johnson's torso is tilted
forward toward 1B. The solid yellow line is this frame represents
the level of his shoulders as measured by the Acromial processes.
As you can see, as Randy Johnson is at his point of maximum
Scapular Loading and his PAS upper arm starts to externally
rotate, his PAS elbow is well below the level of his shoulders.
Probably 6 to 9 inches by my count.
I hope this puts a nail in the coffin of the
Inverted W and the idea that you have to get your PAS elbow up
in order to throw hard.
I am also heartened to hear that Will Carroll and Dick
Mills both seem to be embracing my ideas about keeping the PAS
elbow below the level of the shoulders. In the past month or so I
have come across or been pointed to pieces by them in which they
express concern about the Inverted W.
Adam Wainwright's Pitching
I have been working
hard to understand what's going on with Adam Wainwright's arm, and
as part of this process I have just put together an analysis of
Adam Wainwright's pitching mechanics.
Adam Wainwright's Arm Problems
I watched the
Cardinals game last night and Adam Wainwright looked absolutely
terrible. He barely had control of his pitches and his command was
Now I hear that he's been having problems with
Tendonitis in his pitching arm.
I am concerned that what is going on is a manifestation
of his poor mechanics that I have talked about
Just to review, the
root cause of Adam Wainwright's problems is what he does with his
Pitching Arm Side (aka PAS) shoulder. As the photos above show, he
takes his PAS elbow above and behind his shoulders in an "M" or
Inverted W pattern.
As the photo above
shows, Adam Wainwright then externally rotates his PAS upper arm
with his PAS elbow still in a state of Hyperabduction (e.g. above the level of his shoulders), which leaves him vulnerable to
an impingement injury in his Rotator Cuff (and also places an
increased load on his UCL).
You can see the same
thing in the photo above of Adam Wainwright that was taken during
Spring Training. I believe that this is the same thing that
contributed to the problems faced by
Combine all of this with
Anthony Reyes's absolutely miserable pitching mechanics, and
the likelihood that he will break down any day down, and it looks
like it's going to be a LONG season for my Cardinals.
Tony Gwynn Swing Analysis
For those of you who
are also interested in hitting, I have just completed a first
draft of an
analysis of the swing of Tony Gwynn
Dr. Mike Marshall Article And
For those of you who
have wanted to see a
video of the Marshall Pitching Motion, Yahoo Sports has done
you a favor. They just published a pretty fair piece that tells
the story of Dr. Mike Marshall and that also contains a video of
one of his best pitchers throwing using his mechanics.
LL Baseball And "Proper"
While I applaud
Little League Baseball for their efforts to limit injuries to
pitchers by instituting pitch counts, I have to take them to task
pitching mechanics they advocate. As I explain in the essay,
the pitching mechanics they advocate do not reflect what HOF
caliber pitchers like Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, and Nolan Ryan
do. What's worse, in some cases what they advocate will
increase the risk that pitchers will injure themselves and
cancel out the benefits of limiting the number of pitches that
Going Out On A Limb About
Anthony Reyes' Elbow
Emboldened by my
recent correct predictions about the fate of Chris Carpenter
(although I thought his shoulder problems would recur first), and
I'm going to go out on a limb with Anthony Reyes.
I think that Anthony Reyes' current control problems,
and subsequent lack of wins and high ERA, are a symptom of
impending elbow problems. I think these problems will manifest
themselves either in the second half of this season or early next
I base this prediction on the fact that
Anthony Reyes's mechanics are absolutely terrible. I think
it's just a question of time before he starts breaking down. Based
on what happened to Mark Prior, whose mechanics are virtually
identical to Anthony Reyes' (if not a little better), I believe
that Anthony Reyes' elbow will go before his shoulder does.
However, I believe that once Anthony Reyes gets through his elbow
problems, his shoulder will start to act up.
Let's see what happens.
First Look: Tim Lincecum
So that this blog
isn't a total downer let me say a few positive things about Tim
Lincecum, who I saw this today.
While his motion is
undoubtedly fairly violent,
as I said before, I generally like Tim Lincecum's mechanics.
As you can see in the photo above, his hip/shoulder separation is
tremendous; probably close to 90 degrees, which puts him in the
top 10 percent.
This kid knows how to throw with his entire body.
The photo above also
shows Tim Lincecum's excellent hip/shoulder separation as well as
his relatively low PAS elbow. Notice how it's just below the level
of his shoulders.
This third picture
of Tim Lincecum again shows his large hip/shoulder separation. It
also shows how he tilts his torso so that he can throw from a
higher arm slot and release the ball higher, which is similar to
what Sandy Koufax did.
Assuming that Tim Lincecum learns how to actually
pitch, rather than just trying to blow guys away (based on what
happened yesterday, it should be clear to him that that doesn't
work in the big leagues), I think that Tim Lincecum has a decent
chance of having a solid career.
More To Like About Dan Haren
Sticking with the
theme of not just ragging on people whose mechanics I like, let me
give it up for Dan Haren.
The more pictures I
see of Dan Haren, the more I like his mechanics (and the more
frustrated I get with the Cardinals for trading him for balky Mark
Mulder). The photo above shows that Dan Haren's hip/shoulder
separation is excellent. I'd put it at around 90 percent. Also,
notice that Dan Haren's
Scapular Loading is done the correct way; with the elbows
below the level of the shoulders.
Thinking About Freddy Garcia's
As I said back in January, Freddy Garcia had some shoulder
problems toward the end of last season and the beginning of this
season. While they are probably due to some overuse and a lack of
rest, this surprised me because I think Freddy Garcia has pretty
good mechanics. In particular, I like how early he gets his arm up
and into the high-cocked position. This morning as I drove to
work, a thought popped into my head that might be relevant.
I recently came
across the photo above of Freddy Garcia. What's interesting about
it is that I think I see some borderline
hyperabduction in the photo. Notice how high Freddy Garcia's
PAS elbow is in the photo above. This can lead to impingement and
other problems in the shoulder.
If you look at
photos of Jonathan Papelbon, whose shoulder problems I
discussed in September 2006, you will see something similar.
Notice how high his PAS elbow is.
You can see the same
thing in the mechanics of Cole Hamels, who has also had shoulder
Disturbingly for me,
since I'm a Cardinals fan, you can also see the same thing in the
mechanics of Adam Wainwright. I hope that Adam Wainwright doesn't
have shoulder problems, but I wouldn't be surprised if he does.
All of these guys
stand in sharp contrast to Greg Maddux, whose PAS elbow stays
lower and who, coincidentally or not, has been free of shoulder
I have spent a lot
of time over the past couple of weeks arguing about proper arm
action with people. As a result, I just finished putting together
an essay that describes my position on
Scapular Loading. While I question its importance in terms of
velocity generation, and whether it's the cause or the
effect of throwing hard, I do feel that there is a right way
to do it and a wrong way to do it.
Pitching Mechanic - April 2007