The Pitching Mechanic
Real-Time Illustrations and Analyses of
Proper and Improper Pitching Mechanics
The Pitching Mechanic -
Rotation Stability or Why Pitching Injuries Matter
I just came across and interesting article in Sports
Illustrated online entitled
Starting Point: Stability by Tom Verducci. It explains why
pitcher injury prevention is so important at the major league
level. Basically, it reduces your uncertainty and increases your
odds of being successful.
Carpenter's Inverted L
I just completed an
of the pitching mechanics of Chris Carpenter. While Chris
Carpenter's pitching mechanics aren't as obviously bad as BJ Ryan's,
Carp has a major
Inverted L in his arm action. I believe that this is the root cause of
Chris Carpenter's elbow and shoulder problems.
Chris Carpenter's Inverted L
BJ Ryan: The Worst Timing In The World
I just completed an analysis
of the pitching mechanics of BJ Ryan. BJ Ryan has the worst
timing I have ever seen, due largely to a major
Inverted L in his arm action. This is the root cause of BJ
Ryan's elbow problems and will lead to problems with his rotator
cuff and labrum.
BJ Ryan's Inverted L
Quick Look: Brandon Webb
I have been meaning to take a look at Brandon Webb for a
while, and a recent e-mail by a D-Backs fan pushed me into
action. I love the tailing, sinking action of Brandon Webb's
fastball because it implies significant pronation which should
help to protect his elbow.
I can't make up my mind about Brandon Webb's arm action, in
part because I don't have enough information (e.g. no side
view). His Pitching Arm Side (PAS) elbows gets somewhat high
after he breaks his hands. It looks like it may then drop to
below the level of his shoulders, but that is hard to say for
certain from this view.
I am concerned that I see signs of
Hyperabduction in frame 20, but it's hard to say for
certain. That Hyperabduction does seem to be less prominent in
the 2006 version, which is good. However, I have to say that I
am somewhat nervous about the health of Brandon Webb's PAS
shoulder and wouldn't be surprised if it gave him some trouble
in the next couple of years.
You can see the same basic things in still photos of
The photo above shows how high Brandon Webb's PAS elbow gets
after he breaks his hands.
The photo above demonstrates my concerns about possible
Hyperabduction. Notice that Brandon Webb's PAS elbow is at, or
just above, the level of his shoulders as his PAS forearm passes
through the vertical, high-cocked position.
The photo above shows something that I didn't notice in the
video. Brandon Webb locks his Glove Side knee as he releases the
ball. I don't like this because it definitely increases the risk
of knee and hip problems, and may increase the risk of arm
To sum things up, I have to admit that most of these
things are pretty borderline; few are definitely bad. However, I
will say that if I had to choose between Brandon Webb and Dan
Haren, I'd take Dan Haren.
Why Mark Prior's Problems Persist
I am frequently been asked, both out of curiosity and
skepticism, why I think I have been able to understand the root
cause of Mark Prior's
injury problems better than anyone else. I have long suspected that
the difference is the approach I have taken, and last night I
YouTube video clip of Mark Prior speaking to a group of Cub fans
that confirms what I have come to believe. In this video clip,
Mark Prior is asked what he is doing to try to fix the problems
he has been having, and he replies with...
I've been watching a lot of film. I've been watching film
back to almost high school, looking at different things, looking to
see where things have gone wrong, to see where I kind of got off
track as far as mechanics. That's probably led to a lot of
In other words, Mark Prior and his coaches have been spending
all of their time comparing the Mark Prior of today to the Mark Prior
of the past.
When you are troubleshooting a system -- and understand
that I have spent much of my career troubleshooting complex
computer systems -- there are a number of different approaches
that you can take.
The first approach, and the one that Mark Prior and his
coaches have apparently taken, is to compare a thing to itself;
to see if anything has changed over time. For example,
if you have a computer that isn't working, the first thing to
try is to see if some switch is, or isn't, flipped that used to
be flipped. The problem with this approach is that it
won't reveal the root cause of certain problems, especially those that take a while
to develop and/or are due to fatigue and repetitive stress.
A second approach is to compare a thing that is broken
to a similar thing that is not broken and look for any
differences. For example, if you have one computer that is
broken, one way to try to fix it is to compare it to a similar,
working computer and see if there are any differences between
the two computers that might explain why one is working while the
During the course of my
Injury Analysis Project, I started out taking the first
approach and compared pitchers to themselves. However, that
approach didn't yield much in the way of clear results,
so I shifted tactics and instead started comparing relatively
injury-prone pitchers like Mark Prior to relatively injury-free
pitchers like Greg Maddux.
That immediately produced results.
It turns out that there are obvious differences between
the pitching mechanics of Mark Prior and Greg Maddux, and in my opinion
those mechanical differences explain their very different fates.
Until people in major league baseball stop using the
first approach of comparing pitchers to themselves, they won't
come to understand the root cause of many of the problems that pitchers
face. That is because the root cause of many of the problems that pitchers face is not due to the fact that their
mechanics have changed over time. Instead, the root cause of their
problem is that those pitchers' mechanics have remained the same
over time. In the case of pitchers like Mark Prior,
their mechanics are slowly destroying their arms over the course
of months or years, and the only way to restore those pitchers
to health is to change their mechanics.
Of course, to get to that point, you first have to get
beyond the myth that Mark Prior has, and has always had, perfect pitching mechanics.
Cliff Politte's Inverted L
The Cardinals recently picked up pitcher Cliff Politte. A
while back I did a
photographic analysis of Cliff Politte's pitching mechanics
to see if I could determine the root cause of his arm problems.
It turns out that, like Chris Carpenter, Cliff Politte comes to
Inverted L position, with his Pitching Arm Side (PAS) elbow
at or above the level of his shoulders and his PAS forearm
hanging down vertically beneath it.
Cliff Politte's Inverted L
The Pitching Mechanic -