|ChrisOLeary.com > Projects > Baseball > Pitching > The Pitching Mechanic > July 2006|
The Pitching Mechanic
Real-Time Illustrations and Analyses of
While some scouts would never look at a pitcher under 6'5", because taller pitchers are supposedly (and I do mean supposedly) more durable, the fact is that there have been many great, long-lived pitchers who have been relatively short.
So, if you are on a pitcher but are on the short side, don't give up on your dreams.
Will Carroll and Mark Prior's Shoulder
I think Will Carroll is a great,
extremely intelligent guy, but I think he is completely wrong in
the conclusions that he reaches in
this column about Mark Prior's future prospects. Will
apparently buys Tom House's contention that Mark Prior has perfect
pitching mechanics and that the root cause of Mark Prior's
problems is the overuse that he experienced at the hands of Dusty
Because the pitching mechanics of Anthony Reyes are very similar, if not worse, I believe that Anthony Reyes will experience a similar fate.
I believe that if
Mark Prior does not address the root cause of his problems, which
is his terrible pitching mechanics, then the odds are only 50/50
that Mark Prior will ever pitch again in the major leagues. If
Mark Prior does pitch again in the major leagues, then I believe
that he will only last 1 or 2 years before his shoulder (and/or
his elbow) starts acting up again.
The NYC Metal Bat Ban
While I am generally a big fan of
safety-related things, I am against this ban for economic, safety,
and practical reasons.
Felix Hernandez Update
It turns out that
Felix Hernandez's elbow problem isn't as bad as it initially
Felix Hernandez's Elbow
No sooner did I review Felix Hernandez's mechanics than he experienced a problem with his elbow. As I said below, I mostly like Felix Hernandez's mechanics, especially in terms of his PAS shoulder. However, I expressed concern about his elbow...
I believe that King Felix's problems are likely related to the problem identified above with his premature pronation (aka showing the ball to CF/2B). His problems could also be related to the Power Curve he throws. This is basically a curveball thrown with a lot of force and at a high speed. While nasty, I believe that this pitch can put a lot of strain on the elbow.
USSSA Pitching "Limitations"
I believe that
tournaments are a primary contributor to the rise in youth elbow
and shoulder injuries.
There are multiple
problems with these guidelines.
Thinking About BJ Ryan's Elbow
BJ Ryan just went on the DL with elbow problems, and since I still don't think I have a good handle in terms of exactly what patterns point to potential elbow problems, I thought I should take a look at some of the pictures of him that I have collected over the years.
The first thing that struck me about BJ Ryan's pitching mechanics was the picture above. The thing to notice is that his GS knee is locked before the release point. This is something that Sandy Koufax also did, and Koufax also had elbow problems. My theory about how this could be related to elbow problems is that this either lets the hips rotate too quickly, placing too much strain on the elbow, and/or that is causes too much shock to be transmitted up to the elbow.
The second photo that struck me about BJ Ryan was the photo above. Notice how his PAS elbow is at the level of his shoulders, his PAS elbow is bent 90 degrees, his PAS forearm is hanging down vertically, and his PAS forearm is pronated.
You can see basically the same thing in the photo above of BJ Ryan.
You can also see the same thing in the photo above of BJ Ryan.
Interestingly, you can also see the same thing in the photo above of Chris Carpenter. Again, notice the PAS elbow at or just above the level of the shoulders, the PAS elbow bent 90 degrees, and the PAS forearm hanging down vertically.
You can see the same
thing in the photo above of Chris Carpenter.
One of my readers recently wrote...
I have seen the side clip of Tim Lincecum before, but not the front view...
In general, I don't have a very high opinion of this analyst because he is a proponent of arm action and things like the Inverted W that I think are both dangerous and unnecessary. In general, our views are diametrically opposed when it comes to arm action. For example, he says...
I happen to hate
it when guys break their hands with their elbows and use their
elbows to pick up the ball. I think that this increases the risk
of shoulder (and in some cases elbow) problems. I also like
it when guys break their hands earlier because I believe that
reduces the load on the shoulder.
Large Hip/Shoulder Separation
Notice how in Frame
4 Tim Lincecum's belt buckle is pointing at Home Plate while his
shoulders are still mostly closed. That gives him a differential
approaching 90 degrees, which is outstanding.
David Wells: Arm Action Analysis
In the entry above, I talk about how people who advocate the Inverted W drive me crazy. This is because, while you see the Inverted W in some -- usually often-injured -- pitchers like Billy Wagner, you don't see it in the arm actions of guys like Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, and Nolan Ryan. That means that the Inverted W isn't necessary to pitching either well or hard.
I just stumbled
across the above photo of David Wells, and it makes my point for
To prove that I'm not taking this photo out of context, the photo above is from a slightly later moment in time. Notice how his PAS elbow is still low as he swings his PAS hand out and up through the high cocked position. If David Wells was breaking his hands with his elbows, then his PAS elbow would be much higher at this point, and not at roughly the same height as his PAS hand.
As his PAS forearm passes through the high cocked position, David Wells' PAS elbow is still relatively low. While he is scapular loading, his PAS elbow is just below the level of his shoulders. Also, notice that at this point David Wells is showing the ball to 1B rather than CF/2B.
Everybody's been talking about Felix Hernandez lately (I saw him while trying to get some video of Daisuke Matsuzaka). A while ago I expressed a low opinion of King Felix's mechanics, but after taking another, more detailed, look at him I'm not so sure that that low opinion is entirely warranted. Like Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez is a max effort guy, which always increases the risk, but his mechanics look mostly good to me.
The photo above is a side view of Felix Hernandez just after his Glove Side foot has planted. His hips are starting to open while his shoulders are still closed. His PAS elbow is below the level of his shoulders. In other words, like great pitchers like Nolan Ryan, Felix Hernandez makes the Horizontal W rather than the Inverted W. Also, his PAS forearm is pretty much vertical before his shoulders start turning.
The photo above shows Felix Hernandez at pretty much the same moment but from a slightly different angle. Again, you can see the scapular loading, but with the PAS elbow below the level of the shoulders. Notice that his GS toe is pointing pretty much directly at the target.
Here is a third view of Felix Hernandez at pretty much the same moment in time as the two above. Again notice that his PAS elbow is just below the level of his shoulders. In this photo, it looks like Hernandez is going to throw a change-up. The only thing that bothers me about this photo is that his forearm is pronated slightly, which may require him to supinate his forearm through the release point and increase the load on his UCL.
The photo above of Felix Hernandez is from just a moment later. Notice that his shoulders have only rotated slightly but his hips are now fairly open. I'd say his hips rotate roughly 60 degrees ahead of his shoulders. Again, notice that his GS toe points pretty much directly at the target. It does look like Felix Hernandez lands slightly closed and throws across his body somewhat.
The photo above of Felix Hernandez is from the same moment in time but from a slightly different angle. In it, you can see that his PAS elbow is just below the level of his shoulders.
The photo above of Felix Hernandez is from the same moment in time as the two photos above, but from the side. Again, notice how his hips are rotating well ahead of his shoulders and how his PAS elbow is just below the level of his shoulders.
In the photo above of Felix Hernandez, his shoulders have started turning and his PAS forearm is starting to bounce or lay back as his PAS upper arm externally rotates.
final photo of Felix Hernandez shows his just before
the Release Point. His elbow has extended 90 degrees
and his PAS upper arm is starting to internally
rotate. In the photo above, he looks like he is
throwing a 2-Seamer.
Goodbye Mark Prior?
looks like Mark Prior's career (or at least this
phase of it) may be coming to an end. He's evidently
having (more) shoulder problems down in the minor
leagues. As I have said before, this is due to his
far from perfect mechanics.
A Tribute To Kurt Vonnegut
To mark the passing of Kurt Vonnegut, and to honor his memory, I wanted to point you to Harrison Bergeron, one of my favorite short stories.
Daisuke Matsuzaka's Pitching Mechanics
Everybody seems to be interested in Daisuke Matsuzaka's pitching mechanics. I recently found the sequence of photos below of Dice-K pitching that was shot from the front.
I thought that people would be interested if I broke this sequence down frame by frame and that it would be interesting to compare it to the breakdown that I did previously of the pitching motion and mechanics of Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Cause, Effect, and Pitching Velocity
it comes to pitching instruction, my nemesis is one
of the big name gurus named Paul Nyman. I have the
honor of being named his #1
Wannabe Baseball Instruction Guru.
I used to think that Paul had a basic understanding of how people throw the ball, but in a conversation in Steven Ellis' www.letstalkpitching.com discussion board, Paul said this to a poster on the board who was complaining about his low velocity...
The problem with this statement is that it makes it clear that Paul Nyman doesn't understand cause and effect when it comes to pitching velocity.
appears to believe that external rotation (which is
what Billy Wagner is exhibiting in the photo above)
is the CAUSE of velocity.
That is the equivalent of crediting the
tires with a car's velocity and ignoring the role of
that thing under the hood (aka the engine).
....so that the large muscles
of the lower torso powerfully pull the shoulders
around (which causes the external rotation).
this is off-topic, but I thought I should warn y'all
about a problem that I am having and that you should
be aware of.
As long as I'm going off-topic, I wanted to let you know about an article I just finished that describes my take on Rotational Hitting. I think that Rotational Hitting describes what the best hitters do, and it's what I teaching to all of the kids that I coach.
Chris Carpenter's Elbow
it when I'm right.
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