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Pitching Mechanics, Injuries,
The Verducci Effect, and
Pitcher Abuse Points

3/26/2011

While I am plainly quite frustrated by Tom Verducci's tendency to draw upon my ideas without citing me as the originator of those ideas, I do think there is some overlap between our ideas. In particular, I believe my work may help to explain what Tom Verducci is seeing with the Verducci Effect (aka the Year-After Effect).

The Verducci Effect

 The Verducci Effect is the observation that pitchers under the age of 25, whose innings pitched increase by more than 30 innings from one year to the next, seem to experience higher rates of injuries. The thing about the Verducci Effect is that, while it does seem to hold for some pitchers, it doesn't hold for all pitchers. While some of the pitchers who are predicted to run into problems break down as expected, others don't. As a result, that calls into question the idea that the increase in workload from one year to the next is solely responsible for those pitchers' injury problems.
     I believe that the critical, missing variable is the pitcher's mechanics.
     When you look at the victims of the Verducci Effect, you see many pitchers with problematic pitching mechanics and/or timing problems. I believe that what Tom Verducci is seeing is an interaction between overuse/abuse and (poor) pitching mechanics. I believe that explains why some at-risk pitchers are injured but others, who experience the same innings jumps, don't experience injury problems.

Poor Pitching Mechanics and PAP

Similarly, I think the idea of Pitcher Abuse Points (PAP or PAP3) demonstrates an interaction between abuse and pitching mechanics. For a while, I had a hard time taking PAP and PAP3 seriously, given that (injury-free) Randy Johnson was at the top of the list.
     How can abuse, at least as the people behind PAP define it, be bad if Randy Johnson can tolerate more abuse than anyone and emerge from it unscathed?
     What I think is going on is that abuse worsens the effects of problematic -- or perhaps even just borderline -- pitching mechanics and helps to explain why some pitchers break down sooner, or worse, than others. For instance, I think the idea of abuse helps to explain why Mark Prior, despite having remarkably similar pitching mechanics to Anthony Reyes, broke down much sooner than Anthony Reyes did. I think abuse suggests that the people who hate Dusty Baker, and who have labeled him Butcher Baker, may indeed have a point.

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