Pitching Mechanics, Injuries,
The Verducci Effect, and
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
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.
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.