CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Overthinking It: Bryce... (06/01)
<< Previous Column
BP Unfiltered: Basebal... (06/04)
Next Column >>
BP Unfiltered: When a ... (06/05)
Next Article >>
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (06/04)

June 4, 2012

BP Unfiltered

Pictures of Chris Sale That Make Me Uncomfortable

by Ben Lindbergh

In four games from last Tuesday through last Saturday, the Mariners scored 45 runs, which was roughly the same number of runs that they'd scored in the previous two seasons combined. Yesterday, the universe acted to restore order, using Chris Sale as its agent. Sale pitched a complete game against the M's in Chicago, limiting them to two runs on two walks and five hits and pulling the string on Hawk Harrelson's back that makes him say "He gone!" on eight separate occasions.

That was nothing new for Sale, who was just picking up where he left off after winning the AL Pitcher of the Month award for May. The lefty hasn't allowed more than three runs in a start this season. It's a wonder to watch him pitch.

It's also an ordeal to watch him pitch. This picture from the second inning of yesterday's game explains in a way that words never could why Sale starts are simultaneously terrific and terrifying.

The first thing to notice is that Alex Liddi's Italian Little League coach forgot to tell him to keep his eye on the ball. Liddi appears to be staring at third base while he swings, as if coming to the realization that that is the position he plays, and that it exists even when he's not playing it. It might look like the ball he's missing is heading down toward the dirt, but it's actually bouncing up, having already hit the dirt a few foot in front of home plate (where the the mini dirt explosion is). And that's why Sale starts are wonderful: you're apt to see swings like that on 80-mph sliders. Granted, Liddi strikes out a lot, but he hasn't swung or chased all that often, and the previous pitch was a 78-mph slider, so this was the second consecutive slider of about the same speed that he'd seen. Inducing a swing like that in the major leagues is pretty impressive, even if the major leaguer is Liddi.

But whatever you do, don't look above Chris Sale's head, because you might see OH GOD WHY DON'T THEY CALL OUT THE TRAINER oh that's right, Chris Sale's arm always looks like he's trying to scratch his back with his glove in the most painful way possible. This picture makes it look like Chris Sale fell out a fifth-story window, landed on his arm, then drove to the park to start against Seattle. If you stare at Sale long enough, you actually start to forget what a human body is supposed to look like. After I looked too long, I had to write the rest of this post with one hand while massaging my arm with the other.

This post isn't an attempt at mechanical analysis. I'm not trying to point out anything about the inverted W or make a statement about Sale's prospects for long-term success, tempting as it would be to conclude that a pitcher who throws like that and has already experienced elbow discomfort can't be long for the league. If you want some real analysis of Sale's mechanics, ask Doug Thorburn. No, seriously, ask him. He'll probably answer, and he'll use intelligent terms like "hyperabduction" and "foot strike" and "valgus force" and "trunk rotation." The most intelligent term I can muster to describe what Sale does is "Ow."

It used to be that the most disgusting sight you'd ever see on a pitcher's mound was Randy Johnson's elbow or Randy Johnson's hair:

Now, the even the Big Unit's unsightly anatomy has been displaced by the things Chris Sale's body does. Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I Google image searched Chris Sale. Here are a few of the revolting results:

One of those wasn't actually Sale, but I defy you to figure out which one. No wonder his face always looks like this when he's throwing:

I want to watch you pitch, Chris, but I wish your mechanics weren't so scary.

Ben Lindbergh is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

Related Content:  Chris Sale,  Randy Johnson,  White Sox,  Mechanics,  Mariners,  Elbow

13 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links


That first Sale image reminds me of Joe Sambito. Google 'Joe Sambito 1985 Topps' and look at that arm action. Sambito had TJ surgery in 1982 and save for one year with the Red Sox never was the same. Here's hoping that Sale is made of elastic.

Jun 04, 2012 04:55 AM
rating: 0

Horrible mechanics.

Jun 04, 2012 05:44 AM
rating: 0

If I could "like" this post on facebook I would. I'm trying to think of a good nickname for him. His windup makes it look like he has bird wings. But "The Bird" is already taken.

Jun 04, 2012 06:13 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

R.J. has correctly pointed out that he looks like a spider, and like the giant mechanical spider in Wild Wild West. There's probably the base for a nickname there.

Jun 04, 2012 06:34 AM

His South Side Sox nickname is "The Condor", fyi.

Jun 04, 2012 09:37 AM
rating: 0

Sorry, I see more pterodactyl than spider.

Jun 04, 2012 07:00 AM
rating: 0

Remember when K-Rod first came up, and Will Carroll (and others) predicted imminent doom based on his mechanics? Well, he's been relatively injury-free his entire career.

Maybe Sale will have a K-Rod-like career .... (hoping)

Jun 04, 2012 07:08 AM
rating: 2
David Coonce

K-Rod, of course, never has thrown 119 pitches in a game

Jun 04, 2012 09:31 AM
rating: 2

Good point!

Jun 04, 2012 09:39 AM
rating: 0

I don't understand why the inverted W isn't called something else like, I don't know, M.

Jun 04, 2012 18:32 PM
rating: 1
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff


Jun 04, 2012 18:42 PM
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

Sideways Sigma

Jun 06, 2012 06:16 AM

I just hope when his tendon snaps it doesn't smack him in the face. You can put an eye out like that, kid.

Jun 06, 2012 09:42 AM
rating: 0
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Overthinking It: Bryce... (06/01)
<< Previous Column
BP Unfiltered: Basebal... (06/04)
Next Column >>
BP Unfiltered: When a ... (06/05)
Next Article >>
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (06/04)

Premium Article What You Need to Know: Your Meats and the Ro...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Help Me, Rusney, Help,...
West Coast By Us: We Were Told Not To Come H...
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: When Was the Sabermetric R...
Fantasy Rounders: The Age-Defying Hunter
Premium Article Monday Morning Ten Pack: May 26, 2015
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of May 22-25, 201...

Premium Article Painting the Black: Is Throwing Strikes Enou...
Premium Article Out of Left Field: The Red Sox Roster Crunch
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Buying Alex Cobb
Value Picks: Second, Short, and Catcher for ...
Premium Article Collateral Damage Daily: Monday, June 4
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Monday, June 4
What You Need to Know: Monday, June 4

2012-06-07 - Premium Article Overthinking It: Slow and Steady Wins Some R...
2012-06-06 - BP Unfiltered: The Left Fielder with Nothing...
2012-06-05 - Overthinking It: Derek Lowe Goes Back in Tim...
2012-06-04 - BP Unfiltered: Pictures of Chris Sale That M...
2012-06-04 - BP Unfiltered: Baseball is Predictable, Unpr...
2012-06-04 - BP Unfiltered: What Control (and Lack of Con...
2012-06-01 - Overthinking It: Bryce Harper's Brain is a N...

2012-06-06 - BP Unfiltered: Boston's Real Experiment
2012-06-06 - BP Unfiltered: This is a Bryce Harper Highli...
2012-06-05 - BP Unfiltered: When a 13th Round Produces as...
2012-06-04 - BP Unfiltered: Pictures of Chris Sale That M...
2012-06-04 - BP Unfiltered: Baseball is Predictable, Unpr...
2012-06-04 - BP Unfiltered: What Control (and Lack of Con...
2012-06-04 - BP Unfiltered: Bob Geren on Family Feud

2014-06-13 - Premium Article Raising Aces: Under the Hood of the 2014 Dra...
2014-04-23 - The Lineup Card: 10 of Our Favorite Pitches
2014-04-22 - Premium Article What You Need to Know: No Sale
2014-03-26 - Premium Article Prospectus Preview: AL Central 2014 Preseaso...
2013-03-29 - Raising Aces: Against the Grain
2013-03-06 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Setting Sail with Sale