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May 23, 2014

Raising Aces

Going Vertical

by Doug Thorburn


Downhill plane carries substantial weight in the pitcher evaluation game. Poor marks in that area carry repercussions ranging from diminished prospect status to bullpen assignments conceived in order to limit the exposure of a perceived weakness. The driver of downhill plane is the height of the baseball at the pitcher’s release point, an element influenced by various mechanical techniques and tendencies. On the surface, it seems obvious that a player's height would be a major determinant of his vertical release, and while there’s something to that relationship, multiple variables are at play, and physical height is merely a piece of the equation.

Downhill plane can be an effective tool, but the oft-associated costs (to release distance, repetition, etc.) bring the marginal utility of the technique into question. I have often referred to pitchers who employ spine-tilt in the attempt to create an artificially high release point, with glove-side lean that concurrently raises their arm slot, but is that the only way to generate a high release?

Thanks to the bounty of PITCHf/x data available at BrooksBaseball.net, we can analyze the numbers to identify the various methods major-league pitchers use to create high release points. The population of MLB pitchers shows a bell-shaped distribution for release height, and the graph of the vertical-release spectrum is full of intrigue on the extremes.

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Related Content:  Release Points

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (05/23)
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Premium Article Raising Aces: The Inju... (05/16)
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Raising Aces: Under th... (05/30)
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Premium Article The Call-Up: Corey Kne... (05/23)

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