CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

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

World Series time! Enjoy Premium-level access to most features through the end of the Series!

<< Previous Article
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (08/01)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Raising Aces: Shelby M... (07/25)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Raising Aces: The Road... (08/08)
Next Article >>
The View from the Loge... (08/01)

August 1, 2014

Raising Aces

The Rabbit Hole

by Doug Thorburn


The typical focus here at Raising Aces is mechanical efficiency, analyzing how a pitcher makes the most of his athleticism to promote pitch command, velocity, and movement. Every once in a while, though, I like to delve into the realm of the weird. Today is one of those times.

Even at the highest level, there are a number of pitchers who exhibit bizarre quirks to their mechanics. Some of these oddities are merely an entertaining sidebar to an otherwise efficient delivery, serving as an amusing anecdote without deterring from the pitcher's task at hand, while other quirks throw a monkey wrench into the delivery and interfere with the basic task of throwing a baseball to a glove-sized target. That said, some of the best pitchers in the game have idiosyncrasies that appear to fly in the face of mechanical efficiency, yet they have overcome the physical obstacles to get the most out of their stuff.

Jonny Cueto's Version of the Tiant Twist
Cueto is having a fantastic season, effectively putting his quirkiness at center stage. The defining characteristic of his motion is a twist that turns Cueto's back on a hitter, aiming his upper half toward the right-center-field bleachers as he reaches the top of his delivery. The twist invokes visions of Luis Tiant, the mustachioed right-hander whose oddball antics defined his career and perhaps masked his stellar performance on the mound. The extreme technique certainly adds deception, and though it might be expected to form a barrier to repetition, Cueto has done an exceptional job of finding the same timing and positioning this season despite the unusual pattern.

There is an increasing trend among big-league pitchers to create a reverse rotation of the hips as they get into max leg lift, turning away from the plate in a coil at the top of the delivery. Nobody has channeled Tiant to the extent of Cueto, though. The strategy has been famously adopted by Felix Hernandez, and though one might expect that the technique helps a pitcher to burst forward as he uncoils into the stride, the common rationale behind the reverse-twist is to keep the top-half closed into foot strike in order to prevent premature trunk rotation (aka “front shoulder flying open”).

The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.

Not a subscriber?

Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.


Cancel anytime.


That's a 33% savings over the monthly price!


That's a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

3 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (08/01)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Raising Aces: Shelby M... (07/25)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Raising Aces: The Road... (08/08)
Next Article >>
The View from the Loge... (08/01)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Moonshot: The Royals, the Strike Zone, and a...
Playoff Prospectus: The Other Royals: World ...
Minor League Update: Games of Wednesday, Oct...
Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Brando...
The Lineup Card: Nine Unlikely Postseason He...
Daisy Cutter: Cain's Overlooked Arrival
Playoff Prospectus: Royals Spit Hot Fire: Wo...

MORE FROM AUGUST 1, 2014
Barbecue State of Mind
Fantasy Article Fantasy Starting Pitcher Planner: Week 19
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Friday, August 1
The View from the Loge Level: The Diversific...
Premium Article What You Need to Know: August 1, 2014
Daily League Strategy: Splurging on Bats
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Thursday, July...

MORE BY DOUG THORBURN
2014-08-22 - Premium Article Raising Aces: Police and Thieves
2014-08-15 - Premium Article Raising Aces: Have Pitch Counts Gone Too Far...
2014-08-08 - Premium Article Raising Aces: The Road to Recovery
2014-08-01 - Premium Article Raising Aces: The Rabbit Hole
2014-07-25 - Premium Article Raising Aces: Shelby Miller's Fall From Grac...
2014-07-18 - Premium Article Raising Aces: Outta Nowhere
2014-07-11 - Premium Article Raising Aces: Breakout Breakdown: Corey Klub...
More...

MORE RAISING ACES
2014-08-22 - Premium Article Raising Aces: Police and Thieves
2014-08-15 - Premium Article Raising Aces: Have Pitch Counts Gone Too Far...
2014-08-08 - Premium Article Raising Aces: The Road to Recovery
2014-08-01 - Premium Article Raising Aces: The Rabbit Hole
2014-07-25 - Premium Article Raising Aces: Shelby Miller's Fall From Grac...
2014-07-18 - Premium Article Raising Aces: Outta Nowhere
2014-07-11 - Premium Article Raising Aces: Breakout Breakdown: Corey Klub...
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2014-08-22 - Premium Article Raising Aces: Police and Thieves