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September 13, 2013

Raising Aces

What's the Point?

by Doug Thorburn


The ability for a pitcher to repeat his release point is at the heart of pitch command. Timing plays the most critical role in generating an ideal release point, but the physical position of a player's arm slot is another variable in the equation. In general, those pitchers with the best command are able to repeat both the vertical and horizontal position at which the baseball leaves the hand, while those players with more volatile release points will suffer the statistical consequences.

Ben Lindbergh wrote a great piece on Ubaldo Jimenez earlier this week, highlighting the elements that underlie the right-hander's leap in performance over the last few months. Ben asked that I chime in with my thoughts on Jimenez's mechanics. I have been very critical of Ubaldo's delivery in the past, going so far as to use Jimenez as the example of what not to do in my presentation at the Sabermetrics, Scouting, and Science of Baseball seminar in Boston last month. Jimenez has made a few positive adjustments in the last few months, but the baselines for his delivery are still very much in the red, and I leaned on the release-point data from Brooks Baseball to demonstrate the volatility inherent in his mechanics.

Ubaldo Jimenez

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