Doug looks at what pitching experts mean when they call a delivery "violent," and why this violence can be inextricable from success.
Baseball is a funny sport. We live in an age when athletes are paid handsomely to challenge the physical boundaries of competition, and when pitcher velocity is paramount, yet the most damning label that a baseball hurler can earn is of having a “violent” delivery. Developing pitchers face a natural dichotomy where an increase of velocity essentially requires an associated uptick of kinetic energy, and the resulting mechanics run the risk of being perceived as violent, and as potential red flags for injury. The ingrained link between fastball velocity and injury risk was echoed in Dr. Glenn Fleisig's interview with Ben Lindbergh last month, and the time has come for the baseball-viewing public to appreciate this connection and to accept that the athletes with the most extreme skills will naturally run the greatest risk for injury, and are therefore dependent on mechanical efficiency for their survival.
Professional pitchers must endure some mixed messages as they adjust to the demands of playing ball across many levels, dealing with coaches whose advice can seem contradictory at times. One minute a pitcher is being told not to “rush” his delivery from the windup, and the next minute he is listening to the coach tell him to use a slide step from the stretch in order to hurry the motion with runners on base. Pitchers are being drafted, signed, and acquired with an increasing emphasis on fastball velocity, but teams are hesitant to sign off on a pitcher whose mechanics appear to require considerable effort to achieve that velocity.
If you had to pick a pitcher for a big game tomorrow, who would you take? How about a big game in 2015? Some MLB execs weigh in with their choices.
On the surface, the question seems like an easy one: if your team were playing in a championship game tomorrow, and you could have any starting pitcher to pitch that game for you, who would it be? Your choice is of any ace in the game, but for some it's not just about statistics, it's about comfort and mitigating risk. The question was posed to 12 industry insiders, ranging from pro scout to general manager, and those twelve generated five different responses.
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Thirteen reasons why the national pastime isn't always rated PG.
When I moved up from the 11-and-12 league to 13-and-14, there was a 14-year-old kid named Andrade who had grown himself a pretty good mustache. He caught, and whenever a pitch would get past him, he would yell “F***” as he turned to retrieve the pitch. The first time I heard this, I was shocked, and almost embarrassed. I’d used my share of swears, but never like this, in front of grown-ups. I had no idea that swearing was possible on a baseball field.
Of course, swearing is very possible on a baseball field. Perhaps going back to 1898, major-league baseball has been a place where profanity has thrived. On-field microphones rarely pick up the audio (except in Boston, I've found), but the cameras are careful to catch foul lips in high definition. “Well, if you can read lips,” the announcers sometimes will say. “Hey you can’t say that you’re outta here,” the umpires sometimes will say. Mostly, though, we just move on and don’t talk about it. Let’s talk about it. Why not? We might as well talk about it. What follows is a taxonomy of 13 major-league F-bombs. NSFW? I honestly don't know.
Fans were treated to weird baseball in Boston when the O's and Sox resorted to using position players as pitchers.
The Weekend Takeaway
Everyone loves a good dose of weird baseball, and that’s precisely what fans at Fenway Park were treated to on Sunday afternoon. The Orioles capped off their first sweep of the Red Sox in Boston since 1994, but that does not even begin to describe what transpired on Yawkey Way.
In one of the most bizarre goat-to-hero stories you will ever see, designated hitter Chris Davis hit like a pitcher… and then pitched like one, too. Davis began the afternoon by collecting a platinum sombrero, added a double-play ball in his sixth at-bat, and wound up 0-for-8 by the time the 17-inning marathon was over. But with the media preparing to make Davis the butt of many a Monday joke, Davis put the joke on the hometown nine, hurling two shutout innings to earn the win.
Yesterday's games included three walk-offs and a no-hitter.
The Wednesday Takeaway
Trying to choose one takeaway from a night like last night is like being a 5-year-old at Baskin Robbins deciding between ice cream flavors. It might be doable, but whichever one you pick, you’ll be slighting other, equally worthy choices.
Two players over the age of 40 hit walk-off home runs last night.
BP's new expert on pitcher mechanics debuts with a primer on the most important components of the pitching motion.
My name is Doug, and I am a baseball junkie.
It all started with an eight-year old kid and an innocent pack of Topps baseball cards. There must have been something laced into that stale piece of gum, because my formative years are nothing but a haze of cardboard stats, makeshift whiffleball fields, Mark McGwire moon shots, and heated Saberhagen-Valenzuela duels in RBI Baseball. By college I was on to the hard stuff, with fantasy baseball teams stretching as far as the eye could see, buoyed by the mass consumption of designer statistics like VORP, PAP, and EQA.
Now that the regular season has wrapped up, here's a look at who BP staffers think should win the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff choices for the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that has been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.
How Jered Weaver's contract extension will affect C.J. Wilson's impending free agency.
One week ago, I labeled Jered Weaver's looming post-2012 eligibility for free agency as one of several key threats to the Angels' five-year competitive window. Turns out it took only a couple of days for that threat to end up completely neutralized because Weaver (much to the dismay of the AL West's other denizens) will play out each of his next five seasons in an Angels uniform, having consented to a five-year, $85 million deal that most neutral observers seem to regard as a win-win pact for player and team alike. Ben Lindberghalready analyzed the direct implications of the contract in exhaustive detail, and I can't think of much to add on that front that wouldn't be redundant, so this obviously isn't going to be an article dedicated solely to Jered Weaver.
My only addition would be this: since the deal's announcement, Weaver's drawn great praise from some circles for choosing comfort and loyalty to the Angels organization over the largest guaranteed dollar amount. I appreciate that, and I do find his choice and willingness to eschew the extraction of every last possible dollar at least somewhat commendable. But at the same time, I've stumbled upon some comments from people in those same circles who have used the Weaver extension as a jumping-off point to snipe at those professional athletes who do gun for deals promising the most money.
Jered Weaver's ability to induce pop-ups is one of his greatest strengths, but opinions differ as to how he does it.
NEW YORK—Jered Weaver insists that he doesn't have an answer. For starters, he isn't even trying, at least not consciously. Pop-ups, he said earlier this week, just happen.
He gets more of them than any other starting pitcher in the game, and throughout his career, he's consistently been among the game's leading purveyors of this underappreciated batted-ball type. But at no point has the Angels ace thrown a pitch specifically to induce a pop-up.
A look at Jered Weaver's outstanding 2011 season, his perpetually great ERA, and his propensity for pop-ups.
On July 21, Jered Weaver recorded his 13th win of the season. His box score recorded his seven innings, two walks, and six strikeouts to go with his zero runs and seven hits. His box score even recorded his 122 pitches—the sixth time this year he has thrown 120 pitches or more. Next to his box score, Weaver sits atop the leaderboard for ERA. But Weaver’s box scores do not tell the whole story.
With All-Star selection around the corner, the BP staff fills out their ballots for who deserves to start in the Midsummer Classic.
It’s July, and that means another All-Star Game, one which—we might as well get this out of the way now—won’t be as exciting as those wonderful old All-Star Games when important things happened, like Ted Williams breaking his elbow and Dizzy Dean breaking a toe (Williams said he was never the same hitter; Dean destroyed his arm with altered mechanics) and Ray Fosse getting run over because damn it, Pete Rose just had to win an exhibition game.
(It is at times like these that I like to recall Mickey Mantle’s immortal words on the subject of Rose: “If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete, I’d wear a dress.”)