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March 30, 2010 4:14 am

Long Tossing


Gary Armida

Proponents saying throwing at long distances builds pitchers' arm strength and increases velocity.

Major League Baseball is more or less a standardized industry. Everything a player does can be quantified in some manner. Since the dawning of the information age, teams have trended toward statistical analysis as it gives more definite, calculated answers rather than general feelings that can often lead to overvaluing a player. Unfortunately, that precision hasn’t translated to on-field performance, as gut instincts still rule when it comes to pitcher conditioning. For pitchers, those gut instincts have led to an epidemic of pitching-related injuries. According to statistics compiled and confirmed by Baseball Prospectus' Will Carroll, Major League Baseball has spent more than $500 million in salary on injured pitchers the last two seasons. It is apparent that the majority of teams are just following the herd rather than researching methods to keep pitchers healthy. The result of this lack of exploration has led to the epidemic that Carroll describes.

Allan Jaeger, of Jaeger Sports, believes he has the program that can save pitchers from injury while increasing their velocity. Jaeger’s program is rooted in a traditional baseball exercise, long tossing. Since the early days of baseball, players have been long tossing. Most performed long tossing because they believed it strengthened their arm. Jaeger agrees. "If muscles are inactive for a long enough period of time, or aren't used close to their desired capacities, the life is taken out of them. When muscles are given proper blood flow, oxygen, and range of motion, they are free to work at their optimum capacity. A good long-toss program is the key to giving life to a pitcher’s arm."

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May 26, 2004 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Charlie Zink


Chaim Bloom

Red Sox pitcher Charlie Zink is a rarity among pitchers: a 24-year-old knuckleballer. As a traditional pitcher in the Sally League, Zink put up a 1.68 ERA in relief in 2002 before the big club converted him to a full-time knuckleball pitcher. Zink posted a 3.90 ERA in High-A last year before improving on that with a 3.43 ERA in 39 innings at AA. This year, he cracked BP's Top 50 Prospects list. We sat down with Zink last week before a road game against the New Britain Rock Cats, and asked him about life as one of baseball's rarest breeds.

Baseball Prospectus: Your college career took you from California to a small Division III school in Georgia, and you even flirted with a pro golf career. How did you get your start in pro baseball?

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Rick Peterson: The goal is for every pitcher to master the delivery. We have a comprehensive program based on drills and throwing programs to teach that. The core of efficient delivery theory comes from the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) lab of Dr. James Andrews. Last year, we had Tim Hudson and Barry Zito down to work with Dr. Andrews.

Rick Peterson has melded biomechanical research, psychological principles and Eastern philosophy during his five-year tenure as pitching coach of the Oakland A's. Under his guidance the A's have developed All-Star pitchers Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, acquired and polished hidden gems like Chad Bradford and implemented a minor league regimen that's yielded several promising pitching prospects. He recently chatted with BP about organizational communication, the virtue of empty-headedness on the mound, and the all-mighty data.

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