We’re reached the culmination of the baseball season, having nearly consumed the 2012 textbook, and it’s time to test our knowledge. So let us begin the Final Exam for our Pitchology class.

We have covered a multitude of topics this semester, including mechanics, stuff, and injuries. We have studied a combination of case studies, player comparisons, and some of the theoretical concepts that underlie the mystery of pitching. Please refer to your notes and/or the textbook as you take the exam.

Exams will be graded on a curve from 20-80. Any questions will be handled during office hours in the comment section. Good luck. (The answer key can be found in the first comment.)

1. Which of the following is an advantage of a deep release point?

A) increased perceived velocity
B) less time for air drag
C) later movement on breaking pitches
D) all of the above
E) A & B only


2. Which strategy is most efficient for striding down the mound?

A) slow and steady wins the race
B) stay balanced with strong momentum throughout
C) use two gears, separated by max lift, starting slow and finishing fast
D) go as fast as humanly possible
E) C & D


3. Which strategy is most efficient for choosing a stride direction?

A) stride straight at the plate
B) stride closed
C) stride open
D) anchor on pitcher signature and adjust accordingly
E) alter the stride based on the location of the target


4. What is meant by the term, “foot strike”?

A) A strike that is aimed at the batter's foot
B) The time-point in a pitcher's leg lift when he strikes the foot out toward the batter
C) The time-point at which the pitcher's landing foot strikes the ground
D) A strike that is called on a baseball that has been doctored with shoe polish
E) The time-point at which a pitcher's drag foot leaves the ground


5. What nasty pitch is Yu Darvish throwing in the GIF below? 

A) slider
B) cutter
C) slutter
D) splitter
E) whatever Yu wants to call it


6. If a pitcher has outstanding torque, it will most likely lead to:

A) great velocity
B) great command
C) great power from the rear axle
D) all of the above
E) A and B only


7. The momentum grade on the mechanics report card is most closely linked to which one of the other grades?

A) release distance
B) balance
C) posture
D) torque
E) B and C


8. Which of the following is a candidate to contribute to a pitcher's injury?

A) workloads
B) mechanics
C) functional strength
D) genetics
E) all of the above


9. The common emphasis on downhill plane:

A) has a dramatic impact on groundball rates
B) helps to minimize platoon splits
C) can have a ripple effect on release distance
D) is the reason why 6'10” Randy Johnson was so dominant
E) all of the above


10. Match the following series of photographs with the progression of posture grades listed below:

A) 50-35-70
B) 35-50-70
C) 35-70-50
D) 70-50-35
E) 50-50-50


11. The most critical grade on the Mechanics Report Card is:

A) balance
B) timing
C) torque
D) release distance
E) momentum


12. The most volatile grade on the Mechanics Report Card is:

A) balance
B) timing
C) torque
D) release distance
E) momentum


13. Which of the following is NOT a likely consequence of a pitcher using a slide step from the stretch?

A) a shallower release point
B) less time for an opposing baserunner to steal a base
C) improved pitch command
D) an increase of momentum
E) a disruption to the pitcher's natural timing


14. Why doesn't every pitcher throw a knuckleball?

A) it's really hard to throw a good knuckler
B) the pitch has to survive on its own
C) it works only under a full moon
D) A & B
E) A & C


15. What is the approximate effective velocity of the following pitch to Mark Teixeira (radar gun reading = 97 mph)?

A) 90 mph
B) 94 mph
C) 97 mph
D) 100 mph
E) 104 mph


16. What is the approximate effective velocity of the following pitch to Mark Teixeira (radar gun reading = 98 mph)?

A) 91 mph
B) 95 mph
C) 98 mph
D) 101 mph
E) 105 mph


17. Which is the best indicator of a pitcher's command?

A) frequency of hit targets
B) frequency of hits surrendered
C) frequency of hit batsmen
D) frequency of strikes thrown
E) frequency of pitches thrown over the plate


18. Which of the following is a common mechanical trend that is specific to LOOGYs?

A) use a closed stride
B) start on the first-base side of the rubber
C) throw “over the top”
D) A & C only
E) B & C only


19. Which of the following sequences is most efficient with the kinetic chain?

A) max lift → hip thrust → foot strike → fire hips →  fire shoulders → stabilize glove → release point
B) max lift → fire hips → foot strike → hip thrust → fire shoulders → release point → stabilize glove
C) hip thrust → max lift → fire hips → fire shoulders → foot strike → release point → stabilize glove
D) hip thrust → max lift → fire hips → foot strike → fire shoulders → stabilize glove → release point
E) fire hips → hip thrust → max lift → foot strike → fire shoulders → release point → stabilize glove


20. Which elements of his mechanics help make Justin Verlander the best pitcher in the game?

(please refer to the GIF below)

A) plus balance and posture
B) plus timing and repetition
C) plus momentum
D) plus torque
E) all of the above, Plus

Free Response: If you were to ask the professor to evaluate any pitcher in baseball during the offseason, whom would you choose?

(Please use the comments section to submit your response)

Thank you for reading

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Here is the answer key to the final exam:


Great series, Doug!

Matt Moore.
I received a passing grade (on a 20-100 scale). Barely. Next series I must show more #want and pay greater attention.

Small wonder I was a mediocre pitcher with a short-lived arm.

Great series, Doug. As with many thing baseball, wish I knew this "stuff" years ago.
Free analysis: Shohei Otani or Dylan Bundy. If you do not have sufficient video, Justin Masterson. Thanks!
Josh Collementer please.
strasberg at the start of the year and right before they shut him down to see if there was a change or daniel bard
Didn't do too well myself on this.

My thoughts on a pitcher was Casey Janssen.
I'd very much enjoy seeing some pitching evaluation on historical pitchers. Randy Johnson would be a fun read for me.
Agreed. So many of the usual characteristics of pitchers don't seem to apply with this guy, it would be very interesting to see whether he really did have unique mechanics, or classical (great) mechanics disguised by a super-weird body.
Genius idea, Peter, and I'm stealing it
9/20. Ouch! How about Lincecum now vs. Cy Young years (or alternatively, his performance out of the bullpen in the playoffs vs. his starts this year)?
I would enjoy seeing an evaluation of Tyler Clippard.
Jeff Samardzija
So many pitchers. I like the idea of Smardjza, and Bundy, but the pitcher that is driving me insane is Trevor Bauer. I can't figure out what is happening, if it is mechanical or make up. Or both. This series was great. Thanks for all of your work.
Looks like somebody missed class last week
R. A. Dickey
He's an interesting one, and I actually wrote about Dickey back in June.

What an awesome story.
Mark Buehrle... smoke 'n mirrors and excellent health!
Good one.

We should nickname him "Q&E" - describes his pace as well as his mechanics.
I missed 5, 7, 9, 14, and 19. Not sure where 75% correct grades out. Probably a 50. Maybe a 55.

Looking forward to many more Raising Aces in the future. This year was excellent.


I like old/new comparisons. Say, Cy Young era Zito with bad Zito. Fister and McCarthy, too, who've found success by changing approaches.

Thanks for all of the great articles this season, Doug!
Thanks to everyone for all of the suggestions, and look forward to seeing many of these over the off-season.

I am stoked on the idea of looking at some of the greats of the previous generation to breakdown why they were so good. The fascinating thing is that, even though guys like Randy and Pedro appear to be completely different, they actually share a ton of mechanical similarities.

PS Randy Johnson's Mechanics Report Card is almost perfect.