Posts filed under ‘Player Breakdowns’
Ahhhhh…the new fun pitcher to watch. A new man who loves to strike them out. And ever since Zumaya’s arm ‘sploded Tigers fans needed someone fun to watch.
But Al Al isn’t without err. He walks way to many. A problem of many guys who like to see how far above 95mph they can throw. At some point these guys prefer to throw the ball really hard instead of try to get the out. With all that said Al likes to keep the damage to the minimum. He has an LOB% of nearly 80% and in 33 innings he has yet to give up a home run. That HR stat, it’s quite impressive for a man who only uses two pitches.
Now for the pitches. Mr. Al has two that he likes to use. He has a fastball (of both the two and four seam varieties) that he throws at 95+mph. He also has a slider that he absolutely loves and clocks it at around 85mph. Now normally for a relief pitcher two pitches are fine and I’d classify the breaking pitch (slider) as basically his “change-up” but in the case of Al Al I’m just gonna go ahead and say that the fastball is his “change-up.”
Why would I say that? Well, Al throws his slider more than 50% of the time meaning it’s the fastballs that keep the hitter off balance instead of the breaking ball. It’s a strange setup because normally a pitcher establishes the fastball and then moves on to the other pitches. But Al Al seems to be a bit of a hipster when it comes to pitching tradition.
Now on to a chart or two.
What a strange release point. Straight over the center of the plate. Why? Off to the video…
Yep. Just as I thought. The only thing touching that pitching mound is his big toe. Nothing wrong with that. Other than that it’s a pretty low release that stays pretty consistent.
Mechanically Alburquerque is very smooth. He gets from point A to Point B with very little effort–no extra motions, no stupid little stops–and seems to naturally generate quite a bit of velocity. He may use the slider too much but as long as it’s effective and he keeps locating it the way he does it’s not a big issue for a relief pitcher. He keeps his release generally consistent and a solid mechanics keep him deceptive as well. Overall I’d have to say that the Tigers have a very solid pitcher in Al Alburquerque.
That’s a good way to start this analysis off. The stupid leg kick of Bronson Arroyo. Question is: Does it make the rest of his mechanics stupid? And does the stupid equal wrong? These are the questions I set out to answer.
Watch the video above. Aint that goofy? Sooooooooooo weird.
So he kicks his leg out straight in front of him. I know it’s weird. But it’s not necessarily bad. Potential problem yes. But as long as the ball is doing what it’s supposed to than there really isn’t anything to worry about.
Strangely enough, after such a weird beginning, Arroyo does a lot right. So really Bronson Arroyo is a bit of a poster boy for good mechanics, minus that beginning glitch.
I’ll just checklist the good stuff.
- Aside from the goofiness of the beginning of the kick, he gets the knee nice and high. I like this because it makes it easier to get good timing with the next thing.
- The break of the hands comes at the moment the body begins to move forward. This is essential to setting things up the rest of the wind up and delivery.
- The arm is swung behind the body versus dropped and brought up. This controls loading rate and maintains proper timing toward delivery.
- Nice long stride with the GS leg that lands on a bent knee versus a straight knee. A straight knee kills the kinetic chain and of course puts unnecessary stress on the knee.
- The elbow goes through a nice smooth loading stage.
- I can draw a straight line from the finger tips in one arm to the finger tips in the other as the PAS arm travels through the arm slot.
- The GS leg is re-straightened at the point of delivery allowing all the energy generated to be transfered to the ball.
Arroyo doesn’t do much wrong. But there are a couple of minor problems.
- When the shoulders are loaded he brings the elbow of his PAS arm above shoulder level. Since he has a pretty smooth loading rate and doesn’t over load this isn’t a huge issue.
- The glove doesn’t end up in a proper position. Not a mechanical issue, but I don’t like my pitchers to end up with a liner in the face.
While weird mechanics are in fact…weird. It doesn’t mean that they are necessarily bad. Every delivery has small dangers but mechanically speaking, Arroyo’s aren’t anything to be particularly worried about.
Ok finally I’ve gotten around to finishing my Jose report. Some notes that I didn’t cover in my last post: Jose had elbow tendinitis which is an inflammation of the a tendon in the elbow. So that means the problem was physical, but my work shall not be fruitless. Maybe I can find what caused or led to the tendinitis.
First step in the process is to find the video. Off to the webz.
Found one. No he’s not in his Tiger uniform. But that’s not important. We need video of him not only pitching successfully, but healthy. Now really I’m assuming both because for all I know that pitch was out of the strike zone and he was pitching hurt while doing it, but I have to assume right now.
Doing the good stuff is kinda boring but ill do it anyway.
- Nice high leg kick. Establishes the timing strongly.
- I can draw a straight line through his shoulders from the cocked position on to release.
Watch the end of the video. It’s full of things that can hurt a pitcher, mostly in the “he looks like he’s gonna start hitting himself” kinda way.
Here’s the fun stuff.
This is a big problem. Look at the right arm. It is separated from the glove hand before the body has started moving forward. So right now the arm is ahead of the body. In order to create proper timing Valverde must now either go incredibly slow with his arm or add a pause. Now I’ve had small arguments in the past about over compensation of other joints, more particularly when it comes to fire ballers, but I believe it to be true of all pitchers when the do either something mechanically wrong or have an inhibitive injury in another part of the body. The joint I see most often getting over compensated is of course the elbow because most pitching mechanics out there have some sort of timing error. Some are minor, others are pretty severe. Jose’s is severe. Now his over compensation probably comes in spurts. Those innings where he just can’t find the strike zone are the biggest culprit.
More then likely in those moments Valverde’s arm is lagging behind his body messing up his release point. In order to adjust on the fly he probably increases the loading rate on his elbow. This increase in loading rate leads to an increase of stress on the joint itself. Keep up the stress on the joint for long enough, pain in some form for some reason shall ensue. In the case of Jose Valverde, it was right elbow tendinitis.
I’m not really saying that Tigers fans should be particularly worried about Jose. For most of the season Jose should be fine. But it’s those last couple months that this type injury has the strongest potential of sneaking up on a him just because of the shear length of an MLB season. The likelihood of late season breakdowns only increases as he gets older as well. Good news is that this type of injury can be prevented. Watching his pitch count is key. Especially when he’s having trouble finding the strike zone. Doing this will significantly cut down on the wear and tear on his body. Personally I’d give him 30 – 35 pitches on a good night (enough to pitch 2 innings if necessary) and 20 if he just isn’t finding the strike zone.
Jose Valverde started off his season for the Detroit Tigers putting up great numbers. He pitched 34 innings up to June 28th (approximately the all star break) and put up a .53 ERA with 32 strike outs. Not bad at all. Since than he has a 6.58 ERA in 26 innings pitched, but has still managed 29 strikeouts in that time. But still it’s been ugly at times. The question is what’s wrong? Since I like the pitching aspect of this game, I guess I’ll be the one to explore.
First thing is to check out his release in the first half and compare it to the second half.
Now I see that his release point is a bit higher in the second half of the season. This is the first thing I shall note. Something more important than release point is the actual location of the pitch. No one cares about release if the result is good.
First Half Locations:
And this is why we look at the location chart, because at first glance theres not much difference. But that is why you must than pay attention to the pitch types as well. Even though the locations are technically in the strike zone, I see sliders hanging and cutters not cutting. Something else that is noteworthy is that the difference here is not that great. But what makes me believe that once again release is his problem is simple percentages. First half of the season Valverde got his outs about 30% of the time via ground out. Second half: 16%. Big difference which helps reinforce my point.
Next I want to find out what’s going on here behind the mechanics, but I’ll save that for Pt. 2.
OK it’s been awhile since I’ve made any sort of post, but it’s been for good reason. Wasn’t quite sure how to get back into the swing of things so I figured I’d just start with some pitcher analysis to get my thoughts working again.
Before this thing starts to look like a Tigers blog, I’m gonna do a post on a Kansas City Royal. Your first thought is like “oh sweet, Greinke post!” Wrong. Brian Bannister. Wanna know why? Mostly because I can and because he has some interesting things to his mechanics.
- Starting at the beginning we see a good, high leg kick and that he moves his hands in good unison with his leg as it comes up. This leads too…
- Proper breaking of the glove and throwing hand. This is essential in timing and arm slot which both equate to proper release point.
- This bullet point doesn’t have much to do with good pitching but his glove hand ends up by his arm pit. This is more of a face protection thing for those hard liners.
- I don’t see this too often so this is definitely note worthy. But Bannister brings the ball to the cocked position very well. Very nice smooth motion there. This takes lots of stress off the major joints in the arm such as the elbow and shoulder where most of the loading takes place.
- Very good hip rotation. This is where a lot of the velocity of the pitch should come from. This is the birth place of the pitching kinetic chain.
- I see one strange thing with this motion really and I’m working off whatever I can find off of YouTube/MLB.com. The follow through after the pitch is full of awkward motion. So much so that I first thought he was throwing the ball really funny. But the reality is that he starts his follow through correctly with the arm going to the opposite side of his body, but than he quickly brings it back so it’s now moving directly away from home plate. I put this under “goofy” because it’s not incredibly dangerous but it does have it’s dangers. It puts stress on the joints, namely the shoulder. Basically it’s negligible for him because the rest of his delivery is pretty sound with all the momentum and velocity coming from the proper sources in the chain. So Bannister gets one “goofy.”
- Normally bad things are easy to find, but I see nothing really in Bannisters delivery to cause me any sort of extreme alarm to just go ahead and label it “bad.” Congrat’s Brian, you aren’t mechanically “bad.”
So there you guys have it, Brian Bannister is pretty interesting. Good mechanics with an interesting quark. Hopefully this is my foray into more frequent analysis. As always, comments are appreciated.
What a year in pitching, as of right now it’s June 17th and there have already been three perfect games. Officially only two but we all know that there have been three.
So the question begs to be asked, who pitched the most perfect game?
Determining what embodies a really good pitching performance is hard because it’s a matter of perspective. Obviously going as many innings as possible while giving up a limited amount of runs is the ultimate goal, but since we’re dealing with three perfect games here, our criteria has to be a bit more critical.
So we set up our criteria for a perfect game and our grading system. First off I will be giving each player (Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay, and Armando Galarraga) points based upon how they do. First place in each category gets 5 points, second gets 3, and third gets one measly point.
The categories: I will be judging off of grouder/fly ball ratio, ball/strike ratio, overall pitch count, strike outs, and release point.
So now I analyze.
Ground Out/Fly Out Ratio
Armando wins this one hands down. Of the 28 outs he recorded in his perfect game, 14 were ground outs. By my own personal judgment, grounders are more efficient outs to get. Second place goes to Halladay who got 29% of his batters faced out via the ground ball. So third place? That goes to Mr. Braden, with a paltry 26% of batter getting out via the ground out.
Armando hit the strike zone 76% of the time. Roy Halladay hit the K-Zone 62% of the time. Braden hit the strike zone 70% of the time.
Armando, once again you win.
Now Armando won this category hands down. 88 pitches through 28 total batters faced. Halladay? 115 pitches. Braden? 109. It’s not even close. Apparently when you attack the strike zone and get efficient outs, your pitch count stays wayyyyy down. Now that’s impressive.
This is more of a measure of “nastiness.” The strikeout is probably the most embarrassing way to get called out during a game. Great pitchers make batters look silly. Halladay wins this category. He struck out 40% of batters. That’s an insane number. Coming into second place is Dallas Braden with 22% of batters struck out. Galarraga brings up the rear with 10% struck out.
Sorry Mando, you can’t win ‘em all.
Release point is an indicator of consistency in mechanics. It also doubles as a “nastiness” indicator because it indicates deceptiveness in the mechanics. While Mando and Halladay were pretty close, I have to give this category to Halladay because there are no real extreme outliers. Dallas, once again you get third.
Tallying the Score
Armando Galarraga: 19 points
Roy Halladay: 15 points
Dallas Braden: 11 points
So Armando, I award you the most perfect of perfect games. Seeing as I’m a poor college student, the notoriety of winning a competition on my blog is all you get.
All information used in this post was gathered from Fangraphs.com and/or TexasLeagures.com
A while back I talked about Phil Cokes mechanics and discussed how he “pitches tall.” What I mean by that is that he doesn’t get lower to the ground when he comes forward with his velocity. My reaction to this is that it restricts his velocity by not allowing him to take the maximum possible stride toward the plate. But the question I recently found myself asking is this, is getting lower to the ground going to actually add velocity? If so, is it necessary for everyone?
So I investigated, and pretty much got my answer right away. I started by looking at a known hard thrower, Justin Verlander. Guess who doesn’t lower himself toward the ground? Justin Verlander. And in a comparison between the aforementioned Phil Coke and Justin Verlander, I checked their average fastball velocities.
Verlander: about 95mph
Coke: about 93mph
So Verlander gets about 2mph more on his fastball than Coke, and in the most important areas, they are pretty comparable mechanically. That basically means that both have nice smooth motions. But the question still must be asked, where does the extra velocity come from for Verlander?
So I looked at the top of the player profiles at Fangraphs.com and got my answer. Big discrepancy in their heights. Verlander is 6’5″, Coke is 6’1″. Combining that information with the visual aid of video, I guessing that Verlander can more easily achieve a greater stride length than Coke. Ah answers…I like them. But to explain the answer I’ll explain the importance that I feel a bigger stride has on the result of the pitch.
- It decreases the distance between you and your target at release. If you can shave a few feet off of that 60 ft. distance legally, why not? Remember, deception is a key part of pitching.
- Kinetics. I talk about ‘em all the time but that forward motion is vital. I tell people this to prove my point. Stand put while throwing a ball as hard as you can and than throw the ball again while taking a step forward. Guess which one achieve better velocity.
So, is pitching tall bad or good? The true answer is that it depends on your height, or at least the design of your frame. If most of your height is in your legs than you can probably achieve your maximum velocity without having to get lower to the ground. But if you’re shorter then velocity can be added, or at the very least deception increased by maximizing your stride length toward the plate.
(NOTE: Originally posted by myself at Bless You Boys. Go there for lots of great Detroit Tigers related content created by fans)
Unlike Mr. Zumaya’s scapular issues, Ryan really doesn’t appear to even load them. Right there you can assess that Perry is doing what I like, properly executing the kinetic chain of pitching. Mostly I just like to say “kinetic chain,” but to me a properly executed pitch is a beautiful thing. Ryan Perry (apparently) does it right.
Just a few notes about this video and thus my analysis following: It’s old. It’s from 2007 so who knows what changes have come about in his mechanics since than. Obviously I could find out but this is the best video youtube will provide.
First off I’m going to look at the front-side angle from this video where we can easily see a couple of things.
I took it and divided into 4 frames to note just a couple of things about his delivery (after looking at this I must point out that frames 2 and 3 should be flip-flopped).
- Frame one shows us a problem. It’s a possible timing issue. General rule of pitching mechanics: Break the hands before moving forward, not after. Reasons for doing so is that you are forced to rush your throwing arm if your GS (glove-side) foot plant before you expect it to. This isn’t much of an injury risk. Small potential but is more of a quirk of his own pitching style and not really worth changing.
- Frame 2 (which is actually Frame 3 in the picture, sorry) shows us something very very very very very right. Notice how the lower half of his body (hips and legs) are pointed toward home plate while his upper half is still facing us. This is a very important part of any properly executed pitch. This is probably where a lot of Perry’s velocity comes from. Also notice in this frame the nicely bent knee that Perry plants on. Lets also notice the very long stride that Perry has with his pitch. This improves control, increases deceptiveness slightly, and helps velocity wise.
- Frame 3 (actually Frame 2) another dumb little quirk in this frame. Notice where glove is. This is more about getting into proper fielding position (and keeping liners off his face) but the glove should be around his armpit, not down by his hip. Again, just a dumb quirk and has more than likely been fixed by this point for his own safety.
- Frame 4 (actually Frame 1. I kid, this one is right) really shows off that weird glove position but also shows us again that Perry is allowing the kinetic energy he is generating to transfer properly. Notice that the GS leg is straight again. This means he is allowing his body to follow through with the pitch. Good transfers of energy mean lower chances of injury.
This frame I’m throwing in here just to try and show proper hip rotation. Here we can see both hips while we can only see the GS shoulder. Plus we can see that weird glove position. (man that just looks goofy)
Comparing to Joel: That article I linked to earlier dealt exclusively with scapular loading. So to tie this post with that one, Perry does it right. Low elbow on the throwing arm indicates he doing it right. He’s doing it right because he does most of the other stuff correct as well.
So my final verdict: Based upon this video, these screenshots, and by what I believe to be true about pitching. Ryan Perry doesn’t put himself at the same level of risk that Joel Zumaya does.
for anybody that is interested in isolating shots, slowing video down, and just general image/video editing of the nature shown here, VLC Media Player and the GIMP were used to edit the video. Great tools for this sort of analysis and more importantly…free.
(NOTE: Originally posted by myself at Bless You Boys. Go there for lots of great Detroit Tigers related content created by fans)
The news as of late has been nearly exclusively about Johnny Damon. Frankly, I’m tired of that story (sign him already!). So I decided to think of something pitching related to once again lend some insight into. Looking over the Tigers roster I decided to investigate Joel Zumaya and the ever injured shoulder.
By investigation I mean I watched a few videos.
And by “ever injured shoulder” I mean I don’t expect Joel to have a long healthy Tigers career.
The “investigation” after the jump.
First some videos to observe:
And a video from PitchingClips.com for good measure.
First I’d like to explain to you guys a term commonly used within pitching mechanics and often used within the mechanics themselves. The term is scapular loading. The link takes you to a great article explaining the term while showing you the right and wrong way to do it. I’m going to try and summarize what that says for you.
Basically it’s all about the shoulders (see the connection to Joel?). Scapular loading essentially is that point within most pitching motions where the shoulder blades come together. Scapular loading is not necessarily a bad thing. As that article points out lots of successful pitchers do it and have long prosperous careers. Randy Johnson is a guy who has done it right along with Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens. And just because I like to use his name in my post’s, Justin Verlander does a good job as well. Guys like Mark Prior and Billy Wagner do a pretty lousy job of loading their scapulars.
But what defines the proper way practice scapular loading? Much like a lot of things involving the throwing arm in pitching, the elbow is a key indicator of whether the act is being performed right or wrong. To keep it very simple: If the elbow is below shoulder level at the moment of scapular loading, than it is being done correctly. Anything else is wrong.
Now back to Big Bad Joel Zumaya. He loads his shoulders in the bad way that Mark Prior does. Not as extreme but like I said, anything other than the right way is inherently wrong. Zumaya’s loading problem is hardly extreme. But it causes him to walk a fine line with the strength of his shoulder. Before that box fell on his shoulder there was a good chance that Joel would enjoy a pretty good baseball career and make his millions. But what I fear is that the injury to Joel’s shoulder has caused him to permanently walk on the wrong side of that fine line. Unless he either stops the practice all together or practices it properly, he will more than likely continue to have shoulder problems in his career.
Heres to hoping that he proves me wrong. But than again, this is probably why we drafted Ryan Perry.
(NOTE: Originally posted by myself at Bless You Boys. Go there for lots of great Detroit Tigers related content created by fans)
Here we go with another pitcher breakdown. Since he’s one of our new guys I thought Phil Coke would be somebody we’d all be interested in learning about, especially when where he ends up on the Tigers roster (rotation or bullpen) is debatable.
Heres Phil Cokes vitals from FanGraphs.
Analysis after the jump.
Unfortunately I’ve been having trouble finding good video of Coke pitching in the Majors. But I have minor league video from early 2008 that will have to suffice. That’s the year he first got called up to the majors so there should be little to no difference to how he pitches now. Plus I got 2 video’s: one of the full windup and one of the slide step, I think that’s a plus. ‘Nough rambling though, onto the analysis.
- He’s nothing like Max Scherzer mechanically, which is a good thing. Overall there is very little injury concern in this windup. I’m not saying he’s perfect, but comparatively to Max, he’s pretty good. Just not Justin Verlander good. This is all I have to say for good stuff though. Onto the weird stuff.
- I really don’t like to watch pitchers do this, and that is pick the glove up over their head and bring it back down. There’s no injury risk, there’s no risk to velocity, and as long as he does it the same everytime, there’s no risk to timing. It’s just a stupid little unnecessary motion. MadPoopz pitching 101 says keep things simple.
- After his leg kick and right before he plants his foot, he pauses his plant leg. Now again, this is like the glove thing, just unnecessary motion. These unnecessary motions (or not-motions) in my opinion can only be of help to the leagues best hitters though. If you’re the hitter and you pick up on that little pause in the motion right before the ball comes flying at you, that’s gonna help you at least time your swing a bit if your smart enough to know what type of pitch the count calls for. But again, it’s not truly bad and maybe only Joe Mauer is the only guy who has figured this little quirk out in Phil Coke.
Ahh my favorite section. The section of the breakdown that identifies the inadequacies of pitchers. This is the fun stuff to find. Phil Coke doesn’t do much wrong however. The only really major thing I spotted was this (maybe two things but I’m gonna lump them into one).
- Phil Coke pitches tall. It’s debatable as to whether or not it’s a bad thing because I’ve read points on both sides of the matter. I am of the belief that pitching tall is bad for a couple of reasons. First it prevents you from maximizing the your stride length. Tall pitchers typically get a stride of about 80-90% of their height. Now I lost the article that told me this, but why not just use a total stride length of more than 90%? Part of the kinetic chain involved in pitching is getting as much of your momentum forward as possible, getting a stride close to 100% of your height will help you realize this. The other problem I have here is the bend in leg when the plant foot comes down. Coke might as well just keep his leg straight when his leg comes down because the bend is barely there. Landing on a leg that straight effects pitching velocity and control.
MadPoopz Final Verdict: Really there aren’t any problems with Phil Cokes delivery. At least not any fixable ones. As much as I would like to see Coke learn to get low when he pitches, it involves adding another motion to his delivery–an extended bend in the back leg–and that seems like to much to ask of the guy at this point in his career. This is the way Coke knows how to pitch and he’s probably been doing it long enough that it could be very hard to successfully add that big of a change. So good job Phil Coke, your not quirky enough to need to change.