Pitching Tall, Bad or Good?

June 16, 2010 at 4:25 pm Leave a comment

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.

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Entry filed under: Pitching Mechanics, Player Breakdowns. Tags: , , , , .

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