One of the most entertaining things about the ‘06 postseason was the metamorphosis of Kenny Rogers.
In the postseason, the usually calm Kenny Rogers used adrenaline to his help his pitches, including his fastball velocity. To all the pitching coaches out there who preach “not showing your emotions,” this was certainly a pitcher who had lost control of his emotions on the mound.
So how did adrenaline help the fist-pumping Rogers’ fastball achieve new velocity heights? The quick, easy answer to that question:
1) INTENT TO THROW
Those who have read some of my entries know that I like pitchers who are aggressive. Aggressive body/aggressive arm/grunt if you have to-type of pitchers. I like pitchers who are quick and explosive.
What I did was take a random good start during the season. I chose this start where he started out shaky and then dealt the rest of the game. I will compare a pitch thrown in that game to pitches thrown in his postseason start against the Yankees.
By the way, all the clips are 4-seam fastballs to the inside corner of the plate (to a RH hitter).
ON TO THE VIDEO….
The pitch on the left was at 85 mph, the one on the right was a 94-mph fastball to Giambi that struck him out looking.
What do I see?
I define “intent to throw” as the act of REALLY trying to throw the ball harder. it’s that simple. This clip is an excellent example of that.
Watch the first three frames
There are two things that we can clearly see that show his intent.
Notice what his head does. On the 85 mph fastball, notice that it looks pretty steady. On the 94 mph fastball, notice how his head jerks pretty violently to the right as he lets it rip. Also focus on the violent way his left shoulder goes forward on the third frame. I had a teammate of mine once show me his baseball card. The card had a still shot that showed how, at release, his head was turned with his right cheek facing the hitter and his eyes towards the first base dugout(he is a RH pitcher). Let me show you a small still pic of Rogers at release.
See how his head is turned towards the 3rd base dugout as he releases? It’s a sign of a guy who is letting it rip. That violent head jerk and the left shoulder going forward that we see above is an excellent example of a guy who has just plain decided that he is going to throw the everloving $*!t out of the ball.
The other indication of effort can be seen on the last few frames. Focus on his back leg. Notice how much higher the back leg comes up and around on the 2nd clip. It just looks like he just put more oomph behind that pitch. This is the end result of the effort he put into it the pitch earlier.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that I can explain a 9-mph difference in velocity by what his head did on this video. Other factors are at play.
LET’S TALK TEMPO
Unfortunately, I don’t have the full clip of the pitch above to Giambi (dammit). However, I took a clip from a similar pitch in that game.
So in this clip, the one on the left is the 85mph fastball and on the right a 91 mph fastball to Posada (that Posada hit really well).
Rogers on the right beats Rogers on the left by 2 frames. Yankee-hating Rogers has increased his tempo to the plate. He has used momentum to his advantage by accelerating his body towards the plate. Also notice that his head jerks violently again to the right at release. This is not an isolated case of him speeding it up. Over and over, his tempo in the postseason was faster. Adrenaline perhaps?
ADRENALINE. EMOTION. TEMPO. INTENT.
Not all pitchers are better by being nice and calm on the mound. Some function better by behaving like madmen on the mound (me? An outta control nutjob, by the way). Just remember coaches: Next time you tell your kids or your players to stay calm on the mound, just be aware of this: You may be slowing down his fastball.
Posted: February 25, 2007 at 09:53 PM | 14 comment(s)