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Bullpen Mechanics
— A Scout's View

Monday, September 11, 2006

LOST & FOUND—Mulder’s MPH’s

No matter which way you look at it, Mark Mulder’s career has taken a turn for the worse.

Summary: Increased BB rate, decrease in K rate, increased HR rate=increase in ERA.

GB/FB really jumped out at me as well. Did you notice that his GB/FB has actually increased while with the Cardinals? Normally a good sign, it seems Mulder has had to adjust to becoming a sinkerballer as a result of his lost velocity. Here’s where I come in….I believe I know where Mulder’s velocity has gone. It’s all in the video.

Below are video clips that show Mark Mulder at 3 stages of his career. On the left is Mulder in 2004, a pitcher who routinely threw fastballs in the 92-94 mph range. On the middle is the 2006 version before he went on the disabled list. On the right is the ’06 version that came back from the disabled list recently.

The video clips below are synchronized to when all 3 begin their first movements down from the top of their knee lifts. They are all at the same frame rate, 30 frames/sec. Also, I’ll try to make the terminology more reader-friendly than what “baseball people” use. That said, if I lose you with a certain term, I’ll be happy to explain it.

On to the video:

        —-Watch the clip a few times, noting the different tempo. #1 is racing through He goes from the top of his knee lift to release in 23 frames. #2 is slower, taking 26 frames. #3 is REALLY slow, he takes 30-31 frames.

        —-Next watch the clips again, noting the arm action as defined from when they break their hands to when they release. Check each one out individually. #1 will flow fairly uninterrupted. #2 starts slowing down as he is picking it back up after he drops his arm as low as it gets (frames 12-13). #3 has a major hitch at the top. He virtually stops his arm and restarts from the “high cock” position (frames 24-25).

Arm action

You want smooth, uninterrupted, you want quick. Momentum is your best ally, not your worst enemy.

        —-At around 3 frames from release on each one (when the arm gets to the “L” position), note the speed of the torso rotation on each. In other words, note how quickly/slowly they “square up” to the target. Hint: #1 is the fastest, #3 the slowest.

        —-Watch #3’s motion again. Can you tell that he’s a little bit taller (less bend in the back leg, less hunched over) than the other two? In my opinion, he’s staying taller in order to create the higher arm slot that he wanted to create. Golfers with more upright swings stand taller and closer to the ball. Golfers with flatter swings stand further away from the ball and bend more at the waits. Sort of the same concept here….

        —-Another exercise. Let’s try to count how long (in frames) each pitcher spends from when their arms get to the lowest point to when they release. In other words, from the first movement up from the bottom of their arm circles. On #1, frame 11 is when I see him start picking his arm back up. He releases at 23= 12 frames to complete the arm circle.

        #2 starts picking it up on frame 12. He releases at 26=14 frames.

        #3 starts at 15. Releases at 30=15 frames.

What’s so important about this? Simple physics. Cover the same distance in less time=better capacity for velocity.

        —-On #3, like I will mention on the fully annotated clip, frames 15 through about 25 hurt to watch. It reminds of one of the worst arm actions of recent history, Steve Avery. No matter what you may hear, the arm shouldn’t go as straight back and up like you see on #3. Your arms must get to the “chicken wing” position. The elastic, horizontal loading and subsequent unloading of the shoulder is a major driver for creating arm speed. Notice how #1 is “flatter.” In other words, his arm goes in a more horizontal position on the way back than #2 and #3. #2 and #3 are more vertical.

        —-#2’s arm action, from around frames 19-24 or so, shows how his shoulder took the beating that it did. Just like hitters can drag their swings, pitchers can drag their arms. Frames 19-24 on #2 are a good example of arm drag.

        —-Release points. Really, they are almost identical, with #3 the highest, #2 the lowest. I read that he worked extensively on the arm slot, trying to get it higher. OK, so that was fixed. That wasn’t the problem though.

So what’s the solution?

        I certainly don’t have the credentials that Dave Duncan has. That said, I know what I’m talking about. Here goes:

Dear Mr. Mulder,

1)      Speed it up—get the leg up, get it down. Quickly, explosively, without interruption. Push off violently if you have to, whatever it takes. Your arm will relearn its natural action. Watch Roy Oswalt video if you have to.

If I were his pitching coach, this is where I’d start AND stop. No need to mess the head up with any other thoughts than this one when it comes to his mechanics.

However, if he isn’t able to speed up his tempo, then what?

2)      Break your hands later—- If you’re going to be slow with your body, you at least must give your arm a chance to be quick. Hold the ball in the glove longer, break them later. Make the arm circle have no hitch. There is such a thing as breaking the hands too early.

3)      Don’t worry about your arm slot. Put yourself in a good, athletic position to deliver the ball, and then just let it go from there.

Here’s the other video. It takes longer than the first one because it stops every few frames in order to let the viewer read my comments.

One more. This one is certain still shots of the Mulders at various points in their deliveries.

Comments/Feedback would be greatly appreciated.

ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 11, 2006 at 12:55 PM | 85 comment(s)
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   1. Dan The Mediocre Posted: September 11, 2006 at 01:37 PM (#2173234)
That was really interesting.
   2. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 11, 2006 at 01:37 PM (#2173235)
I just want to say that while it took a minute or so for the clips to load on my pretty fast connection, they look great (Safari, Mac) once they get going. Good job, CBW.
   3. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: September 11, 2006 at 01:42 PM (#2173238)
That's really cool.
   4. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: September 11, 2006 at 01:44 PM (#2173239)
Brilliant, wonderful post. I learned so much.

CBW, would there be a good reason that leg drive might be unattainable?
   5. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: September 11, 2006 at 01:46 PM (#2173241)
One thing I noticed in the first set of clips is that Mulder's torso and spine seemed much more curved when he takes the ball back in the 2004 clip. In other words, he seemed to reach further back with his arm, curving his torso towards 3B. I would imagine that this gave him a greater range of motion on his delivery, increasing power and thus velocity. Today his torso seems much straighter, causing him to lose that added snap.
   6. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: September 11, 2006 at 02:06 PM (#2173252)
I don't have enough bandwidth here to really appreciate the videos properly. But the insights are still brilliant. Thanks CBW!
   7. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: September 11, 2006 at 05:14 PM (#2173435)
I would LOVE to learn more micro-level analysis like this. Primey for CBW!
   8. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 11, 2006 at 05:22 PM (#2173448)
One has to wonder whether the change in mechanics was a cause of, or a result of, his injury.

I also find his Fox Sports page amusing now in the light of all of this.

-- MWE
   9. Cris E Posted: September 11, 2006 at 05:32 PM (#2173459)
This is tremendous. I love this sort of thing even if I have no idea if it's right or you're goofier than Mike Mashall.

BTW, see if he wants to break down some film with you sometime. I'd love to see the differences between his ideas and the mainstream. Maybe over the winter you guys could find some time to dissect a couple of players just to amuse me.
   10. McCray Posted: September 11, 2006 at 05:36 PM (#2173464)
wow, that was a great analysis, CBW. thanks. any chance you could do a few more of these with other pitchers?
   11. batpig Posted: September 11, 2006 at 05:38 PM (#2173465)
This is just fantastic stuff, thanks so much CBW -- and keep it coming!! This type of analysis is a wonderful application of technology, and is a terrific complement the "stathead" stuff. No reason we can't all become more analytical about the on-the-field aspects of the game. Thanks again!

Frankly, it's what I wish they did on shows like Baseball Tonight. Occasionally when Tony Gwynn was sitting in they'd do video clips breaking down hitting mechanics, and I loved it when HR would show stuff about infield technique and footwork. Instead we get Tino and Kruk. Sigh...
   12. Dan The Mediocre Posted: September 11, 2006 at 05:43 PM (#2173474)

I also find his Fox Sports page amusing now in the light of all of this.


Maybe what happens is batters get so alarmed, they swing blindly, and get really lucky.
   13. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 11, 2006 at 05:43 PM (#2173475)
I agree with Mike re: cause vs effect. Also, to my untrained eye, it seems that despite how much slower his lower body is in 3 vs 1, his arm action still lags his leg action. IOW, what little leg drive he may have left isn't helping his arm velocity, since he's not getting his arm into a release position in sync with the rest of his body. He looks like one of my little eleaguers when I tell them to slow down their delivery and they really overdo it.

Mike Marshall is not goofy. His ideas may be wrong (I don't know enough to judge), but he is deadly serious. And if you want to "break down film" with him, you can just buy his DVDs for $100 and compare your own analysis with what he says and writes. He also answers every e-mail he gets.
   14. AROM Posted: September 11, 2006 at 05:44 PM (#2173476)
I knew something was wrong with Mulder, and have been saying so since 2004. But I wouldn't have been able to figure out exactly what was so different, aside from results and velocity. Great stuff.
   15. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: September 11, 2006 at 05:47 PM (#2173480)
#2 and #3 are more vertical.

If I'm understanding what you're talking about here, CBW, it seems to me this is part and parcel of the slowness of his delivery; that extra time to bring it back up to where it needs to be is a great deal of the difference. Is this true?
   16. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: September 11, 2006 at 05:48 PM (#2173483)
Oh, and I liked how in the #3, the count is 2-0.
   17. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 11, 2006 at 05:51 PM (#2173487)
I would LOVE to learn more micro-level analysis like this. Primey for CBW!

Agreed. This was one area this site was really lacking. A great start to what should be a great blog CBW!
   18. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 11, 2006 at 05:51 PM (#2173489)
Also, RE: staing taller in 3. I guess I don't realy see that, although I could believe that he's *trying* to stay taller. To me, he looks off balance -- back on the heel of his left foot -- which might be a negative outcome of trying to "fix" his arm slot by staying taller as you suggest.
   19. John Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: September 11, 2006 at 05:53 PM (#2173492)
One thing I noticed in the first set of clips is that Mulder's torso and spine seemed much more curved when he takes the ball back in the 2004 clip. In other words, he seemed to reach further back with his arm, curving his torso towards 3B. I would imagine that this gave him a greater range of motion on his delivery, increasing power and thus velocity. Today his torso seems much straighter, causing him to lose that added snap.

This is something I always look for in a pitcher's mechanics, the bent back (essentially dropping the shoulders further toward the butt) which is a very good thing... IIRC professional pitching coaches call this the "drop and drive". This was one of the things that Brad Arnsberg and the Jays' minor league pitching coaches had worked on with Casey Janssen in order to coax more velocity out of his delivery, and was always something that I looked out for in Janssen this year... when he was fresh (and when he was more effective) he was getting better bend; he'd straighten up as he tired and lost effectiveness. I've been looking at other pitchers as well and noticing similar results... it seems to be allied to shortening the delivery stride (when there's less back bend, the delivery stride shortens, I imagine because the upright stance makes a more dramatic forward weight shift less possible (producing less stride, less torso rotation and a more arm-centred delivery).

It's funny how all the moving parts of a motion fit together this way. The hand positions during the windup correlate with the shoulder position which correlate with the arm movement before the delivery stride which correlates with the leg drive which correlates with the length of the delivery stride which correlates with the knee bend which correlates with the torso rotation which correlates with the shoulder stress, etc., etc., etc.
   20. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 11, 2006 at 05:54 PM (#2173494)
And BTW, this is an absolutely awesome addition to the site. I look forward to seeing more of this kind of thing. Do we have any regulars who know enough about fielding and hitting to do anything similar?
   21. Garth found his way to daylight Posted: September 11, 2006 at 05:59 PM (#2173501)
Wow. That was awesome.

As a sidenote, here's a suggestion for a later posting: Ambiorix Burgos, Royals former "closer" who was on a rather healthy pace for breaking the record of most saves blown in a season before Buddy Bell made him a middle reliever, has maintained his K and BB rates from his great rookie year in 2005 to 2006. But he's giving up many more fly balls, and the fly balls are becoming home runs at a much higher rate. As a result, his HR/G has more than doubled, and his ERA/WHIP/everything has skyrocketed accordingly. No injuries that I know of, or anything similar.

Did somebody mess with his delivery? Is it possible to figure out what happened from this type of analysis?

( http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/stats/players/?lastName=burgos&firstName;= )
   22. Cris E Posted: September 11, 2006 at 06:00 PM (#2173502)
I know Marshall is serious and quite dedicated to his craft, but it's his persecution complex has me shaking my head a little. I'm not saying his ideas are goofy, but my rule of thumb is that when a guy says the whole world is wrong or against him I sort of instinctively side with the world. Based on stories from his early career it's not in his personality to make nice just for form's sake, but I'd love for him bend enough to enter the mainstream just to see how his claims would work out in real life. I've read the docs on his website, but to see things broken down with this frame-by-frame look would be more enlightening, especially if CBW was on hand to speak for the mainstream and get him to expand on differences when they occur. The guy is claiming to be new and different, and I'd love to see it discussed by folks who know the material better than me.
   23. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 11, 2006 at 06:05 PM (#2173506)
This is something I always look for in a pitcher's mechanics, the bent back (essentially dropping the shoulders further toward the butt) which is a very good thing... IIRC professional pitching coaches call this the "drop and drive".


And since Mulder's initial problem in May was a BACK INJURY....hmmm.

-- MWE
   24. Cris E Posted: September 11, 2006 at 06:05 PM (#2173507)
If you're fielding suggestions for the next case study I'd love to see what bit Carlos Silva in the butt. Where was he in 03/04 vs 05 vs 06? What did he change for last year that went away again?
   25. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 11, 2006 at 06:06 PM (#2173511)
Chris,

Like I said, for $100 Marshall will send you his DVDs, which I believe include hi-speed film of both conventional and Marshall-ian pitching mechanics, as well as his biomechanical critique of the conventional and rationale for his own. So we could all chip in and get the DVDs for CBW and let him do the analysis. Like I also said, Marshall will probably talk to anybody about pitching anytime.

OTOH, how can CBW represent the mainstream? He's a freakin' submariner. ;)
   26. AROM Posted: September 11, 2006 at 06:10 PM (#2173515)
But he's giving up many more fly balls, and the fly balls are becoming home runs at a much higher rate. As a result, his HR/G has more than doubled, and his ERA/WHIP/everything has skyrocketed accordingly. No injuries that I know of, or anything similar.

My totally amateur take on Burgos is that there's nothing wrong with him, other than that he's a guy with a great fastball who really doesn't know how to pitch.
   27. Cris E Posted: September 11, 2006 at 06:18 PM (#2173524)
I need a docent tour, not just tickets to the museum.
   28. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 11, 2006 at 06:19 PM (#2173526)
Not much to add, other than "This is nifty." Which is still worth repeating, I guess.
   29. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 11, 2006 at 06:24 PM (#2173534)

My totally amateur take on Burgos is that there's nothing wrong with him, other than that he's a guy with a great fastball who really doesn't know how to pitch.


I concur. He's a two-pitch pitcher with terrible command. When his sinker is on, he's pretty darn good. When his sinker hangs, he's pretty darn hittable.
   30. DaMick knows what love is. A Boy Loves His Dog. Posted: September 11, 2006 at 06:29 PM (#2173541)
Amazing stuff. Every now and then one of the ESPN baseball announcers will try to show something like this, but they never explain things this well.
   31. CaliGirl9 Posted: September 11, 2006 at 06:40 PM (#2173552)
It would be interesting to compare Mulder's mechanics pre-hip injury in 2003 to 2004 and beyond. When I watch these films I see a very injured pitcher just making everything worse.
Too bad it's a contract year for Mulder... though he may come at a "bargain price" for a team willing to take a chance on him.
Great analysis and lots of food for thought in this discussion!
   32. Traderdave Posted: September 11, 2006 at 06:44 PM (#2173556)
My totally amateur take on Burgos is that there's nothing wrong with him, other than that he's a guy with a great fastball who really doesn't know how to pitch.

Having seen plenty of Mulder in his prime in Oakland, I must strongly disagree. Not onlt great stuff but a very smart cookie as well.

I wonder if the origin of his trouble goes back farther into '03. He sat out much of August & all of September with a stress fracture in his femur (IIRC). Could this have affected his delivery enough to start the change of mechanics?
   33. esseff Posted: September 11, 2006 at 06:58 PM (#2173574)
These are the same clips and write-up that were posted at the birdhouse blog last week. I presume CBW is the same person as Carlos Gomez: Sept. 5 birdhouse
   34. WillYoung Posted: September 11, 2006 at 07:32 PM (#2173606)
CBW, I also absolutely love this entry. Great stuff.
   35. Gaylord Perry the Platypus (oi!) Posted: September 11, 2006 at 07:49 PM (#2173627)
I presume CBW is the same person as Carlos Gomez
Yes, CBW is Carlos Gomez.
   36. Dr. Vaux Posted: September 11, 2006 at 07:56 PM (#2173631)
Another great job done by the thinking fan's favorite baseball player.

If I ever have a team, you're my pitching coach, CBW.
   37. How Flounder got here, he hasn't a clue. Posted: September 11, 2006 at 07:57 PM (#2173633)
CBW - I will echo everyone else and say these are really cool.

My one question: How much variance is there in a pitcher's motion during a game? Does a pitcher's delivery generally stay consistent within an inning or game?

Thanks again.
   38. esseff Posted: September 11, 2006 at 08:04 PM (#2173639)
Thanks, Leeds.


CBW/CG: Some bb organization surely has to have use for your good analytical mind.
   39. AROM Posted: September 11, 2006 at 08:07 PM (#2173641)
My totally amateur take on Burgos is that there's nothing wrong with him, other than that he's a guy with a great fastball who really doesn't know how to pitch.

Having seen plenty of Mulder in his prime in Oakland, I must strongly disagree. Not onlt great stuff but a very smart cookie as well.


Uh, I don't know what we are disagreeing about. Can we agree that Mark Mulder and Ambiorix Burgos are not the same person?
   40. Ignatius J. Reilly Posted: September 11, 2006 at 08:27 PM (#2173649)
CBW, Could you work up a similar analysis of Tim Hudson?
   41. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: September 11, 2006 at 08:29 PM (#2173653)
Wow, this is phenomenal. I second the motion that this would be great to see on BBTN.

Having seen plenty of Mulder in his prime in Oakland, I must strongly disagree. Not onlt great stuff but a very smart cookie as well.

News to me. All reports I've heard, as well as my subjective impression, say that Mulder is really dumb. (This doesn't rule out being "pitching-smart," but as a person, he doesn't have a whole lot going on upstairs.)
   42. Walt Davis Posted: September 11, 2006 at 09:02 PM (#2173695)
And since Mulder's initial problem in May was a BACK INJURY....hmmm.

I wonder about this too and it seems consistent with the video ... at least based on my own experience with a bad back (and probably nothing as bad as Mulder). Standing taller, not bending back, lack of leg drive, slowing down the torso twist, even not bending the front leg in as much seem consistent with a bad lower back.
   43. base ball chick Posted: September 11, 2006 at 09:12 PM (#2173702)
chad,

this is just GREAT!!!

of course you know i'm prejudice because anyone who understand that roy oswalt ROOLZ is my kinda guy.

- stupid question maybe but don't pitching coaches do this kinda stuff?

would you do something like this on brad lidge -

something like may 2005, then septmeber 30 2005 (when he actually started really getting hit - yeah something was wrong before the uncle disaster) then like may 2006
   44. Buzzards Bay Posted: September 12, 2006 at 12:05 AM (#2173924)
tks for your stuff CBW,
a couple of months ago you wrote about mechanics and i did try to focus more on the delivery from start to finish
sometimes i can't find anything and sometimes i can really see what is going on and then i see nothing for a few innings and then i see something again..i just want to say again tks for your time because it has given me another dimension to have fun with
   45. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 12, 2006 at 01:49 AM (#2174092)
Hey all,
just got back from work. I appreaciate all the comments and feedback, as it only fuels my desire to continue to do things like this. Thanks to Jim as well for putting this up for me.
As to your questions, I will try to answer them all tonight, but please bear with me while I get to yours. BTW, so far, excellent insight/comments, I will get to those.....
   46. greenback calls it soccer Posted: September 12, 2006 at 02:01 AM (#2174106)
And since Mulder's initial problem in May was a BACK INJURY....hmmm.

In May Mulder admitted he's had back problems since 2001. His problems may have started then.
   47. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: September 12, 2006 at 02:02 AM (#2174108)
CBW, so glad you've added content like this to this site. (This would be a good time to pimp your blog!)
   48. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 12, 2006 at 02:06 AM (#2174116)
One thing I noticed in the first set of clips is that Mulder's torso and spine seemed much more curved when he takes the ball back in the 2004 clip. In other words, he seemed to reach further back with his arm, curving his torso towards 3B. I would imagine that this gave him a greater range of motion on his delivery, increasing power and thus velocity. Today his torso seems much straighter, causing him to lose that added snap.

Yes, yes and yes. Excellent observation, especially regarding range of motion.


He looks like one of my little eleaguers when I tell them to slow down their delivery and they really overdo it.
Yes he does. To throw the ball a certain velocity (87 mph on #3), your arm has to go a certain speed. By going really slow on #3 with his body, he is not really helping his arm get to that X velocity.



IIRC professional pitching coaches call this the "drop and drive". This was one of the things that Brad Arnsberg and the Jays' minor league pitching coaches had worked on with Casey Janssen in order to coax more velocity out of his delivery,

One of the times I noticed something REALLY different about a pitcher was when I saw Ted Lilly as a Yankee/Athletic vs Ted Lilly now, although it seems like he's reverting back to "tall and fall," instead of "dip and drive."


My one question: How much variance is there in a pitcher's motion during a game? Does a pitcher's delivery generally stay consistent within an inning or game?

This is an EXCELLENT question. I'd have to really check it out on an individual basis. I don't know the exact answer. However, in order to coordinate all the moving parts, tempo remains fairly consistent. In reviewing earlier film of myself, I find that my tempo, unless I actually thought about speeding it up/slowing it down remained fairly consistent. A guy at a higher level who doesn't fidget around with mechanics as much as I do, would probably be more consistent than that.
   49. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 12, 2006 at 02:17 AM (#2174129)
My one question: How much variance is there in a pitcher's motion during a game? Does a pitcher's delivery generally stay consistent within an inning or game?

One more point on this question. I've always thought that I could tell, based on tempo alone, when Curt Schilling goes offspeed.

And to add to my answer above.....There is no way a pitcher's mechanics would vary as greatly as they do in an outing as they do on these clips. IOW, the changes above are changes that were willingly made and/or came as a result of injury or coaching.
   50. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: September 12, 2006 at 02:27 AM (#2174135)
This is something I always look for in a pitcher's mechanics, the bent back (essentially dropping the shoulders further toward the butt) which is a very good thing... IIRC professional pitching coaches call this the "drop and drive".



And since Mulder's initial problem in May was a BACK INJURY....hmmm.


I don't know anything about pitching mechanics or what is desirable, but I do know how backs work, and the kind of back hyperextension shown in the video is very stressful for the low back. Frames 28 and 29 in video #3 seem to show hyperextension of the lumbar spine and indicate an inability to maintain core strength throughout the pitching motion.
   51. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 12, 2006 at 02:30 AM (#2174138)
BTW guys and gals....I've gotten a few suggestions as to who to analyze next (Lidge, Silva, Hudson, Burgos). I already have Prior on video and it's just a matter of setting up the clips and comments. These things take a little while to do, so I'd like to concentrate on pitchers who generate the most interest (are struggling the worst or performing better than usual). IOW, Ambiorix Burgos probably wouldn't make the cut right now...sorry.

The other thing I would like to do is take a pitcher who has just "broken out" and break his mechanics down. Examples include Verlander, Papelbon, Zumaya (where does his 101 mph come from?----teach all your kids to throw like him), Liriano, Cain (whom I love to watch--quick tempo guy). Or take a more established guy that I could use as an example later (Santana, Oswalt, Webb) and break him down. I could also take the truly ugly mechanics (Mark Redman, BJ Ryan--awful arm action)....suggestions welcome.....
   52. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 12, 2006 at 02:38 AM (#2174149)
It would be interesting to compare Mulder's mechanics pre-hip injury in 2003 to 2004 and beyond.

I wonder if the origin of his trouble goes back farther into '03. He sat out much of August & all of September with a stress fracture in his femur (IIRC). Could this have affected his delivery enough to start the change of mechanics?

Unfortunately, I don't have video of him going back to '03. I've never been a fan of Mulder's mechanics, BTW. Hell, we played against him in college, and even though he shut us out in one game and hit two bombs in the other, he wasn't blowing 95 mph past us. The other thing is that his mechanics are front shoulder-heavy. He doesn't throw to as firm a front side as I'd like to see. He kinda yanks his lead arm and shoulder which is not good for the shoulder.

BTW, Baseball Chick--Brad Lidge is kinda the same way, with regards to his front shoulder. Enjoy your velocity while it lasts, Brad.....
   53. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 12, 2006 at 03:00 AM (#2174181)
Slinger, your questions....


CBW, would there be a good reason that leg drive might be unattainable?

Injury could be a factor, of course. More than likely however, it is by design. I would not be surprised if he is actually being told to be slower, to "stay over the rubber longer," "get to the balance point and then go, "be controlled, slow and smooth," and other similar disgraces. For some, being slower works. For Mulder it seems like the "wilder" he is with his mechanics, i.e the quicker he gets it up and down, the better he is.




If I'm understanding what you're talking about here, CBW, it seems to me this is part and parcel of the slowness of his delivery; that extra time to bring it back up to where it needs to be is a great deal of the difference. Is this true?

Yes, to a certain degree. As a general rule, the closer everything is to your center of mass (the more compact you are), the easier it is to coordinate the movements of all those parts in a quick way. However, that probably doesn't explain all of it. I believe this is REALLY trying to be "slow and controlled."


BTW, another issue that is worth considering for future employers of Mulder. Mulder shows that arm action hitch even when he makes pickoff throws to first. On that Mets game ,that's when I really went "uh-oh, it could be irreparable." I recommend that Mulder speed everything up because I believe that it will shorten up his arm action and make his arm circle go quicker. However, the more often you do something incorrectly, the harder it is to break the habit. IOW, he could have that hitch for good.
   54. DCW3 Posted: September 12, 2006 at 07:49 AM (#2174349)
Very nice work. I guess it's true--the world loves Wannabes.
   55. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: September 12, 2006 at 02:24 PM (#2174436)
CBW, thanks for taking the time to respond. My vote for a breakdown would be Mark Buehrle. He seems to have gotten ineffective overnight. My next vote would be for Pedro, to see what makes him still so good.

Also, side question: can you, CBW, tell if a pitcher is throwing doctored pitches?

I would not be surprised if he is actually being told to be slower, to "stay over the rubber longer," "get to the balance point and then go, "be controlled, slow and smooth," and other similar disgraces.

Heh, you hit my hobbyhorse. Duncan may well have gotten good results for other pitchers by telling them this, but as you say Mulder does not seem to benefit from his advice. My thing is, why not have two or three pitching coaches on staff, all with different approaches. The manager would actually have to manage who sees whom so the guys don't get overloaded with conflicting advice, but still, that would make sense to me. Hell, if millions of dollars depended on my mechanics, I'd hire my own guy to do nothing but look at my mechanics; it'd be money well-spent. That's what Tiger Woods did <u>after</u> he won his first Masters, and look at the results.
   56. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 12, 2006 at 04:24 PM (#2174565)
Hell, if millions of dollars depended on my mechanics, I'd hire my own guy to do nothing but look at my mechanics;

I couldn't agree with you more. Although it didn't quite work out for me, this is what I did in my offseason. I moved to Atlanta in order to be closer to my cousin/guru of baseball Jeff Albert, aka Marcus Giles 2 in this site. My goal was to get to be as low as comfortably possible and throw as hard as I could from there. Goal, which was attained, was consistently 80-82, and I topped out at 86. I bought a video camera, a sports radar and some weighted balls. That and a good deal of time commitment, with a lot of help from Jeff, got me to my goal. This was balanced with work, gym, etc, etc.

If I'm Mark Mulder, and my one and only job is to start once every five days, I would absolutely hire my own guy...hell, Mark, if you're reading this, I'll do it for 10% or better offer....
   57. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 12, 2006 at 04:35 PM (#2174572)
why not have two or three pitching coaches on staff, all with different approaches

Major league teams already have two pitching coaches -- they call one of them the bullpen coach. We could debate how much actual coaching those two guys do on any given team, of course, but I would imagine that most teams strive for a consistent message and approach in any case. This might have more to with why some pitchers do particularly well or poorly after changing teams than some coach or other actually being either a genius or a moron.
   58. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 12, 2006 at 05:03 PM (#2174593)

Also, side question: can you, CBW, tell if a pitcher is throwing doctored pitches?


No, I can't, not from just looking at mechanics. I'd have to actually step in and face the pitcher to be able to tell. Even playing catch, however, you can kinda tell when someone is throwing a cut ball by how it acts.
   59. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: September 12, 2006 at 05:07 PM (#2174598)
CBW's blog is the best thing to happen to primer since the Mabry-Giambi trade.

Great stuff.
   60. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: September 12, 2006 at 05:46 PM (#2174643)
I'm sharing it with my fellow Asian besuboru fans. See what they can come up with
   61. base ball chick Posted: September 12, 2006 at 06:18 PM (#2174682)
chad

the thing is that all of us - our real names - baseballplayerswannabe

because even the smallest/grrrliest of us think if we got taught how the right way, we could be freddie patek/david eckstein/wandy rodriguez. ok. lefties can't play SS, 2B. but CF - brett butler, devon white maybe (yeah i know they a lil biggern the Pest)

and speaking of wandy -
larry dierker said last week on his blog that he was watching wandy on tv and he could see from the centerfield camera that wandy had changed his arm angle and the minute he did that he got hit. are pitching coaches allowed to watch tv during the game to see how the pitchers are doing? are other people allowed to watch the game in the clubhouse and call the pitching coach and say stuff like wandy dropping his shoulder.
   62. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 12, 2006 at 09:17 PM (#2174811)
are pitching coaches allowed to watch tv during the game to see how the pitchers are doing? are other people allowed to watch the game in the clubhouse and call the pitching coach and say stuff like wandy dropping his shoulder.

The short answer to this question is "why not." There's TV's all over the place (I'd think) in the clubhouse. All the pitching coach has to do is go in to the clubhouse and watch. Hell, he could probably go to the video coordinator guy and watch the previous half-inning if he'd like.
   63. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: September 12, 2006 at 10:11 PM (#2174857)
One of the times I noticed something REALLY different about a pitcher was when I saw Ted Lilly as a Yankee/Athletic vs Ted Lilly now, although it seems like he's reverting back to "tall and fall," instead of "dip and drive."

A year or two ago there was an interesting screed posted on this site. I don't remember the author but it was an old-timey baseball guy who was blaming the drop and drive (modeled after Steve Carlton's motion, IIRC) for the rash of injuries. He preached the 'tall and fall' because it didn't involve a stop in the pitcher's windup which requires the hurler to use more of his arm in generating velocity. What's your take on it? Do you see enough of each style to comment?

My next vote would be for Pedro, to see what makes him still so good.

A friend of mine was a Div III baseball player (sometime pitcher) who was lucky enough to hang out with Jason Varitek for a night because the Red Sox spring training coincided with my friend's spring break baseball trip. Anyway... Varitek claimed that Pedro had calluses on his fingers that extended under his fingernails. Apparently Pedro generates tons of spin by wrapping his fingers around the ball. I have no idea how he can do that and maintain his control. Maybe the greats transcend understanding :)
   64. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: September 12, 2006 at 10:14 PM (#2174860)
Apparently Pedro generates tons of spin by wrapping his fingers around the ball.

To a freakish degree, I should have added
   65. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 12, 2006 at 11:00 PM (#2174900)
The "tall and fall" is still probably the most taught technique. "Drop and drive" is kinda making a comeback, although the way I would teach "drop and drive" would be very different from how, say, Tom Seaver would teach it.

An interesting example of the "tall and fall" was Nolan Ryan. However, as much as Tom House and others preached "tall and fall," Ryan (on video) didn't demonstrate that technique. Ryan would kick his leg, and then really start picking up his tempo by engaging his hips/legs on the way down into footplant. IOW, he wasn't "falling." If he was indeed just falling into footplant you would've expected him to lower his leg in a tempo closely resembling a falling object due to gravity. On video, Ryan was much closer to a D&D than T&F, even though he preached T&F.
   66. CaliGirl9 Posted: September 12, 2006 at 11:41 PM (#2174923)
CBW—LOVE the handle. Chad Bradford was one of my favorites while he was in Oakland... I've not been a baseball fan for very long, so the first time I saw his submarine pitch in person, I was taken aback somewhat and wondered what was in the beer I'd just finished.
Anyway, another Oakland player who may be interesting to analyze is Rich Harden. There's either something really wrong with his mechanics or training methods that a neophyte like myself just cannot see. I don't think he's destined for a long and productive career at the rate he's going.
   67. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: September 13, 2006 at 12:19 AM (#2174956)
A year or two ago there was an interesting screed posted on this site. I don't remember the author but it was an old-timey baseball guy who was blaming the drop and drive (modeled after Steve Carlton's motion, IIRC) for the rash of injuries. He preached the 'tall and fall' because it didn't involve a stop in the pitcher's windup which requires the hurler to use more of his arm in generating velocity. What's your take on it? Do you see enough of each style to comment?



I think that it was a letter htat some HS pitching coach sent to Treder; who wrote about it a THT. He was a "rock and fire" proponent, IIRC. I didn't realize that there cam another philosophy after "drop and drive". It makes sense though. 20 years ago, I had a book that mentioned drop and drive as the way to pitch; and two decades is a long lifespan for an idea. Seaver may have been associated with thebook some how.
   68. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: September 13, 2006 at 12:32 AM (#2174967)
Tom Seaver

That was who I meant... not Carlton
   69. greenback calls it soccer Posted: September 13, 2006 at 06:09 AM (#2175363)
Mulder had surgery Tuesday. Thought this was interesting:

Paletta said the quality of the tissue indicated that the rotator cuff tear occurred relatively recently.

"I can't tell you whether that was nine weeks ago or four months ago or spring training," Paletta said. "But it does not look like something that's been there chronic for years and years and years."
   70. AJMcCringleberry Posted: September 13, 2006 at 06:55 AM (#2175372)
CBW, I think I remember you saying that you spotted something in Oliver Perez's mechanics, I'd be interested in seeing a breakdown of him.
   71. Dr. Vaux Posted: September 13, 2006 at 07:49 AM (#2175386)
Seaver did write a mass-market book about pitching about 20 years ago. I read a lot of it at Meijer.
   72. Robert S. Posted: September 13, 2006 at 09:46 AM (#2175398)
CBW, you've already mentioned Webb, so let me further plead the case:

- '04 version: leads league in walks
- '05 version: cuts walk-rate in half, starts refining Maddux-like comebacker
- '06 pre-ASB: cuts walk-rate even further, uses more off-speed stuff than ever before
- '06 post-ASB: elbow trouble, changes delivery (7-26 start @ Philly is the first time I noticed anything off; 9-9 start @ home seems to be the first time he really made his 'new' delivery work)
   73. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 13, 2006 at 12:51 PM (#2175446)
Harden, Lidge, Webb, Perez, Prior??....I'm thinking either Prior or Perez next, especially since I already have video of them.
   74. Dan The Mediocre Posted: September 13, 2006 at 01:14 PM (#2175459)
Do Victor Zambrano. Let's see if you can do it before Rick Peterson.
   75. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 13, 2006 at 01:15 PM (#2175462)
Whoa, I just saw Perez 2 nights ago. I think he might be back, at least tempo/velocity-wise. Perez is next....
   76. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: September 13, 2006 at 02:58 PM (#2175558)
The "tall and fall" is still probably the most taught technique. "Drop and drive" is kinda making a comeback, although the way I would teach "drop and drive" would be very different from how, say, Tom Seaver would teach it.


It's the opposite here in the far east.
   77. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 13, 2006 at 05:29 PM (#2175750)
I'm a complete amateur pitching coach, but I do try to take my responsibility to the kids I coach seriously. I would say that the delivery I try to teach is a modified "tall and fall." I try to get my pitchers to "pitch downhill" and fall into an atheletic position that lets them get drive from *both* legs as they accelerate their throwing arm forward. The most common mechanical flaw I see in young kids is a tendency to start the arm forward before the stride foot has landed. The next most frequent problem I encounter is landing on the heel of a closed stride foot. Talk about stopping all of your momentum before you throw.

I know this is of virtually no interest to most of you, but I'd appreciate any coments that CBW might have about the best way to lay a good foundation in these kids so that there's something to work with if and when they get to a real pitching coach.
   78. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 13, 2006 at 06:01 PM (#2175811)
Sure thing Ignoratio......

I find that most instruction nowadays is pretty backwards and I'll tell you why. If your aim is to have them throw a baseball to the fullest extent of their ability (hardest fastball, sharpest curve, etc, etc) you have to teach them to build momentum into foot plant. IOW, if anything you want them to be as quick as they can be to the plate from say top of the knee lift or when the knee gets parallel to the ground or some other point where he is able to turn it on. Controlled violence---controlled fury---call it what you may. From a developmental POV, if you teach a kid to be efficient slowly (tall and fall-ish), he will find it harder later to speed up in order to aid his arm into moving faster.

Hey, it's great if your kid can command the strike zone at 75 mph when he's in high school. However, to get to the next level (at least college), you'd like him to show command at 85 mph.

The main things I correct in kids right away are :1) ARM ACTION (huge, huge) 2) yanking the lead arm 3) TEMPO

If I were a full-time instructor, I would teach throwing first, and THEN pitching. There is no use in having nice, clean pitcherish mechanics when you are an inefficient thrower of a baseball first.

A quick suggestion: Have a "Throw the crap out of the baseball day" where all they concentrate is in throwing the crap outta the ball. Get them to move their bodies as fast as they can. Do a drill where you stand behind them and yell: "NOW" with the instructions that they get rid of it as quickly as they can as hard as they can. This teaches them to generate velocity in a shorter period of time.

Hope this helps a bit. Feel free to email me if you'd like.
   79. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 14, 2006 at 04:45 PM (#2176851)
In light of unfortunate recent events, perhaps Francisco Liriano should be on the short list for a future entry. Is there something about the way he throws his slider that made this inevitable? Or is that just sportscenter talking head babble?
   80. CrosbyBird Posted: September 14, 2006 at 08:28 PM (#2177101)
Late to the comments here, but fascinating stuff, CBW. I'm definitely looking forward to your Oliver Perez analysis... I've been arguing with some fellow Met fans (non-primer) that he's the steal of the trade and another example of Minaya finding exceptional things that others have practically discarded.

But I'll look at pretty much any pitcher you do this stuff for... it's really great and I hope you keep it up.
   81. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 16, 2006 at 04:33 PM (#2178793)
In light of the events, as Ignoratio pointed out, Liriano is next. I'm almost done with it. Stay tuned....


I had missed this, but....

CBW's blog is the best thing to happen to primer since the Mabry-Giambi trade.

This has to be the greatest compliment ever. Thanks man.
   82. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 16, 2006 at 04:45 PM (#2178802)
I'm definitely looking forward to your Oliver Perez analysis... I've been arguing with some fellow Met fans (non-primer) that he's the steal of the trade and another example of Minaya finding exceptional things that others have practically discarded.


I absolutely agree. After doing a little video work on him, really, it was a great move by Minaya. Even if it doesn't work out, lefties at 95 mph+ don't grow on trees. I honestly can't believe someone would cut bait on him so quickly. I thought it was irresponsible. Of course, we don't know the whole story as to why he was traded.
   83. The Ancient Mariner Posted: September 18, 2006 at 06:41 PM (#2180773)
Very late to the comments, but here's two: one, I'm very much looking forward to seeing what you have to say on both Liriano and Perez (I honestly could not understand why nobody seemed to see him as an absolute steal in that trade). And two, CBW, I realize this is not a guy of any great importance, but after reading Jeff Sullivan's piece on Francisco Cruceta, I'd be extremely interested to see what you make of this guy's mechanics, which sound extremely strange to me (I actually haven't had the chance to see him pitch for myself).
   84. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: September 20, 2006 at 04:56 AM (#2182767)
I briefly skimmed Sullivan's piece and also watched a little of his start the other night. First impression was "I like how aggressive he is, even if he is on the wild side." Give me a little time and I'll take a closer look at him.

Re: Sullivan's article

It didn't seem to me that at first glance, Cruceta releases the ball farther back than most other pitchers. Actually, I thought that with his aggressive leg drive, he actually gains a good bit of ground towards home plate. That said, I saw maybe 9-10 pitches at full speed. I'd like to take a look at him at slow-mo before I make that determination.
   85. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: March 02, 2007 at 02:35 PM (#2305743)
Recent Mark Mulder article

I'd love for him to say "Oh yeah, I read that article and decided to implement his suggestion."

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