— 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).
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.
85 comment(s)Posted: September 11, 2006 at 12:55 PM |
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