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Bullpen Mechanics
— A Scout's View

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Quick Mechanics Take-Russ Ortiz

First of all, don’t worry. I’m not predicting a monster season for Russ Ortiz.

What I do want to point out is that his mechanics have changed for the better from last year to this year and he’s throwing harder because of it. I actually wish I had video of him of years before last so that I could show how much worse he was back then even compared to ‘06. However, I have a clip from last year and a clip from this year, and the change is significant.

When I first saw Ortiz throw this year, it instantly jumped out at me… HE’S BREAKING HIS HANDS LATER.

“Breaking the hands” or “hand break”—The point at which a pitcher’s throwing hand and glove separate during the motion. Basically, it’s when the ball first comes out of the glove.

If you’ve read my work, you have heard me talk about “early” or “late” hand break.

On the article about last year’s draft, I wrote on Andrew Miller, for example…..

Takes the ball out of the glove too early for my liking.

On the Mulder article, I suggested to Mark Mulder….

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.

About Mark Prior, I wrote (regarding why I like Prior in ‘01 better)

1) He breaks his hands later. His arm travels roughly the same distance is less time =(in theory) better arm speed.

You get what I’m saying, I mention it a lot.

Here’s Ortiz, ‘07 vs ‘06….

What’s so different?
It looks like the ‘07 version is breaking his hands as his lead leg descends while it seems that ‘06 breaks his hands JUST before his lead leg gets to its highest point (or JUST as it starts going down). The ‘06 Ortiz’s arm is getting back there too quickly. He’s jerking his arm back there REALLY quick to make sure that his arm is up and into “throwing position”. It’s one of the premises with the early/late hand break… If you get to the “throwing position” too early, your arm has to wait for the front foot to land in order to start bringing the juice. In other words, you kill your arm’s momentum by getting the arm up too quickly. I highlighted frames 13 through 15, because, to me, it’s those frames where you see ‘06’s arm waiting for the front foot to land. See how his arm in ‘06 starts back, then hesitates while his body moves forward into footplant, and then starts up again?

Notice how his arm action this year seems like it’s uninterrupted and hitch free.
EXACTLY….

 

 

 

ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: April 22, 2007 at 01:53 AM | 15 comment(s)
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   1. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: April 22, 2007 at 02:48 AM (#2341907)
Oh, by the way...

Hand break---the time when the pitcher takes the ball out of the glove.
   2. TFTIO Posted: April 22, 2007 at 03:06 AM (#2341911)
I learn something new with every post. You rock.
   3. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: April 22, 2007 at 03:12 AM (#2341913)
HEHE, should I edit something? I turns out, he actually IS breaking his hands a wee bit later. Watch how '07 breaks the hands as he is coming down with his leg, while '06 seems to breaks his hands JUST before getting to the top....lemme fix something

The danger of throwing something out there too quickly. The premise remains the same...
   4. J. Cross Posted: April 22, 2007 at 03:17 AM (#2341915)
CBW, does it look to you like the '07 version is getting his arm back farther? Not exactly Neshek levels but (and it could be the angle) it looks like he's a little more flexible. I see what you mean about his '06 elbow just lingering between frames 13 and 15. btw, in high school I was taught to get my arm up and out ASAP. Are most pitchers taught the opposite?
   5. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: April 22, 2007 at 03:25 AM (#2341918)
J. Cross--

I noticed that too...how he loads his arm better. I believe that is secondary (in his case) to the interruption in his arm circle.

I was taught to bring the arm out early too, and it is STILL taught this way. It works for some (Danys Baez, Freddy Garcia, etc). I just hate to see it. There's not many out there that advocate a late hand break. If you go to the MAtsuzaka article at THT that I wrote, note how late Roy Oswalt breaks his hands...another reason why he throws so hard.
   6. Frisco Cali Posted: April 22, 2007 at 05:22 AM (#2341956)
His hips get through much more quickly in '07 also. Frames 16-18 or so. I'm not sure which is the cause and which is the effect, hips or arm.
   7. Steve Phillips' Hot Cougar (DrStankus) Posted: April 22, 2007 at 05:28 AM (#2341957)
Carlos,

You're the best. You are a positive reason to come to this site.

It even outweighs tweaking 'kevin' for being such a tool.

Thanks
   8. More Indecisive than Lonnie Smith on 2nd... Posted: April 22, 2007 at 01:57 PM (#2342009)
I have to admit, when I first looked, I went straight from the 3rd or 4th sentence to the videos, not reading that they were posted in '07-'06 order, and I thought to myself "wow, he looks like crap now." (nevermind the uniforms my brain was ignoring, too!). I'm glad this means I at least recognized something--perhaps becuase I've been taking "Mechanics 101" w/ CBW.

Seriously, I was wondering about the breaking hands thing before I re-read the post and replies...I thought he was looking a little more fluid from the waist down (see how '06 almost pauses, then sort of steps as if on eggshells forward?) and that translated to his arm action (which still picks the ball outward rather than upward with "elbowy" action, if I'm reading this right--please comment if you have the time, CBW) for a smoother loading of the segments of his shoulder/arm/elbow/wrist to generate a better acceleration for his pitches.

One more question: did Ortiz ever mention a hamstring or groin injury in '06 or earlier? If you watch his lead leg action, he's almost afraid to load the hamstring while extended (eccentric loading) or abduct his hip...look how his front foot stays tucked and never fully extends, keeping him from having the leg drive required from his lower body. Just my $.02, curious to hear CBW.
   9. Bhaakon Posted: April 22, 2007 at 08:39 PM (#2342376)
"did Ortiz ever mention a hamstring or groin injury in '06 or earlier?"

He missed time with a calf injury last season, and a cracked rib in '05.
   10. wcw Posted: April 23, 2007 at 12:22 AM (#2342503)
The first thing that I noticed is how heavy Ortiz looks in '06. I'd lost track of him. Looking at that '06 body, it seems he emphatically is not the kind of pitcher who can thrive as a fat tub of goo (P+C Terry Forster).

Having watched him pitch, he looks the worse for wear since he left SF, but probably good enough to throw a league-average season, which isn't at all bad for what the Giants are paying.
   11. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: April 23, 2007 at 04:03 PM (#2343150)
I thought he was looking a little more fluid from the waist down (see how '06 almost pauses, then sort of steps as if on eggshells forward?) and that translated to his arm action (which still picks the ball outward rather than upward with "elbowy" action, if I'm reading this right--please comment if you have the time, CBW) for a smoother loading of the segments of his shoulder/arm/elbow/wrist to generate a better acceleration for his pitches.

Agreed. If you measure his tempo in '06, he's actually quicker than this year. Ordinarily, you would think that I would tell him to speed his body up and not slow it down. However, it almost seems like his ARM is making his body go quicker and not the other way around. You want your body to lead the way. By being so abrupt in taking his arm out and up into throwing position, it led to the awkwardish lower body action that you allude to.
   12. Tom (and his broom) Posted: April 23, 2007 at 04:47 PM (#2343182)
not that there isn't a shortage of pitchers for you to analyze.....but how about doing a last year/this year look at Jason Schmidt?
   13. wcw Posted: April 23, 2007 at 09:46 PM (#2343395)
Schmidt is striking out plenty still and not walking too many. His problem has been an HR rate about three times last year's. Not having seen him this year, I have nothing on which to go but the numbers, but my bet is that he's fine, and that it's just sample size.
   14. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: April 23, 2007 at 10:08 PM (#2343419)
I've read Schmidt's velocity is WAY off, so there may be something there.
   15. More Indecisive than Lonnie Smith on 2nd... Posted: April 24, 2007 at 03:14 AM (#2343826)
Personally, if we're looking not only at what's going wrong (Schmidt) but doing an Ortiz-esque look at what's going "right," I'd be curious if Tim Hudson, version 3.0 (2007) is doing anything appreciably different than version 2.0, 2.1 (Braves, 2005-6) and/or similar to version 1.0-1.6 (Oakland years, possibly excluding the last one post-injury/pre-trade). Just a thought.

And CBW, thanks for the reply...do you find that the arm tends to dictate pace for the lower body, or lower body for the arm? I was wondering about this before, after reading your notes on faster time from breaking the hands to lead foot plant leading to increased arm velocity...

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