Quick Take: King Felix and Tempo
Earlier tonight, friend of the blog Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus sent me this article on Felix Hernandez, where the author says this:
“Hernandez and pitching coach Rafael Chaves have studied tapes of those two dominant games in April and compared them with the recent struggles. They think he has been rushing through his delivery.”
The article continues with the unthinkable:
“We want maybe a little bit of hesitation at the balance point instead of rushing through it,” Chaves said. “Get to the balance point, spend a little bit of time in it, then explode from there.”
After surviving the mild heart attack that soon followed, I told myself: “Keep an open mind, maybe slowing down his body is helpful to him in the short term.” I’d like to again point out that any interruption in momentum to me is detrimental, especially with a pitcher that has Hernandez’s arm speed. Basically, the less “body” you use to throw, the more “arm” you have to use.
Will explained that he was a little skeptical of the article’s assertion that the reason that Hernandez was struggling was that he was being too quick and “rushing through the balance point.” Naturally, so was I. I decided to take a look with as open a mind as I could. Here are six clips, synchronized to release. There’s 2 pitches apiece from his 2 dominant starts earlier this year(4/2 and 4/11) vs his latest start on 6/15. They are all fastballs except for pitch #3, which is a curveball. All the pitches were from the windup and I started these clips at around 3 or 4 frames before reaching the top of his knee lift.
Disclaimer: This was a quick look. I know that one of the clips (#2) has a dropped frame. Not a big deal….
Was Chaves right in saying that Felix was rushing?
They look pretty similar, don’t they? In frame 11, you may notice that on pitch #3 (the curveball), his tempo is slower. You can tell because his left leg is slightly lower, indicating that he has less ground to cover than the others.
Ok, so maybe the speed of his whole motion slowed down, right? Nope….
You could make the argument that pitch #3 (on 6/15) has a 1 frame head start because his left heel is already up off the ground. The other two have their left heels on the ground. Even with that slight advantage, Hernandez early in the year “beats” his June 15th counterpart to release. In other words, I could argue that he’s “rushing” more early in the year.
You’ll have to trust me when I say that I didn’t go through any kind of exhaustive search for clips. I thought it was evident right away.
In short, I’m not sure what video the Mariners were watching when they came to the conclusion that Hernandez was rushing. The fact that I was able to quickly find clips that support the opposite position make me question what it is that they are looking at. Granted, they may have studied much more film that I have for this study. That said, I do have one more request…
Dear Mariners’ organization,
Please don’t slow King Felix down. I understand that not every pitcher is able to implement the quick tempo that I advocate. If anything though, please try to speed him up. Also, please don’t mention the term “balance point” ever again to him. I’d like to watch him pitch for as long as possible.
Carlos, aka ChadBradfordWannabe
Posted: June 22, 2007 at 03:20 AM | 23 comment(s)