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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Every Pitch Is Bad For You | FanGraphs Baseball

The best way to keep your pitchers from getting hurt is to not pitch them. Bring on the Iron Mikes!!

The Orioles — and to some extent, the Royals — have sworn off the cutter. Now it looks like the Red Sox are eschewing the slider. The curveball is probably bad for you. If you throw the changeup one way, you might be at risk for injury. We’re years ahead of a stream of knuckleball copycats, and there’s only one screwball pitcher in the big leagues. Maybe one day we’ll find those pitches lead to injury, too.

Maybe using any pitch too much is a problem?

Jim Furtado Posted: December 20, 2012 at 08:03 PM | 34 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: injuries, pitching mechanics

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   1. Darren Posted: December 20, 2012 at 08:21 PM (#4329677)
The Red Sox signed Dempster AND are eschewing the slider?
   2. Transmission Posted: December 20, 2012 at 08:25 PM (#4329683)
Said it at FG in response to TFA, will say it here: It might just be a semantic gripe, but I get annoyed with the "pitching is an unnatural movement" claim, expressed in both TFA and the comments.

In a narrowly literal sense, just about any human movement that doesn't result in immediate injury or death should be considered "natural." Rotating your head 360 degrees, sure, I'll call that unnatural. Throwing a ball? Unnatural? Huh?

More broadly, from an evolutionary perspective, how in the world is throwing anything but one of the most fundamental of human motions? Think of how evolutionarily advantageous it must have been for this aspiring young species of primate to be able to hurl projectiles forward with velocity and accuracy. I don't have the evidence in front of me to prove it, but intuitively it seems like throwing skills are exactly the sort of thing that would get selected for in nature's chopping block.

If you want to say "throwing an object at maximum effort in high-stress situations over a number of years or decades, for tens if not hundreds of thousands of repetitions" is unnatural, then sure, I'll buy that. But you then could replace "throwing" with damn near anything, and thereby conclude all sports other than running are unnatural.

Analytically, I guess what irks me is that "throwing is unnatural" smacks of defeatism, of throwing up your hands and declaring that injuries just happen and it's God's will and that's the end of it.

Also, all that said, I really enjoyed TFA.
   3. Eugene Freedman Posted: December 20, 2012 at 08:26 PM (#4329685)
Mike Marshall laughs at this thread.
   4. Dale Sams Posted: December 20, 2012 at 09:00 PM (#4329710)
I thought the screwball was long out of use just for this very reason.


Now it looks like the Red Sox are eschewing the slider


This is not the way I thought the Red Sox would choose to bad mouth Bard.


   5. Walt Davis Posted: December 20, 2012 at 09:37 PM (#4329733)
Dear Mr. Sams,

We appreciate your many years of service to our company but we have decided to eschew your services.

Happy holidays.

The Management
   6. Walt Davis Posted: December 20, 2012 at 09:46 PM (#4329740)
And with Barry Bison coming up, Chief Nokahoma is coming out of the dugout.

Looks like he's bringing in Johnny Stonekill, Joe, the kid just called up from the Lakotas.

They say this kid throws faster than a jaguar and can nail a hummingbird from 90 paces, Tim.

Hold on ... Barry is lumbering back to the bench. What's this? He's strapping a turtle shell to his head and an armadillo to each elbow.

Y'know they've really got to do something about this Tim. Back in my day, a bison couldn't wear all this protective gear and just lean into a rock like they do today! Bob Gibson never would have allowed this sort of thing I tell ya.
   7. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 20, 2012 at 10:05 PM (#4329759)
Now it looks like the Red Sox are eschewing the slider


Fortunately for Rich Garces, regular-sized burgers are still OK.
   8. Mayor Blomberg Posted: December 20, 2012 at 10:05 PM (#4329761)
As a Yankee fan I'd be very pleased if the O's and Sox concluded that flat, 88-mph fastballs are the healthiest pitch.
   9. phredbird Posted: December 20, 2012 at 10:20 PM (#4329772)
If you want to say "throwing an object at maximum effort in high-stress situations over a number of years or decades, for tens if not hundreds of thousands of repetitions" is unnatural, then sure, I'll buy that.


'clicking a button and dragging a solid plastic object back and forth over a smooth surface in high-stress work environments over a number of years or decades, for tens if not hundreds of thousands of repetitions is unnatural.'

works for me.
   10. Dan Posted: December 20, 2012 at 11:36 PM (#4329826)
I read an interesting article on Beyond the Box Score a week or two ago that showed a correlation between the front offices we think of as sabermetrically inclined and reduced use of the slider. The Rays apparently use the slider the least of any team in baseball. The Red Sox were one of the lowest as well.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: December 20, 2012 at 11:43 PM (#4329829)
Red Sox eschew sliders?

After downing all that Schaeffer's in the clubhouse, where else do you go but White Castle?
   12. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 21, 2012 at 12:20 AM (#4329846)
The Rays apparently use the slider the least of any team in baseball. The Red Sox were one of the lowest as well.

Well future HOFer Randy Johnson says piffle and scoffs at the idea of never using the slider...
   13. Dale Sams Posted: December 21, 2012 at 12:50 AM (#4329859)
That Johnson guy has a terrible body for a pitcher. Look at him! And his delivery is a mess. He'll be out of baseball by 31.
   14. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:57 AM (#4329880)
So no sliders, curves, cutters or screwballs?

The next generation will throw what? Fastballs, changeups and knuckleballs?
   15. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: December 21, 2012 at 05:15 AM (#4329900)
As a Yankee fan I'd be very pleased if the O's and Sox concluded that flat, 88-mph fastballs are the healthiest pitch.


The Sox already did that last year.
   16. depletion Posted: December 21, 2012 at 09:20 AM (#4329928)
and there’s only one screwball pitcher in the big leagues. Maybe one day we’ll find those pitches lead to injury, too.

I thought it was "established" that the screwball hurts young arms. Ralph Kiner was broadcasting a long time ago (Valenzuela 1981?) and remarked "if you're a young pitcher do not throw a screwball as it can really mess up your arm."
   17. DL from MN Posted: December 21, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4329978)
The forkball has been banned by pitching coaches for a while now too. Of course they'll teach a 35 year old veteran just about anything to squeeze a few more months out of him.
   18. JJ1986 Posted: December 21, 2012 at 11:18 AM (#4330039)
Who's the screwball pitcher? I know Danny Ray Herrera was one, but he blew out his arm.
   19. Bug Selig Posted: December 21, 2012 at 11:18 AM (#4330040)
Ralph Kiner was broadcasting a long time ago (Valenzuela 1981?) and remarked "if you're a young pitcher do not throw a screwball as it can really mess up your arm."


I believe this is totally wrong. Thumb down at extension is good. The fact that Ralph Kiner said it makes me almost positive that I am correct.
   20. DL from MN Posted: December 21, 2012 at 11:35 AM (#4330072)
I think I remember Carl Hubbell saying the screwball was bad for his arm, actually deforming it slightly.
   21. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 21, 2012 at 12:02 PM (#4330110)
I get annoyed with the "pitching is an unnatural movement" claim, expressed in both TFA and the comments.
...
More broadly, from an evolutionary perspective, how in the world is throwing anything but one of the most fundamental of human motions?


Walking upright is an unnatural movement.
   22. DL from MN Posted: December 21, 2012 at 12:10 PM (#4330119)
Walking upright is an unnatural movement.


Human back muscles still haven't evolved to the point where they're used to it.
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 21, 2012 at 12:19 PM (#4330129)
I think I remember Carl Hubbell saying the screwball was bad for his arm, actually deforming it slightly.

I remember that he said it sort of twisted it outward, but how bad could it have been? He threw almost 3600 IP to a 130 ERA+. He was above average through age-38, and pitched until 40.
   24. SG Posted: December 21, 2012 at 12:24 PM (#4330138)
Who's the screwball pitcher? I know Danny Ray Herrera was one, but he blew out his arm.


According to the Wiki for the screwball there are three active pitchers that throw a scroogie, Dallas Braden, Yoshinori Tateyama and Hector Santiago.
   25. Perry Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:26 PM (#4330405)
I think I remember Carl Hubbell saying the screwball was bad for his arm, actually deforming it slightly.

I remember that he said it sort of twisted it outward, but how bad could it have been? He threw almost 3600 IP to a 130 ERA+. He was above average through age-38, and pitched until 40.


And Warren Spahn lasted till 44 throwing one. Although his longevity might have been helped by spending his early 20s involved in activities other than pitching (although fighting a war probably isn't the best way to protect young pitchers).
   26. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4330437)
I remember that he said it sort of twisted it outward, but how bad could it have been?


I had a baseball book when I was a kid that had a photo of an older Hubbell standing with his arms at his side. His left palm faced directly away from his body. Can't find any images of Carl's arm on Google, though, so maybe that photo wasn't a) an accurate depiction, or b) exactly as I remember it.
   27. tshipman Posted: December 21, 2012 at 04:09 PM (#4330449)
Aren't fastball/changeup pitchers the healthiest? I know that's kinda a broad claim, but a lot of the guys with long careers and no arm problems were fastball/changeup guys: Maddux, Glavine, James Shields, etc.
   28. Perry Posted: December 21, 2012 at 04:38 PM (#4330484)
Aren't fastball/changeup pitchers the healthiest? I know that's kinda a broad claim, but a lot of the guys with long careers and no arm problems were fastball/changeup guys: Maddux, Glavine, James Shields, etc.


On the other hand, Mario Soto.
   29. Walt Davis Posted: December 21, 2012 at 08:18 PM (#4330637)
I thought it was "established" that the screwball hurts young arms. Ralph Kiner was broadcasting a long time ago (Valenzuela 1981?) and remarked "if you're a young pitcher do not throw a screwball as it can really mess up your arm."

Quite possibly Kiner meant "young" as in "little league". Broadcasts were regularly filled with warnings to us kids out there not to do the things major-leaguers did until we were older. "Don't throw a curve until you're 14" (12? something) was quite common when I was around that age.

Actually the most effective of my vast collection of very ineffective pitches was a screwball/cut fastball kinda thing. Of course I'm pretty sure I blew my arm out at 21. Don't throw water balloons kids!
   30. Rob_Wood Posted: December 21, 2012 at 08:37 PM (#4330647)
I grew up watching Warren Spahn pitch and I never thought he threw a screwball. He had a decent fastball, curve and changeup.
   31. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 21, 2012 at 09:33 PM (#4330664)
I only really saw Spahn at the end of his career, but I never thought he threw a screwball either.
   32. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 21, 2012 at 11:31 PM (#4330713)
I only really saw Spahn at the end of his career, but I never thought he threw a screwball either.

he didn't--Lew Burdette did
   33. depletion Posted: December 22, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4330953)
Lew Burdette had a career so long, his 1966 baseball card was printed in Times Roman 0.0001.
Thanks for the reply, Walt. Yes, I think he meant young as in under 18. When your body is still growing you definitely don't want to give undue stress to it.

Regards,
Tim
   34. Perry Posted: December 22, 2012 at 06:40 PM (#4331038)
Google "Warren Spahn screwball" and you'll find plenty of references to him throwing the pitch, including James/Neyer, the NYT, baseball-reference.com, and a Milwaukee Sentinal article dated 6/24/65.

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