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Monday, August 27, 2012

FanGraphs: Q&A: Trevor Bauer, Pitching Savant

Dizzy Dean ain’t never did yak like this.

“For my mechanics, I look at video at 480 frames per second to see if I’m slightly out of sequence, or if this is getting slightly off, or if that is getting slightly off, or what’s going on. I look at how the ball actually leaves my fingertips, which you can see at that slow of a frame rate. I can see if my hand is slightly around the ball, or if I’m staying through it. I look at the axis of the ball and how it’s spinning; how the axis correlates to what movement it’s going to have; and how to generate different axes coming off the hand.

“There is a specific reason I throw as many different pitches as I throw. They all serve a very specific purpose in my attack, and how I sequence pitches. I don’t necessarily believe in throwing fastballs down in the zone, because when I look at the geometry of it — and creating deception to the hitter — it doesn’t make any sense to me to throw fastballs down. Petty much just everything I do pitching-wise can be explained and taken to be extremely complex.

“I do a lot of work on my visualization, and once I can see it in that slow of a frame-rate — how exactly it comes off my hand — I can sit there and visualize it for 10 or 15 minutes per day, in super slow motion in my head, to kind of train neural pathways. That helps build muscle memory without having to actually do anything. When I actually go out there and do it, I have an idea — a picture of it — so that I can associate a feel with the picture I have in my head and kind of blend the two together.

“Also, there is knowing the axis of the ball and how it’s supposed to break. Even if I don’t have a great feel for it, I have a picture in my head of what it’s supposed to do. Once I happen to stumble upon getting the desired break, I can kind of zero in on how to actually manipulate the ball by using the mental image that I have. I’m pretty good at seeing the mental image and replicating it physically. I don’t know if that’s something I’ve trained [myself] — or if it’s natural for me — but I’ve always had a pretty good feel for seeing in my head and then going out and doing it.”

Repoz Posted: August 27, 2012 at 09:23 AM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: diamondbacks, sabermetrics, special topics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: August 27, 2012 at 09:49 AM (#4219024)
Or what Yogi once said.
   2. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: August 27, 2012 at 09:58 AM (#4219028)
Was he on greenies when he gave this interview?
   3. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: August 27, 2012 at 10:03 AM (#4219035)
Whoa.

I want to say "awesome", but I think he's just a little stoned.

   4. Rants Mulliniks Posted: August 27, 2012 at 10:51 AM (#4219074)
Many successful Olympic athletes use visualization techniques. I think he'd overthinking everything though. When the inevitable slumps come, I think he's going to have an extremely hard time rationlizing it. He seems to have an answer for everything.
   5. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 27, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4219082)
You ever really looked at a curveball?
   6. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: August 27, 2012 at 11:51 AM (#4219128)
I don’t necessarily believe in throwing fastballs down in the zone, because when I look at the geometry of it...
Now this is a guy who has all kinds of theology and geometry.
   7. valuearbitrageur Posted: August 27, 2012 at 04:43 PM (#4219407)
If 480 frames per second is a slow frame rate for him, I think he's on something stronger than greenies.

Still, I really enjoy the guy.
   8. God Posted: August 27, 2012 at 05:10 PM (#4219446)
Right now Bauer seems like a breath of fresh air but if you read TFA there are about three passages where he talks about how great he is and how much smarter than everyone else he is. He's pretty clearly in love with himself and particularly with the sound of his own voice. That act is going to get old pretty quickly, especially among his teammates. Wouldn't surprise me if Bauer ends up spending much of his career as an outcast among his teammates, a la Schilling.

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