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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

What’s going on with the Astros’ Jose Altuve?

Assuming Altuve is healthy, it seems like the only explanation for his sudden throwing struggles is what athletes call the “yips.” It’s affected many baseball players from Steve Sax to Chuck Knoblauch and is a mental block that makes routine throws seem impossible. That’s the diagnosis former Phillies shortstop and current TBS analyst Jimmy Rollins gave Altuve.

“His confidence is shot, you can see that when he has to make a throw, he has the yips,” Rollins said on TBS’s postgame show. “It’s happened to the best of us. It’s happened to me. It’s happened to anyone who has ever played this game. You can get the yips and there’s no real solid way to get rid of it.”

Astros manager Dusty Baker wasn’t willing to put a label on his star.

“I don’t know, I really don’t know,” Baker said after the Game 3 loss. “It’s tough to see this happening to such a great player and such a great guy. I don’t know what it’s called. You can go in a defensive slump the same way you can go in an offensive slump.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 14, 2020 at 09:09 AM | 48 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: jose altuve

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   1. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: October 14, 2020 at 09:33 AM (#5982937)
The thing about the play last night is it wasn't a play with a lot of thought, he just grabbed it and went. "Yips" seems to be more on routine plays where the player can think about it. Defensive slumps happen as Dusty says but the timing is not ideal for Houston.
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 14, 2020 at 09:54 AM (#5982941)
The throw yesterday looked like he short-armed it, making me think that it is more physical than mental, but if it was physical you'd think they would say "yea, he has a bum shoulder right now."
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 14, 2020 at 10:22 AM (#5982944)
Schadenfreude, that’s what’s going on.
   4. The Duke Posted: October 14, 2020 at 10:24 AM (#5982945)
3. I was just about to post the same
   5. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 14, 2020 at 10:28 AM (#5982949)
Maybe the bad tattoo got infected and it’s affecting his shoulder.
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: October 14, 2020 at 10:32 AM (#5982951)
#thatsashame
   7. JL72 Posted: October 14, 2020 at 10:32 AM (#5982953)
but if it was physical you'd think they would say "yea, he has a bum shoulder right now.


I could see where you would not want the other team to know that (or at least have any suspicions confirmed), as it would alter base running strategies.
   8. asinwreck Posted: October 14, 2020 at 10:48 AM (#5982956)
He has a case of Robyn Hitchcock's 1993 single.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: October 14, 2020 at 11:16 AM (#5982964)
And for the Dodgers, BDC's place has become A Globe Life of Frogs.
   10. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 14, 2020 at 11:17 AM (#5982965)
Has there ever been a shortstop or third baseman who developed the yips? I can't think of any. Always second basemen (or pitchers, of course, or Mackey Sasser). It makes sense, of course - second basemen generally have more time to think about more routine throws - but you'd think it would happen at least from time to time with other infielders as well.

EDIT: Jimmy Rollins said in the excerpt that it happened to him, but I don't remember him ever having it in any public way.
   11. bunyon Posted: October 14, 2020 at 11:27 AM (#5982972)
Second basemen also don't usually just air it out. They throw hard, to be sure. Most of us would have trouble handling their routine throws to first. But they are much more controlled and at lower speed than a throw from short or third. They have to be because they're closer. If they made the same throw a SS makes, 1B wouldn't catch them and people would get hurt.

It's easier to just throw with abandon. 2B often have to wait for the 1B to get in position. They have to judge if they're close or far. They have to judge how close the play is. It's a much tougher throw with, usually, a lot more thought involved.


It's not unfair, but Altuve has been through some #### the last year. It would be strange if it didn't affect him. Whether that explains it or not, I would buy it if those close to him said as much.

I've said in other threads, he's going to end up the biggest loser in the Astros scandal unless he bounces most of the way back. Things look really bad for him at the moment.
   12. DCA Posted: October 14, 2020 at 11:29 AM (#5982973)
Aledmys Diaz was the DH yesterday. After Altuve's 2 errors the previous game, I don't understand why they didn't put Aledmys in the field instead for game 3.
   13. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 14, 2020 at 11:33 AM (#5982974)
I don't think it was the yips, but Jose Offerman committed tons of throwing errors at short, moved to second with the Royals, and suddenly became a pretty good defender.
   14. The Duke Posted: October 14, 2020 at 11:43 AM (#5982976)
It’s an interesting question as to why this afflicts second basemen.

In addition to the comment above the big reason is the throwing motion. It is very rarely a full overhand throw like from the other side of the diamond. I played SS and 2B. Never had an issue throwing from SS. Throwing from second base is hard. If you range to your right, you tend to throw across your body (or the jump throw) to your left and you are rotating your body back to the right. If it’s hit right at you, you are waiting for first basemen to get there and it’s more of a flip. If you are charging the ball, it’s a semi-underhanded throw. If you are deep in the hole at first, you are throwing to a moving target (the pitcher )

If the ball is hit to your left and you need to throw to second you are making that doc holliday throw from
Your hip after a jump turn.



   15. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: October 14, 2020 at 11:45 AM (#5982979)
It's possible the electric node he formerly had connected to his shoulder was for medical purposes.
   16. Bug Selig Posted: October 14, 2020 at 12:07 PM (#5982991)
I don't think it was the yips, but Jose Offerman committed tons of throwing errors at short, moved to second with the Royals, and suddenly became a pretty good defender.
This sort of hints at part of the answer which is that second basemen, as a species, are shortstops who don't throw well enough to play shortstop.
   17. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 14, 2020 at 12:17 PM (#5982993)
I thought about that, but the yips is something entirely separate from prior throwing ability, isn’t it? It’s a mental block that you either have or don’t, not a gradient where guys who don’t throw as well to begin with are more prone to sliding into the yips.
   18. winnipegwhip Posted: October 14, 2020 at 12:48 PM (#5982995)
The analytics department will keep moving him around the field until he works it out.
   19. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 14, 2020 at 01:36 PM (#5983006)
Schadenfreude, that’s what’s going on.
Somewhat related - at today’s confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) prefaced his comparison of judges and baseball umpires with a long denunciation of the Astros cheating and their light punishment. That was only about a half hour ago, so there may not be any reporting yet or transcript available. His language was along the lines of dirty, rotten, stinkin’ cheaters, which caught the attention of both Senators from Texas, who also serve on the Committee.
   20. flournoy Posted: October 14, 2020 at 02:06 PM (#5983009)
I thought about that, but the yips is something entirely separate from prior throwing ability, isn’t it? It’s a mental block that you either have or don’t, not a gradient where guys who don’t throw as well to begin with are more prone to sliding into the yips.


I don't think that's true. Anecdotally, the yips (a.k.a. Steve Blass Disease) manifests more often in guys who already have control problems. I'd have to think that shortstops who may have rocket arms but lots of throwing errors get moved to second base pretty regularly.
   21. SoSH U at work Posted: October 14, 2020 at 02:43 PM (#5983016)
I'd have to think that shortstops who may have rocket arms but lots of throwing errors get moved to second base pretty regularly.


Shawon Dunston played 25 games at second in his career.

I would think they'd be more likely to get shifted to the outfield than second, or just wait it out like the A's did with Marcus Semien. Having a strong arm is too often wasted at second.
   22. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: October 14, 2020 at 03:33 PM (#5983023)
He'd better hope that they've just got the buzzer on too tight, because the yips is a fatal diagnosis for a second baseman.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: October 14, 2020 at 04:36 PM (#5983031)
Dunston had a fair number of throwing errors but his primary problem was having the "yips" with the glove. But he did have two seasons with double-figure throwing errors. In general, he was just sloppy in both -- heaps more errors than Rollins say.

In looking for Dunston comps, I had trouble thinking of many guys with long tenures at SS with high errors but then I recalled Jose Valentin who did pretty well by saber standards (he got to lots of balls) but made lots of errors. He made substantially more fielding and throwing errors than Dunston in about 1000 fewer innings. And he might be our yips SS. Some of the variation is due to changes in playing time but he had seasons of 22 and 16 throwing errors. In 1999, he had 1 throwing error in 70 starts; the next year he had 16 in 137 starts -- granted, switching from Milw to the White Sox. He had a bit over a season's worth at 3B with a whopping 19 throwing errors and a season's worth at 2B with 3 throwing errors -- so maybe it was just the really long throws he struggled with. Or maybe it was different 1B.

I checked and the fielding game logs don't break down fielding vs throwing errors. But I noticed that on Apr 8 2000, Valentin had a very, very bad day with 2 throwing errors and 2 fielding errors in just 8 chances (and 1 of those was a pop-up). But they resulted in just 2 runs and the Sox managed to win 7-3 but that can't have been a fun day.
   24. asinwreck Posted: October 14, 2020 at 04:55 PM (#5983032)
Valentin's errors led Kenny Williams to pick up Royce Clayton and play Valentin in CF. Valentin was marginally less confused playing the outfield than Carlton Fisk had been fifteen years earlier.
   25. A triple short of the cycle Posted: October 14, 2020 at 06:58 PM (#5983056)
Profar had the yips with the A's playing second base, no doubt. He was a former SS, had an arm injury(?), so who knows, but he definitely became a liability at 2B because of his throwing.
   26. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 14, 2020 at 07:07 PM (#5983059)
Following up on #19, here’s the video of Sen. Sasse calling the Astros miserable cheaters, and many other things today.
   27. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: October 14, 2020 at 07:14 PM (#5983061)
It's easier to just throw with abandon. 2B often have to wait for the 1B to get in position.


I, obviously, was not a world class athlete. But I threw way better from catcher and 3B -- both of which have longer throws -- than I ever did from 2B. That extra split second just threw me for a loop. I wasn't good enough to call it "yips," but it tied my ass in knots.
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: October 14, 2020 at 07:17 PM (#5983063)
The only position I ever had difficulty with the throw, and I only played it for part of one season, was first. The toss to the pitcher was really difficult to gauge - underhand or overhand, leading him properly.
   29. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: October 14, 2020 at 07:54 PM (#5983069)
I have played both second base and third base a decent amount throughout my baseball and softball playing career. The only throw I have struggled with consistently (that I can recall) is the throw to second base as a third baseman trying to start a double play. Mentally, I have really had a hard time with that one.

It has to be a quick throw, so it's going to be rushed. And you essentially have to throw it to wide open space, since the second baseman usually isn't going to be set by the time you have to release. From that angle, there is nothing back there until you get to the right fielder, who, at the levels of ball I played, is most likely picking his nose. So there was this vertigo-like feeling that happened where I got freaked out by all that open air. I knew that if I screwed up the speed or the direction or the timing of the throw, that ball was going into right field, and, at best, we were looking at runners on second and third base. What usually happened is I would grip it too tight and hold onto it too long, chunking it into the ground to the left of the bag, which is an impossible play for the second baseman to make as he's trying to set up on second so he can make a quick throw to first.
   30. Howie Menckel Posted: October 14, 2020 at 08:17 PM (#5983072)
One of the cable channels is running those series of "Final Destination" movies - the theme being that fortunate souls who had somehow "cheated death" by a friend's premonition didn't stay lucky, or alive, for very long.

Watch your back in 2021, Correa - just sayin'.
   31. Gazizza, my Dilznoofuses! Posted: October 15, 2020 at 07:19 AM (#5983087)
Has there ever been a shortstop or third baseman who developed the yips?


It may not have quite been the yips, but when Dave Hollins was playing third for the Phillies, my friends and I knew any play where Hollins had time to think, it was likely the ball would be thrown into the stands. Any bang-bang play, Hollins' throw would be strong and on the mark.
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: October 15, 2020 at 08:46 AM (#5983090)
Has there ever been a shortstop or third baseman who developed the yips?


The most interesting case might be Garvey. He came up as a third baseman and was primarily stationed there for his first five years in the minors and bigs. But if it was the yips that forced his relocation to first (rather than just having a poor arm), then he played the rest of his career with them.

I never heard them described that way when it came to the Nazi child molestor. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine the guy who played first and did everything he could to avoid making throws at all (and looked pretty bad when he did) as once being capable of manning third.
   33. Rally Posted: October 15, 2020 at 09:16 AM (#5983091)
It might have been more injury than yips, but throwing issues are part of why Ryan Zimmerman moved across the diamond.
   34. Bug Selig Posted: October 15, 2020 at 09:18 AM (#5983092)
27 and 29 definitely struck chords with me. I was a high-school SS turned college utility player. The throw from third to second was tough because you want to get it off quickly and everything is moving - the 2B is never there yet when you release it so it's a little like the 1B toss except that it's a real throw. (Oddly, I never felt awkward receiving that same throw - I felt like I was perfectly competent to catch the ball and find the base. I think the 3B thinks the throw has to be perfect but the 2B has no such expectation.) The one I really hated, though, was the throw from 2B on a stone-simple routine play. I found myself essentially throwing flat-footed because velocity was irrelevant so it didn't seem "worth" the gathering of feet/balance that goes with making a strong throw but I also knew I didn't want to lob it because you don't practice lobbing a baseball. I don't remember ever making an error on it, but I hated it and it had that feeling, like a 3-foot putt, of "Don't F this up" which is obviously a negative mindset.
   35. Adam Starblind Posted: October 15, 2020 at 10:29 AM (#5983102)
Has there ever been a shortstop or third baseman who developed the yips? I can't think of any.


My friend Henry Skrimshander had a terrible case during our junior year at Westish College.
   36. bunyon Posted: October 15, 2020 at 10:38 AM (#5983104)
Hasn't there been a few catchers who had great throws to second but struggle throwing back to the pitcher? I know I pitched to a guy who always fired the ball back to me. I asked if he'd tone it down and he said he couldn't throw softly.

It's the "throw don't aim". 2Bmen often aim. Catchers aim. 1B throwing to pitchers covering aim. Easier just to throw.
   37. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: October 15, 2020 at 10:46 AM (#5983108)
Adam Starblind Posted: October 15, 2020 at 10:29 AM (#5983102)

Has there ever been a shortstop or third baseman who developed the yips? I can't think of any.



My friend Henry Skrimshander had a terrible case during our junior year at Westish College.


Nice.
   38. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 10:57 AM (#5983111)

Hasn't there been a few catchers who had great throws to second but struggle throwing back to the pitcher?

Mackey Sasser, mentioned upthread, was a catcher who famously had this problem. I recall there was a character in Major League 2 with the same problem, presumably based on Sasser.

   39. SoSH U at work Posted: October 15, 2020 at 11:01 AM (#5983113)
2Bmen often aim. Catchers aim. 1B throwing to pitchers covering aim. Easier just to throw.


Pitchers throwing to first basemen, most recently Jon Lester.
   40. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: October 15, 2020 at 11:04 AM (#5983114)
Didn't Dale Murphy get moved out from behind the plate because of the yips?
   41. Ron J Posted: October 15, 2020 at 11:10 AM (#5983117)
#40 That was part of it. The other part was that they wanted to make more use of his athleticism.
   42. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: October 15, 2020 at 11:13 AM (#5983122)
I had fielding yips at 2B. I was decent enough at SS or 3B to be the worst starter in the league, but I never could stay down on grounders to 2B. In both games I started there I was removed from the game because I could not field a ball cleanly.
   43. Rally Posted: October 15, 2020 at 11:18 AM (#5983124)
Didn’t Saltalamacchia have an issue throwing back to pitcher. Which reminds me of his teammate Lester, who could pitch fine but not throw to bases.
   44. Rally Posted: October 15, 2020 at 11:19 AM (#5983126)
Coke to SOSH U
   45. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 11:40 AM (#5983130)
Didn’t Saltalamacchia have an issue throwing back to pitcher.


Saltalamacchia was the guy I thought of last night who had this as a catcher. I am too lazy to use the Google machine to confirm, but the testimony of two is valid, so we'll go with that. I don't remember how that got resolved; did Saltalamacchia recover or did he just wash out of the league? Or did he find some other way around it?
   46. Ron J Posted: October 15, 2020 at 11:41 AM (#5983131)
And I recall at least one pitcher had issues with intentional walks. I want to say Turk Wendell but I'm not sure.
   47. flournoy Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:47 PM (#5983196)
Re: #29

I had a similar issue. Pitching on the mound with a backstop, fine. Making a throw with a fence or another fielder behind my target and nearby, fine. A throw where if it doesn't get caught it's going to keep on rolling for a long time, that's where I'd have problems. Definitely a mental thing.
   48. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 02:55 PM (#5983199)
Saltalamacchia was the guy I thought of last night who had this as a catcher. I am too lazy to use the Google machine to confirm, but the testimony of two is valid, so we'll go with that. I don't remember how that got resolved; did Saltalamacchia recover or did he just wash out of the league? Or did he find some other way around it?


Salty-Monkey-Face's issues were with the Rangers. Happened after thoracic outlet syndrome corrective surgery, including removal of a rib. Went to the minors and got over them with a series of taps on his body that he does. Sox got him Basically using a cognitive body tic to get your mind from overthinking.

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