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“Precision Tayloring” Under the Hood: Understanding the Mechanics Behind Successful Pitching. (Part 2 of 2)

“You would be amazed how many important outs you can get by working the count down to where the hitter is sure you’re going to throw to his weakness, and then throw to his power instead.” Whitey Ford
 

Welcome back gang. Last week we examined the first-half of the mechanical building blocks to successful pitching. Today we are going to get right into it and hammer out the 3 other elements we can gauge to help us determine who will truly succeed at pitching.

Element #4: Posture

How to grade it: A pitchers balance is heavily influenced by his balance meaning pitchers can’t truly attain elite grades in posture without first having elite balance. When we grade posture then, we start in the same manner we would if we were grading a pitchers balance. We must gauge how well the pitcher keeps his head over his core, but more specifically the posture grade focuses on the tilt of a pitchers spine when his lift leg first strikes the ground all the way through the release of the pitch. Pitchers with elite posture will have minimal tilt in the spine as the shoulder and arm rotate around to release the ball. Having elite posture will help pitchers gain effective velocity and late break on all of their pitches because they release the ball closer to the plate due to the added benefits of having their shoulders square to the plate for longer throughout their delivery. You may however, know of the old pitching adage of “getting on top” of the ball during the rotational phase of the delivery to get a higher plane on the ball, which would in theory help a pitcher create more ground balls by being able to more consistently hit the bottom of the strike zone. This unfortunately comes at a control cost to the pitcher as you often see that it’s harder for a pitcher to repeat his delivery in a consistently and accurately with the heavy tilt in the spine. (Unless you are Jered Weaver)

What elite Posture looks like: darvish

rangers, darvish, yu

Yu Darvish has the dynamic balance to stay square to the plate throughout his delivery. (Notice the black bar across his shoulders)
 
Element #5: Release Distance

How to grade it: As mentioned above there are several significant advantages to having a deeper release point on the mound. It gives the hitter less time to react to both the velocity and the movement of any pitch in a pitchers arsenal, and all pitchers should strive to have a deep release point to reap these benefits. Due to the fact that the normal baseball broadcast angle is from a center-field view behind the pitcher, it’s really hard to judge release distance with our eyes during a normal broadcast. So we must use several secondary factors to help us build the release distance grade. Naturally a pitchers height and amount of lift on the front leg during the delivery have a lot to do with the potential distance a pitcher can reach the plate from the mound. Other factors include the amount of momentum the pitcher generates towards the plate and also how well a pitcher can consistently time up the release point on his delivery.

What elite release distance looks like: waino

Adam Wainwright uses all of his 6′ 7″ frame and has all the secondary makings to have a deep release point. Including a high leg kick and a nice late burst of momentum towards the plate.
 
Element #6: Repetition & Timing

How to grade it: Repetition and timing can be looked at in one of two ways. On an inning-per-inning basis during 1 start, or the repetition and timing performance of whole games based over the course of the full season to correctly gauge if a pitcher can consistently deliver the same performances from start to start. As mentioned previously throughout these articles timing and repetition are probably 2 of the strongest indicators for how successful and consistent a pitcher will be. A pitcher who can repeat the timing and motion of his mechanical delivery consistently for 90+ pitches over the course of 30+ starts a season is an ace, and most of the time when you see a pitcher have a bad start something has gone awry in the timing of his delivery.

What elite repetition & timing looks like:

2nd

kpitch

Cole Hamels displays elite repetition and timing in his delivery as he strikes-out Jason Heyward on a big curveball one pitch after Heyward fouled off a high fastball.
 

And thus concludes our 2 part introduction on pitching mechanics. It is now time to apply what we have learned to help us broaden our knowledge of the pitching universe.

Follow me on twitter @roormatt09

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