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BCubb2003
05-17-2006, 01:46 AM
There's something I've been wondering about for a long time. You hear about pitchers who throw hard, and other pitchers who just know how to pitch. You especially hear about pitchers who once threw hard, but then they learned how to pitch.

What I wonder is, what's there for a pitcher to know that another pitcher doesn't? Why doesn't the catcher know, and why can't you put it in a book and teach everybody?

Is the wise old Yoda of a pitcher shaking off sign after sign until the catcher calls for the right pitch in the right place? If so, why is the catcher so stupid?

Shouldn't all the pitchers on a team have pretty much the same knowledge base?

TOBTTReds
05-17-2006, 01:51 AM
Good question, but I think easily answered: Half of the game is 90% mental.

OK, in reality though, there is no perfect way to pitch. Take Greg Maddux, he is one of the "really knows how to pitch" type of guys. The way you pitch changes every AB. If it were in a book, hitters would read it and know how the pitcher thinks. If it was always consistant, the hitters would know. But, it is a huge mental part of the game; "Knowing how to pitch."

I'm going out on a limb saying that I think Randy Johnson is going to struggle because he fired in 95 mph fastballs, and the filthiest sliders to get guys out. Now he doesn't have either weapon as well as he did before. Our favorite guy Joe Morgan said that RJ has always known how to pitch, but I am going to disagree. He has lost velocity and now isn't getting guys out, because he doesn't know how to out-witt these guys yet.

BCubb2003
05-17-2006, 01:59 AM
OK, in reality though, there is no perfect way to pitch. Take Greg Maddux, he is one of the "really knows how to pitch" type of guys. The way you pitch changes every AB. If it were in a book, hitters would read it and know how the pitcher thinks. If it was always consistant, the hitters would know. But, it is a huge mental part of the game; "Knowing how to pitch."



So what is it that Greg Maddux is telling the catcher from the mound, and is the catcher constantly smacking himself on the forehead saying, "Why didn't I think of that?"?

TOBTTReds
05-17-2006, 02:21 AM
So what is it that Greg Maddux is telling the catcher from the mound, and is the catcher constantly smacking himself on the forehead saying, "Why didn't I think of that?"?

I'm sure Barrett when healthy is usually on the same page as Maddux, if not, Barrett gives way to whatever GM says because he is Greg Maddux. Maddux hasn't been perfect though, so it's not like it is a guarentee that he will pitch well and make the right calls. Maddux only uses 3 pitches anyway, and Barrett should have a very good idea of what to call.

The Baumer
05-17-2006, 03:47 AM
Knowing how to pitch has to do with setting up hitters with pitch selection, hitting your location, and using every resource/advantage that is available to you as a pitcher. The reason every pitcher isn't reading the Know How to Pitch book is because some of them can afford to be lazy and get by on their stuff alone. When you get older and your stuff goes down the tubes you are forced to use strategy to your advantage if you want to stick around.

Ron Madden
05-17-2006, 05:24 AM
This is just my opinion so it's most likey wrong.

It's often said when a pitcher is no longer able to just blow the ball by hitters he must learn how to pitch.

1. must have good control/command.
2. must be able to change speeds.
3. must be able to change release points or arm motion.

I quess when they learn to keep hitters off balance is when they learn how to pitch. :)

Johnny Footstool
05-17-2006, 09:54 AM
Knowing how to pitch means being able to hide Crisco, Vagisil, and Bardol on your body. Any one of those will give you another two to three inches of drop on your curve ball. Of course, if the umps are watching you closely, you can put a little jalapeno up your nose...

As far as "knowing how to pitch," most pitchers do. The ones with overpowering stuff, like Randy Johnson, know how to mix fastballs with hard sliders and how to locate their pitches. When those guys get older and start to lose their stuff, they've got to *re-learn* how to pitch. It's not that they never "knew" how to pitch, it's just that conditions have changed and what they knew before is no longer applicable.

lollipopcurve
05-17-2006, 10:03 AM
Also involves knowing the hitters and being able to understand, at bat by at bat and sometimes swing by swing, what a hitter is trying to do.

traderumor
05-17-2006, 10:07 AM
Pitching is an art and a science. The science part does appear in books or resides with pitchers and pitching coaches--mechanics, grips, fundamental "truths" of pitching (e.g. location, changing speeds). The artistry is the variable, which is essentially an ongoing game of chess that some are good at and some are not. Some it comes naturally to (I'd say Maddux is a good example of that) and others are learning in a mentor relationship (Arroyo watching Pedro).

RedsManRick
05-17-2006, 10:18 AM
I don't think there is a "knows how to pitch" in the absolute sense. It's not just a fact like "a 94 mph fastball should be located at the knees on the outside corner" because if that's what the guy is looking for, it's not going to get him out. Rather, it's a guy being able to use his stuff for maximum effect. The specific "what" isn't fixed -- It varies from one pitcher to the next.

Knowing how to pitch and having great stuff are independant. You can get away with just having amazing stuff (Kerry Wood) or just "knowing how to pitch" (Jamie Moyer), but the best pitchers do both (Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt). The advantage of knowing how to pitch is that it doesn't go away -- great stuff does; just ask Greg Maddux.

vaticanplum
05-17-2006, 10:35 AM
Sometimes I think that one of the hardest and best things for a pitcher to learn is flexibility. You have to be dedicated enough to study tapes of hitters and determine what will work with them, but then you also have to be able to be loose and flexible on the mound, take cues from the catcher about what may be going on with a particular batter, change your pitches and your speed at the last minute. And that includes long-term flexibility as well -- accepting at some point that your fastball is no longer getting the job done and you need to find other ways around that.

A great example of this this season, actually, is Mike Mussina. Mussina has the blessing and the curse of being an incredibly smart guy, and when his stuff started to naturally disappear a bit a couple of years ago due to age, I think he thought too much through it and allowed it to panic him. This year, he really seems to be in a groove, open to learning new stuff, putting more thought into the placement of his pitches, but not freaking out about anything. His speed has deteriorated, but he's allowed his repertoire to open up. As long as he stays healthy, this will definitely extend his career. Martinez is a very smart pitcher which is why he keeps staying around longer than people expect, longer than his physical abilities should allow. Johnson, as somebody said, is the antithesis of that -- so far, much too stubborn to accept that his physical ability alone will not allow him to continue pitching the way he always has.

Johnny Footstool
05-17-2006, 11:10 AM
The advantage of knowing how to pitch is that it doesn't go away -- great stuff does; just ask Greg Maddux.

I'd argue that when your great stuff goes away, so does your knowledge of how to use that stuff. You have to re-learn how to pitch with a 92-mph fastball instead of a 97-mph fastball.

Guys like Maddux and Moyer always had pinpoint control, so the absence of a dominating fastball didn't really affect them like it would affect a Randy Johnson or a Jason Schmidt.

Like you said, it's about a guy knowing how to use his stuff to maximum effect.

BCubb2003
05-17-2006, 11:50 AM
How does the pitcher express this wisdom to the catcher? If the catcher calls for a fastball up and in, does the pitcher's wisdom prompt him to throw a different kind of fastball up and in than he would have before he got wise? Or does he shake off the catcher until the catcher calls for a wiser pitch in this situation? If the pitcher is shaking off the catcher often enough that you can tell you've got a smart pitcher on the mound, then why is the catcher so unwise?

RedsManRick
05-17-2006, 11:55 AM
There are some pitchers who have no clue how to pitch, but they are really good at throwing certain types of pitches. They rely on the catcher to call the game and use their stuff effectively. Then there are some pitchers who know exactly what they want to do and will shake off the catcher, or meet ahead of time to discuss how they want to approach it.

Newman4
05-17-2006, 12:36 PM
I think it's about learning how to use what you have. Control your velocity, mix up your pitches, condition yourself for maximum stamina, etc. Doing all you can with what you're given.

BCubb2003
05-17-2006, 01:34 PM
I guess I've been underestimating the role of the pitcher in "calling the game." I still wonder why more of that wisdom doesn't reside in the catcher, and whether it could be spread around.

traderumor
05-17-2006, 01:39 PM
I guess I've been underestimating the role of the pitcher in "calling the game." I still wonder why more of that wisdom doesn't reside in the catcher, and whether it could be spread around.Hmmm, many ex-catchers managing, pitching on the downgrade....Conversely, how many former pitchers have become managers?

lollipopcurve
05-17-2006, 01:44 PM
I still wonder why more of that wisdom doesn't reside in the catcher, and whether it could be spread around.

I think some of the "wisdom" you're talking about is available only via what they commonly refer to as instinct. It's in all kinds of sports -- some players "see" stuff that other players don't, recognize situations faster, avoid mistakes much more easily. When they say someone just "knows how to play/pitch," I think a lot of what they're saying is that the player has good instincts. It's nebulous, and it's not teachable -- but it's real.

Spitball
05-17-2006, 03:18 PM
Stay ahead in the count.
The following statistics, also gathered from five years of Division I college baseball, show that a pitcher has a decided advantage when he is pitching ahead in the count.

Count/Batting average
0-2/.118
1-2/.151
2-2/.169
0-0/.186 (first pitch)
3-2/.192
0-1/.199
3-0/.267
1-1/.269
2-1/.290
3-1/.329
1-0/.342
2-0/.386

Change speeds and locations to induce non-solid contact
For example, pitching a right-handed batter low/in and up/away will limit his ability to make significant contact. Pitching a left-handed batter low/away and up/in will restrict the quality of his contact. A pitcher can change a batter’s eye levels by going up, down, in, and out in those zones, and he can further avoid solid contact by effectively changing speeds. The following data was compiled from five years of NCAA Division I baseball. The location of strikes was recorded and a value was awarded each hit ball. One (1) was awarded slow rolling ground balls and infield pop-ups. Two (2) was given weakly hit ground balls and pop-ups to the outfield. Three (3) was for routine ground balls and medium fly balls. Four (4) designated well-hit ground balls and deep fly balls. Five (5) was given to line drives and home runs.

Low/In- R (2.13) L (3.62)
Low/Mid- R (3.72) L (2.89)
Low/Away-R (2.53) L (1.81)
Belt/in- R (2.41) L (3.52)
Belt/Mid- R (4.12) L (4.21)
Belt/Away- R (2.61) L (2.14)
Up/In- R (2.35) L (1.93)
Up/Mid- R (2.71) L (2.64)
Up/Away- R (1.92) L (2.08)

Ltlabner
05-17-2006, 03:29 PM
There are several good points made. Pitching is both science and art. You can read all day long that it's best to throw XYZ pitch to ABC hitter but if you can't actually throw that pitch then it doesn't really matter.

Also, there are some guys who are good enough with their "stuff" that they can get by for a carear, especially considering the teams they may be on. A potent offense negates a lot of pitching errors.

Lastly, I think arrogence has to be considered. A lot of times people are just pain stubburn and want to do things their way. Even though 500 other pitchers made the same mistake, they just have to go out and fail on their own to get the point.

RedsManRick
05-17-2006, 03:37 PM
Why is it that low/away is a good place to pitch a lefty but low/in is the way to pitch the righty? I've always heard that lefties have great power low/in but I can't seem to understand why. Humans are semetrical, as is the batter box & pitching mound, so why does this relationship change. There does not seem to be a mechanical difference.

So is the greater point here that the best place to pitch is the low corner of the handedness of the pitcher and the higher corner opposite his handedness? Even so, why is this the case? I've always wondered...

traderumor
05-17-2006, 03:59 PM
I guess I've been underestimating the role of the pitcher in "calling the game." I still wonder why more of that wisdom doesn't reside in the catcher, and whether it could be spread around.Interesting note on this issue you raise. Listening to Scully call the Dodgers v. Rockies and he mentions that a Dodgers' axiom has always been that the catcher can only suggest, but the calling of the pitch ultimately resides with the pitcher.

Spitball
05-17-2006, 04:05 PM
Why is it that low/away is a good place to pitch a lefty but low/in is the way to pitch the righty? I've always heard that lefties have great power low/in but I can't seem to understand why. Humans are semetrical, as is the batter box & pitching mound, so why does this relationship change. There does not seem to be a mechanical difference.
...

I believe it is because many left-handed batters are actually right handed individuals who are stronger with their right arm. They are able to generate the bat speed to turn on the low inside pitch and pull it.

forfreelin04
05-17-2006, 04:11 PM
Why is it that low/away is a good place to pitch a lefty but low/in is the way to pitch the righty? I've always heard that lefties have great power low/in but I can't seem to understand why. Humans are semetrical, as is the batter box & pitching mound, so why does this relationship change. There does not seem to be a mechanical difference.

So is the greater point here that the best place to pitch is the low corner of the handedness of the pitcher and the higher corner opposite his handedness? Even so, why is this the case? I've always wondered...

Great question Redsman. I think it depends on the hitter. Good pitching is based on confidence. Confidence in your stuff, your ability to change speeds, and your location. If these things are not working properly, and you do not have great velocity then the chances of you making a mistake to a hitter is simply more probable. That being said, to actually pitch. Contrary to just throwing the ball hard and trying to make some pitches move, is to exploit a hitters weaknesses. Left handers do tend to have great power low and in for some reason. It is just must be more natural for them. They have the capabilities to take the ball to left field quite easily but many just refuse to make the necessary adjustments. Griffey and Dunn come to mind. You will see them do it sometimes. Its quite funny to me that when the entire ballfield is pulled around to one side. The common sense thing to do is to hit it where they aint! However, these hitters like Griffey and Dunn are "homerun hitters". They intend to exploit the pitchers mistake by hitting the ball out of the ballpark and FAR! But when a pitcher is on his game, they are more apt to strike out because they are unwilling to change their approach. Many will say that is unecessary because they can easily take a walk. But is not a walk just something a pitcher allows you to have? Granted you should always swing at strikes and not balls but Id much rather not be at the pitchers mercy if he's on his game. Chokin up with two strikes and hitting something in a gap somewhere can apply to everyone not just Little Leaguers.

Sorry for the digression, left handers you'll find have a harder time going the other way with the ball. Hence why some just don't work at it. Why this is I do not know. left brain right brain? Right handers however have an easier time doing this. An inside out swing is just more natural I guess. However, they can be suseptible to the inside pitch because they have a tendency to not stay within themselves. In other words, they want to roll their hands over on an inside pitch. This usually results in a ground out to the pitcher or hitting the ball off their front foot. Good right handed hitters can overcome this with quick wrists but better yet a quick pivot on their backfoot. If you notice Sheffiled usually ends up twisted in a ball when he swings causing him to be completely turned to left field foul territory. On the other hand, Kearns looks stationary. Like his legs are mired in cement causing his swing to look awful. I would apply the same scenario to Larue. These two usually are suspectible to hard throwing pitchers. One obivously more than another.

Finally, pitching is 90% mental. You need to know hitter's weaknesses but especially his strengths. A good hitter will make you pay for your mistakes as a pitcher but also when you don't make a mistake like hitting your spots. If you havent noticed the scouting report is out on the Reds. They need to make adjustments.

forfreelin04
05-17-2006, 04:21 PM
Interesting note on this issue you raise. Listening to Scully call the Dodgers v. Rockies and he mentions that a Dodgers' axiom has always been that the catcher can only suggest, but the calling of the pitch ultimately resides with the pitcher.

That it does for he is throwing the pitch. But a catcher and a pitcher shoud always be on the same wavelength. The best catchers know what a pitcher should throw before he does and especially the placement of the pitch. If you are pitching and shaking your catcher twice a pitch, your going to throw off your rhythm. It's best to get the ball and throw rather than mess around. Mark Buerle is an example of this. It allows the pitcher to maintain a rhythm but also entices the batter to be on the same rhythm. The worst is when your shaking your catcher off two and three times and then the umpire calls time. Mentally you got to go back to square one. Thus, a catcher who knows the scouting report for each hitter is a must in the Major Leagues. Which always reminds of Varitek who has a huge binder with every hitter in the Major Leagues in it. He studies it every night before he catches. I hope the Reds catchers do something similar?

BCubb2003
05-17-2006, 04:23 PM
I wonder if the ball coming from upper left to lower right or upper right to lower left allows for a better view and more triangulation by the hitter than a pitch that travels a vertical plane or a horizontal plane.

Ron Madden
05-18-2006, 03:26 AM
I'm most likely wrong again but...

Way back when ;) I always found it more difficult to hit any pitch that broke away. (or had any wrinkle to it at all in mt case). :D

Spitball
05-18-2006, 10:01 AM
I'm most likely wrong again but...

Way back when ;) I always found it more difficult to hit any pitch that broke away. (or had any wrinkle to it at all in mt case). :D

Among the various things a pitcher can do with a good curveball is to make the batter instinctively pull back as the ball breaks away. The best way to hit the curve is to recognize the ball as a curve early enough to stay inside the ball and anticipate its break...or pray that is hangs out over the plate.

Johnny Footstool
05-18-2006, 10:16 AM
Among the various things a pitcher can do with a good curveball is to make the batter instinctively pull back as the ball breaks away. The best way to hit the curve is to recognize the ball as a curve early enough to stay inside the ball and anticipate its break...or pray that is hangs out over the plate.

Or stand in the batters box while your dad pitches and intentionally hits you over and over again to "toughen you up." That'll get rid of those pesky self-preservation instincts.

:laugh: