PDA

View Full Version : Pitch counts



HumnHilghtFreel
03-24-2007, 07:05 AM
I just got done reading an article on Daisuke Matsuzaka in SI and a central theme that they focused on was the amount of work this guy actually does. He routinely throws insane amounts of innings and pitches, and has a rigorous routine on off days. He also said he has never iced his arm after games or workouts. And his arm is completely healthy. They said that MRI's the Sox took prior to signing him were as flawless as they could have been.

They also made mention of Baseball Prospectus' "Pitcher Abuse Points." Livan Hernandez has accumulated the most of them three years running, yet he's never been on the disabled list.

So, are we here stateside coddling our young pitchers too much? Or are there just some guys out there that are "freaks of nature" so to speak?

bucksfan2
03-24-2007, 08:39 AM
Could it be more mechanics than anything? Some pitches contort their arms in all kinds of angles to gain extra movement or extra velocity. That extra stress is never good for an arm.

HumnHilghtFreel
03-24-2007, 08:46 AM
Could it be more mechanics than anything? Some pitches contort their arms in all kinds of angles to gain extra movement or extra velocity. That extra stress is never good for an arm.

Mechanics is definitely stressed a lot more in the Japanese leagues(something I forgot to mention in my original post... hey, I just woke up;) )

The article made a point in saying that if Daisuke is successful, we Westerners may have to reconsider our current school of thought on how to handle pitchers, which may be a stretch, as he's only one guy... but it's definitely interesting.

blumj
03-24-2007, 09:28 AM
They should be reconsidering it anyway, IMO. There's just too much they don't seem to know.

Always Red
03-24-2007, 10:05 AM
This is a great question, and problem, because reducing work loads on pitchers does not seem to have any effect on pitching injuries.

Here's a nice article discussing this:http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/what-pitch-counts-hath-wrought/


Whether or not one agrees with my assertion that the limitations on the workloads of the current era's best pitchers are unnecessary, here is something that's indisputably true: one result of the fact that modern aces work less than those of all preceding eras is that inferior pitchers are working proportionally more innings. This in itself may be part of the explanation for the offensive boom of the 1990s. It's also beyond dispute that the pitch count limit orthodoxy of the modern era has resulted in no meaningful reduction in rates of injury -- if anything, injuries to pitchers have increased.

Throwing a baseball overhanded at high velocity is an unnatural, violent act. The best way to prepare oneself to do this is to train, and like any other athletic endeavor, repetition leads to success and durability.

I'm of the opinion that some of today's pitchers do not pitch nearly enough; I realize that may even be a minority opinion! By that, I mean that they also do not train enough, in order to pitch enough. Some arms are meant for pitching, others are not. Why could Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens pitch into their mid-40's, and Sandy Koufax could not? Koufax's arthritis in his arm came from pitching; it's not that he had to stop because of a disease, it was osteoarthritis in his arm.

It's not a simple case of Ryan and Clemns just had great mechanics, either (although that certainly helps). Why does a guy like Mark Prior, whom most agree has excellent mechanics, constantly have arm/shoulder problems? The Rob Dibbles are easy to figure out- the violent motion guys like him and say, Ryan Wagner exhibit lead to breakdown. Some of the damage in pitchers could have actually been there already from their younger days of pitching. Torquing the arm to throw curves or sliders while the pitcher is still growing is a bad idea. Also, the advent of the MRI will lead to full diagnosis these days; in days past, a lot of pitchers were not diagnosed with injury, but just labelled as sore-armed pitchers. And a lot of these guys pitched through the pain.

I think the Japanese are on to something in their training of pitchers. Certainly pitch counts are important; you need to keep track of the mileage, the odometer, if you will. But some arms are capable of much higher inning counts than others. On this Reds team, I'm think of Arroyo. I think he could post 300 innings easily, year after year. I think the pitch count as an arbitrary cut-off number is a poorly thought out idea. Some pitchers should have higher pitch counts, and others lower ones based upon their training, history, and delivery motion. But to cut off everyone at about 100 pitches for no reason other than it's a convenient number doesn't seem very smart to me.

This is a fascinating issue to me (controversial too!), and I look forward to input and numbers from whomever else has interest in this topic. Even more specifically, I'd love to see if any work has been done by baseball people on what kind of body build and arm characteristics have shown to be more durable and which show to be more injury-prone than others. Every year, millions of dollars are spent on pitchers whom have been drafted in the first round, and nearly half of these guys wind up being very poor investments. You'd think pouring this much money into sinkholes would lead these teams to investigate it scientifically, or at least commission someone to do so.

RedsManRick
03-24-2007, 10:52 AM
One of the interesting theories behind PAP is that it's not raw pitch counts which hurt pitchers. It's pitching while tired, when their mechanics are breaking down, when they do their damage. By throwing with the frequency as much as Matsusaka does, he's strengthened his arm and established his motion enough that his mechanics don't break down as he tires. Same with Livan.

Some guys like Prior, may have picture perfect mechanics, but are forced to throw after their mechanics start to break down. Those 2 or 3 times when Dusty made Prior throw 20-30 pitches more than he should've may have done more damage than throwing 20 straight 105 pitch outings in which he maintained his form.

IslandRed
03-24-2007, 05:09 PM
I think the pitch count as an arbitrary cut-off number is a poorly thought out idea. Some pitchers should have higher pitch counts, and others lower ones based upon their training, history, and delivery motion. But to cut off everyone at about 100 pitches for no reason other than it's a convenient number doesn't seem very smart to me.

I'm not aware of 100 pitches being used as an arbitrary cut-off at the major-league level. Most starters will routinely go above that mark. 120 is where the "hmmm..." territory starts, but like you said, that varies by pitcher.

Pitch counts as a strict mechanism is more applicable to young pitchers, and I think that's smart, because they're still developing and their true levels of durability are not fully known.