Comments on: Stephen Strasburg’s career stats This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: Mike Felber Sun, 05 Sep 2010 07:37:21 +0000 Get a good evaluation Douglas-hopefully something like rehab/rotator cuff work will help. But how can it be worth the risk of further problems to cause that much pain?

By: Douglas Heeren Fri, 03 Sep 2010 12:27:34 +0000 I think Jeff Sparks was the Mike Marshall trained guy with all the nasty breaking stuff. I feel bad for Strasburg. I'm 48 yrs old and most likely need the same type of surgery but can't afford it or taking the time off of work. I just throw though the pain(play amatuer ball). So right now I throw a split, forkball and sinker at different speeds, throwing real hard(hard for me about 80mph) causes alot of pain.

By: Rob Dibble apparently fired as Nationals’ TV analyst » Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog Archive Thu, 02 Sep 2010 16:17:51 +0000 [...] A strange ending to story about two guys, Dibble and Strasburg, with an interesting statistical link. [...]

By: Mike Felber Thu, 02 Sep 2010 06:21:46 +0000 That is pretty impressive Besty. So the speed is mostly genetic, but the specialized rehab also corrected deficits-or just optimized things that many do not. Though I think it is unusual to come back faster, so maybe the former is more accurate. But when I see what an average guy can do on a radar gun-maybe 60-compared to a pitcher, I think that aspect is mainly natural speed.

Zachary: thanks very much! I was not able to get back here until now, will check back though. So that is saying that usually sidearm is the riskiest motion? And it is hard for me to intuitively grasp why & how certain motions are better for certain body types. It must be a few things: exact body proportions, muscle, leanness, how tight the muscles naturally are-Sandy stretched them, but was prone to tightness. It seems a Wells or Clemens, even though the latter having more muscle, were more rubber armed.

Any other questions you address are welcome. I recall 1st throwing for a machine: you think you are gonna really bring it, but nah, few people can. I have built a 19" upper arm naturally: does little or nothing for speed!It would be cool to be able to throw heat, but few can. Even an average ML is WAY above any group norm in speed. Even if you account for county fair guns measuring at point of impact, not release, thus adding a few MPH, asking guys who run the guns, adding those MPH, watching for a while: it is rare for guys to hit the mid '80's!

By: Besty Wed, 01 Sep 2010 21:12:05 +0000 to #27 Mike Felber. Yes I did pick up about five mph after TJ surgery which I attributed to the strengthening gained through the rehab. I went from averaging 86-88 as a starter before to topping out at 96 and averaging about 92 as a closer after. I haven't been clocked in a few years but I feel like I am still in the upper 80's now. I still have enough to get it by some of the college hitters I play with and against now.

By: Neil Tue, 31 Aug 2010 19:53:31 +0000 Wow, Hellickson's early numbers are dazzling. a WAR of 1.0 after 4 GS. I especally like normalizing Strasberg's numbers by removing opposing pitchers faced. However, it is still only slightly over 1/3 of the IP of Strasberg and that is the key. Let's compare 68 IP to 68, straight up.

Also, one could argue that Hellickson faced Baltimore and Oakland in two of his starts. 'Nuff said. Sample size too small for him and for Strasberg.

By: Pete Tue, 31 Aug 2010 13:26:57 +0000 If we're going to look at small sample sizes, I would argue that Jeremy Hellickson has pitched much better than Strasberg. Compare the numbers

Strasberg 68-IP 56-H 17-BB 92-K ERA-2.91 WHIP-1.07 ERA+141 K/BB-5.41 BAA-.221 OPSA-.596
Hellickson 26-IP 16-H 4-BB 25-K ERA-2.05 WHIP-0.75 ERA+207 K/BB-6.25 BAA-.172 OPSA-.470

Here's another factor that works in Hellickson's favor: Strasberg has the benefit of facing pitchers. Opposing pitchers hit .050 against Strasberg (1 for 20) with 14 K's. Hellickson has not had that luxury. Take a look at the 'Batting Against' stats for the two pitchers:

Hellickson 93 6 16 2 0 2 2 4 25 .172 .212 .258
Strasberg 253 25 56 10 1 5 2 17 92 .221 .268 .328

Now, let's remove the opposing pitchers' hitting stats from the equation to get a fair comparison between the two pitchers:

Strasberg 233 25 55 10 1 5 2 17 78 .236 .288 .351

Strasberg 61.3-IP 55-H 17-BB 78-K WHIP-1.17 K/BB-4.59

Strasberg's numbers are very, very good. However, if you compare him straight up with Hellickson, the numbers aren't even close.

By: Zachary Mon, 30 Aug 2010 13:59:55 +0000 @36, Mike Felber

Those are actually fantastic questions, Mike, and they are at the core of pitching biomechanics.

Regarding the elbow: bending the elbow is just fine if it occurs with the hand above the shoulder, as the arm's natural range of motion is set up to allow exactly that. Bending the elbow with the hand below the shoulder, though, can create a dangerous amount of torque on the muscles of the arm, the ligaments in the elbow, and the nerves (particularly the ulnar nerve, popularly known as the funny bone). You can feel this right now by raising your arm to form an "L-shape" in the "up" and then the "down" directions. Notice how much more comfortable the "up" direction is? You might even be able to feel a subtle "pop" in your elbow as you move into the down direction, caused by the rotation of the bones and muscles outside their "natural" state. This also occurs as you raise your arm back into the throwing slot, so you can see how the fast nature of the pitching motion can cause damage during that point of transition. This doesn't address your exact question, Mike, but I think it's necessary background information.

The best motions don't rely on the arm to do much besides hold the ball, and that's because it so sensitive when outside its natural comfort zone. The power the forearm and the other arm muscles can generate is a pittance compared to the power the lower body generates, so the benefits are insignificant when compared to the risk.

I also believe that there is an ideal motion for each individual. I throw 3/4 and my father threw almost vertical. That was where we were most naturally comfortable, so that's where we threw. Sandy Koufax's motion was almost perfect from a pure physics standpoint, but it was horribly dangerous for his leaner, tighter musculature. I would say most people are probably best suited for 3/4 based on average nerve action, body types, etc, but hardly all.

Now, I need to go, but I'll think about your other questions and get back to you. Thanks again.

By: JeffW Mon, 30 Aug 2010 06:44:26 +0000 I recently came across a website that analyzes pitching motions:

O'Leary's analysis of Strasburg's motion compares him to Prior, with dire predictions:

By: Mike Felber Mon, 30 Aug 2010 04:11:56 +0000 Thank you Zachary, I appreciate the feedback. I have several naive questions if you have the inclination to address them.

Bending the elbor-is less better? Do you mean if you can bring back the upper arm enough, there is less need to move the forearm to generate power? Is the sidearm motion inherently "worse", or just not practiced much, thus often folks who do it fall into a bad form? Is one kind of motion suporior, even on average, for generating power? Are there many ways for all to throw well, or are some guys "naturally" better suited for overhand, 3/4, submarine, or whatever?

So much of throwing really hard is genetic, though good mechanics can save your arm...But would more pitchers do better to model themselves after the usual greats, or experiment? And is there any real sign of some scientific ideas of who should throw how, by looking at body type, like musculature, bone structure, flexibility, proportions, & muscle type-or is it all trial & error?

Also, what strikes me is those greats had little "science" to follow. They seemed to have an intuitive understanding of how to best throw. Johnson described how his whole body seemed to work together to throw, like it was what he was meant to do. There is a kind of deep knowing here that seems almost mystical...Johnson's Grandson wrote a superb Biography of him: "Baseball's Big Train". And I wonder how many never found there best "natural" delivery, since so many things are homogenized. An outlier talent may have an unusual "best" was to throw, given he may have unusual physical capacities.