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  1. Relevant–,27954/

    Comment by Ben — December 20, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

  2. Get rid of pitchers, play major league teeball. I bet Adam Dunn and Chris Davis would still manage 20% strikeout rates.

    Comment by Matt — December 20, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

  3. Agree with this completely… I don’t understand why we would need to be so granular analyzing which pitches are worse for you than others. Ever seen a photo of a pitcher midway through his throwing motion? Yes, you have. And yes, it’s gross. Arms aren’t supposed to move that way.

    Every pitch is unnatural. Some bodies and limbs are different than others. I’m pretty sure that’s all that needs to be said.

    Comment by P_Whit — December 20, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

  4. This makes sense. Just curious, though, if anyone has tried to do this sort of analysis on pitchers who rely heavily on any on pitch as a cohort versus pitchers who have, say 4 pitches that they mix up pretty well.

    Comment by KM — December 20, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

  5. Like 900 homers each though

    Comment by Eminor3rd — December 20, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

  6. Agree, pitching is not a natural motion for your arm.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — December 20, 2012 @ 4:22 pm

  7. We need cricket-style “fast bowlers” and “spin bowlers.” No need to call pitches really, other than location for fastballs. Average MLB score in 10 years will be roughly 285-241, barring any sticky wickets.

    Comment by Normal Guy Normal Talk — December 20, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

  8. Slow-pitch baseball, but make the baseball the size of a ping-pong ball.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — December 20, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

  9. I’d love to see the effect that has on fielding. Especially pop flies.

    Comment by Transmission — December 20, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

  10. I’ve never understood the claim that pitching is unnatural. On a very literal level, how can any bodily motion that doesn’t lead to immediate injury be considered unnatural? Anything short of swiveling your head around 360 degrees strikes me as within the realm of what a natural human body is intended to do. From an evolutionary perspective, (full disclosure, I’m a doctorate in the history of modern biology), what’s more natural and more advantageous to an aspiring young species of primate than to be able to hurl a projectile forward?

    When I hear “pitching is not a natural motion” I have to think people really mean “tens of thousands of throws of maximum effort in stressful situations is not natural.” And sure, that’s true. But you can take out “throws” and replace it with damn near anything. SPORTS isn’t natural, by that standard…

    Comment by Transmission — December 20, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

  11. Now this is an interesting way of putting it. It has to be natural because we can do it.

    But something doesn’t work for me, even as compelling as your argument is. When you throw a ball 98 mph, your arm is trying to leave your shoulder at something less than 98 mph but much more than zero mph. That’s how you get shoulder subluxations like Papelbon did: your arm pulls your shoulder out of its socket because it’s going so fast!

    Maybe ‘unnatural’ is the wrong word. How about “harmful” and/or “extreme.”

    Comment by Eno Sarris — December 20, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

  12. I’d like to know how easy or difficult it is to hit a home run off a tee. I feel like common sense says with no incoming velocity it’s harder to put power on the ball to knock one out.

    Comment by Mark — December 20, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  13. Professional sports is unnatural. It’s about constantly performing at your peak and trying to go beyond that by trying to raise the peak. Professional athletes are the best trained people in the world and they have traumatic injuries far more commonly than fat slobs like me that sit on the couch all day.

    Comment by MikeS — December 20, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

  14. Every pitch is bad for you, but are some worse for you than others? That is the question.

    Comment by Ruki Motomiya — December 20, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

  15. I know a guy who was in the then Devil Rays organization in the minor leagues when Josh Hamilton made his first comeback. He apparently showed up late to the pre-game and everyone had already taken BP and warmed up. He strode up to the plate and took a single hack off a tee. He sent the ball over the 40 ft tall batter’s eye in centerfield 400 ft away. Everyone on the field just stopped what they were doing and stared at him and he retorted, “I’m ready.”

    Comment by Touche Mr. Toupe — December 20, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

  16. I, personally, am not buying into the theory of “this pitch is harmful and this pitch is okay”. If you buy that pitching itself is harmful, then what you do to minimize the risks is what is the major factor. Those things are called mechanics, good warmup/cooldown, stretching, diet, etc etc.. You know, the same thing your personal trainer down at the fitness center says. If you keep the body in good shape, it will be able to work thru stuff.

    Keep good, simple, repeatable, smooth mechanics as a pitcher is key. Whether it be Tim Lincecum, or Dontrelle Willis, are we surprised at their falls? no. Lincecum’s hiccup of 2012 has been anticipated for a couple years now. Dontrelle, out of work. Wouldn’t be surprised if Lincecum spent some time on the DL soon, and maybe within 2-3 yrs, hit the dl for an extended time (aka, season). He is merely an example of how bad mechanics can derail a promising career. There are tons of others.. The other stuff mentioned earlier, we already know (having ourselves been down to the workout center recently, right?)

    Comment by Cidron — December 20, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

  17. Ironically having cricket ‘fast bowlers’ wouldn’t cut out injuries- they get injured almost as bad as pitchers- and bowling certainly is an unnatural motion. As an Aussie cricket fan – this summer basically all our fast bowlers are injured.
    Pace bowling in cricket causes stress fractures in ankles and the back- as well as leg and foot problems.
    Obvious conclusion- modern sprtspeople are pussies – in my day people were tougher.

    Comment by Shrewd Cat — December 20, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

  18. I’ve played on and managed many adult league teams, the talent ranging from high school to 4A and Japanese baseball veterans.. The were some who still possessed very impressive arms but shied away from the bump. Pitching one inning caused damage that playing 20 games in the outfield never did, and outfielders throw a lot. Even though they were undoubtedly aggravating old injuries, there is no comparing pitching to throwing. I suspect that the the small differences in maximizing effort multiplies the damage done to the arm.

    Comment by james wilson — December 21, 2012 @ 12:32 am

  19. I agree with those who dispute that pitching is unnatural. I think that pitching is the art of concentrating as many natural movements as the body is capable of producing into a single point at a single instant. The fact that those studies show a relationship between usage of a pitch and injury suggests that it’s a failure of endurance that leads to injury, not an inherent flaw in the movement itself.

    Comment by Bip — December 21, 2012 @ 2:59 am

  20. The weight of the baseball (5.25 oz) is what eventually hurts the arm. If tennis baseball was our national past time you’d see far less injuries.

    On specific pitches, if you throw what I call a “stiff” cutter you are definitely putting your arm at more risk. I like to throw my cutter as an off-centered four-seamer, with no extra finger pressure and no twisting of the wrist at all, I’ve never had a significant arm injury. When I’ve occasionally experimented with sort of a variant slider/cutter (hold it like a slider but lock your wrist) that’s when I can definitely feel extra stress being put on the arm.

    I wouldn’t swear off the cutter, like some have suggested. Just take a look at cutter velocity separation from the rest of a pithers fastballs. If their average fastball is 92 but their cutter is 87 that’s not good (more injury risk and less effective). Should only be about a 2-3 mph separation between fastball and cutter.

    Comment by KevinY — December 21, 2012 @ 3:36 am

  21. Mark – It’s not real easy. The real issue is that you can’t get under it much or you get mostly tee and the ball goes ten feet. This makes you hit down on the ball and swing level, which is why it’s used as a training tool. The problem is most hitters have slight-to-extreme uppercuts, particularly those with power.

    Comment by ezb230 — December 21, 2012 @ 3:44 am

  22. “We’re years ahead of a stream of knuckleball copycats, and there’s only one screwball pitcher in the big leagues. Maybe one day we’ll find those pitches lead to injury, too.”
    I actually thought screwballs weren’t good for the elbow. It sure doesn’t look or feel like a natural motion for the joint. Is this not the case?

    Comment by ezb230 — December 21, 2012 @ 3:46 am

  23. Unless, of course, you’re Josh Hamilton, in which case you can hit a ball off a tee as far as you damn well please.

    Comment by ezb230 — December 21, 2012 @ 3:51 am

  24. So Transmission, there is nothing ‘natural’ about a primate throwing anything. Look at primate behavior: they don’t throw, but rather grab, pull, and if necessary pick up something and pound with it. There is no prey-acquiring or functional action in primate behavior requiring casting and object to hit something. Even when human beings became large game hunters—a huge behavioral transition NOT demonstrated by other primates btw—they did so as _pack_ hunters, i.e. by driving game into an enclosure, marshes, or off precipices. This is typical behavior for social species. Pack hunting was highly successful and practiced for hundreds of millennia by most homonid species. The only species _ever_ to become single animal hunters on any but an opportunistic basis has been homo sapiens sapiesn. Even so, hunting game by _casting_ anything at it is an extremely recent innovation even for us, less than 20k years ago. There is some reason to think that this innovation, like most was a forced one, beginning in W. Europe during the last Ice Age when megafauna were locally extinct and even deer sized critters were few and nimble. In short, there is nothing natural in human physical anthropology about _throwing_ ANYTHING. We are manifestly not bio-adapted as a species to throw objects any distance and hit a target.

    . . . I assume your doctoral focus was at or below the cellular level?

    Comment by Balthazar — December 21, 2012 @ 3:54 am

  25. Transmission, there are intrinsically unnatural physical movements. Look at the range of motion in a joint. If you rotate the body parts of that joint further than the range of motion, portions of those joints snap. Joints are not bio-adapted to snap; hence movements which inherently make them do so are ‘unnatural.’ Furthermore, many ligaments antipate stress from certain directions. Torque them at right angles to those structurally anticipated directions and even at relatively low force those ligaments may snap, or the joints those ligaments secure my dislocate from their setting. Hence, rotations contrary in vector to the movement pattern of the joint are ‘unnatural.’

    There are many unnatural motions. Pitching overhand often involves several of them.

    Comment by Balthazar — December 21, 2012 @ 4:01 am

  26. That most of those who use “unnatural” when talking about pitching is do imprecisely is obvious. It’s a euphemism for “more likely to cause injury or premature deterioration”, which is what most of those who use it when talking about pitching what to know.

    Comment by ezb230 — December 21, 2012 @ 6:40 am

  27. “want” to know.

    Comment by ezb230 — December 21, 2012 @ 6:41 am

  28. It’d be a good way to kill a bunch of fielders…

    Comment by Kris — December 21, 2012 @ 8:45 am

  29. I had smooth, repeatable mechanics. My shoulder blew out when I was like 17. Partially torn labrum (and throw a rotator cuff injury in there as well). It’s mostly genes. Both my father and brother have had shoulder surgeries.

    I have to wonder if you’ve ever pitched if you don’t believe that different pitches don’t have a different effect on your arm.

    Comment by a — December 21, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

  30. Agree, I played in over 40 baseball leagues and there were only few of us who could still pitch. I had a “rubber” arm when I was young and I could still pitch without pain when I was 45-50, my legs on the other hand were shot.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — December 21, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

  31. That’s not what “unnatural” means. The shoulder is very clearly not “designed” for overhand throwing.

    But if you could explain why softball pitchers can routinely throw more pitches without injury, I’d love to hear it. I highly doubt it’s because softball pitchers have more endurance than MLB pitchers.

    Comment by a — December 21, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

  32. I wrecked my arm throwing hard while playing tennis ball baseball. Took a year off between high school and college but lost any zip I had and lost feeling in my fingers when throwing “hard.” My experience is that that lighter balls mean violence without resistance – a bad mix.

    Comment by Sbmke — December 21, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

  33. I did not, but, my father pitched pro for Cleveland (in the Bob Feller days).. not that that has any bearing.. but, on we go.

    I am more saying that there are things to do to minimize the risks. And, also, there are exceptions to every rule. Even the best risk minimizer can be bitten by an injury. And yes, different pitches stress different parts of the hands, arms, and the joints within. That is basic information.

    Each pitch (fastball, slider, curve, splitfinger, screwball, knuckleball, etc etc) is represented by at least one successful pitcher that used it as his primary pitch. And, this success is over a significant period of time. In that, it demonstrates (to me anyways) that either the pitch isn’t a “killer” or, somehow, the pitcher is superman. I lean to the former (as the later is fiction). That said, not every pitch is for every pitcher. Whether it be comfort (either mentally, or physically), or not a good mix with his other pitches, or coaching/team philosophy.

    I just don’t subscribe to the simplistic view that a given pitch is an arm killer. Way to many variables imo.

    Comment by Cidron — December 21, 2012 @ 7:57 pm

  34. The entire process of pitching is unnatural

    That said, couldn’t it be possible that the very mechanics and release point in which a pitcher throws might affect the amount stress certain body parts are hit with.

    Isn’t possible that pitchers with lower arm angles are better suited for the sliders break?

    Also wouldn’t higher release point pitchers have an easier time staying on top of curveballs which is essential for commanding the pitch?

    Beyond the mechanics, feel pitches that rely more on the grip such as the changeup, cutter (additional motions can happen, but for some such as Mariano Rivera does nothing more than slightly alter the pressure) or splitter are probably better suited to those with longer digits.

    What I’m trying to say is that which pitches might affect health might be tied more to the individual mechanics than we realize. It would be interesting to study. Who knows, the issues might just be trying to force squares, and rectangles into triangular shaped holes

    Comment by SDM — December 22, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

  35. and here is your confirmation bias comment for the day, everyone.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — December 22, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

  36. exactly, have you ever tried kicking a ping pong ball or something like that after playing soccer? it kills your knee, same thing with the elbow and tennis ball

    Comment by henry — December 22, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

  37. it’s really all about mechanics, when i first tried to throw a change it always hurt me much more than my curve or fastball

    Comment by henry — December 22, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

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