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  1. I feel like I need to know how often the remaining qualifying sample of pitchers hit the DL to make any real inference.

    Comment by AndyS — June 7, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  2. How much would available data allow this to be expanded?
    It’s nice and all to use Anderson as the basis of comparison, but I think it would be more useful to go further, include more years.

    This is tip of the iceberg material (not in a negative way, but in a not enough way.)

    Comment by lexomatic — June 7, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

  3. Pitchers at large hit the DL at 39%. You want to know how often pitchers who have pitched 200 innings since 2009 have hit the DL? I’m pretty sure it’s close to 39%. It’s not a huge IP cutoff.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — June 7, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

  4. Yes, we could go back as far as P f/x lets us, and then compare the high-slider, high-curveball and high-fastball groups. May still happen.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — June 7, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

  5. One thing about the slider percentage: I’m not sure what’s going on with the pitch classifications, but it’s one of two things:

    1. He doesn’t have a slider AND a curveball, just one hybrid holy crap pitch that he can throw anywhere from the low 70′s to the mid 80′s, and it breaks anywhere from 0 to -10 (or more) vertically.

    2. He has both, and the classifications are calling a lot of curveballs as sliders.

    Any PitchFX gurus want to lend a hand?

    Comment by danmerqury — June 7, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

  6. I called it a slider, sure it’s something crazy. Our own P F/x guru handled it pretty well:

    Thanks Dave Allen!

    Comment by Eno Sarris — June 7, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

  7. I don’t know if it means anything but 3 guys who have pitched at least a little for the White Sox (Jackson, Floyd, Garcia) all have avoided the DL. I only bring it up because of other articles showing the White Sox overall good health.

    Comment by MikeS — June 7, 2011 @ 1:56 pm

  8. I have nothing to add,other than calling for a moratorium on “slidepiece”…

    Comment by JR — June 7, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  9. I like it, but DL trips seems a bit cumbersome as a measurement of injury. I wonder if the data’s there to use missed starts (since we are talking about starters). Sm (starts missed) would increment by 1 every time a start was missed for any reason, assuming the pitcher was in the regular starting rotation of his team or teams in that time frame. This would measure with a bit more precision how much time a pitcher has missed time during the season – not all injuries requiring DL time are equal, and in many cases a starter who’s hurting would have a start skipped to give him extra rest.

    Thinking about this again, we could just measure starts and compare to league average (or your control group) # of starts. Bottom line – how much value is lost through extensive use of the slider when compared to other secondary pitches.

    Comment by fergie348 — June 7, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

  10. As a Twins fan, my only complaint with this study involves Francisco Liriano’s TJ surgery and how this data ignores it. He threw the slider 37.6% of the time before getting hurt in 2006, and hasn’t thrown it that often since.

    Comment by Bryz — June 7, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

  11. Well, Liriano’s TJ is counted in the TJ sentence, and his slider % still put him on this list. I wouldn’t say we ignored it, it just didn’t happen within the two-plus years we were focusing on.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — June 7, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

  12. As an extension on Bryz’s point…Logically, I’m wondering if the result is higher based on the guys throwing the huge % of sliders not being previously damaged arms. By this I mean that the only guys who would throw 25% sliders since 2009 are guys who didn’t already have their arms torn up by sliders. That puts a group of guys with a serious history of arm trouble all out of our “sliders group” and into our control group. All things being equal, I think we can agree that more guys with previous arm trouble = more DL trips are likely from 2009 to now. The fact that the sliders group overcame that and still got injured more probably means more than just a .08 difference in the raw numbers.

    Comment by Nate — June 7, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

  13. So solved by upping the sample and reaching back further, right?

    Comment by Eno Sarris — June 7, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

  14. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe JoJo should be listed with 2 DL trips in that timeframe.

    Comment by TheGrandslamwich — June 7, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

  15. Missed that. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Comment by Bryz — June 7, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

  16. Makes sense. I’ve heard that the Atlanta Braves don’t allow their pitchers to throw sliders until they’re at least in AA. Something that I think would be interesting to add to this. Maybe multiple regression study or something, would be body type. You always hear of the 6’5″ 220 pound kid out of college as a future horse. I’m guessing evidence suggests a bigge frame means more innings and it makes sense. However, I’d like to see how much.

    Maybe look at all pitchers who throw a lot of sliders and then look at size and maybe even age.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — June 7, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

  17. The difference may not be significant based on the relatively small sample. Can you do a chi-square p-value on this? How many pitchers are in your control sample?

    Comment by Dan Beachler — June 7, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

  18. At first glance I read the subject line as “Brett Anderson’s Elbow Eaten by Spiders” and freaked out a little.

    Comment by G. Hill — June 7, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

  19. Did anybody else misread the title of the article as “Brett Anderson’s Elbow Eaten by Spiders”? I was really curious there for a second…

    Comment by Matt — June 7, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

  20. If you push the sample itself back further, you get a different set of “slider throwers” all together so I’m not sure if thats an option.

    Or possibly try to quantify how many DL trips (or however you want to quantify it) the slider group had PRE-2009 compared to the control group. I’m thinking it will be LESS than the control group which makes the results to the orginal study more interesting (because the guys with less injury history are getting hurt more than the guys with injury history). The hypothesis being that these guys aren’t slider throwers who keep getting hurt and keep throwing sliders, they’re guys who just haven’t been hurt yet so they throw whatever is getting outs. I’m not sure though. I suspect you’d have to somehow figure out the change in slider percentage before and after significant injury to know what is really happening on that part of it.

    Comment by Nate — June 7, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

  21. Does it not matter what injury forces a starter to the DL? I fail to see how an leg injury or a back injury that results in a DL stint provides any answers to a question about whether throwing a lot of sliders is bad for your elbow.

    With such a small sample size, if even a few of the DL trips among the Slider Group were caused by an injury other than to the pitcher’s arm then it would have an impact on the results, wouldn’t it?

    Comment by Brad — June 7, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

  22. It would… but, in fairness, the DL trips measured in our control group aren’t limited to arm injuries either. Maybe Zimm and I can bang this one out together.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — June 7, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

  23. This was my thought as well… it adds a little subjectiveness but if “non-arm injuries” make up a significant portion of the DL trips it may make it difiicult to see if a correlation exists

    Comment by Hank — June 7, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

  24. Just out of curiosity–and not to be contrary, for sure–how much did Randy Johnson rely on his slider vs. DL stints, early on, then later in his career?

    Comment by Kevin — June 7, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

  25. You should find out and tell us.

    Comment by nolan — June 8, 2011 @ 4:08 am

  26. “One area where there is a big difference is in pitch selection. Overall, Johnson threw 51.4 percent fastballs last year, compared to 48.8 percent this season. With his slider it is 40.4 percent this year compared to 35.2 percent in 2008. But if we look at what Johnson was doing at the end of last season, we get an even bigger difference. These numbers come from Dan Brooks’ wonderful site.”

    Randy threw 40% sliders late in his career. Perhaps he has a high slider frequency because he realizes that there is no need to preserve his arm because he realizes that he is likely to retire soon (after 2009).

    Comment by Black_Rose — June 8, 2011 @ 5:14 am

  27. Awesome.

    Slidepiece … that is classic baseball vernacular.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — June 8, 2011 @ 9:33 am

  28. The 3 things, regarding slider usage, I would be interested in:

    [1] Total # of sliders thrown, not SL %.

    [2] Slider usage as game goes on? (2nd, 3rd, 4th time through lineup).

    [3] Slider usage in consecutive years.


    [1] Be interesting to see if there is sort of a “do not cross this line” in regards to numbers of sliders thrown.

    [2] I can easily imagine that as the game goes on, slider pitchers are more reliant on it. This is only important in that you’re throwing a pitch that is more stressful on the elbow, at a point when you are more fatigued.

    [3] It seems to me that once guys get good at throwing the slider, they want to throw it more often (Wainwright for example). It’s a highly effective pitch, and one that is likely very easy to become reliant on.


    I see someone mentioned Randy Johnson and throwing more sliders late in his career. I would say that it’s no coincidence that his fastball velocity was significantly decreased, and his slider was all he had. RJ was throwing the slider that much because, for the first time in his established career, he was in “survival mode”. It’s also possible that Johnson has “optimal leverages” for the pitch.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — June 8, 2011 @ 9:57 am

  29. While I understand and agree that throwing a slider puts additional stress on the elbow (anyone who has ever pitched even at high school level can attest to that), this article doesn’t delve into the reasons behind each DL stint. Does the DL data in this article ONLY pertain to shoulder and/or elbow problems? Are there guys on this list who hit the DL because they rolled their ankle, strained their oblique (like Brandon Beachy), or some other non-throwing related injury? Further more, is there corollary evidence to suggest that a shoulder injury can be the result of throwing too many sliders compared to other pitches? Annecdotally, I don’t see how there could be. All in all, I think this post just scratches the surface of research, and all-in-all, there just isn’t enough of a sample size to unequivocally answer the question: Do pitchers hit the DL more frequently if they throw more sliders?

    Comment by Lumens66 — June 8, 2011 @ 11:14 am

  30. Just a few days too early to catch another big DL trip for a name at the bottom of your list. Joba increases the TJ pitchers to 20%, although I’m not sure that he really fits into your starter group.

    Would it be possible to change DL trips to number of days on DL?

    Comment by Od — June 10, 2011 @ 8:18 am

  31. I’m late to this discussion, but after reading all the replies, I have these questions/statements:

    1) Do the DL trips in this sample count leg injuries? If so, then the data is flawed.
    2) I have heard/read that it’s scientifically proven that the slider puts more torque on the UCL than other pitches based on the exaggerated twisting action of the forearm. Can we show a slider to TJ surgery comparison?
    3) DL trips happen to everyone, serious injury (surgery) is what we should be concerned about.
    4) DL trips and time missed for arm “issues” can vary from team to team and by the age of the player. Younger players are going to be treated more cautiously than veterans for soreness. The only true measure if sliders are more damaging is by using surgeries instead of DL stints or time missed.

    Comment by supgreg — June 14, 2011 @ 9:10 am

  32. That a trick question??

    Comment by Jimbo.v1 — July 1, 2011 @ 1:26 am

  33. Just one question here.

    Were there really TEN other CircleChange’s already on Fangraphs?

    Comment by Jimbo.v1 — July 1, 2011 @ 1:28 am

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