Q&A: Trevor Bauer, Pitching Savant

Trevor Bauer doesn’t really need an introduction to FanGraphs readers. The top prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization already had a well-earned reputation when he was drafted third overall last year out of UCLA. A 21-year-old right-hander, Bauer is known for his in-depth knowledge of sabermetrics and pitching mechanics just as much as he is for having an extensive repertoire that includes an overpowering fastball.

Bauer, who is currently pitching for the Triple-A Reno Aces, recently addressed several aspects of his unique and highly cerebral approach. Among the topics covered were pitch sequencing, video and visualization, and why velocity is more important to him than location.

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Trevor Bauer: “Pitching can be as simple or complicated as you choose to make it. It goes from being as simple as the catcher setting up outside and you throwing the ball. It can be fairly simple on the brain, or it can be knowing which pitch you want to throw in what situation, and why. That’s from the mental side of things.

“Physically, it’s pretty complex. Obviously, you have a lot of moving parts. You need to have everything in sync — everything working together — and that’s pretty complicated. I guess it just depends on how you choose to look at it, and what your preference is as an athlete — how simple or complex do you want to make it?

“Most people looking at my approach on the mound would say that it’s very, very complex. I’ve been doing it for so long, and I’m so familiar with it, that it just kind of occurs naturally. But I’d say I’m definitely more to the extreme of being complex. I pretty much take everything I do, pitching-wise, and try to figure it all out. I find the last little bit of information that is going to help me out.

“For my mechanics, I look at video at 480 frames per second to see if I’m slightly out of sequence, or if this is getting slightly off, or if that is getting slightly off, or what’s going on. I look at how the ball actually leaves my fingertips, which you can see at that slow of a frame rate. I can see if my hand is slightly around the ball, or if I’m staying through it. I look at the axis of the ball and how it’s spinning; how the axis correlates to what movement it’s going to have; and how to generate different axes coming off the hand.

“There is a specific reason I throw as many different pitches as I throw. They all serve a very specific purpose in my attack, and how I sequence pitches. I don’t necessarily believe in throwing fastballs down in the zone, because when I look at the geometry of it — and creating deception to the hitter — it doesn’t make any sense to me to throw fastballs down. Petty much just everything I do pitching-wise can be explained and taken to be extremely complex.

“I do a lot of work on my visualization, and once I can see it in that slow of a frame-rate — how exactly it comes off my hand — I can sit there and visualize it for 10 or 15 minutes per day, in super slow motion in my head, to kind of train neural pathways. That helps build muscle memory without having to actually do anything. When I actually go out there and do it, I have an idea — a picture of it — so that I can associate a feel with the picture I have in my head and kind of blend the two together.

“Also, there is knowing the axis of the ball and how it’s supposed to break. Even if I don’t have a great feel for it, I have a picture in my head of what it’s supposed to do. Once I happen to stumble upon getting the desired break, I can kind of zero in on how to actually manipulate the ball by using the mental image that I have. I’m pretty good at seeing the mental image and replicating it physically. I don’t know if that’s something I’ve trained [myself] — or if it’s natural for me — but I’ve always had a pretty good feel for seeing in my head and then going out and doing it.”

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“I think the term `pitching to contact’ is kind of a catch-all phrase for throwing strikes. It’s ‘pitch to contact; we want you to throw the ball in the zone.’ I pitch to contact, but less than 80% on-time contact is what I shoot for. Once I get to two strikes, I don’t want anybody making contact.

“I think people misinterpret the phrase ‘pitch to contact’ as wanting guys to put the ball in play, as opposed to just wanting to throw strikes. Ideally, if you could throw three strikes to every hitter, and have them swing and miss at every single pitch, that’d be the ideal game to throw because they have no chance of getting on base. The more you pitch away from contact, the better chance you have to win, as long as you’re throwing the ball in the zone.

“That is kind of a dichotomy that people don’t really realize. To most people, throwing the ball in the zone means that you’re going to get contact — people are going to hit the ball. It’s true. If you throw the ball in the zone, people are going to make contact. But, if you understand the swing, and how long the bat is actually in the hitting zone, and how to work front to back with hitters, meaning changing speeds with one pitch at 95, the next at 80, the next 87, the next 75. If you can work front-to-back like that, speed-wise, you really disrupt the hitter’s timing so they’re never hitting anything hard. The whole pitch-to-contact term to me is like a catch-all, simplistic phrase. I don’t really like the term.

“My goal is to throw 75% to  80% strikes, and 75% to 80% first-pitch strikes, at different speeds and different movements. When my pitch count runs up on me, it’s because I just can’t locate anything like I need to that day. It’s not like I’m trying to pitch away from contact, or that I’m scared of throwing the ball in the zone, or anything like that. It’s just that I’m not really executing as well as I do some days.

“I never really change my approach, because if I execute how I want to, my pitch count is going be down. My goal is to have every at bat over in four pitches or less, and the only way you do that is by throwing three out of the first four pitches for strikes. That way they’re either on base with a hit, or it’s a ground out, a fly out or they strike out, because there were three balls in the zone they had gotten to hit. Keeping my pitch count down and my approach go hand in hand. It’s just that I have to get better at executing my approach.

“I pick a pitch to start a guy off with, then I read the hitter for how he reacts to the pitch. Did I execute it? When I throw certain pitches, I know exactly where they started off, and what other pitches I can throw in what locations to make them look exactly the same as the pitch the hitter just saw. That’s part of it as well, but mostly it’s just reading the hitter, and depending on how he reacts — where he fouled the ball off, what kind of swing he took — that goes into deciding what pitch to throw next.

“A lot of data is, ‘OK, does this guy walk a lot? Does he strike out a lot?’ If a guy walks a lot and doesn’t strike out very much, he has a pretty darn good eye. He knows the strike zone pretty well, so I’m going to have to throw the ball in the zone to get a strike. He’s not going to chase much. If a guy is striking out quite a bit, and not walking very much, I may be able to throw something just outside the zone that looks like a strike but isn’t a strike, and get a swing. It’s ideal if you don’t have to throw a strike, and can get a guy to swing, because it’s a lot harder to hit a ball out of the zone well than it is a ball in the zone.

“What is a guy looking for first pitch? Is his approach at the plate to yank a fastball, or is he going to look for something off-speed to sit back on and drive somewhere if it’s hanging? What is his approach? Those are kind of the things I look at. There’s a lot of other stuff, obviously, but I don’t use it as much yet. I haven’t found a use for all of it in my limited time.”

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“The ballpark really doesn’t play any role in how I pitch. My approach is designed to not let the hitters hit the ball hard. To hit the ball out of the ballpark, most hitters have to hit the ball about 90% of on-time, to have enough power transferred from the bat to the ball to get it out of the park. Obviously, in some smaller ballparks, you can miss balls and maybe hit them 85% or 80% on-time, and you’ll get them out of the park.

“If I can disrupt timing, so that they’ll be slightly jammed or even slightly out in front, they’re not going to be able to hit the ball hard enough to get it out. When I came to pitch in Reno, a lot of people said my approach wasn’t going to work there, because the ball flies and the PCL is an offensive league, but I seem to have fared pretty darn well, just like I did in Mobile. The two places are completely different: Mobile plays huge and Reno plays pretty small. If I execute, my approach works pretty much regardless of the ballpark.

“Velocity is an important factor for me. I look at speed as a way to get hitters out, more so than location. A lot of guys want to use their fastball and locate it down, and around the black, or even on the black. They’ve got to locate their fastball well. I don’t really try to locate my fastball too specifically. I try to throw it either in the upper or bottom half of the zone, or the inner or outer half. I pretty much work in halves, which is a lot easier than trying to work in ninths.

“When I have my good velocity, I can locate in those halves and get balls by people. I obviously set them up, so I know when I throw a fastball that it’s going to get by them if I can throw it in this area. So my velocity is pretty important to me. Obviously, I have to be able to throw a fastball for a strike when I want to, so location is still important. But I would say that velocity is a primary a factor, and location is a secondary factor off of that.

“When I’m going really well, I throw anywhere between 38% and 44% fastballs in a game. I find that’s when I’m most effective. If a hitter can’t sit on the fastball, because four out 10 times they’re getting a fastball, they have to adjust to every single pitch I throw. If I can get the hitter guessing between one of my six different pitches, six different speeds, and six different movements, they’re going to be successful guessing a very small percentage of the time. That’s the idea. When I start throwing 50%, 60%, 70% fastballs, that’s when I start getting hit, and getting hit pretty hard. If hitters know a fastball is coming, it doesn’t matter where you locate it, or how hard you throw. They’re going to hit it.”

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“I have variations of my pitches. My main ones are fastball, change, curve, slider, spli, and a reverse slider. I have variations on my changeup, my curveball and my slider that I use pretty regularly. If you want to count the variations, I throw more than six different pitches.

“My reverse slider is a cross between a sinking-fastball and a screwball. It acts pretty much like a left-handed cut fastball, or a left-handed slider, which is why I call it a reverse slider. It goes the opposite direction that you’d expect a right-handed slider to go. When I’m throwing it well, it has pretty much the same action as the slider that I throw for a strike does, just in the opposite direction. People will classify it as a sinking fastball or a changeup, but it’s not really any of those. I throw a changeup, and it’s completely different than that.

“My reverse slider comes in — when I’m throwing well — usually anywhere between 87 mph and 91 mph. My changeup is anywhere in the 80-82 range when I’m throwing it well — sometimes as high as 84 — so those two are completely different pitches. And I don’t throw a sinking fastball at all; I don’t throw a two-seamer. All I throw is four-seam fastballs.

“When I’m right and healthy and throwing the ball well, my fastball doesn’t get much lower than about 93. My reverse is anywhere 88-90 range, and 91 sometimes. My split is the 85-87 range. My slider is in the 83-85 range. Changeup 80-83. Curveball anywhere from 76 to 80. I pretty much cover every single speed between 95 and 75.”

——

“I think the biggest thing in pitching, and command and velocity, is health. The only way you’re going to be able to improve your velocity is to throw, and the only way you can improve your command is to throw. But if your throwing has a movement pattern that isn’t healthy, you can’t do that, because you’re putting so much stress on your arm that it hurts. You can’t really get much done. You can’t throw enough to really make any improvement.

“People ask me about how I throw so much, and this that and the other, but no one ever asks: ‘How can you throw so much? What do you do mechanically that keeps you healthy?’ That’s really the biggest thing I have to offer to the intellectual side of the baseball community: how to keep an arm healthy, and address movement pattern issues that cause injuries. That’s something I’d like to see at the end of my career, so that somehow injury rates drop.”



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David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from February 2006-March 2011 and is a regular contributor to several publications. His first book, Interviews from Red Sox Nation, was published by Maple Street Press in 2006. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.


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TheOneWhoKnocks
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TheOneWhoKnocks
3 years 10 months ago

Bauer is so obnoxious.
How about you have some success before you spend every day talking about what a cerebral complex pitching genius you are

Santos
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Santos
3 years 10 months ago

Yeah it’s definitely Bauer who’s being the obnoxious one here.

Scott
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Scott
3 years 10 months ago

Although this interview is very fascinating, I gotta agree that Bauer comes off a bit presumptuous. He talks about “the biggest thing I have to offer to the intellectual side of the baseball community”…I think a dose of humble pie is in order. It’s OK to have confidence, but it needs to be backed up with some results at the highest level before you talk like pitching Yoda. Take a cue from Belichick’s Patriots – rookies are better seen than heard.

baty
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baty
3 years 10 months ago

Sure… He might be presumptuous but he’s pretty thoughtful. He already has credibility with what he’s done so far, so I’d keep it within that context. He’s telling us what he’s learned so far, and what his future expectations are based on that information. It leads me to believe that as he grows, he’ll most likely continue to learn and have a reasonable opportunity to let his philosophy continue to adapt. His arrogance might get in the way, but at least he has a thorough plan to be confident in. I’d wait to call him anything until we see what he does with all of this stuff.

ValueArb
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ValueArb
3 years 10 months ago

Gee, we get a touted prospect to explain his approach in far more detail than we almost ever see, which is awesome (thanks to Trever and David both) and some urchins emerge from their momma’s basement to flip out over how he phrased something.

Scott
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Scott
3 years 10 months ago

Glad you could rehash the momma’s basement line, on Fangraphs to boot. I wasn’t complaining about the access. Dave has had some incredible interviews this year, and this one is a treat as well.

It’s his job as the interviewer to get the subject to talk, and he certainly achieves that goal here. It’s not his fault if the subject comes across as obnoxious or brilliant or compassionate or ruthless or whatever, nor is it his job to worry about that. Bauer talked, and opened himself up to the reactions of the readers, positive or negative. Providing access does not indebt the reader to the subject.

Nate
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Nate
3 years 10 months ago

Anyone who doesn’t think he’s earned the chops to talk about pitching is free to disregard what he says, and to only read the interviews of All Stars and Hall of Famers.

Xao
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Xao
3 years 10 months ago

Scott,

Saying “the biggest thing I have to offer” isn’t presumptuous at all. It says nothing about the overall impact of what he is offering, it just says that of what he has to offer he considers arm health information the most important. It’s a matter of relative, not absolute importance.

John
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John
3 years 10 months ago

CJ Wilson all over again.

Am I even serious?
Guest
Am I even serious?
3 years 10 months ago

I think most people would be happy with his 2010-2011 seasons. Oh wait, he can’t be good because he pitches differently than others…

Ben
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Ben
3 years 10 months ago

He was drafted last year and pitched 7 fabulous (abbreviated) starts across two levels last year before the minor league season ended. He struck out around 15 per 9 innings in those 7 starts while walking about 4 per 9. Despite a BABIP just south of .400, he had a FIP of under 3.00.

This year he has thrown 25 starts across 3 levels – reaching the majors for 4 starts. In those starts, he has averaged above 9 strikeouts per 9 innings at each level, close to 11 for the entire year. His walk rate has risen slightly to close to 4.5 for the year. His BABIP is lower and his FIP is still right around 3.00.

He’s a 21-year old who has made 4 starts in the majors in just over a year after he was drafted early out of college. His biggest troubles in his professional career have been the 4 starts in the majors – again, as a 21-year old. He was slightly worse than league average (although he did not go deep into games at all either.)

He is being shut down for a few starts because the organization thinks that his arm needs to rest for a bit. He is not hurt, according to the Diamondbacks, just has a tired arm from throwing more innings (140 2/3 innings) than ever before.

If you’re a DBacks fan and are upset with him, as a Cardinals’ fan, I’ll give you anyone in the minors not named Shelby Miller or Oscar Taveras for him.

Nitram Odarp
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Nitram Odarp
3 years 10 months ago

Saying Trevor Bauer was slightly worse than league average in his major league starts is like saying David Price has been slightly above average in his MLB starts this year.

Miguel Montero
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Miguel Montero
3 years 10 months ago

My sentiments exactly.

Boomer
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Boomer
3 years 10 months ago

Bauer has it figured out, he is 12-2 in the minors this year and if you look at his track record…he will have it figured out in the majors as well. How many 21 year olds can talk about their mechanics and velocity in depth like Bauer can. He didn’t even touch on effective velocity which is a whole other topic that could take up the space on this webisite. He will be all right as long as the D-Backs allow him the lattitude to continue his training regimen. I think he can and will help others along the way with mechanics to stay away from sore arms (elbows, labrums etc…). Bauer will make a great coach someday if he desires to do so…after a successful major league career.

Nitram Odarp
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Nitram Odarp
3 years 10 months ago

If Bauer honestly thinks he already has it figured out just because he is doing well in the minors, then he’s kind of proving his doubters right and he’s probably in for a rude awakening as he gets more exposure to the MLB game. His biggest issue right now is his belief in the effectiveness of throwing fastballs and curves in the same in the same “pitch tunnel.” Yes, it works great against minor league hitters who will chase a FB at the eyes of a curve that bounces in front of the plate because they can’t quickly differentiate the two pitches based on spin. It doesn’t work against legitimate MLB hitters that separated themselves from those minor league hitters in large part by their ability to quickly differentiate fastballs from breaking balls.

I think you’re giving Bauer entirely too much credit when it comes to something like effective velocity. You really don’t think most young pitchers understand that a pitch on the inside corner is tougher to catch up with than a pitch on the outside corner? Hell, my 12 year old brother understands that. Most young pitchers just don’t give it a name like effective velocity and regularly talk about it to the public. Don’t get me wrong, I like how open Bauer is, but don’t mistake being more open than other pitchers with being smarter than other pitchers.

I do think Bauer has a lot to offer when it comes to his thoughts on mechanics and training to keep an arm healthy. If he is going to make a significant contribution to pitching knowledge, that’s the field where I think it will be. I just don’t think his approach to pitching (not mechanics and training, but philosophy, sequencing, etc.) is particularly revolutionary. He’s just giving names to things and talking about them more than other pitchers. Honestly, I think the kid could use a good, long talk with Greg Maddux. That’s the approach to pitching Bauer should be trying to emulate.

mcbrown
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mcbrown
3 years 10 months ago

He’s had good results for someone his age in AAA, and he sounds extremely convincing when talking about his approach. But what I can’t quite reconcile is that his walk rate looks like it belongs to someone with a different approach than what he describes. A 10%+ walk rate just isn’t consistent with throwing strikes 75% of the time. Which means he either (a) is describing an approach that he views as a goal he is striving towards but hasn’t yet physically mastered (which is perfectly ok, by the way), or (b) he doesn’t know himself quite as well as he thinks. I kind of think it’s the latter. Which is also fine – athletes are notoriously bad at self-assessment, and you can certainly succeed with a high walk rate if you strike out batters like he projects to (see Lincecum, Tim). It’s just kind of odd to juxtapose that walk rate with a goal of throwing 75% strikes.

Simon
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Simon
3 years 10 months ago

I think he thought he could get big league hitters (and possibly also minor leaguers to a lesser extent) to chase more than he is apparently able to do. If he adjusts to that, it’s less of a long-term issue than if he lacks the ability to throw the ball where he wants it.

mcbrown
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mcbrown
3 years 10 months ago

Agreed. Though I guess that’s my point – if his goal has been to get people to chase bad pitches and accept some walks along the way (also a perfectly valid approach), that’s not what he is describing. It’s not bad, just odd.

John
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John
3 years 10 months ago

“It acts pretty much like a left-handed cut fastball, or a left-handed slider, which is why I call it a reverse slider”

Yeah, it’s called a SINKER. lol!

Gibson
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Gibson
3 years 10 months ago

Actually its not a sinker, because it moves in to righties more than a sinker would and it is thrown differently than a sinker. Please don’t make uninformed comments. No need to make others around you just as stupid as yourself.

John
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John
3 years 10 months ago

Listening to young pitchers branding their pitches is one of the more amusing aspects of being in the game. I talked to one kid last year, who had a true 12/6 curveball, keep talking about his “sinker”. Because it goes down!

Phrozen
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Phrozen
3 years 10 months ago

Like the Eliminator, the Devastator, the Terminator. And the Masterbator.

Rick Vaughn
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Rick Vaughn
3 years 10 months ago

If you can hit it…I’ll let you name it

Nathan Nathan
Member
Nathan Nathan
3 years 10 months ago

As John notes, Bauer’s “reverse slider” sounds an awful lot like a sinker or a two -seamer. Though Pitch/FX only seems to have classified him as throwing a four seamer, a curve, a slider and a change up.

He does seem a bit cocky, but his basic ideas make considerable sense. I’m not sure how good a quarters vs. ninths approach is, though. It might work well with six pitches. 24 different looks ain’t bad. I’d like to see if he’s done an analysis on his accuracy and his precision. If he’s as smart as he’s supposed to be, he should be able to work miracles from his PitchF/X data.

Nitram Odarp
Guest
Nitram Odarp
3 years 10 months ago

It’s essentially a sinker, but since he has a higher arm slot than the typical sinker pitcher, he gets more arm side run than sink.

soamx
Member
soamx
3 years 10 months ago

That’s my problem with Bauer.
You need credibility.
He talks about how he is able to stay healthy because of his great routine. How about your able to stay healthy because your 21 years old and you haven’t even scratched the surface of the mileage your arm is going to experience.
He talks about how he is effective because of his cerebral attack and complex plan ..Yeah it’s worked out great against minor leaguers but you’ve gotten killed in the bigs buddy.
A little humility out of a rookie would be nice.
We don’t go to Jeff Franceour for hitting expertise, we don’t go to Tommy Hunter for pitching expertise.
We’re giving the kid too much credit too soon. It’s an interesting read, but his attitude rubs me totally the wrong way and I’m sure he has teammates that feel the same way.

lewish
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lewish
3 years 10 months ago

He’s a kid…I appreciate his sharing…in 15 years, if he makes it 15 years it will interesting seeing his evolution. Thanks for the article David!

Nolan
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Nolan
3 years 10 months ago

It seems what you are all saying is that Bauer shouldn’t share any of this fascinating information because his success has been limited to the minor leagues. I guess we shouldn’t let anyone without the credentials of Greg Maddux offer their insight.

Ruki Motomiya
Member
Ruki Motomiya
3 years 10 months ago

There’s a difference between hall of fame all time great and average MLB starter.

I don’t really care if Bauer seems arrogant or not, but such hyperbole is pants on head retarded.

ValueArb
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ValueArb
3 years 10 months ago

He should watch Bull Durham over and over until he learns learn to tell us nothing, lest he upset you no-life trolls.

Antonio bananas
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Antonio bananas
3 years 10 months ago

I like that he thinks about this stuff. It’s going to be interesting if he stumbles, learns, then succeeds. He’ll be really interesting to read about and listen to. I would like to watch a conversation between him and a guy like Moyer, Maddux, or glavine.

Gary York
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Gary York
3 years 10 months ago

Even if he can’t do anything that he says, the intellectual approach seems valid to me. Sounds like the pitching equivalent of Ted Williams, from an approach perspective. If nothing else, he ought to make a hell of a pitching coach someday.

Bauer might be coming across as cocky because he might be defensive. This isn’t a highly erudite community that he’s in and he probably takes a bit of flak for his (at least) quasi-scientific observations.

Eric
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Eric
3 years 10 months ago

“That’s really the biggest thing I have to offer to the intellectual side of the baseball community: how to keep an arm healthy, and address movement pattern issues that cause injuries.”
I never hope for injuries, but come on…

sarge
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sarge
3 years 10 months ago

Bauer pitches like he’s tired, likely tired from his ridiculous pregame “warmup”, which is really a workout. I guarantee you if he ends up having success in the majors, it won’t be from throwing belt-high fastballs and a general disregard for commanding all of his pitches. you aren’t going to get that from long-tossing 300+ ft. no one cares how far you can throw a baseball. smotlz commented during one his games that a pitcher makes his living by throwing from 60’6″, and that is what he should spend his time practicing.

Gary York
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Gary York
3 years 10 months ago

Given the amount of injuries to minor and major league pitchers, it is doubtful that we know the best way of handling pitcher workouts to keep their arm injuries to a minimum.

If someone did exhibit an inhuman capacity to avoid arm injuries, the baseball world would probably ignore him, particularly if he was “cocky” and/or critical of the entrenched way of doing things. Which reminds me, what is Mike Marshall doing these days, anyway?

Brandon S.
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Brandon S.
3 years 10 months ago

Every big league athlete is cocky/has high self esteem/confident in one way or another, Bauer is just more vocal about it than the average ballplayer.

J Rich
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J Rich
3 years 10 months ago

You guys do realize Bauer is being interviewed here, right? He was asked questions about his approach, and gave interesting, thoughtful and insightful answers. This whole series has been great for getting a glimpse into the mind of players in a way we don’t normally have access to.

For those of you hating on his answers – what did you want him to say?

Scott
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Scott
3 years 10 months ago

If I’m managing the Diamondbacks, I would have preferred he turned down the interview.

I want to be clear here: I really liked this interview and in NO way think Dave did anything other than a great job. But from the perspective of a teammate or a manager, I would prefer more humility and less hubris, regardless of whether that hubris is real or perceived.

Cus
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Cus
3 years 10 months ago

He has a long way to go to reach that 75% to 80* strikes/first pitch strikes level. As a pitcher I think his visualization/muscle memory work is far more valuable that watching himself at 3 billion frames per second. That might be be over-analysis to the point of being a detriment. You can’t actively control your release point to an 1/8 of an inch, but you can throw and adjust/feel the connection between the desire and actual results as you see them.

Swingdoc
Member
Swingdoc
3 years 10 months ago

Being the thoughtful pitcher he is, I wonder if he is aware of the research from ASMI which indicates long-toss results in more stress on the arm and is not recommended. They also found significant differences in mechanics between long toss and pitching which also brings the practice into question.

dan
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dan
3 years 10 months ago

he is an idiot. keeping the fastball down is so important. F THERE IS ANYTHING I AM certain about in pitching, it is that the farther up in the game you go, the more successful you can be by keeping your pitches low. There will be exceptions, of course. The classic example will be the power pitchers (like Nolan Ryan) who can retain their velocity and continue pitching upstairs as they age. Most pitchers will achieve greater success by keeping the ball in the lower part or even just out of the strike zone. Several of the reasons for this are:

Lower is faster. Most low fastballs are 1-2 mph faster than the pitcher’s high fastball cousins. A radar gun will quickly prove this.

The hitter can see only the top half of the ball. On a high pitch, the batter will see the whole ball.

The low ball is more likely to be hit on the ground and less likely to be hit for distance.

The action on the ball (veer and sink) is heightened when the pitch is low.

Gravity adds to both the velocity and movement of the pitch.

Double plays (the essence of defensive efficiency) are the precious gifts of the low-ball pitcher.

Keeping the batters from hitting the long ball is a form of survival pitching. For whatever the reason (tighter wound balls, shorter fences, fewer developed four-seam fastballs, tighter strike zones, and souped-up bats), one has to pitch low in order to be effective.

Delivering a four-seam fastball high and without a lot of action can be dangerous. Since umpires have reduced the high strike to a nonentity, “everything low” becomes an extremely viable style of pitching. The lower strike zone has truly stimulated the development of this pitch.

Baldacci
Guest
Baldacci
3 years 10 months ago

Manny Ramirez was the modern day master of setting up a pitcher; letting himself look slow against a fastball so he could get 2 in a row or get out in front of a change so the pitcher tries another. He would have out-bauered Bauer:)

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