Phil Hughes Part 2: More video analysis

Last week, I wrote an article about Hughes’ mechanics. I’d like to address some of the questions/comments that have been made about the article either to me directly or in comment sections at other sites.

Sample size, sample size. Why only two clips and why the Futures Game?

Excellent point. Unfortunately, I have limited video available to me. The Futures Game is the only video of Hughes I had seen at the time that I could use as a comparison. The other video I had seen was grainy. That said, I took great care in making sure that the pitches I chose were comparable. I wanted the same pitch at the same location from the windup in both.

You can’t trust the juiced ESPN radar gun. The YES gun is usually slower.

I wish I hadn’t mentioned the velocity of the pitches. It wasn’t my intention to say “He throws harder on this one. See, I’m right.” There was another pitch in his debut that was 94 mph that I preferred, but it looked half-a-frame off (the joys of 30 frames/sec video). That said, do I think he’ll be able to keep his velocity better if he uses ’06’s mechanics? Yes, I do.

The angle is different on the clips. How can you tell that his arm slot is higher?

Yes, the angles are different and I have to be very careful about that. However, the arm slot IS higher. I don’t think there’s a question about that. More proof? OK.

The lines are connected dots from release point to where the hands are four frames after release. Yes, I know the clips’ angles are slightly different. But the path of the arm suggests a more vertical path.
Trust me, it’s higher.

Who does he remind you of mechanics-wise?

John Beamer asked me this question first. While I didn’t have an answer for him then, I knew I had a visual of someone he reminded me of, especially the short arm action (that I really like), which usually is the first thing I notice. I’m not sure why I thought of (brace yourselves) Jaret Wright, but unfortunately, I did. I’m not totally convinced that he’s the guy I had in mind, but that’s who I thought of. I’ve heard some compare him to Clemens. Clemens? That’s heresy. Here ya go….

I can make a better case for Wright (arm-action wise) than Clemens. Note Clemens and his different shoulder tilt. His back shoulder is lower than his front shoulder until foot plant. Note frames 9-14, especially their respective arm actions (notice the slight elbow bend at all times from Wright and Hughes). Frame 16? OK. Clemens and Hughes are more similar there as are their finishes. Also, Clemens maintains a more aggressive move toward home plate with his body. Watch how he loads his hips/backside. Clemens? Are ya kidding me? No way. One of these is NOT Clemens…

How do you know that the clips are representative of what he does? Even MLB pitchers have a little variance in their motion even during the same inning… Also, it’s possible his head and front shoulder were flying open due to overthrowing (MLB debut, etc.)

Excellent points. However, in my study of Hughes, I found him to be very consistent in his mechanics when it came to tempo, release point, etc. Here’s a clip of his last start compared to his MLB debut. Both of them are strikeouts swinging on fastballs on the arm side corner of the plate (inside to right-handed hitters).

Looks pretty consistent, doesn’t he? Trust me. I didn’t go through a harsh selection process here. I took the first fastballs that met the criteria, timed them to release, and then put them together. In my study of Phil Hughes, I found that one of his strengths is how well he repeats his delivery from pitch to pitch.

One more thing I’d like to point out. At no point have I said “I don’t think he’s a good pitcher.” Mechanics is just one part of a pitcher’s evaluation. His command is excellent, his curveball is outstanding and his changeup (based on his last outing) underrated.

A comparative study on an unwritten rule of baseball.

His mechanics? A bit overrated.

That is all for now. I hope to get to more questions/comments in the near future.

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