Trevor Bauer needs to be left alone

Trevor Bauer has been traded to the Cleveland Indians as part of a three-team deal. Over the weekend, I was fortunate enough to have presented at Ron Wolforth’s Ultimate Coaches’ Bootcamp in Montgomery, Tex., with Bauer, who spoke at length on using the lower half in the pitching delivery (with Eric Binder).

Bauer on the left, me third from the left

It’s no secret that the Arizona Diamondbacks had issues with Bauer’s workout routine, which involves a 60-plus minute warmup using implements like the Oates Shoulder Tube:

As well as “extreme” long toss prior to games:

Jerry DiPoto sought Bauer while he was the director of scouting in Arizona. However, after Kevin Towers replaced GM Josh Byrnes, DiPoto eventually moved on to Anaheim as the GM. It’s been said that DiPoto was one of Bauer’s last allies, needing to step in to prevent the player development department from further infringing on his workout routines, which include daily throwing in-season.

Let’s look at his mechanics—he was kind enough to upload tons of high-speed footage on YouTube:

Overhead shot:

His deceleration pattern is extremely efficient: He rotates his throwing shoulder forward into the target significantly farther than most pitchers. This pattern allows force to be applied to the baseball in increasingly straighter lines, which is naturally more efficient and less injurious on the elbow and shoulder. Force is best applied parallel to the direction of acceleration instead of perpendicular to the lever arm. For a stark contrast, look at Stephen Strasburg‘s release point, which is much earlier in the delivery:

Bauer also trains and exhibits solid use of pronation through and after release of the baseball, which theoretically reduces stress on the elbow by engaging the muscles of the medial forearm (pronator-flexor mass). This and the deceleration pattern, are mainstays of the teachings at Ron Wolforth’s Texas Baseball Ranch.

Bauer’s training: Leave him alone

Bauer’s training includes plyometrics, medicine ball training, wrist weights, rubber tubing, and a host of other things (for more information, check out The Athletic Pitcher for a basic overview). However, one thing stands out: It includes tons of throwing, often with weighted baseballs. While major league clubs are afraid that more throwing equals more injuries, we’ve enacted tons of pitch count and innings restrictions with no evidence that they work.

Representatives from the Cleveland Indians (including their minor league pitching coordinator) were in attendance over the weekend to hear Bauer speak. So were many other coaches who strongly believe in constant throwing year-round. Ken Knutson, pitching coach at Arizona State, has implemented a similar training program at ASU. Total number of surgeries on his pitchers over the last eight years? Zero. Only 180 days of injury time in that span, with 100 coming from a single player who didn’t even play at ASU (he committed but went to pro ball).

There is room for concern when it comes to the Indians, however. One of Knutson’s pitchers when he was at the University of Washington was Nick Hagadone, the fireballing lefty in Cleveland’s bullpen. Hagadone credits his workout routine with getting him from the mid-80s his junior year to the mid-90s his senior year. Despite this, the indians reportedly curtailed much of his workout program after he was traded to them from the Red Sox in the Victor Martinez deal. Will they treat Bauer the same way?

To those in Cleveland’s player development group, I humbly suggest this: Let thse two pitchers do their thing for one full year without interfering. Simply let them do what got them to the big leagues in the first place and made them first-round draft picks. It makes no sense to change that.

Mental Health and the CBA
A particular bit of language in the latest CBA could have negative consequences for some players.

Moneyball and Oakland have had a profound effect on professional baseball with regard to statistical evaluation of players and the quantification of runs scored and wins credited. It will be another low-budget team that initiates the revolution in player development, and there’s no reason it couldn’t be Cleveland.

The Indians fan in me sure hopes it will be.


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Kyle owns Driveline Baseball and Driveline Biomechanics Research, and has authored The Dynamic Pitcher, a comprehensive book and video set dedicated to developing elite youth baseball pitchers. He is also a consultant for an MLB team and a major Division-I college program. Follow him on Twitter @drivelinebases or email him here.
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Shane
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Shane

He’s really cocky for a guy who hasn’t accomplished anything, I’m not a fan of his attitude and it looks like the D-Backs weren’t either.
The indians were smart to buy low on a guy with a lot of upside, but I can see his attitude rubbing any organization the wrong way.

Kyle Boddy
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Kyle Boddy

Apparently winning the college Golden Spikes award and throwing 97 MPH is “not having accomplished anything.”

Kevin Scobee
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Kevin Scobee

When you have an IQ of 170, the uneducated/unwilling-to-learn-new-things crowd that’s directed to coach you will often think you have a “bad attitude”.

Kevin Poppe
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Kevin Poppe
Great read, Kyle. It was awesome to hear about your analysis this weekend as well. Having worked with Bauer pretty extensively, this attitude stuff is way overblown. This is a great guy and he knows why he has been successful. He is actually a very humble person. He’s not a guy who is unwilling to listen but he is a guy who is somewhat unwilling to compromise on what he knows works. He used to be a guy against strength training. You can find articles on it. Thankfully, my boss Lee Fiocchi, communicated the benefits to him well enough that… Read more »
Kyle Boddy
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Kyle Boddy

Kevin:

Thank you for the comments about this weekend. It truly was an awesome experience.

“He’s not a guy who is unwilling to listen but he is a guy who is somewhat unwilling to compromise on what he knows works. He used to be a guy against strength training. You can find articles on it.”

Very true, and as you said, you can see videos online of Lee at DST working with Trevor on strength training.

Rob MacKnight
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Rob MacKnight
Sorry, but Bauer’s mechanics are exactly the WRONG way to throw if you hope to retain your youthful velocity and not gradually wear down your shoulder and elbow. Note how he drops his hands from an already-low set, and similar to way too many pitchers, including Tim Lincecum (how is HIS velocity working out these days?), his ball-hand drops actually behind his rear-end, then has to whip all the way back up and around on its way to home plate. This ubiquitous and nefarious “drop and whip” style is KILLING velocity and eventually shoulders and elbows all over baseball. The… Read more »
Kevin Poppe
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Kevin Poppe
I do not know what out and up means, but I can assure you what Bauer does is not putting excess stress on his shoulder. His hand going back doesn’t put any more stress on his shoulder, because there is no rotational force while he is in this extension. Its about where his arm is when he is going into rotation. An that is in with an elbow degree inside 90. This puts LESS stress on his arm when he rotates because it is a shorter moment arm (distance on horizontal axis from the ball to his shoulder). This means… Read more »
Rob MacKnight
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Rob MacKnight
I respect your science, yet would you have been as optimistic about Lincecum, Orel Hershiser, C.C. Sabathia, and endless others who drop the ball-hand at or below their rear-ends and then whip forward? My contention is that empirical evidence shows the grossly deleterious effects on velocity and elbow/shoulder longevity by employing the drop and whip. Picture an evolved Nolan Ryan and Jack Morris with two different flavors of the out and up.  (Currently, White Sox flamethrower Nate Jones gets his arm out and up pretty well, though I would coach him to use a higher set to lessen the length… Read more »
Kyle Boddy
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Kyle Boddy

Rob:

[citation needed] on literally everything you said.

Rob MacKnight
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Rob MacKnight

Have to install a floor now…

Kyle Boddy
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Kyle Boddy

If you can back up what you’ve said with scientific references and/or biomechanical studies, I’d appreciate it. Here’s the list of research studies I used to come to my conclusions about pitching:

http://www.drivelinebaseball.com/research-studies/

Rob MacKnight
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Rob MacKnight

Thanks, but the link failed.
There is science, and there is empirical evidence.  How can we argue about quantifiable results?

Is it logical to emulate the mechanics of a pitcher who excelled in the bigs for 27 years with minimal velocity loss?

Kyle Boddy
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Kyle Boddy

The link should work fine.

“Is it logical to emulate the mechanics of a pitcher who excelled in the bigs for 27 years with minimal velocity loss?”

Actually, no, that’s not logic. That’s an appeal to authority / small sample size logical fallacy. That’s the exact opposite of logic.

Kevin Scobee
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Kevin Scobee

Are you talking about this Nolan Ryan for your “out and up” – after he’s already started his rotation to the plate: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Rtsz39dpi9E/TZKEgtGDFPI/AAAAAAAAABk/WaHAhsrlfRI/s1600/nolan_ryan.jpg

Or this Nolan Ryan when he approches scap load, which is a near universally trait for all high-velocity throwers: http://content.fathead.com/blog/NolanRyan.JPG

And don’t use Lincecum’s struggles now to try and make your point when he’s seven years into a career of multiple postseasons and well-known terrible conditioning in the early years, while convenient dismissing how dominant and durable he was at peak.

Rob MacKnight
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Rob MacKnight

Gents, I have to get a kid to an appointment, but I can see that this will be a fun jousting of opinions on the art we love. 

Kyle, thanks for your take on what we should term empirical evidence.  Bottom line, I call it compelling.

Kevin, yes, I will directly blame Lincecum’s mechanics on his loss in velocity.  That is precisely my premise.  Pitch with smarter mechanics and you retain your velocity much longer.

Gotta fly, boys…take your punches!

obsessivegiantscompulsive
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obsessivegiantscompulsive
Then how about giving the Giants props for allowing Tim Lincecum to do his thing?  His routine is even more different than Bauer.  Bauer, as you noted, spends 60+ minutes warming up, which is more in line with what baseball thinks is right.  Lincecum claims he is warmed up in up to 10 warm-up pitches.  Even there, the Giants do make him throw more when he is starting.  But when he was in relief in the playoffs, somewhere it was noted that he just threw what he wanted – a couple of handful of pitches – and told them he… Read more »
Rob MacKnight
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Rob MacKnight
Trip, the massive evidence shows the damage of the drop and whip.  The out and up works because it greatly decreases the ‘backstroke’ of the arm to get properly slotted before going forward.  The arm is immediately in the proper position to make the pitch. Use your legs and back properly and you should enjoy maximum velocity and superb control. Trip, I think what most are missing with the drop and whip is the damage done by having to go from (often) way down (like behind the ass), to then whip all the way back toward the plate.  Usually in… Read more »
Kyle Boddy
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Kyle Boddy

“Trip, the massive evidence shows the damage of the drop and whip.”

Let’s see it. It’s all just anecdotes from you.

Rob MacKnight
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Rob MacKnight

Kyle, you are just choosing to ignore everything in front of you from the decades of being able to view mechanics and quantify resultant loss of velocity and injury.

No, I do not have scientific answers, I just know what I see and feel. 

You can keep using and pushing the drop and whip if you wish…just don’t be surprised by the disappearing heat and predictable injuries…chalk it up to more anecdotal evidence.

Kyle Boddy
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Kyle Boddy

“No, I do not have scientific answers, I just know what I see and feel.”

You would have saved everyone a lot of time and effort if you just admitted that up front. That nothing you said has any backing in science, research, or statistics.

Rob MacKnight
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Rob MacKnight

Ha!  Kyle, that’s hilarious.  “Admit”? 

Sorry, I did not realize that this site was for bona fide scientists ONLY.

Your attempt to dismiss my input with a superior wave won’t work for most who have played the game.

I have a solution to address the hundreds of millions of dollars on the DL in dead arms, plus the uncountable amateur injuries among kids never lucky enough to make it to the big leagues. 

Is the status quo okay with you?

Owen
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Owen
Rob, Although you say there is a mass of empirical evidence, you only mention (from what I can see) four guys: One is a two time CY Young winner who was a durable innings eater while pitching at an extremely high level for five years without missing a start. True, he has lost a good deal of velocity and was nowhere near as effective this past season, but he is also very undersized, especially for a pitcher with his workload in the past and is known to have been lax at best about conditioning for much of his life. Another… Read more »
Owen
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Owen

Also, you mention that the out and up gives you superb control, yet the best example you give of a pitcher using this technique happens to be one of the wildest, most walk prone pitchers in the games history.

Rob MacKnight
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Rob MacKnight
Owen, pretty much everyone is now using the drop and whip and we are seeing the result in loss of velocity and injuries.  It is an epidemic that has been written about a lot, yet no solution has been created. Did Orel Hershiser use his brains to convert into a successful finesse pitcher after blowing out his shoulder at his peak with the Dodgers?  Yes. Can F-Rod be mostly effective with his cagey stuff?  Yes. Can C.C. Sabathia convert from a power pitcher to one who relies mostly on a slider?  Sure. (Note his post-season elbow surgery.) Can Tim Lincecum… Read more »
Owen
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Owen

There also seems to be a nice drop and whip in this guy’s delivery. He happens to be one of the hardest throwers of all time, had next to no injuries, was a no brainer HOFer and was reportedly still hitting the 70s and 80s in his 70s and 80s, pitching at fantasy camps and legends games into his 90s.

http://youtu.be/DG5x8pB9_7o?t=1m28s

Rob MacKnight
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Rob MacKnight

Owen, Feller certainly had a great arm, but he ached:

“On the downside of his career because of shoulder injuries, the 31-year-old Feller made about $65,000 in 1949, when he went 15-14 with a 3.75 ERA.”—Yahoo Sports, 1/18/12, by David Brown

Go out and up and pitch without major injury at your best for as long as you want.

Rob MacKnight
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Rob MacKnight
Owen, you seem to think of Nolan Ryan as the wild kid with the Mets and Angels.  He cleaned up his mechanics and had very good control, especially for as hard as he threw. In his quest to use his legs to buttress his heat, he lucked into the out and up since his left knee kicked up toward his chin and placed his hand and mitt in the perfect location at the top of his right shoulder so that all he had to do was go straight back with his arm, then forward.  No wasted motion down and then… Read more »
Owen
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Owen
Every pitcher no matter the mechanics loses velocity as they age, and after a certain age, at a very rapid rate. Even Nolan Ryan lost mile after mile off of his fastball year after year. Because it is the most common pitching technique, of course pitchers using it are going to lose velocity and get hurt, it’s inevitable. Losing a mile or two off of an already well above league average fastball over a decade of relief appearances or maintaining the same velocity for a decade while pitching 200 innings a year would happen no matter the type of delivery… Read more »
Rob MacKnight
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Rob MacKnight
Owen, if I had access to the MLB video library I would be happy to amass a nice list of out and up pitchers, but it is certainly a minority group amongst hurlers. Even 27 years into the big leagues, Ryan still threw in the low 90’s.  Do we age and lose physical ability?  Sure.  My contention is backed by the evidence: The drop and whip style accelerates loss of velocity and injury.  The out and up gives you a much better chance of avoiding major injury while maintaining maximum velocity. Ryan was overused like a rented mule by the… Read more »
Owen
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Owen
I’m sorry Rob, I just don’t think we’re going to see eye to eye on this one. I’m not saying an out and up delivery is bad, heck, I’m not even necessarily saying it isn’t better than the drop and whip, but while you keep talking about ‘all the evidence’ I have yet to see any. You talk about Nolan Ryan but that’s one genetic lottery winner who, as you admit, didn’t use the out and up exclusively/for his entire career. At the same time, you don’t give other examples of pitchers using that motion or any statistics that back… Read more »
Owen
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Owen
Finally, if I am understanding what you mean by ‘out and up’ Billy Wagner would be an example of an out and up pitcher. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtiOOY4shZ8 As a closer, he is probably best compared to your Francisco Rodriguez example. Wagner had two major injuries to his arm over his career while Rodriguez’s only trip to the DL was for a torn ligament in his thumb. Over Rodriguez’s career (02-12) he has seen his average fastball dip just over a mile and a half from 93.5 to 91.8 mph, while Wagner, from 02-10 saw his fastball decrease by almost two miles per… Read more »
Trip Somers
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Trip Somers

@Rob: Okay, I’ll bite. Why do you consider “out and up” to be smart mechanics?

Rob MacKnight
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Rob MacKnight
Hi Owen, thanks for all your input; I will attempt to be succinct. My contention is that Nolan Ryan was NOT some sort of genetic freak, but he lasted 27 years in the bigs as a power pitcher precisely because he unwittingly evolved into the prototypical out and up pitcher. As for Billy Wagner, he short-armed the ball big-time, and that is very against what I teach in person and via Healthy Pitching dot com, but he obviously had a very nice career and retained much of his velocity because he did not drop and whip. Jack Morris had a… Read more »
Frank
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Frank

The better way is happening now, that is correct. It follows the premier discoveries and applications using a scientific method (of sorts), not having been derived from the best conjured assumption of a man that appropriates ‘evidence’.

Rob MacKnight
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Rob MacKnight

Frank, if the ‘better way’ is in vogue now, then baseball and pitchers are in a heap of trouble. 

Thanks, but I will bet on what I know from playing most of my life and observing the game.

Many would kill to have Lincecum’s career, while I look at it and ask, ‘what if he had used the out and up early on and was still throwing in the mid nineties?’

Brett
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Brett
It appears to me there are two different, but related, issues here that need to be separated and then brought together.  Guys like Trevor Bauer and Lincecum have figured out a way, through their own unique combinations of talent, training, and mental acuity, to squeeze the most velocity out of their relatively small frames.  They are able to seamlessly transfer linear momentum to angular momentum, and also maximize that whip-like catapult action that is present to a degree in all pitching deliveries but is magnified when applied through an overhand delivery.  That’s great if all we want to talk about… Read more »
Rob MacKnight
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Rob MacKnight
Nicely said, Brett.  I am unfamiliar with details of Bauer’s alleged ill-advised behavior or attitudes, but I hope he matures nicely in Cleveland and helps the Tribe. As for his mechanics, I am decidedly not a fan, but as you point out, who would not trade his left nipple for Lincecum’s success and money? My quest is just to help young men retain that heat that they come up with for as long as possible with smarter mechanics.  There is a joke of a youtube entry by somaxperformance extolling Lincecum’s “95-97 mph” fastball and claiming that his delivery’s “efficiency” is… Read more »
Willis Randall
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Willis Randall

Kevin Poppe-
        Since you claim to extensively work with Bauer on a daily basis, I have to question your credentials. I’m not sure you have enough background in physics to come to a conclusion about the moment arm? What does that even mean? I’m just curious about your major or college, I want to know if you actually are skilled in the physics/biomechanics world.

  Thanks,
      Willis

Fake Chanel Bags
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The youngest Jenner is featured in various Snaps, showing off the vintage Chanel suit as she floats across the pool perched atop an assortment of inflatable pool toys like a pair of red lips and a unicorn.

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