Site Search
Featured Reading
  • Starting Strength, 3rd edition
    Starting Strength, 3rd edition
    by Mark Rippetoe
Sponsors

Saturday
Dec082012

"Delayed Internal Rotation" revisited and elbow roll-in

Almost 4 years ago, I wrote an article that was sort of a spit-balled take on an arm action sequencing concept. Practically immediately, it was torn apart by Dr. Mike Marshall. I realized then that the article was poorly written. Part of that was the spit-ball nature of it, its kind of "thinking out loud" approach, but a big part was my wonderfully awful descriptions of and references to the kinetic chain.

Shortly thereafter, I threw a disclaimer at the top and promised to re-write the article. Well, there really isn't much point because, even cleaned up, I don't think the concept holds water.

Today, at Ron Wolforth's Pitching Central Ultimate Pitching Coaches Boot Camp (I typed out the whole thing for comedic effect. Did it work?), that exact article was mentioned in reference to an analysis of different types of layback, what causes layback, and how someone can have late forearm turnover and avoid the dreaded reverse forearm bounce.

It's an action that I've addressed before in my pitcher analyses. In my analyses (both professionally and on this site), I've drawn attention to when a pitcher decreases reverse forearm bounce by "picking up" his elbow. You can see this very well in my 2009 analysis of Brandon McCarthy. Back then, I described it like this:

It's hard to tell from this angle, but McCarthy's reverse forearm bounce might be exaggerated by some elbow flexion. By this, I mean that he picks his elbow up high enough that gravity plus natural elbow flexion - rather than inertia - appear to be causing some of the ball's downward motion. This view is inconclusive, but I don't believe his ulnar collateral ligament would hold up for very long if inertia alone caused a bounce that large.

You probably noticed that I was having trouble effectively articulating my thoughts about it. Chris Holt of Pro Bound USA in Clearwater, FL -- who didn't know I was in the audience -- has solved this problem for me by calling it "elbow roll-in".

With that term in mind, watch some of those McCarthy pitches again. Pay attention to his elbow and layback. While there is almost definitely an intertial lag component that helps with McCarthy's layback, the bulk of the layback was done by the way he rolled his elbow into position to lead his forearm.

This method of layback is something for which I've become a big proponent over the past 4 years (for a number of reasons that I don't have time to get into right now). I've needed a succinct way to describe it for some time, and I'm glad Chris was there to help me out.

Tuesday
Jan172012

Is it October yet?

Oops, looks like I missed my return target by a bit. I don't have time to really sit down and write a bunch about how my season went, how incredible The Best Night of Baseball Ever was (like you don't already know), or what all I've been up to this off-season, but some of that's on its way.

Here's a quick shot, though, for those that are getting their feet wet on the nutrition front. I just finished reading Dr. Jonny Bowden's The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, and I have to say that I learned a lot. I knew a bunch from frequently reading Brian St. Pierre's blog, but I was shocked at how much good stuff I was already eating.

The part that didn't really shock me was how good for me some of my least favorite foods are. I'm talking about the brassica family which includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and kale among its members. The nutrient density and anti-cancer properties make them Dr. Bowden's superstar vegetable family. The knowledge I gained from reading this book helped me push past my hatred of these vegetables and actually starting eating them, and I'm sure I'll be better off for it.

You win this round, broccoli, but you'll never make it onto one of my pizzas.

I highly recommend the book, and I can't wait to dig into The 150 Healthiest 15-Minute Recipes on Earth, another of Dr. Bowden's offerings.

Friday
Mar112011

See you in October

That title could probably be a rallying cry for just about any Major League Baseball organization, but in this case, it means this blog is going on hiatus. Given my random publishing schedule, most of you probably won't even notice that I'm gone.

As a part of my employment as a pro scout, I have been asked to cease blogging activity from now until October 1, 2011. The blog will not be taken down.

The PITCHf/x database will continue to run as it has for the past couple of seasons. Of course, thanks to this off-season's upgrades, it's now much prettier.

I'll be doing the normal scouting stuff, with half the number of teams of most scouts (to help me balance school and other work responsibilities), and I'll also be doing some video analysis. There's no telling what kind of impact I'll have, but I certainly hope it's big enough that my baseball career isn't one-and-done. Either way, it's going to be a fun season.

As you read this, I'm headed to (or already in) Phoenix, Arizona for Spring Training. My pro scouting adventure has begun.

Thursday
Mar102011

2011 Texas Rangers: Wins, Attendance, and Playoffs

For two years in a row, my attendance prediction model has come extremely close to predicting the actual attendance at the team's win level.

In 2009's prediction, my model overshot actual attendance by 1.15%. In 2010, it overshot actual attendance by 0.85%.

The model has been updated to include data from 2010.

Again, the model predicts an increase in attendance. At last year's win level -- 90 wins -- the model predicts an average attendance of 33,645 per home game. To fall below last year's attendance level, the model says that the Rangers would have to win fewer than 77 games.

Coming off a World Series appearance, it will be interesting to see how the model holds up for 2011.

Regression Notes

The standard error is down from last year's 2,602 attendees per game to 2,560. The R-square and Adjusted R-Square values are nearly identical to the previous year's -- all three years have been right around 0.90 for both values.

Thanks to the accuracy of last year's prediction, the t Stat and P-value numbers for all three independent variables improved. The growth factor variable (inflation) is still the least significant of the three with a t Stat of 1.415, but again, removing it from the calculations results in larger errors.

Playoff Probability

There were no significant changes to the playoff probabilites for each win level in the AL West. The 90% barrier is crossed at 95 wins, and the 50% barrier is crossed at 91 wins.

I'm keeping it short-and-sweet this time to avoid repeating what I've said in the past. If you'd like to read my previous articles, which are good if you'd like to read about how I constructed my model, check out the links below:

Texas Rangers Win-Curve Part I: Wins vs Attendance

Texas Rangers Win-Curve Part II: Playoff Probability

2010 Texas Rangers: Wins, Attendance, and Playoffs

If you're fascinated by this stuff and haven't read Vince Gennaro's book Diamond Dollars, I strongly encourage you to take a look at it.

Monday
Feb212011

A look at Driveline Baseball's Velocity Development Program

Traditional baseball conditioning does not make sense, particularly when it comes to pitchers. Pitchers are expected to run long distances and ice their arms after they throw. Many coaches insist that body-weight lunges, push-ups, crunches and plyometrics are the only strength exercises a pitcher will ever need.

The truth of the matter is that this traditional concept of conditioning for baseball is completely backwards. Baseball is a sport composed of brief, explosive physical exertions followed by periods of complete energy recovery. (Triples and inside-the-park homeruns are potential exceptions for complete energy recovery.) Extended cardiovascular training in the form of running poles, getting on a treadmill, or riding a resistance bike, is, for the most part, a complete waste of time if the goal is to get better at baseball.

Baseball is an explosive sport where massive force is created in a very short amount of time. It only makes sense that baseball players should train to be explosive. There's nothing explosive about an extended light jog or crunches. Plyometrics and other body-weight exercises, while including some explosive elements, are limited by the athlete's body weight. There is no room for progression once the athlete adapts to his own body weight.

Throwing a baseball with maximum effort involves just about every major skeletal muscle in the body. This makes it one of the best indicators of a baseball player's explosive strength.

I don't think there's a single coach on the planet that would disagree with what I've said so far, not even Dick Mills who thinks strength training is not only unhelpful but also dangerous.

The thing about explosive strength -- and this may shock some of you -- is that you can improve it by lifting heavy things, like in a weight room.

This is the driving principle behind Driveline Baseball's (Seattle, WA) Velocity Development Program, a comprehensive baseball training program where the main focus is throwing velocity.

Kyle Boddy designed the program and coaches the athletes that are a part of it. The program is split between baseball skill activities, such as defense and mechanics, and strength training.

Regarding the naysayers, Boddy offered, "What they don't get is that training for strength and power also helps young athletes to train general motor patterns, which has a clear translation to all sports. Learning to use hip drive in the back squat, thoracic extension in the front squat, and explosive jumping in the power clean all translate to any sport - you name it, it transfers."

Because throwing a baseball involves so many muscles, the Velocity Development Program is not a program that focuses solely on the arm. As Boddy mentioned, his program utilizes various squat techniques and power cleans, but he also includes deadlifts -- perhaps the best measure of someone's overall brute strength -- and soft-tissue work. He adds, "When they first arrive, they do their self-myofascial release, wrist weight warmups, and resistance band work. The warm-up is pretty fast - it takes about 8 minutes."

The key to the program isn't just getting the athletes to lift the weights, it's to get them to work hard. Not every athlete who walks through the door is ready for the program. They can't all handle it. Boddy says, "We're pretty selective about who we bring in - we're seeking to create a hard-working and competitive atmosphere first and foremost. So we've had to screen out a few guys."

Selecting the right athletes is only part of the equation, though. Working with a coach one-on-one isn't always the best way to stay motivated. This is where the semi-private training model comes in.

Semi-private training, as a basic concept, is like group exercise. A small group of athletes, usually 2-4, train together as a group with a [semi-]personal trainer or coach.

Boddy credits Eric Cressey and Pete Dupuis as having influenced this aspect of his program. He adds, "Semi-private training works better for the athlete and for our business model - we get to train a larger group of guys and fill our facility up, and they get cheaper rates and a better atmosphere to train in. We tend to group them by age first, then skill second, so they have peers they can relate to."

Athletes are competitive by nature, and by throwing a handful of them together as a strength training group this competitive nature helps them push each other to work harder.

Results from Kyle's first Velocity Development Program are already being seen. In one off-season of training, a 15-year-old in his program added 8 MPH to his throws.

Now, if fixing the way baseball athletes are trained were as simple as saying, "Train for explosive strength," I would have said that at the top, and this article would have been very, very short. The truth is that you need a coach that knows how to train for explosive strength.

It's not about getting big (a.k.a. "hyooge") or moving large amounts of weight. It's about becoming explosive and training the correct motor patterns. Exercise selection, volume, intensity, and recovery are all factors that must be taken into consideration no matter how experienced the lifter is.

Kyle's results can do a lot of the talking for me, but I know from experience that Kyle has the knowledge and skillset required to manage these factors. If you live in the Seattle area, I strongly recommend taking a good, hard look at Kyle's program.

You can read more about Driveline Baseball's Velocity Development program here: