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Tom Seaver on Matt Harvey, pitch counts, and innings limits etc.


CA-ORIOLE

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Seaver is pretty opinionated and vocal on the subject. While I think some of it may be a bit over the top.....

.....it just goes to show how all this babying of pitchers, pitch counts and innings limits is a bunch of nonsense.

I think he makes some pretty good points...

...there?s really not a whole lot you can do to prevent them other than refining your mechanics as (60s and 70s Mets pitching coach) Rube (Walker) did with us.

Guy had textbook drop and drive mechanics imo.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/madden-seaver-pitching-fit-young-arms-babied-article-1.1441192

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/madden-seaver-pitching-fit-young-arms-babied-article-1.1441192#ixzz2dUxp0MY3

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Seaver had great mechanics. I would study his mechanics if I were a young pitcher. He can be a bit dramatic, but he knows his stuff.

His book has some dated language but is excellent advice on the mechanics of pitching.

The Art of Pitching by Tom Seaver

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There's a lot of opinions on this subject and frankly I just think the human body is not meant to throw a baseball. Tom Seaver has perfect mechanics? So did Mark Prior, am I right? And who's the next poster child? Everyone thought Tim Lincecum and his engineer father had found the next mechanical panacea.

I don't know if Tom Seaver and Greg Maddux et al. are geniuses or just statistical outliers. Because for every one of them there's a handful of Mark Fidrychs.

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There's a lot of opinions on this subject and frankly I just think the human body is not meant to throw a baseball. Tom Seaver has perfect mechanics? So did Mark Prior, am I right? And who's the next poster child? Everyone thought Tim Lincecum and his engineer father had found the next mechanical panacea.

I don't know if Tom Seaver and Greg Maddux et al. are geniuses or just statistical outliers. Because for every one of them there's a handful of Mark Fidrychs.

Did you read the article? It's more an indictment of pitch counts than mechanics. I personally like how Seaver pitched and fielded his position. He was always balanced and didn't fall off the mound in either direction.

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In general, I think people who are critical of pitch counts are looking for simple answers to complicated problems. And they overlook that injuries in the past were probably at least as prevalent as today but were less publicized. They see high innings/pitch totals in the past and that injuries haven't gone away with the introduction of limits and want badly for this to mean that wussified pitch counts are useless.

But the core problem is that the game isn't the same. It's possible to get back to a situation where pitchers throw 8 or 9 innings a start and 300+ innings in a season. But you need some fundamental changes in the game, some far easier to accomplish than others:

1) Biggest key is to force starters to pace. Max-effort for 5-6 innings is the biggest difference between today and 1970. You could make a rule that (barring injury) the starter has to record 21 outs. Maybe with an exception once he's allowed, say, five runs. That would force most starters to throw at less than max effort.

2) You could help things by lowering the quality of play. If you expanded to 60 or 80 MLB teams you'd see the reintroduction of defense-only players as MLB regulars (as was common 40+ years ago), and ease the load on starters.

3) You could eliminate the DH. It's easier to go deep into the game when 1/9th of the batters you face are, more-or-less, me.

4) You could place limits on the number of relievers you're allowed in a game. Say, 2 or 3, with exceptions for extra innings. That would eliminate or drastically reduce short-stint specialized relievers and would probably cause starters to pitch a bit more.

5) You could deaden the baseball to bring back 1960s levels of offense. Remember, nobody pitched 40+ starts and 300+ innings in the 1930 when offense was high, even with no pitch counts and an attitude that leaving a game before it was done meant you were a 12-year-old girl.

6) You could set up a salary and bonus structure that heavily incentivized keeping pitchers healthy. Again, set up the game to reward pitching at less than 100% effort.

7) This obviously won't happen, but you could just throw every young starter 40 times a year and 8-9 innings a start, and that quickly weeds out who can't handle that kind of workload (and in modern baseball that'll mean 70, 80, 90% of starters). That was the old method. But you would identify a handful of Seavers and Livan Hernandezes who could throw more than anyone is allowed to today.

Some of this is unrealistic, some would only work in conjunction with other reforms. But it's all tied to rewinding the clock and stuffing a bunch of stuff back in Pandora's box. You have to get over the fact that all pitchers are more effective in short stints going max effort. You have to get beyond $millions tied up in pitcher's arms, driving teams to be risk-averse, often very justifiably. Pitchers don't get hurt because they throw too little. They get hurt because they're throwing more intensely per-pitch and per-inning than ever before and they still have strong pressures to go as long as they can into a game. Managers tell all their starters to throw as hard as they can for as long as they can and we'll pull you when you start to fail. It's like running a car race where you go at redline until smoke starts coming out from under the hood, then wonder why your car was no good.

If you can somehow force pitchers to go at 80% effort for most of the game they'll go back to pitching 300+ innings. And injuries will go down. But that's terribly difficult to do. You can't unlearn that 100% effort is more effective. And you have to have a league-wide fix because one team with starters who pace themselves (absent other reforms like dead baseballs) will be one team with an ERA of 6.75.

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Barnaby Graves said:
 
There's a lot of opinions on this subject and frankly I just think the human body is not meant to throw a baseball.
 

 

This is exactly what Sandy Koufax said when asked if he felt bitter and/or cheated when his career ended at 30 years-old, due to arthritis in his elbow. He said not at all, and cited what you just stated as the reason.

 

Barnaby Graves said:

 

I don't know if Tom Seaver and Greg Maddux et al. are geniuses or just statistical outliers. Because for every one of them there's a handful of Mark Fidrychs.

 

o

 

I understand what you are saying, but Fidrych is not the best example to use in this context. In the spring of 1977 (immediately following his outstanding Rookie of the Year season) Fidrych was goofing around in the outfield when he was shagging fly balls. Rusty Staub warned him to be more serious and pay attention to what he was doing, because he could hurt himself. Just that happened when Fidrych lunged for a ball and landed stiff-legged, injuring his knee. He tried to come back too soon from the injured knee, and hurt his shoulder in the process (overcompensating for the hurt knee), and was never the same again (similar to Dizzy Dean, who tried to come back too soon from a broken toe that he suffered in the 1937 All-Star Game, and subsequently hurt his arm in the process of overcompensating for the injured toe.)

 

o

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Did you read the article? It's more an indictment of pitch counts than mechanics. I personally like how Seaver pitched and fielded his position. He was always balanced and didn't fall off the mound in either direction.

But that's what I'm saying, there's a limited amount you can "refine" such a violent and unnatural motion, and there is a demonstrable effect that doing said motion too much results in more injuries. The healing abilities of tendons and ligaments are poorer than muscles and for that matter a decent shoulder injury will destroy any career.

He says pitchers should pitch more but the training of these athletes has never been more rigorous and while they might not pitch as much they are certainly doing more weight lifting and probably have more strict nutritional plans. They are almost all in better shape. He lists a bunch of Hall of Famers and says "see it worked for them!" That's not a statistical argument. There are a lot of washouts who were pitched into the ground. And besides, he mentioned Jim Palmer... who DID have arm trouble. I think Drungo is right and he (and Nolan Ryan) oversimplify this stuff. Sometimes "do more" is a great answer but I don't think it translates to the human shoulder and elbow.

I understand what you are saying, but Fidrych is not the best example to use in this context. In the spring of 1977 (immediately following his outstanding Rookie of the Year season) Fidrych was goofing around in the outfield when he was shagging fly balls. Rusty Staub warned him to be more serious and pay attention to what he was doing, because he could hurt himself. Just that happened when Fidrych lunged for a ball and landed stiff-legged, injuring his knee. He tried to come back too soon from the injured knee, and hurt his shoulder in the process (overcompensating for the hurt knee), and was never the same again (similar to Dizzy Dean, who tried to come back too soon from a broken toe that he suffered in the 1937 All-Star Game, and subsequently hurt his arm in the process of overcompensating for the injured toe.)

OK bad example but there's better ones. Mario Soto?

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In general, I think people who are critical of pitch counts are looking for simple answers to complicated problems....

But the core problem is that the game isn't the same. It's possible to get back to a situation where pitchers throw 8 or 9 innings a start and 300+ innings in a season. But you need some fundamental changes in the game, some far easier to accomplish than others:...

Great post! Perhaps the greatest change might be to permit the pitching mounds to go back to being 15-20 inches high (depending on the preferences of the home team starter and the laxity of the umpiring crew) instead of a strictly enforced 10 inch limit.

Another thing which Nolan Ryan has pointed out is that kids used to throw a lot more when they were growing up -- all kids, not just the ones with aspirations of being the next Matt Harvey or CC Sabathia. We threw rocks, walnuts, horse apples, anything that was a convenient size and would hold together until it reached the target. This meant that there was a larger pool of kids with well developed arms (not me; I threw like a girl) from which pitchers could be recruited.

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Another thing which Nolan Ryan has pointed out is that kids used to throw a lot more when they were growing up -- all kids, not just the ones with aspirations of being the next Matt Harvey or CC Sabathia. We threw rocks, walnuts, horse apples, anything that was a convenient size and would hold together until it reached the target. This meant that there was a larger pool of kids with well developed arms (not me; I threw like a girl) from which pitchers could be recruited.

That also had the benefit of weeding out a lot of guys very early on. For example, I was a relatively rare case of a kid in the 1980s who threw a lot (almost all in ad hoc, unsupervised situations like throwing tennis balls up against the shed, or playing endless hours of long toss with kids on the street). By 15 or 16 my arm had started hurting, not suggesting that I'd have been even a Grade D- prospect otherwise... But I'd imagine a lot of kids who now blow their arms out at 18 or 21 used to blow their arms out in high school or earlier and never were even considered prospects.

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That also had the benefit of weeding out a lot of guys very early on. For example, I was a relatively rare case of a kid in the 1980s who threw a lot (almost all in ad hoc, unsupervised situations like throwing tennis balls up against the shed, or playing endless hours of long toss with kids on the street). By 15 or 16 my arm had started hurting, not suggesting that I'd have been even a Grade D- prospect otherwise... But I'd imagine a lot of kids who now blow their arms out at 18 or 21 used to blow their arms out in high school or earlier and never were even considered prospects.

You know, I never really thought about how much I actually threw growing up and how that contributed to my arm. Like you, I was a kid who always played wiffleball, wall ball or played catch or baseball all the time. I probably use to throw myself hundreds of pop flys straight up (contributing to my ability to track flyballs and pop ups as well as my ability to throw a ball straight up pretty far) as a kid. By the time I was 15, I could throw a ball around 80 MPHs but by the time I was 16 or 17, my elbow started hurting each spring and although I had a good arm, I never really had the "gun" that I had before. I also use to do arm curls to get those biceps.

Well, after joining the Army, I ended up playing in a summer college league in Northern/Central Virginia when I was 20 years old. By this time I hadn't thrown since my senior year in high school really and whamo, the gun was back. I was throwing mid-80s from a mound and playing shortstop. I ended up going to an Orioles tryout camp and of all people, my high school coach (who was a bird dog scout for the Orioles back then) was one of the scouts at the try out camp. I went out to the outfield and they had us make three throws to 3rd and home, all of which were one hop bullets from me. As I ran off the field, my coach yelled over to me, "When the hell did you get that arm?"

Really for me, it was all about rest and not overthrowing all the time. Luckily, the kids seem smarter nowadays. When I pitched in little league and pony league, I probably threw 150 pitches in a game because I walked and struck out a lot of guys. Now, we pull our 15-year old starter when he hits 75 pitches early in the year and 100 pitches after the 3rd week.

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