A mechanical breakdown

Just how bad is that shoulder, anyway?
Yanks could sue jersey-placing worker

A few blog posts about the Yankees hurlers and their pitching mechanics have been making the rounds lately. Originating from a new site run by Kyle Boddy, a 24-year-old baseball analyst, called Driveline Mechanics, the two Yankee-related entries focus on Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain.

To ruin the endings, Boddy loves Wang’s mechanics but feels that Chamberlain’s put him at risk for injury. Boddy writes, “I think Joba’s injury concerns are well-founded. He has a lot of the classic signs of hyperabduction, rushing, hung arms syndrome, and a bad followthrough.”

These posts offer up a few interesting points. First is that Boddy derives his analysis from Mike Marshall, and after reading a Jeff Passon piece from 2007 about Marshall, I’ve been a little suspect of Marshall and his disciples. Major League pitching coaches and GMs aren’t rushing to subscribe to Marshall’s philosophies, and Marshall’s projects haven’t had much success at the pro level.

But I’ve watched Joba pitch, and my concerns with his deliver are the same ones that Boddy has. I’ve seen Joba pull up and finish tall on his pitches. It’s not, by any stretch, the traditional follow-through, and it will be interesting to see how the Yankees work with their young stud as they gear up to move him into the starting rotation.

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Just how bad is that shoulder, anyway?
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  • http://www.samiamsports.blogspot.com samiamsports

    werent Jobas issues in Newbraska weight related?

  • Simon B.

    Personally, I’d ignore all of these amateur “mechanical experts”. They all have differing ideas of what make good mechanics, and they are all convinced that they are completely correct. The Marshallites are particularly aggressive with their dogma.

    It reminds me of Carlos Gomez’s article on Hughes’s mechanics. It’s possible he changed them, but Gomez’s observations were pathetically ridiculous. He comes to such confident conclusions based on video that is synced poorly, shot at different angles, and that only concentrate on two deliveries as though it proves a conscious and consistent adjustment.

    • Casper

      It’s important to listen to these theories/methodologies and take them into account. Dismissing Boddy (or Marshall or anyone else) because they are “amateur” (Boddy), have “differing ideas,” and “are convinced that they are completely correct,” is foolish. The fact that the ideas are “different” and the proponents of those ideas are convinced they are correct has no bearing on the value of those ideas. In fact, Marshall himself is dismissed by some because he’s unwilling to listen to other researchers and their theories (according to Passan’s article), and I believe Marshall has nothing to lose by listening to others. Dismissing him is wrong the same way his dismissal of others is wrong. Nothing is gained and nothing is learned by simply turning a deaf ear to those espousing new ideas. Take your first paragraph and think about what that response would sound like if you went back in time and said the same thing about Bill James, Voros McCracken, etc.

      (I’m not saying Boddy or Marshall or anyone else is right or wrong or making any sort of statement about the value of their theories/ideas… I’m just saying we learn nothing by dismissing them without first listening to them.)

      • http://www.ilikemygirls.com Seven Costanza

        the best analogy here is analyzing the golf swing–another complex, repeated athletic motion that attempts to maximize the human body exertion. There are different gurus out there, e.g. Butch Harmon, Hank Haney, Rick Smith. They disagree on some points but for the most part, they are on the same page when it comes to mechanics. I play golf on the college level–would you be interested in my take on why Ernie Els seems to be struggling? I have zero access to him besides Youtube. I have zero idea what he is working on with his swing coach. I do have pretty good knowledge of the golf swing, but that’s it. How am I qualified? Like a pitching delivery, the golf swing is complex, sequential motion. A perceived flaw in one frame could stem from a flaw from 15 frames earlier. Cause and effect are cloudy when you try to analyze highly compressed video files.

        The truth is, these guys have zero idea what Nardi Contreras and Dave Eiland are working on with these pitchers. Our blogger friends may in fact be very knowledgeable (though probably not) but the fact that they don’t watch the pitchers from the perspective of the pitching coach is a red flag. It’s not hard to make some of the insights proposed, but in no way do these people truly understand mechanics. That’s why their blog entries, while interesting, carry no weight for me.

        • Casper

          In response to your statement: “Personally, I’d ignore all of these amateur “mechanical experts”. They all have differing ideas of what make good mechanics, and they are all convinced that they are completely correct. The Marshallites are particularly aggressive with their dogma.”

          Boddy wrote: [ http://drivelinemechanics.com/.....ifference/ ] “In the end, it is up to you – the reader – to decide what you think is correct and what you believe to be true. I will do my best to provide evidence-based information to back up my theories on pitching along with video analysis of current MLB pitchers. The only thing I ask you to do is to compare what high-level pitchers do with what you are being told. If someone can show you multiple high-level pitchers who had very similar deliveries who were not only effective, but remained largely injury-free, wouldn’t you think you were on to something? That’s the point of this website – to show what I believe to be both effective AND safe pitching mechanics.”

          I never heard of Kyle Boddy before today, I don’t have any stake in his success/failure or the success/failure of his theories. I don’t understand, however, why anyone would dismiss him, or any of his colleague, off-hand, simply because they have “differing ideas” and are not employed by MLB franchises. Boddy and his colleagues are just supplying their analysis of mechanics, why not use their work to further your own understanding of the issues? Agree, disagree, whatever. But at least use the data/analysis that’s out there in formulating your opinion.

          • Casper

            Crap… “Simon B.” wrote the initial comment, not “Seven Costanza.” I was careless and didn’t notice I’d melded the two people I was arguing with into one. My bad… Argument stays the same, though.

  • kunaldo

    didnt gomez really like joba’s mechanics?

  • http://www.thebronxzoo.wordpress.com iYankees

    interesting note about mike marshall. i remember reading that passan article and thinking that his ideas were fairly crazy.

  • stefan

    ::Beavis and Butthead impersonation::

    Heh heh. Boddy loves Wang. Heh heh.

    • http://www.ilikemygirls.com Seven Costanza

      Funny enough, Boddy doesn’t like Koufax.

      • Casper

        The same Sandy Koufax whose career was ended due to injury at age 30?
        (This doesn’t mean Boddy is right, it’s just a poor example to choose if you’re trying to discredit the guy.)

        • http://www.ilikemygirls.com Seven Costanza

          hard to ignore innings pitched from 61-66. injury due to mechanics? tough sell. even boddy said there’s a tradeoff between health and performance. Depends on what one values.

          • http://www.ilikemygirls.com Seven Costanza
            • Casper

              I had no intention of arguing Koufax’s specific case, that’s why I included the parenthetical. I have no idea what the relative effects of Koufax’s workload/mechanics were, I was just pointing out that using Koufax as an example to debunk Boddy was a poor choice. Boddy seems concerned more with the correlation between mechanics and health than the correlation between mechanics and effectiveness (I may be wrong, I didn’t read everything in his site). So, citing the effectiveness of a pitcher in order to debunk Boddy’s assessment of said pitcher is wrong when that pitcher’s career ended at age 30 due to health-related issues.

              • http://www.ilikemygirls.com Seven Costanza

                i’m young and i have never seen koufax pitch, but, i believe that pitching is an violent and slightly unnatural movement. regardless of who’s beliefs one subscribes to, the arm structure is under unbelievable stress moving at the speeds that mlb pitchers are able to create. pitchers break down, plain and simple–i think in kaufax’s case, it wasn’t poor mechanics but excessive use. that’s why i cited his innings pitched. that’s why i found boddy’s reference funny since he was mentioning a HoF pitcher that threw a LOT of pitches in consecutive seasons, saying that his mechanics were the cause of his quick exit from the game. he makes zero reference to usage.

  • pete

    i really like the 1st half of joba’s motion, it’s his followthrough that i hate

  • Adam

    Actually, Ben, Kyle Boddy has on his website (drivelinemechanics) his influences. Tom House is #1, not Mike Marshall.

    The list:

    “To that effect, the pitching analysts and coaches who have influenced me the most are (in descending order of influence):

    * Tom House (ASMI)
    * Bill Peterson (RPM Pitching)
    * Dr. Mike Marshall
    * Chris O’Leary
    * Dick Mills “

  • Rich

    Does Boddy have an advanced degree in kinesiology?

  • Mike N (Stamford, CT)

    One of his main points was that Joba had the inverted W (Prior) or the inverted L (Ryan) in his delivery. However the picture he supplied as evidence it looked to me – an untrained eye for sure – that he shoulders were tilted toward 2nd base and that his elbows were not so cocked as Prior and Ryan. In fact he looked more like an inverted parentheses to me more than anything.

    Am I wrong to notice any significance in the differences in these photos?

  • http://www.nicks2cents.blogspot.com Nick Loucks

    Did anyone catch the HBO Real Sports piece on Mike Marshall and his teachings? The wind-up and delivery that he endorses is radical, but it makes sense.

    as for Joba’s motion, does anyone else think of ROGER CLEMENS when they see him pitch. In the standard, behind the mound game camera angle, when Joba sets himself to throw and then his initial move toward the plate, I feel it’s eerily identical to Rocket’s. Body build, hair, motions etc…

    • http://justinyates.wordpress.com Yankee Psycho-fan-t

      Joba looks like Rocket until the follow through, Rocket has a lot of finish in his motion and Joba just kind of stops, what the call “finishing tall”. It hurts my back just watching it.

  • dan

    Okay this is the third place I’ve posted this….

    I think he’s looking for something that doesn’t exist. The follow through is a problem, I will admit. But Chamberlain doesn’t make the inverted W. His elbow is BELOW the level of his shoulder, which is exactly where it should be. In the picture of mark prior, his elbow is above the shoulder, which leads to injuries and is defined as the inverted W. The inverted L that he claims Joba makes is just completely false. The motion itself (the L) is a valid criticism of some pitchers, but Joba simply doesn’t do it. Look at the picture where he is trying to show the inverted L…. His elbow is below the shoulder, and it isn’t bent anywhere close to 90 degrees.

    The inverted L and W that the writer throws out there are things that pitchers should definitely avoid doing. And if anyone here actually knows what he is talking about when he throws out the terms, it is evident that Joba does neither of them.

  • http://justinyates.wordpress.com Yankee Psycho-fan-t

    I read that article about Joba’s mechanics and Wanger’s mechanics and somehow found myself reading about Mike Marshall and watching clips of his techniques and pitches being executed. It looks like horse-crap to me. Not only would a hitter be able to time that delivery perfectly, but there was almost no break or depth to any of the breaking pitches they showcased. I have nastier stuff with a wiffle-ball. It was interesting to read, and I agree with Mike Marshall that the baseball community fears change, I have to question the efficacy of his methods. I have no idea whether or not the pendulum thing prevents injuries but from what I saw I doubt those mechanics or the pitches they produce would getting hitters out consistently at the major league level.

  • Bonos

    Marshall has the successful stats at the Major League level to back him up. Dismissing him out of hand is not right.

  • Steve

    #
    kunaldo says:
    April 15th, 2008 at 12:41 pm (Reply)

    didnt gomez really like joba’s mechanics?

    Yep. Better than Hughes.

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/m.....mechanics/

  • GoYankees

    Comparison of Joba to a young Roger is a good one. Roger’s leg strength and mechanics helped him take stress off his arm. Is improved mechanics a necessary path for Joba as a starter?