Author Topic: Research on pitching mechanics (& a note about Strasburg)  (Read 1063 times)

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Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Chief - there's only an aside about Strasburg here, but if you want to move this to the main thread, fine.

Mike Pagliarulo is trying to work on making pitchers less injury prone.  HE has a note on Strasburg, which I've bolded.  From the weekly Cafardo notes:

Quote
PREVENT DEFENSE
Great pains being taken by Pagliarulo
Medford native Mike Pagliarulo (left) has founded the Baseball Institute of Development in Naples, Fla., and the former Yankees third baseman hopes it leads to discoveries of how baseball can help prevent injuries and become more cost-effective.

“We’ve begun work on pitching alignment and a science-based document will be released prior to the end of the season,’’ Pagliarulo said. “The actual work has spanned five years. From the data we’ve collected on every American League pitcher during the past two seasons, there is almost a 30 percent higher rate of injury that could be corrected without touching their mechanics. The information we’ve acquired is better than 95 percent accurate and data has been captured by three sources.’’

Pagliarulo told this reporter a couple of years ago that Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen was at high risk for an arm injury, based on his findings. In fact, Pagliarulo identified Delcarmen, who is currently on the disabled list with a forearm strain, as one of the most high-risk pitchers in baseball.

“His pitching mechanics are below average and haven’t changed over the last couple of years,’’ Pagliarulo said. “He tends to short-arm the ball and lacks arm extension. Puts a lot of stress on his elbow.’’

Pagliarulo added that Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg, “who we’ve seen since his junior year [at San Diego State], his arm slot is different in his last two starts.’’

“We’ve got better athletes, better facilities, baseball is in 60 countries around the world, but injuries in baseball increase and talent has gone down 15 percent in the last seven years,’’ said Pagliarulo. “Our mission is to bridge the gap from sports knowledge to sports medicine. We’ll do this by translating elite baseball wisdom from the language of sports to English and from an interdisciplinary platform. Our aim is to first gain acceptance that baseball language exists, which it does, then use our methodology to translate and benefit clinical research. The problem today is clear; not Dr. [James] Andrews, [Glenn] Fleisig, [Thomas] Gill, or any players from the field can define skill. Because they can’t define it, they can’t measure it.

“There is not one performance health expert that is able to tie directly any exercise to baseball skill. To the muscles they can tie all kinds of jumping rope and balloon runs, but they can’t directly tie it to skill. Until they can define skill, their projections and estimates about performance health is only subjective.’’

Pagliarulo, whose work is aided by a former baseball team doctor and former players and scouts, said baseball spends $3 billion in salaries, which is half the industry revenue and costs owners some $300 million in liability insurance. Pagliarulo feels his system will help teams make smarter choices and reduce health risks to players.

It seems that between Pagliarulo’s research and new products such as PitchSight, a computer-based measure of pitching mechanics devised by L-3 Communications of Burlington, major league teams would be able to improve performance and reduce the risk of injuries. But they appear reluctant to take the next step.

Offline Kevrock

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I don't know anything about Pagliarulo as a pitching coach. This sounds interesting, but painfully vague. I'll do some more research and see if I can find anything else out there on what he's doing, but I'm running out the door. This post will be rushed.

The NPA really has youth injuries down to a science by controlling mechanical efficiency, pitch counts in a calendar year, and conditioning. It's hard to find details about how MLB teams handle these things. Pitching coaches are rarely asked detailed questions by the media, and mechanical thought and workload practices evolve year to year. Strasburg's (and Leake for that matter) have been interesting because a lot of people are watching how we handle him.

However, the bolded statement doesn't do much for me without more information. A change in arm slot is not good, obviously, but how has Strasburg's arm slot been different? Pics? Also, Strasburg was really wild and couldn't find his release point a couple starts ago, so it's not inconceivable that he was doing something different and it was already corrected by Stras/McCatty before his last start.

For a thorough breakdown of Strasburg's mechanics, check out Doug Thorburn's Star Wars series of blogs on Strasburg. Great, great reads: http://www.baseballdailydigest.com/category/authors-a-f/doug-thorburn/

Offline blue911

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I'm more than a little skeptical, no big surprise. But every Strasburg start gets more media coverage than any single event that isn't a Super Bowl, and Mike Pagliarulo is the only person to notice a change in mechanics? Not Dibble or Kaat or Smoltz or Gammons or Reynolds or any one of guys that have actually been at the event? But Mike Pagliarulo can see this sitting on his sofa?

Offline Kevrock

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Plus, I would imagine we have staff that reviews tape of every start looking for things like this.

Plenty of internet pitching mechanics "experts" have predicted that Stras will blow his arm out, due to the inverted W arm action or other things. Then if it happens, they'll claim they were right, when the actual cause of the injury could be any combination of any number of issues.

Offline The Chief

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Ah, the sportsfan school of prognostication ;)

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Truth be told, I think Cafardo loves Pagliarulo and talks to him quite a bit. He mentions the call on Delcarmen in the article. Pags I think is one of these players who has moved from playing baseball to the business of baseball.  I think he was over in Japan and advised teams on Asain and Australian signings before coming back here and doing this.  Like I said, I think he talks to Cafardo and Cafardo touts him.  But if he was totally blowing smoke I don't think Cafardo and others would be listening to him.

I'm not good enough at this stuff to say whether he is on to something or not, but I thought his comment about Stras, being the first I heard about it, might be interesting to folks here.  If JMU is still around, or KevRock likes to do this, I would be interested if someone could look at some of his film and see if there actually is something different that can be spotted.

Offline Lintyfresh85

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I'll take a look at his release points on Pitch F/X and post the results later today.

Offline Kevrock

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Would love to look at film, but don't have the time right now. Are these graphs all they have on release point?





Edit: NM, found the tabular data.
Edit 2: Well, where is the release point in the tabular data?

Offline Lintyfresh85

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Well, just by looking at the graphs, its clear his release point is moving vertically on the graphs.

If you look at the Pittsburgh chart, his release point is more spread out horizontally, and only a few are over the 6' line.

The Mets game, the pitches are more bunched, and in almost a sphere shape... more pitches are now over the 6' line.

The Giants game, the pitches are spread out a bit again, but this time it appears about half of his pitches are over the 6' line. Certainly quite the depature from his first start.

Does that mean anything? I don't know... but I do know the release point has changed from his first start to his last.

Offline Kevrock

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If he started a half inch to the right on the rubber is it going to register as a different release point?

Offline Lintyfresh85

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Wouldn't that only change his horizontal release location?

Offline Kevrock

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I would imagine. Is there anywhere on the BB site that explains how this data is calculated? Some of these graphs look pretty esoteric.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Well, just by looking at the graphs, its clear his release point is moving vertically on the graphs.

If you look at the Pittsburgh chart, his release point is more spread out horizontally, and only a few are over the 6' line.

The Mets game, the pitches are more bunched, and in almost a sphere shape... more pitches are now over the 6' line.

The Giants game, the pitches are spread out a bit again, but this time it appears about half of his pitches are over the 6' line. Certainly quite the depature from his first start.

Does that mean anything? I don't know... but I do know the release point has changed from his first start to his last.
BTW - It looks like you were right about the graphs, but, from today's Cafardo, he has this:
http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/articles/2010/08/01/in_final_analysis_some_did_better_than_others/?page=4
Quote
Apropos of nothing
1. In this space several weeks ago, Mike Pagliarulo of the Baseball Institute mentioned that Stephen Strasburg’s arm slot was lower than normal. Now he’s been shut down for 10 days with inflammation. Good call, Mike;


I don't know how he gets to the conclusion that Pagliarulo called it when Pags diagnosis, not mentioned in the article, seems to be the direct opposite of the data on pitch/fx.

Offline SheDoesBaseball

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 Pagliarulo's "knowledge" is certainly not science based.  We're talking about a guy, with all due respect, who was an average (at best) 3rd baseman evaluating "data" from "3 sources" on all American League pitchers to determine what exactly?  His motivation for this project is anger - he does not concur with Andrews and Flesig (possibly two of the most well respected orthopedic surgeons in the country) and as such, he's launched a "Soprano's style campaign" attempting to discredit their years of published research.  My advice to Pags: Get a real job like most retired players, stop being so pissed off at the world and accept that most people who follow the Yankees and baseball in general, will remember Yankees number 13 as ARod's number (thank goodness). 

Look, in science, you need actual proof to back up your statistics.  You simply cannot make a blanket statement that you are in possession of years worth of science based data if the "science based" data was collected by a group of retired baseball players and a couple of college interns watching pitchers on the MLB channel.  WTF? Seriously? 

I'm all for preventing injury, but I agree with the earlier posts that address the vagueness of this "project".  It is my understanding that Pags has been chasing this dream for years and to date no takers.  The reason?  Well, it may because he isn't Willie Wonka and we aren't in the chocolate factory.  Pags' history as an "A-Hole" is no secret i the industry and MLB has been monitoring him carefully since he's made it his life in retirement's mission to attack anyone who stands in his way or questions the validity of his data.

We all have theories, we all have ideas, some good, some bad...Pags' idea is NOT going to revolutionize the way doctors (you know, the folks who spend their entire lives studying this stuff) approach sports performance and if he wants to seriously add value to the field of sports research he may want to begin by working with them and recognize that there are scores of professionals who have been collecting REAL data for years. 

Knowledge is power only if it adds value - and in this case, not so much. 

Offline PANatsFan

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:lol: Great first post, SDB.

Offline SheDoesBaseball

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Re: Response to PANats Fan - Thanks!
« Reply #15: September 19, 2010, 06:49:00 PM »
Hi there...glad you read my post.  Much of my frustration comes from actually having "worked" with Pags.  Well, I haven't been paid yet, but I have poured hours of research into his proposed "projects" (and there are many).  Maybe I'm just cynical because I feel as though a person in his position with his connections and resources, could actually DO GOOD for the baseball world, but instead, Pags chooses to spew venom at those who dispute his "theory" on pitching mechanics.  Ummm, he was never a pitcher right?  Okay, so now that we agree we should stick to what we know...I know statistics and research and I can tell you that when I was approached and asked to evaluate this "data" I had so many questions and concerns, that I became leery of the project's intentions. 

Talk to me about your views on this subject...so I know I'm not insane.  I'm (what I consider to be) an accomplished athlete, fitness model, and PhD in biostatistics - I've been studying performance all my life...and I have NEVER ever seen data like Pags' before.  Don't get me wrong, I'm an advocate for improving sports performance and reducing risk of injury, but stats don't lie brother and I like my numbers to line up - feel me? 

PS - nice pic.  I am headed to the batting cages - for some reason I'm pissed off...

Offline PANatsFan

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Those are quite the posts, I'll mull it over.

Offline tomterp

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Look, in science, you need actual proof to back up your statistics.  You simply cannot make a blanket statement that you are in possession of years worth of science based data if the "science based" data was collected by a group of retired baseball players and a couple of college interns watching pitchers on the MLB channel.  WTF? Seriously? 

Stats?  Science?  Proof? 

 :clap:   :thumbs:

Great couple of first posts, SDB.  Entertaining and provacative at the same time.  Hope you'll stick around a bit.  Maybe our resident "Will Carroll" type injury analyst?   :lol:


Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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BTW - It looks like you were right about the graphs, but, from today's Cafardo, he has this:
http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/articles/2010/08/01/in_final_analysis_some_did_better_than_others/?page=4
I don't know how he gets to the conclusion that Pagliarulo called it when Pags diagnosis, not mentioned in the article, seems to be the direct opposite of the data on pitch/fx.
SDB - thanks for your perspective.  Like I said up thread, I think he and Cafardo have a mutual admiration / touting society.  Also, as the quote says, what Pags claims he saw in Strasburg looks like the exact opposite of what the pitch/fx plot shows about Strasburg's release point.  Lot's of folks can claim to be vindicated by saying "Stras is an injury waiting to happen."  Cooper from the White Sox, O'Leary and his inverted W, etc. . .  So Pags is piling on when the man is down.  I'm not defending the guy - I just picked up the point and wanted more knowledgeable people to tell if it was BS.

Does a UCL tear dramatically when it is jerked wrong one too many times or does it fray like a rotator cuff?  Can UCL weakness be picked up before it tears?

Offline SheDoesBaseball

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Here is another interesting thought: why isn't anybody talking about where the pitchers stand on the rubber?  I've seen some motion analysis studies that indicate where a pitcher stands (Arm side, glove side or middle) will determine (ultimately) the release point.  If the arm slot is like a person's gait, then it cannot be changed, but perhaps evaluating the foot position on the rubber may be a factor that influences the effectiveness of the pitch and ultimately can determine with reasonable accuracy, whether or not a pitcher will "break" during the season.  Pags is not the only guy whose analyzed foot positioning on the plate, however, his argument is valid because the results were consistent during the 2009 and (so far) in the 2010 season.  Thoughts on this guys?