Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Brief Digression into Pitching Mechanics

As a baseball fan with no playing experience — the only thing I have pitched is a fit — I feel a bit unqualified to delve into the issue of pitching mechanics. So please indulge me while I play Sunday-evening pitcher.

Many pictures of Hiroki Kuroda reveal that he often closes his eyes during his delivery:

Furthermore, Kuroda finishes his delivery with his glove hand behind him, leaving his face unprotected:

Kuroda's "temporary blindness" combined with his front-side exposure after his ball release makes him especially vulnerable to getting hit by a batted ball.

The gold (-glove*) standard for pitching follow-throughs is Greg Maddux:

As Brandon Penas of Endurance Rehabilitation puts it:

Follow Through - the pitcher should finish on the balls of his feet with his throwing arm hanging over his opposite thigh and glove ready to field his position.

And according to pitching analyst Chris O'Leary:

This means that Greg Maddux's glove is next to his face and his sternum, a pitcher's two most vulnerable areas. This protects him in the case of a come-backer and also allows Greg Maddux to field ground balls or bunts to either side of him.

Not to suggest Kuroda should change anything; it's just an interesting comparison.

*18 Gold Gloves' worth

Kuroda 1: Jon SooHoo/Dodgers; Kuroda 2: Jae C. Hong/AP; Maddux/Dodgers: Francis Specker/AP; Maddux/Padres: David Zalubowski/AP