Saturday, October 09, 2010

Logan White, on David Price

Friday's WSJ had a big piece on starting pitching, called "The Year of the Ace". Buried halfway through the article was the story of how David Price was discovered by the Dodgers' Assistant GM Logan White (no link):

As the game's economic scale continues to grow, and the pressure to make safe, conservative decisions intensifies, this year's postseason pitching stars paint a remarkable picture. In each of their cases, a scout bucked conventional wisdom and focused on other traits less obvious than the glaring flaw staring him in the face. "You have to be able to pick out the exceptions and just throw out the body types," said Paul Cogan, a scout for the Cleveland Indians who urged the team to choose Mr. Sabathia in the first round of the 1998 draft. "History will make a fool of you if you don't."

Like any sport, baseball is a game of archetypes, and none is greater than the big and sturdy hard thrower, preferably from Texas or somewhere in the middle of the country, with thighs and shoulders fit for wrestling steer and helping to propel a baseball more than 90 miles an hour. Adrian Bejan, a Duke University professor of mechanical engineering who has studied the evolution of body types in sports, says the conventional wisdom has a scientific foundation. Bigger pitchers can take advantage of the "falling-forward speed" of the human body that generates power. Also, they generally have longer arms, which produce more leverage and momentum.

To be sure, baseball's Hall of Fame is filled with star pitchers who looked nothing like this. Sandy Koufax was gaunt and wiry. Greg Maddux, with his slight shoulders and paunchy waist, resembled a middle manager at an accounting firm. David Wells, one of the great postseason pitchers of all time, looks like the bouncer who tosses you out of a Hell's Angels bar.

And yet, the classic intimidators—like Walter Johnson, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan and Mr. Halladay—remain the position's Platonic ideal. They're big and broad-shouldered, with powerful thighs and big rumps that drive their bodies through one of the more violent actions an individual athlete can perform. [...]

There was little doubt about Tampa Bay's Mr. Price by the time he was taken first in the 2007 draft out of Vanderbilt. But as a senior at Blackman High School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in 2004, Mr. Price was scrawny and unpolished, which, combined with concerns about his price tag, caused him to fall to the 19th round. Still, the Los Angeles Dodgers liked his athleticism and took him with the 568th pick, just in case he decided not to go to college.

Logan White, assistant general manager for the Dodgers, said the franchise actually would have drafted Mr. Price higher, but after making inquiries, the team decided that signing Mr. Price would likely require a larger signing bonus than the team was willing to give. Still, they believed he had first-round talent. "We loved him, and we had Tommy Lasorda call his dad and ask him if he would take $1 million instead of going to college," Mr. White said. "He was a projection guy. I actually like the kind of body he had, because the kids can fill out and get even stronger. Of course, we're not always right. Some guys don't ever get any stronger at all."

We'll see if Price gets another chance to show his stuff this post-season.


Fred's Brim said...

heh heh "rumps"

Greg Hao said...

for those that want to read the whole article, I turned it into a pdf here:

Kyle Baker said...

Thanks, Greg No Photo!

Kyle Baker said...

Oh, I'm not going to be using a lot of Beatles puns in today's threads or anything.

RIP John Lennon

Fred's Brim said...

Meatmen - 1 Down, 3 To Go (updated to 2 Down, 2 To Go)

Fred's Brim said...

I have no ill will towards the Beatles, but that song makes me laugh

Greg Hao said...

beatles, one of the most overrated bands of the 20th century.

yea, i said it.