December 12, 2013
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Monday, May 14, 2012
Chris Sale has been the subject of much discussion in 2012, as he's been jerked around from the starting role to the bullpen with reports of inconsistent velocity. To compound all of this, he's had an MRI on his elbow due to tightness, though it's been reported that it's due to normal soreness and not major injury.
Keith Law is not impressed with Sale's mechanics or the idea of him in the starting rotation:
I've asked Keith on Twitter (@keithlaw if you decide to do the same) why he thinks Sale's arm action has a higher propensity for elbow injury, but he hasn't commented on the specifics of his claims.
Sale's Mechanics: Then and now
Here are two clips of Chris Sale pitching against Oakland, both in the Coliseum. These are two different years. One clip has Sale throwing a 95 mph fastball, the other a 93 mph fastball. Both came in the eighth inning. Can you tell me which one came from 2012 and which one came from 2011?
If I hadn't cut the video, I bet I wouldn't have been able to do better than simply flipping a coin and guessing, though I might choose the clip where Sale is throwing 95 mph over the one where he came in as a reliever in 2011.
I'd be wrong. Sale was throwing 95 mph in Oakland in the eighth inning as a starter on April 25.
My point is that Sale's mechanics between 2011 and 2012 have not meaningfully changed. (If you slow the clip you can see some minor differences with the glove leg and trunk flexion, though.)
But why does Law think that Sale is an injury risk? I won't speculate on his reasons; rather, I'll discuss some scientific research that might shed a light on Sale's pitching mechanics.
Sidearmers, valgus stress, and you
Generally speaking, Sale has a fairly internally rotated humerus at stride foot contact (SFC) and, combined with his high rates of pelvic and shoulder rotation, he lays his forearm back into external rotation during arm cocking quite fast. This certainly will increase the eccentric load on the shoulder, though whether or not this is specifically injurious is debatable.
However, Sale is also a sidearmer, and research does indicate that sidearm pitchers are generally at higher risk for increased elbow valgus torque. (Source: Aguinaldo et al; ignore the "conclusion" contradiction, Aguinaldo has said it's a typo/mistake in the abstract that isn't there in the full paper. Read it here if you like). Increased elbow valgus stress is highly correlated with UCL tears/sprains, especially when combined with a more-extended elbow at ball release (which Sale does have).
The theory that sidearm pitchers are at higher risk for elbow injuries seems to hold water based on previously conducted research out there, though it's worth noting most sidearm pitchers have lower ball velocity than high three-quarters and overhand pitchers (for whatever reason). Ball velocity is obviously very highly correlated with valgus stress, so the net effect may be lowered amongst all sidearmers. Of course, Sale throws very hard, so that's not applicable to him.
Whether or not Law looked at Sale's mechanics through this type of research lens is unknown, but he's probably onto something. It should be interesting to watch Sale's velocity over the rest of the year, and beyond.
Reds 9, Nationals 6: Joey Votto hit three homers including a walkoff grand slam. Yeah, that'll play. The back end of the Nats bullpen continues to be horrific.
Marlins 8, Mets 4: Earlier in the day Giancarlo Stanton hit a walkoff slam of his own capping a six-run bottom of the ninth for Miami. Heath Bell got the decision despite giving up two in the top of the ninth. Guess he just knows how to win.
Phillies 3, Padres 2: Cole Hamels got an extra day of rest and then got to face one of the worst offenses in baseball. How is that punishment again? Hamels allowed one run over seven innings and apparently didn't have to welcome any rookies to the big leagues with Old School Baseball.
Braves 7, Cardinals 4: The sweep. Several HBT regulars attended this series this weekend in a mini-meetup. Of course I suck so I didn't go even though they asked me nicely and scheduled it for a Braves weekend to entice me. Did I mention I suck? Braves don't, though. They're looking pretty damn spiffy right now, yes? Lance Lynn takes his first loss of the year.
Giants 7, Diamondbacks 3: And they said a Melky Cabrera/Gregor Blanco-powered offense couldn't get it done. Four hits for Melky, three driven in for Blanco. Ponder why Melky is always referred to by his first name all the time and Blanco isn't. Like that's fair.
Dodgers 11, Rockies 5: A.J. Ellis drove in four and the Dodgers managed 11 runs on only eight hits. But ruh-roh Raggy: Matt Kemp aggravated his hammy.
Tigers 3, Athletics 1: Leave it to the big man to salvage the split. Justin Verlander allowed one run and struck out eight over seven innings. Clearly the reason for the A's loss was an Inge deficit disorder, as he was given the day off.
Twins 4, Blue Jays 3: Seven shutout innings for Scott Diamond, who has two of the team's 10 wins despite only joining the team a week ago.
Cubs 8, Brewers 2: A homer for Ian Stewart and a pinch hit homer for Reed Johnson. They still count the same, though. Those are the rules. Chicago wins its first game in Milwaukee in over a year.
Royals 9, White Sox 1: Close until the ninth when Robin Ventura got all walk-the-bases-loaded happy for some reason.
Pirates 3, Astros 2: Wandy Rodriguez deserved better. He threw eight innings of one run ball, but A.J. Burnett was nearly as a good and the Houston closer -- well, Brett Myers -- couldn't hold the one run lead. On to extras where Josh Harrison did some first-pitch swinging in the 12th and drove home the winning run on an RBI single.
Red Sox 12, Indians 1: The Sox sent nine men to the plate in the first inning, more or less setting the tone. Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered and drove in five. Three straight for Boston, turning a hot mess into a merely warm mess.
Rays 9, Orioles 8: Tampa Bay had a 7-1 lead and the O's chipped back with three in the sixth and two in the seventh to get within one, the Rays scored a couple, the O's scored a couple of their own but the Rays just hung on to salvage one in the series. Baltimore is still in first place. I don't know how long they'll stay there. I do know, however, that they are going to be a gigantic pain in the ass for everyone this year, and O's fans have to love that.
Mariners 6, Yankees 2: Andy Pettitte's return was underwhelming, allowing four runs on seven hits in six and a third. Kevin Millwood, meanwhile, took care of business, allowing only one in seven. Three driven in by Casper Wells, who began the day posing for a pic with his mom, who has a pretty sweet M's shirt.
Rangers 13, Angels 6: Remember back in March when people were saying that the Angels were the favorites in the West? Haha, yeah, that was fun. Josh Hamilton drives in three more. Nelson Cruz drives in four. The Rangers are eight games up on the Angels and have a +80 run differential.
Ninety years ago today was something of a turning point in Phillies franchise history.
On May 14, 1922, they beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-1. In and of itself, that wasn’t terribly important. The win gave the Phillies a record of 11-12 on the year. Again, that wasn’t particularly special, either.
No, but in a longer view, it had a meaning. That win gave the Phillies an all-time cumulative franchise record of 2,827 wins and 2,827 losses, exactly .500. It proved to be the last time they’d ever be .500.
Immediately after that win 90 years ago today, the Phillies began a 12-game losing streak. Sadly, that did more to set the tone for the rest of the 20th century than their .500 record through May 14, 1922.
The Phillies finished 1922 with 96 losses for the club’s fifth straight losing season. They would experience 30 losing seasons in the next 31 campaigns, broken up only by a 78-76 finish in 1932. By the time they finally experienced back-to-back winning seasons with Robin Roberts in the late 1940s, the franchise was over 1,000 games under .500.
They’ve tried to recover and have had their good moments since then, but the hole has proven to be far, far too deep. In the 1950s, they got fewer than 1,000 games under .500, but then regressed.
In fact, aside from being the 90th anniversary of the last time the Phillies were .500, it’s also 20,000 days (a “day-versary” I call it) since they fell back to 1,000 games under .500. That was Aug. 11, 1957, when the Phillies ended the day with a cumulative record of 4,951-5,951. They’ve been under .500 ever since.
Their all-time franchise record reached its low point on May 31, 2002, when a loss put them 1,243 games under .500 (8,360-9,603). Four games later, they tied that low point, but they then improved and have remained above it since then.
However, prior to Sunday’s game, the Phillies have a franchise record of 9,252 wins and 10,311 losses, 1,059 games under .500. In other words, since May 14, 1922, they’ve been 6,425-7,484 (.462).
To get back to .500, they’d have to average 87 wins a years for the next century. While 87 wins are do-able in a single season, over a century it’s almost impossible. It’s hard to imagine the Phillies getting back to .500, a place they last stood at 90 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary.” Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim through things.
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