June 19, 2013
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Following are the one hundred most recent articles for the category Scouting .
06/19/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/19/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 12, Vol. IIby Karl de Vries
06/19/2013: Roy for ROYby Frank Jackson
06/19/2013: Currently historic: Helton doubles!by Jason Linden
06/19/2013: You can’t take it with youby Derek Ambrosino
06/19/2013: Trending youngby Alex Connors
06/18/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/18/2013: The Verdict: absolute power corrupts absolutelyby Michael Stein
06/18/2013: All-time two-first-names teamby Greg Simons
06/18/2013: AL East division update: June editionby Nick Fleder
06/18/2013: THT Awardsby John Barten
06/17/2013: Closer watchby Karl de Vries
06/17/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/17/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 12, Vol. Iby Jack Weiland
06/17/2013: 30th anniversary: Bob Welch does it allby Chris Jaffe
06/17/2013: The Hot Seatby Scott Strandberg
06/17/2013: Red Line doubleheaders (part I)by Chris Jaffe
06/14/2013: The daily grind: 6-14-13by Brad Johnson
06/14/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/14/2013: 18 again!by Shane Tourtellotte
06/14/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 11, Vol. IIIby Karl de Vries
06/14/2013: Traders Corner: Oakland Elixir, V is for Victorby Jonah Birenbaum
06/14/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Amos Otisby Bruce Markusen
06/13/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/13/2013: The daily grind: 6-13-13by Brad Johnson
06/13/2013: The clutchiest hitter of all?by Carl Aridas
06/13/2013: The all-decade team: the ‘50sby Richard Barbieri
06/12/2013: The daily grind: 6-12-13by Brad Johnson
06/12/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/12/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 11, Vol. IIby Jack Weiland
06/12/2013: Helping their own causeby Shane Tourtellotte
06/12/2013: Hub fans bid Kid redoby Frank Jackson
06/11/2013: The daily grind: 6-11-13by Brad Johnson
06/11/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/11/2013: Call-up season is upon usby Jeff Moore
06/11/2013: THT Awardsby John Barten
06/11/2013: 10th anniversary: Houston no-hits the Yankeesby Chris Jaffe
06/11/2013: The Steel City power outage of 1917by Dave Vocale
06/10/2013: The daily grind: 6-10-13by Brad Johnson
06/10/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/10/2013: NL East division update: June editionby Brad Johnson
06/10/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 11, Vol. 1by Karl de Vries
06/10/2013: When a $9 ticket costs $20by Chris Jaffe
06/10/2013: The Hot Seatby Scott Strandberg
06/09/2013: Visualization: the 2013 MLB draftby Dan Lependorf
06/08/2013: Four teams, 38 innings, one historic dayby Shane Tourtellotte
06/07/2013: The daily grind: 6-7-13by Brad Johnson
06/07/2013: Jose Canseco’s independents dazeby Frank Jackson
06/07/2013: Roster Doctor: Two to sell highby Jonah Birenbaum
06/07/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 10, Vol. IIby Karl de Vries
06/06/2013: The daily grind: 6-6-13by Brad Johnson
06/06/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/06/2013: The Roto Grotto: catching up with pitcher statsby Scott Spratt
06/05/2013: Ignoring suspension noiseby Derek Ambrosino
06/05/2013: Does MLB have a case this time?by Eugene Freedman
06/05/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/05/2013: The daily grind: 6-5-13by Brad Johnson
06/05/2013: Currently historic: So many walks and strikeoutsby Jason Linden
06/05/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 10, Vol. Iby Jack Weiland
06/05/2013: Three True Outcomes too common?by Alex Connors
06/05/2013: BOB: Spring training war updateby Brian Borawski
06/04/2013: The Verdict: not all trades are created equalby Michael Stein
06/04/2013: The daily grind: 6-4-13by Brad Johnson
06/04/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/04/2013: 25th anniversary: three-run walk-off errorby Chris Jaffe
06/04/2013: Revisiting pre-arb contractsby Greg Simons
06/04/2013: Ike Davis and comfort at the plateby Matt Filippi
06/04/2013: The Hot Seatby Scott Strandberg
06/04/2013: Astros set to repeat their draft philosophyby Jeff Moore
06/04/2013: THT Awardsby John Barten
06/03/2013: The daily grind: 6-3-13by Brad Johnson
06/03/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/03/2013: AL West: pretty much what we thought going inby David Wade
06/03/2013: 10th anniversary: Sosa’s corked batby Chris Jaffe
06/03/2013: What WPA can tell usby Chris Jaffe
05/31/2013: Traders Corner: Conundrums Kemp and otherwiseby Jonah Birenbaum
05/31/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/31/2013: Shut ‘em out, hit a home run: “Pappas games”by James Gentile
05/31/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 9, Vol. IIIby Jack Weiland
05/31/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Joe Pepitoneby Bruce Markusen
05/30/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/30/2013: Lohse goes for pitching history tonightby Chris Jaffe
05/30/2013: Trapped in the minors: Dean Annaby John Kochurov
05/30/2013: The Roto Grotto: z-scores appliedby Scott Spratt
05/29/2013: On Jon Heyman and the Oakland Coliseumby Dan Lependorf
05/29/2013: Job opening at Bloomberg Sportsby Dave Studeman
05/29/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/29/2013: BOB: A new chapter in the spring training warsby Brian Borawski
05/29/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 9, Vol. IIby Karl de Vries
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April 04, 2013
Ubaldo Jimenez: perception vs. realityCleveland Indians' hurler Ubaldo Jimenez has a lot in common with his teammates Trevor Bauer and Scott Kazmir—they're all trying to fix various mechanical issues.
Bauer believes how his back leg operated caused a groin strain, so he's changed how he initiates linear movement. Kazmir's velocity dropped like a stone and he started becoming more methodical on the mound; after visiting the Texas Baseball Ranch and Dynamic Sports Training in Texas, he's regained that explosiveness.
Jimenez' mechanical issues have been well-documented on THT by yours truly (original article, recap article), but he and his coaches don't necessarily agree with my conclusions.
In an article yesterday, Jorge Arangure Jr. wrote:
Jimenez would spend hours watching video of his most successful years and comparing it to video of how he currently pitched. The differences were striking. Who was this guy? The new Ubaldo stopped using his left shoulder to balance himself, which in turn sapped him of all the torque that he used to create to throw the ball at high speeds. The new Ubaldo could hardly muster a ball over 90 mph. His delivery had become slow, deliberate and calculated. It was if he had been trying to deconstruct every movement.
This isn't the first time his front shoulder has been mentioned. Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer wrote:
New pitching coach Mickey Callaway simply asked Jimenez to not pause his windup and to keep his front shoulder pointed toward home plate.
Doug Thorburn of Baseball Prospectus focused on Ubaldo's front shoulder, saying:
I happen to disagree with Kyle's assertion that Ubaldo's struggles have nothing to do with the front shoulder, especially given that the issues with early arm action are mostly harmful if they have the ripple effect of creating early rotation and "shoulder flying open." ... In this case, I had noticed both the early hand separation and the bizarre wrist-flick as the throwing arm reaches its lowest point (in CLE), however I do not consider these to be glaring issues.
Well, it appears that Jimenez has been listening to all this discussion of how to use his front shoulder. To all of that, I have this to say: Be careful what you wish for.
Here's what he looks like in 2010 (96 mph), 2012 (91 mph), and the first start of 2013 (90 mph):
Want to see what he looks like now compared to when he was a fireballing phenom in Colorado—in painfully slow motion?
If Jimenez thinks that what he is doing now is anything like what he did in Colorado when he was at his best, he is... well, obviously incorrect.
Why did he think that he "used his front shoulder to balance himself?" He never used his front shoulder in such a manner; he makes it sound like that he levered it like Andy Pettitte does. Ubaldo never once looked like that. He was more athletic, more fluid, more explosive. His arm action was more efficient; it wasn't forced.
These mechanics below are as close as he has ever gotten to regaining that 2010 tempo, rhythm, arm action, and most importantly, velocity:
Changing arm action without changing arm action
It is widely held that arm action cannot (or should not) be directly changed by manipulating the movement of the throwing arm; that instead, we should use the glove arm and other things in the delivery to make the changes we desire in the throwing arm. That is what Thorburn, Callaway, and others are espousing. Jimenez now has an incredible shoulder tilt, a pitching arm that is pinned to his side during the linear shift, a glove arm that gets no extension, a soft front side, and a stride angle that deflects open by an outrageous amount (which has strong correlation with increased elbow valgus stress).
These mechanics as displayed against Toronto cannot and will not restore his velocity. Will it allow him to be an effective pitcher? Perhaps. But the Cleveland Indians didn't trade for a No. 3 control-type pitcher when they parted with Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Joe Gardner, and Matt McBride. They thought they were getting a fireballer who could dominate on any given night, a guy who could flash upper 90s heat at-will.
Ubaldo Jimenez will never be that guy again if he continues to throw the way he does——and I believe he will continue to lose velocity throughout the season if these mechanics keep up.
Posted by: Kyle Boddy
March 29, 2013
Mark Appel: What the heck happened?In my last year's article about Stanford right-hander Mark Appel, I said:
...I kept thinking to myself, "If you have a 96-98 mph heater but can't reliably command it, do you really have it at all?" It's to his credit that he has the intelligence and humbleness to understand when he can't throw his best bolt where he needs it, but that's a trait you want to see from the fringe guys who have to maximize their stuff, not necessarily big-time prospects.
Well, take a look at his 2012 stats vs. his 2013 stats so far:
2012: 2.56 ERA, 0.22 HR/9, 2.2 BB/9, 9.51 K/9
2013: 1.18 ERA, 0.24 HR/9, 1.66 BB/9, 12.79 K/9
Though Pac-12 play is still in the early stages, Stanford's schedule has not been a cakewalk. As of March 29, it ranks 78th in all of Division-I.
I've been watching Stanford games on the Internet, and the only mechanical difference between 2013 and 2012 is that Appel is a little faster to the plate and has a bit better rhythm. That would dovetail nicely with the reports I hear from pro scouts about his average velocity being up a tick, more like 94-96 rather than 92-94 with your occasional bolt. I've heard that he's been throwing his four-seam fastball on a more downward plane instead of relying on his two-seam/sinker to get groundball outs, and that could be a big reason that his strikeout rate has jumped.
He still has fastball command issues: When he unleashes his best at 97-98, it is likely to miss up and to the arm side. He doesn't command his best bolt very well and doesn't seem to be able to reliably throw it for strikes, which was the case when I saw him against Washington in 2012. The big difference is that he won't abandon this pitch anymore; he'll just shave off a bit and still aggressively attack the zone with it.
Prior to 2013, I wasn't buying the first pick, first round hype on Appel. But now that I've seen his changed approach and the increasingly ridiculous statistics (remember, he got shelled in his first start against Rice), I've got one leg solidly on the bandwagon of Mark Appel going 1-1 in the draft to the Houston Astros.
Posted by: Kyle Boddy
February 06, 2013
Seeking surplus value: Risk-free winsAt every level of every organization, baseball teams have a group of players they call "organizational players," or more accurately, "non-prospects." At best, they exist to provide depth for the team, and at worst, they exist to put a team on the field so the prospects can get plate appearances and innings pitched.
However, when organizational players make the leap to prospect status—or even major league regular—it's seen as a huge surplus value for the organization. Turning 30th-round draft picks into average major leaguers is something that not only the Tampa Bay Rays and Houston Astros can get jazzed about. For each cost-controlled player produced in this way, the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers can spend that many more millions of dollars on free agents, draft compensation and international pool spending.
Surplus value drives everything that front offices do when it comes to player acquisition and retention. However, while teams continue to pour money and understanding into the scouting and analytical departments, player development continues to lag. As I mentioned in my previous articles about how baseball failed two non-prospects, players who are no longer considered to be part of the pipeline to the big leagues tend to get shoved to the wayside.
Two anecdotes follow about my experiences with training baseball players:
An acquaintance of mine was a top-five-round draft pick as a pitcher out of college, and he earned a significant bonus as a result. However, after a few years of declining velocity, he began to fall out of favor in the organization. Desperate for help, he found out that the organization had a very expensive biomechanics facility where multiple high-speed cameras could film and digitize his pitching motion. Not knowing much about this, he tracked down the pitching coordinator and arranged to go through the lab.
After he did so, the researchers handed him and his coaches a printout with the relevant mechanical data (kinematics, kinetics, joint loads, angular velocities, etc) and he inquired on how this data could be used to improve his pitching performances. The coaches had no idea, and basically trashed the report, leaving him with a stack of paperwork that required an advanced understanding of kinesiology to grasp.
A current client of mine has been in the minor leagues for some time, having already been involved in a trade for another non-prospect. He sought out our program to improve/maintain fastball velocity, and despite having been in two "progressive" organizations, he said that the information I passed on to him was completely lacking at the professional level. He will be attending his first big league camp in an attempt to break into the parent organization's bullpen, and he felt he needed to look outside the organization for a reasonable fastball development program.
In a blog article I wrote titled Making the Sabermetric Argument for Increasing Fastball Velocity, I discussed what it would be worth to an organization to increase a replacement-level pitcher's fastball velocity from 86 to 90 mph (a common drop in velocity in journeymen pitchers—a great example being Scott Kazmir). The not-so-surprising answer is that it's worth a heck of a lot!
And so, I propose a basic risk-free model to adding surplus value: Take the group of pitchers you plan on releasing from baseball due to declining fastball velocity (this is a large group in any organization, I promise you), and offer them the chance to go through an experimental program in extended spring training or another venue to improve their arm strength. If they refuse, release them. If they accept (and many would, knowing the writing was on the wall), test out a six-to-eight-week program designed to improve their velocities. What do you have to lose?
Posted by: Kyle Boddy
December 12, 2012
Trevor Bauer needs to be left aloneTrevor Bauer has been traded to the Cleveland Indians as part of a three-team deal. Over the weekend, I was fortunate enough to have presented at Ron Wolforth's Ultimate Coaches' Bootcamp in Montgomery, Tex., with Bauer, who spoke at length on using the lower half in the pitching delivery (with Eric Binder).
Bauer on the left, me third from the left
It's no secret that the Arizona Diamondbacks had issues with Bauer's workout routine, which involves a 60-plus minute warmup using implements like the Oates Shoulder Tube:
As well as "extreme" long toss prior to games:
Jerry DiPoto sought Bauer while he was the director of scouting in Arizona. However, after Kevin Towers replaced GM Josh Byrnes, DiPoto eventually moved on to Anaheim as the GM. It's been said that DiPoto was one of Bauer's last allies, needing to step in to prevent the player development department from further infringing on his workout routines, which include daily throwing in-season.
Let's look at his mechanics—he was kind enough to upload tons of high-speed footage on YouTube:
His deceleration pattern is extremely efficient: He rotates his throwing shoulder forward into the target significantly farther than most pitchers. This pattern allows force to be applied to the baseball in increasingly straighter lines, which is naturally more efficient and less injurious on the elbow and shoulder. Force is best applied parallel to the direction of acceleration instead of perpendicular to the lever arm. For a stark contrast, look at Stephen Strasburg's release point, which is much earlier in the delivery:
Bauer also trains and exhibits solid use of pronation through and after release of the baseball, which theoretically reduces stress on the elbow by engaging the muscles of the medial forearm (pronator-flexor mass). This and the deceleration pattern, are mainstays of the teachings at Ron Wolforth's Texas Baseball Ranch.
Bauer's training: Leave him alone
Bauer's training includes plyometrics, medicine ball training, wrist weights, rubber tubing, and a host of other things (for more information, check out The Athletic Pitcher for a basic overview). However, one thing stands out: It includes tons of throwing, often with weighted baseballs. While major league clubs are afraid that more throwing equals more injuries, we've enacted tons of pitch count and innings restrictions with no evidence that they work.
Representatives from the Cleveland Indians (including their minor league pitching coordinator) were in attendance over the weekend to hear Bauer speak. So were many other coaches who strongly believe in constant throwing year-round. Ken Knutson, pitching coach at Arizona State, has implemented a similar training program at ASU. Total number of surgeries on his pitchers over the last eight years? Zero. Only 180 days of injury time in that span, with 100 coming from a single player who didn't even play at ASU (he committed but went to pro ball).
There is room for concern when it comes to the Indians, however. One of Knutson's pitchers when he was at the University of Washington was Nick Hagadone, the fireballing lefty in Cleveland's bullpen. Hagadone credits his workout routine with getting him from the mid-80s his junior year to the mid-90s his senior year. Despite this, the indians reportedly curtailed much of his workout program after he was traded to them from the Red Sox in the Victor Martinez deal. Will they treat Bauer the same way?
To those in Cleveland's player development group, I humbly suggest this: Let thse two pitchers do their thing for one full year without interfering. Simply let them do what got them to the big leagues in the first place and made them first-round draft picks. It makes no sense to change that.
Moneyball and Oakland have had a profound effect on professional baseball with regard to statistical evaluation of players and the quantification of runs scored and wins credited. It will be another low-budget team that initiates the revolution in player development, and there's no reason it couldn't be Cleveland.
The Indians fan in me sure hopes it will be.
Posted by: Kyle Boddy
May 07, 2012
Ubaldo Jimenez: A quick mechanics reviewIn my earlier analysis of Ubaldo Jimenez's mechanics, I noted that his initial separation from the glove was extremely early, terminating momentum and reducing athleticism out of the glove with his pitching arm. However, people said that his velocity was up in his start on Sunday against the Texas Ranges and Yu Darvish, and a few readers asked me to take a look into his mechanics. I quickly cut the video and put it up against the 2010 and older 2012 clips to take a look:
The newest clip is on the left, the Rockies (2010) clip is in the middle, and the earlier 2012 clip is on the right. Here's the important part slowed down:
(You can use a free browser plug-in like GIF Scrubber for Chrome to step through these images frame-by-frame or slow it down even further.)
If you can't tell, there's a pretty big difference in his pitching arm action between Sunday's game and the one prior to that, and the results showed it on that pitch, registering at 95 mph on the stadium gun.
Ryan from Let's Go Tribe said that Ubaldo's average four-seam fastball velocity was 94.7 mph, but the Brooks Baseball PITCHf/x tool disagrees, saying Ubaldo came in at 92.37 mph, not much different than his start on May 1, where he was averaging 92.07 mph with the same pitch. (Texas Leaguers agrees with these velocity readings for Ubaldo's May 1 and his May 6 starts.)
Since his average fastball velocity was similar but the arm actions were so different on the 91 and 95 mph fastballs, it's clear that the real problem is consistency in his delivery. Ubaldo's main problem is still the early hand break (with secondary thought to how he uses the front shoulder and glove arm), and while it's encouraging to see fastballs touch 95 mph, his arm action isn't yet as efficient or athletic as it was when he was in Colorado. The closer he gets to optimizing his arm action and remaining consistent with it, the better results you'll see with not only his fastball velocity, but his overall command and control.
Posted by: Kyle Boddy
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