DENVER, CO – Recently, my good colleague Cheesy Bruin opened a post talking about player safety after last week’s incident during the Cardinals game wherein Robbie Ray got plunked in the head by a serious line drive off the bat of Luke Voit. Cheesy proposed that technology can fix this. I cry foul. Technology hasn’t been able to fix NFL football and it hasn’t been able to fix the NHL’s problems. Those sports have much more reliable data sets over time from which conclusions could be made to say that better helmets mean less concussions. Suffice it to say, those conclusions don’t exist as if they did the NFL wouldn’t have just stopped its partnership with the CTE study.
To insinuate that anything short of a British royal bearskin hat filled with memory foam will lessen the effects of a 108mph collision to the head is pure poppycock. However, there is a solution to this problem. Stop promoting pitchers to the bigs who have poor pitching mechanics. When I say poor pitching mechanics I am saying defense is a variable of pitching mechanics that has long been bargained by GMs and coaches for money ball statistics.
Honestly, I can’t blame the front offices for this approach. I found a database containing all disabled list data for MLB going back to 2010 season. Since 2010 and counting Robbie Ray in 2017 – which isn’t complete and published – there have only been 11 pitchers sent to DL for head injuries. The rate for catchers is 3x higher. Where are all the small violins for the dish men? That’s a problem for another day.
For today’s pitching problems, we must put down our spreadsheets and stop trying to Bill James the game. The only fix for pitchers getting hit in the head is the eye test. For your viewing pleasure or maybe your vomiting pleasure I found video of most of the 11 incidents or at least the pitching mechanics of the pitchers hit in the head since 2010. After you watch those videos I put together a few clips from recent Gold Glove winning pitchers. The difference is obvious.
All of the following pitchers who got hit in the head do the following:
-Long deliberate follow through
-High leg kick
-Torso turned 90 degrees away from home
-Glove is behind the body
-Landing leg is locked not flexed
Had enough carnage? Look at gold glove winners Dallas Keuchel, Mark Buehrle, Zach Greinke, and the best ever – Greg Maddux. They all do the following:
-Trail foot is down by the time the pitch gets to plate
-Torso is facing plate
-Glove is parallel with or in front of body
-Back leg is flexed, Landing in fielding position.
For those of you with kids out there reading this article, notice the difference in the names on the list of people that get hit in the head and the list of guys that land in good fielding position. You probably have not heard of 70% of the pitchers hit in the head and yet all four of the best defensive pitchers of the past decade all have Cy Youngs. By virtue of learning and teaching your kids fundamental pitching mechanics not only will they be able to better protect themselves, they will also have better command. That means less pitches thrown and a longer career. It all starts at age 8. I know this because I learned from the same coaches as Mark Buerhle.
Please comment, share and come back tomorrow for a man that laughs at getting balls in the face, Alan Smithee. And please follow us on Twitter – @Matt_McCarthy00, @CheesyBruin & @MeetTheMatts, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.