FanDuel - WFBC

August 09, 2006

First rule with pitchers is: Handle with care: Bob Ryan has an interesting slant on pitching and its evolution over the past several years. I have never understood why today's pitchers can't start every 4th day, and routinely are pulled after the magic 100 pitch mark. If Warren Spahn could do it, why can't ... (insert name here)?

posted by Howard_T to baseball at 02:27 PM - 27 comments

Because they throw all out more often than pitchers of the old days? I miss Wilbur Wood.

posted by ?! at 02:57 PM on August 09

I miss Steve Carlton. Quite a workhorse in his day, as well.

posted by mjkredliner at 03:31 PM on August 09

Which would be better? A middle reliever with a 5.00 era making about a mil a year or a punter making about a mil a year. Either way, if you figure actual hours worked you would make something like 5 grand an hour. Tom Seaver is the Man

posted by lightman at 03:35 PM on August 09

Pitching has become a winning business as opposed to a game and an offensive show for fans. I wish I could bring back Mordechai "Three Finger" Brown. I really miss old Brownie. Then, my friends on the North Side in the Windy City would be feeling much less pain. After all, they are know the only lovable losers in baseball right now, as opposed to being one of three a few years ago.

posted by Joe88 at 04:13 PM on August 09

what about 6 finger antonio alfonsacea

posted by cubswin612 at 04:49 PM on August 09

I think pitchers are going to have arm problems regardless of how much you work them. Do you want 20 years of a lighter workload, or 10 years with twice the workload? It all evens out for the player (number-wise), it's just that their career is shortened significantly.

posted by AaronGNP at 04:51 PM on August 09

It all evens out for the player (number-wise), it's just that their career is shortened significantly. Sure, except for the parts you made up, which is all of them. The effects of pitches beyond 100 have been fairly well researched; the linked article dates from 1998 and I believe Rany Jazayerli is/ was a doctor in his spare time. There are plenty of guys who can handle regular 120, 130 pitch outings, but the average pitcher cannot. And those arms are worth millions of dollars, so the difference between 10 and 20 years doesn't exactly even out for a pitcher dollar-wise. Given we don't know who can handle 120 pitches an outing until it turns out they can't, better to err on the side of caution with any decent pitcher. The final word on this is one I cannot recall. Basically, Dick Radatz, The Monster, the Sox fireman of the 60s was on WEEI one day claiming Dennis Eckersley was over-rated because he only pitched one inning per game. The phone rings, it's Eckersley in the car, a screaming match ensues during which The Eck eloquently curses out Radatz, pointing out the virtues Radatz espoused are the same ones that left Radatz with a useless arm after a half-dozen years or so.

posted by yerfatma at 05:05 PM on August 09

If Alfinseca were a strter, I'd send out for 9 innings, six fingers and all. Frankly, if I had Liriano and his forearm, I'd send them for an outing, a CG.

posted by Joe88 at 05:31 PM on August 09

Anyone remember Greg Swindell...ace pitcher from texas drafted by Cleveland in the mid eighties. He was rushed through the minors and pitched his heart out for a mediocre indians team. Result was a ruined arm at an early age, his career fizzled with Texas. If a pitcher is nursed in his infancy and gets used to the innings/pitches per game at the pro level as opposed to to college level he stands a better chance of longevity.

posted by brownindian at 06:21 PM on August 09

....The Bird....

posted by marinersrule12e at 07:04 PM on August 09

....David Clyde....

posted by mjkredliner at 07:24 PM on August 09

Sure, except for the parts you made up, which is all of them. Bah.... For every Fidrych and Koufax, there is a Spahn and a Blyleven to counter it. If may not balance out cash-wise, but it balances out Inning-wise. Guys who are prone to injury are going to get injured, whether it's in 1 year, 5 years or 10. You're still putting the arm through a ton of abuse. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with pitch counts, five man rotation or any of that. But don't tell me you end up getting more productivity out of the player. Look at the guys with 3000+ IP. 9 of the 128 are active, and Kenny Rogers will hit 3000 real soon. Of the guys with 2000-3000 IP, Pedro Martinez should hit 3000 in a two years (assuming they are injury free), Livan Hernandez in 5 or so years. Mike Hampton might hit 3000, assuming his pitch-count protected arm has life after Tommy John surgery. Wakefield, Trachsel, Lieber and Sele will probably only hit 3000 IP if they pitch into their 40s. 11 guys out of the most recent generation will hit 3000 IP... Not significantly better, percentage-wise, than previous decades. My point being that babying players hasn't kept them injury free, and hasn't really extended their careers, inning-wise. It may be more humane though :)

posted by AaronGNP at 08:14 PM on August 09

Sure, except for the parts you made up, which is all of them. Bah.... For every Fidrych and Koufax, there is a Spahn and a Blyleven to counter it. If may not balance out cash-wise, but it balances out Inning-wise Show me. First of all, what do The Bird and Sandy have to do with the fact I said you made up your 10/20 numbers? Is there anything that supports these claims?

posted by yerfatma at 08:27 PM on August 09

Look at the 1800s when it was normal to have 400 IP a season. Most of those guys didn't last much past 10 years. Here's a good example of what I'm talking about. At this point, it would take a ton of historical studies to find out whether these old timers quit because of a tired arm, lack of pay, etc, and we'd be debating for the sake of debating. But of course, that's probably what you're interested in. Ye must believe in bp, lest ye be called a heretic. AGNP

posted by AaronGNP at 08:54 PM on August 09

The pitcher's top annual award is the Cy Young award, named after a guy who was a model of consistency, stamina, and longevity.I wonder what Cy would think about today's one inning "specialists"? I suspect that he would admire those in the modern era cut from the same cloth as himself, (Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton, and Roger Clemens come to mind)but would shake his head in bewilderment at the pampered pitch count underacheivers that seem to permeate modern-day major league rosters. Despite all of the 21st-century advantages in technology,physical conditioning, financial rewards, nutrition,and medicine that the current player has available, today's pitchers appear underworked , overpaid, and injury -prone..Could it be that the old fellows like Young were just tougher?

posted by judgedread at 10:05 PM on August 09

Niekro, Ryan, Perry, Sutton, Carlton, Blyleven, Seaver, John and Clemens, of the last 30 years, have all pitched at least 4700 innings, and longevity notwithstanding, they were all above average pitchers. A trio got a lot of innings out of throwin' junk and doctored shit for years, (Niekro, Perry, Sutton), there were some that were pretty much power pitchers their whole career, (Ryan, Seaver, Clemens), and three different styles in the lefty's, (Carlton, Blyleven, and John) so who can tell? Maybe toughness, genetics, and a little luck is what allowed them to throw as many ininngs as they did...

posted by mjkredliner at 10:57 PM on August 09

What about Greg Maddux? 4500+ innings pitched; 17 consecutive seasons w/15 wins; 19 straight w/10; 328 wins; 3100+ K's. He definitely deserves mention alongside Niekro, Ryan, etc. A big part of the problem with today's pitchers is the majority of them are strengthening their arms far too much. They are losing a lot of flexibility. There are far too many Tommy John Surgery candidates these days. Their arm muscles are too tight. Pitchers of previous eras did not weight train like they do today. Also, pitching has also become way TOO specialized. Too many managers play the 'match-up' game. This is also an attribute to pitchers not lasting. Full pitching staffs cannot throw as many complete games as say, Ferguson Jenkins, or Jim Palmer threw in 1 season. Both of these guys pitched long careers and were way above average.

posted by t money at 11:42 PM on August 09

Could it be that the old fellows like Young were just tougher? That would fly in the face of human sports history. Every generation of athlete is bigger, stronger, faster, and have higher levels of endurance than the generation before. That's why all of the notable human achievement records keep getting broken, and why they will keep getting broken. Sure, the leaps and bounds might get smaller, but it will keep happening. That's why it seems like folly to assume that one specific athlete (starting pitchers) would be the exact opposite of that trend. Everyone remembers the Cy Young's, but nobody remembers the Ned Garvin's. He throws 298IP in 1903 at age 29. At age 30, he only manages to throw 193IP (of ERA+ 158 quality), and is out of major league baseball by age 31. Was it arm damage or fatigue that finished him off? I don't know (since there isn't much biographical information about him, and they didn't keep detailed records of why pitchers stopped pitching), but it wasn't because he was an ineffective pitcher.

posted by grum@work at 12:11 AM on August 10

I miss Fidrych if for no other reason then he was one of the great characters of the game. Longevity, no, but his was one bright star while it lasted.

posted by commander cody at 12:11 AM on August 10

Look at the 1800s when it was normal to have 400 IP a season. Some of those seasons they were pitching underhanded. I don't want to say that data isn't a perfect match for today's conditions, but it seems a bit different.

posted by yerfatma at 06:00 AM on August 10

In football, old linemen gripe about the kids these days that only play one way. Games change, things get specialized.

posted by SummersEve at 06:38 AM on August 10

I always attributed it to throwing harder, or overtraining - but I think the reality is that each generation has their workhorses - the guys "born" to pitch (possessing of all the genetic make-up and natural stamina necessary for a long career) and then you have the rest- the guys that can't hack it forever, blow their arm out and spend a lot of time injured. I also think that the newer pitches (like the splitter, slider and variants) put more pressure and torque on the joints and potentially can lead to more injuries (keeping in mind that our modern workhorse pitchers also throw them). That's what I think. I have heard that pitching a baseball can put as much as 11 G's of force on the elbow. It's infinitely more debilitating than many other activities.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:58 AM on August 10

I have heard that pitching a baseball can put as much as 11 G's of force on the elbow. It's infinitely more debilitating than many other activities. That, and chronic masturbation, are the main reasons for Tommy John surgery. That's why I always tell rookies, "Use the wrist, not the elbow." I'm just tryin' to help out the kids.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 09:21 AM on August 10

That's why I try to practice the left-handed under the leg reverse at least once every two weeks. You gotta strengthen the tendons, people, the tendons.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:10 AM on August 10

sounds like chicken-chokin hawgwash to me :)

posted by ptluigi at 10:26 AM on August 10

t money, Maddux is certainly worthy of inclusion on my list, attribute it to my laziness that he was not.

posted by mjkredliner at 11:51 AM on August 10

That's why I try to practice the left-handed under the leg reverse at least once every two weeks "OK," he said, while switching hands and gaining a stroke, "what about this:" 1. Today's pitchers throw a lot more breaking balls, splitters, etc., that put more stress on the arm than a plain-jane fast ball. That could be one reason for early breakdowns. 2. Being old enough to remember back to the late 40s, and being the father of a 17-year-old, I see a big difference in work habits of young athletes. The kids of 50 years ago tended to play several sports, and did not specialize in one sport as today's kids do. When we were not out playing sports, most of us were cutting lawns, shoveling snow, helping out on a milk truck, working on a construction crew, etc., etc. All of these activities tend to build the entire body in a manner that increases flexibility as well as strength. My son (5' 11", 274, defensive line all the way) has been in the high school weight room all year. There is usually nobody in there with him and his buddies to teach them proper training techniques for their particular sport. The coaches and trainers at his school try, but when no trainer is there, the kids seem to move toward body building instead of strength and flexibility. There are a few comments above that seem to lean in the direction I'm thinking. That is, there is no one big reason for pitchers breaking down, and that there are so many differences between the several eras of baseball, that comparisons should be made only with great caution.

posted by Howard_T at 12:10 PM on August 10

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.