Saturday, September 16, 2006

Where do fastballs come from?

I recently wrote the head of the Society for American Baseball Research with the following question. If anyone knows of anyone else who can answer it, let me know. I'll keep you posted if I hear anything:

Hello Mr. Beverage,

I'm a long time baseball fan who has recently become troubled by a phenomena I can not explain. I'm not sure you will be able to help me, but I thought I'd try you first in the hopes that you could at least point me in the right direction.

It recently occurred to me that I have no explanation why some pitchers throw harder than others. The most obvious correlatives to velocity would be arm strength and mechanics, but both of these factors seem problematic to me. If being able to throw 99 mph were simply a matter of pure strength, why aren't bodybuilders major league pitchers? If it is a matter of mechanics, why haven't we discovered the maximum mechanical efficiency that would more or less make everyone top out equally? If it is a more complex biological situation, such as the position of certain muscles or tendons, why haven't we developed an accurate predictor for what people are most likely to develop a major league fastball?

What in the word enables a guy like Billy Wagner, in his prime, to be a flamethrower when everything about his physique predicts the opposite? What made a guy like Nolan Ryan keep his velocity when others lost it at similiar ages? (would he have necessarily bested all of his cohorts in an arm wrestling match?) What makes a guy like Jim Morris discover in his mid-30s that he has a major league fastball, when he hadn't done much of anything to develop one?

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer,
Azor Cigelske


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of it is the spin the pitcher puts on the ball. We know pretty well how to throw fastballs, but that doesn't mean everyone can do it. Think of it like a golf swing. You need your feet, legs, and trunk all working together with the arm and wrist in just such a way to throw it right. And that's just the physical aspect.


11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heidi is a stalker.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

of course i am. but i agree with filliam. or, maybe. i think that pitches know how, and us lesser human being just don't know. you could play the piano, but that doesn't mean your going to be the next bach. i could make pizza, that doesn't mean im going to open the next Pizza Hut, eh?


1:11 PM  
Blogger Enjoy_Every_Sandwich said...

oh, i AM going to be the next bach. but i'd rather be beethoven or chopin, they wrote better stuff.

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:14 PM  
Blogger Enjoy_Every_Sandwich said...

when i saw "you could play the piano, but that doesn't mean your going to be the next bach." I thought you said, "that doesn't mean you're going to be the next batch" and i was like, "next batch of what? ben folds? I don't understand."

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hahaha. notice how were talking on Azor's blog, not even too azor, about azor (excluding this post), or about azor's post and saying things that are completely irrelvant.

i like that.


-you know who

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats so killer mr. azor

10:12 AM  
Blogger Heidi v. said...

I'm rereading these last comments on (apparently) your last post. :D Made me laugh.

3:21 PM  

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