Do taller pitchers have an advantage?


#1

Two things to consider:

  1. Taller pitchers release the ball closer to the plate.
  2. Taller pitchers get better downward arrival plane on their pitches.

So what do you think? Does the advantage go to taller guys?


#2

Not as much as the scouting bias toward taller guys would indicate.
I assume we are talking about all things besides height being equal between a taller and shorter guy?
If all things are equal the taller guy will usually be preferred I would think. Things are rarely equal between two different guys. The default setting of “taller is better” is one example of baseball being…well, just sort of dumb.


#3

I have found that “tall” generally has no finite attitude to it when looking at physiques. The defining point(s) that I witnessed were the strength and coordination qualities of a “tall” pitcher.

Some “tall” pitchers are very brittle in their movement, while others are very strong and aggressive. “Tall” pitchers must bring a certain weight-to-mass ratio, that’s a must for athletic competition. Weight is usually self defining, but mass is a tricky thing to judge, especially in proportions to the man’s build. Guys over 6’ 3" are a tricky lot to hang one’s hat on, very tricky. In fact, I think the “tall” pitcher is the most challenging of all physiques to judge and evaluate - especially going into the prospects category.

“Tall” in my estimates would be anyone over 6’ 4".

With respect to my statement about weight and mass, I’d look at a pitcher 6’4" this way.
If he was about 185 lbs., I’d be seeing probably a brittle physical (mass) performance more than likely, with an overall life expectancy of about three innings of quality work, at best. On the other hand, a 6’4" pitcher weighing in at 225 would have a better chance of sustaining himself, everything being equal, with a sturdy physical (mass) performance.

What enters the mix next is the pitch inventory that the man brings to the table. Tall pitchers who deal nothing but gas, had better have a physique and a frame to deal gas on a regular basis, without being eligible for a rehab session every three or four months. A good solid pitch inventory that mixes gas with a solid change-up, is golden.

I’ve never been one to bank on what’s in fashion at the time. Tall guys that have a weight to mass ratio that’s strong and durable are a definite dime in the bank, no doubt about it. The trick is to balance weight and mass that works, based on age and projected longevity.


#4

Some thoughts…

Taller pitchers have some advantages.
-longer “levers” (arms/legs) more velocity due to levers
-better downward angle (but see Randy Johnson/sidearm)
-release point closer to the plate

Shorter pitchers have some advantages
-better coordination and rotation ability, more velocity from rotation.
-power production/stronger per body weight/acceleration/quick twitch muscles
-less adjustment needed to hit the strike zone (less of an angle/miss in release point is less distance off/difficulty in timing longer levers)

The fact that Randy Johnson (6’10") and Pedro Martinez (5’11") are among the top three starters in k/9 innings show you can get it done either way.

Same with Billy Wagner (5’10"), Aroldis Chapman (6’4") and Craig Kimbrel (5’11") among relievers.


#5

Side note: I believe 5’10" Billy Wagner released the ball higher than 6’10" Randy Johnson.


#6

@Roger Interesting point. Here are gifs of both:

http://www.letstalkpitching.com/uploads/db4140/55/280fdb04ff07b93c.gif

http://www.letstalkpitching.com/uploads/db4140/39/1e3523c2bfcba96d.gif


#7

It’s all about how the pitcher can most efficiently move the body. Wither you’re 5’6" or 6’6", the pitcher has to have the intent to attack hitters with tempo. Having balance and control into–and out of the leg lift, the synchronization of early momentum with the rhythm of hands, keeping tension in the hips (pelvic loading), connecting arm actions, a constant posture/head position as well as a healthy deceleration pattern is what you look for out of any pitcher. Any limitation mechanically a pitcher has, probably sprouts from a lack of awareness or a mobility/stability issue. The best pitchers cover all bases physically and mechanically to throw the ball the best they can, with the body they were given.


#8

Kingbrady,
I agree totally. However, and this is just based on what I have seen with my own eyes…nothing scientific here, shorter guys often have an easier time coordinating their bodies and also generating good tempo under in control.
Sadly, again in my experience, most coaches don’t know how to address this, no matter how many years they have been sitting on a bucket telling kids to just throw strikes. My son played no youth baseball really, played as a young teen through high school and now into college and never, not one time, has a coach/trainer address mobility/stability issues in any meaningful way.
This sort of willful ignorance seems common place in this sport. It is easy for coaches, scouts or whoever else to fall back on the old “this is how we have always done it”, “either have it or you don’t” narrative. The taller guy getting the nod first…I think this is based in not having the knowledge or the time to coach kids up. As a coach said to me once, “You can’t coach 6’ 5”."


#9

Tried to put something together re height and pitching. The bottom line is the Ball Don’t Lie. Either you can generate velo and can get folks out or you can’t. You can’t control your height (either way), but you can work to maximize your strength and mechanics. [Again none of these are absolutes at all. You can be tall and be very explosive and efficient–Aroldis Chapman, and be shorter and not particularly coordinated–Me]


#10

Couldn’t agree more…


#11

I agree 100%. Through youth and even early teen years the taller pitchers definitely have the advantage. The hardest throwing kids in 12U baseball are the 5 biggest, every time. Height, mass and early muscle development is the simple answer to that. But, not every kid that was big in little league grows up to be a 6’5", 95+ fireballer. And the big kids, who just rely on their size to throw hard barely ever reach a point where they throw harder than 85. It’s the big kids that learn how to move their bodies compact and connected that make it. A big thing with big young pitchers is a lack of coordination because of the size of their body (again, often have mobility & stability issues). At about age 14-15 you’ll start to see kids who aren’t even 5’10" throw harder than kids that are 6’3", simply because they can move their body more accordingly; the can center their mass better, and control their limbs.
I know for a fact there are big league teams that preference pitchers based on size. The A’s for example like those 5’10" pitchers, versus the Tigers who would want the guy that’s 6’4". There’s no absolutes with pitching, guys have been successful from 5’5" to 6’10". Being a tall pitcher is an advantage to a certain age, then if you don’t adjust your body to move more efficiently, smaller pitchers will pass right on by you. Smaller pitchers, have less margin for error because of their size. They have to be mechanically efficient to be good. Ideally, you want the best of both worlds. Size, and moving your body like a smaller pitcher (why Chapman throws 105 mph).


#12

This really hasn’t been my experience. I have seen numerous tall kids not be able to coordinate their bodies and typically throw slower than a kid of average height. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen big kids throw hard, but I’ve seen just as many taller kids that one would expect to fire the ball in there throwing oddly slow. It’s the exception where a tall 12 YO can manage their height–which they probably just acquired in the prior 6 months. Kids who get a significant growth surge around 11-12 can tend to dominate in the 12-14 age range, but will soon be overtaken by kids with a more steady growth progression as they get into HS and beyond. In youth it’s about how much height they have gotten recently and how they can manage that new height. I would say that the taller uncoordinated kid vastly outnumbers the taller coordinated kid. My 15 YO is 5’7" and throws harder than anyone in his entire league and this has been true for the past 4 years including last year as a Freshman and traveling to many surrounding towns. At town league tryouts in which an independent panel of evaluators from the HS baseball program assess every kid and assign the teams the Varsity HC told my son to take it easy on the catcher. He was the only kid given those instructions. (side note: new process concerning independent --no skin in the game evaluators-- and I love it. there are no backroom shady team-stacking deals anymore!) Also there was a recent mechanics video posted of a big kid with not lower body momentum. I would have expected him to throw hard, but it just wasn’t the case. Somewhere along the line, he didn’t adjust properly to his growth and no one noticed or they failed to implement adjustments to his mechanics to compensate. Without immediate intervention, he will be left in the dust.


#13

Continuing the discussion from Tired of it! must read:


#14

In all my years of coaching and playing, I can honestly tell you that height may be a slight advantage, but heart is a major one.


#15

Brother, you can say that again!
I well remember the Yankees’ pitching staff of way back when, from the 1947 season through the 1956 season—they had pitchers of all sizes. To begin with, there was the Big Three rotation—Vic Raschi and Allie Reynolds, well over six feet, and Ed Lopat, who stood just 5’10". And all of them were bad news to the other teams. Later, there were Don Larsen, all 6’4" of him, and Bobby Shantz who stood 5’6" if he was an inch. They too were bad news. Nope, it doesn’t matter what size a pitcher is, but it does matter what’s inside him, his capabilities and all the rest of it.


#16

i think its all about how you use your weight being taller does have its advantages but as to how fast you are its all how you use your weight


#17

If a player is able to effectively translate that height advantage into force production, then yes, height and the mass that goes along with it, can be an advantage.

Rare is the tall youth who can coordinate movements to the extent necessary to have success mastering a pitching delivery.


#18

It also depends on what is meant be advantage…
If it is the current performance level that will be self evident. Everything everyone has said about the variables is true. Many smaller guys will out perform larger ones at the current level.
If it being scouted at the next level…lets say high school to college…it makes a difference.
If a coach is looking at tow guys, one is an average RHP with is 5’ 9" 175 lbs and sitting 80 with normal high school level command and the other is a 6’ 4" 180lbs RHP throwing 78 with the same level of command, I would venture to say the bigger kid will get more looks based on…wait for it…project-ability. A college scout can figure a year or two of getting the bigger kid on a lifting program and adding weight and he should be able to get to mid 80s.
If that is really true or fair I don’t know. I have seen it go both ways.
Kids really need to be honest about their skill set and where they fit.
My son has a friend who is 5’ 8" and a good player. He wants to play the OF in college. He can hit for good average but had 2 or 3 HRs in three years of high school varsity baseball. He thinks he hits for power, he does not. He had doubles power in high school, that may very well translate to being a singles/for average hitter in college. Thats cool. Move to a position that fits that profile better. Playing infield should be fine for him, he is athletic enough. I encouraged him to try to move to 2nd base. He has range and a good glove. He refused saying he is an outfielder.
The question to ask is why would a coach play him in the OF when he has 4 guys going for those spots that are 6’ 1" or taller, with more pop in their bats and cover more ground defensively due to being taller? He wouldn’t.


#19

This happens all day long. I often look at other baseball teams I coach against and think about what I’m watching. I would often feel confident that if I had those same players to work with, I could beat that coach with his own roster.


#20

I have a couple of friends who are fantastic youth football coaches. They generally coach in the 13-15 year old age range. They always have winning teams and have won a couple of regional championships and advanced to the Pop Waner national championship game last year.
Anyway, when asked what the most important thing they do in terms of winning the answer is always the same. Putting kids in the right positions. Everything (virtually) they play has the fastest kid at RB, the best overall athlete at QB or WR ect. They really focus on the lines and getting good athletes blocking and they dominate.