Lincecum Oswalt 2010: Who is mechanically more efficient?

Unofficial MLB tale of the tape.
Oswalt 6’0” 190…Lincecum 5-11” 170

For those that may have missed it….

[quote]Because he was so slightly built, he had to use everything he had to propel the baseball-arm, legs, soul.

Young Roy had seen enough to know that most pitchers start their delivery with one foot parallel to the rubber. This made no sense to him. He was trying to drive himself toward the batter, like a sprinter breaking out of the blocks. Sprinters, he thought, don’t plant their feet parallel to the starting line; their feet are pointed forward.

So that’s how Oswalt designed his pitching mechanics, with his back foot, his right foot, angled slightly forward. He raises his left foot, pauses slightly, then hurls his body at the batter, more like a javelin-tosser than a sprinter in the end. Nobody else in the majors uses mechanics like these, and no pitching coach would teach them unless he was considering a change of profession. But batters have confessed that Oswalt’s motion can be unnerving, this wiry sixfooter leaping at them like a mugger. He throws 95, and the ball ambushes them. “I can’t think of anyone who can keep the ball on a low-line trajectory as well as Roy does,” says Roger Clemens. “Good plane with late life. Nice combo.” [/quote]

Below comparison has Lincecum from a modified leg lift…a 91mph pitch from him incidentally.

Both were working 92 to 96 on TV radar …Fan graphs 4-08-10 reported averages: Lincecum 92.3 Oswalt 93.

http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=sta&lg=all&qual=y&type=4&season=2010&month=

Drew a vertical line in same location to help highlight some of the differences. CF camera wanders as we know but it’s stable enough for our purposes.

So :lol: …any opinions on who has the more “efficient” mechanics, among these obviously already highly mechanically efficient pitchers?? :debate:

I would say it is a tremendous example and illistration, it is an example of 2 pitchers who have created mechanics for themselves that allow them to get the absolute most out of their bodies for their size. It is an illistration of how mechanics differ from pitcher to pitcher. It is also a great example of the intangables that can get a physically less than average build to the very pinnacle of the art. To consider one better mechanically, I believe is inpertainent…also pure theory…but Roy wouldn’t be as efficient with Tim’s and Tim would be as efficient with Roys imo.

i might be wrong but it seems like Roy strides just as far and maybe a little further than Tim.

You can really see them plant all their weight on the ball of the foot at leg lift.

but then again roy is taller than tim and tim isn’t 5’11, there are a lot of pitchers that lie about their height in baseball.

I’m going to go out on a heretical limb here and suggest that Oswalt might have an edge in the efficiency-for-generating-velocity department.

The only basis I have for saying that is: Hired Guns’ excellent side-by-side comparison of these two outstanding pitchers shows that Lincecum really shows his numbers to the hitter as part of his delivery. That’s fine if you can do it and still command the strike zone…which Lincecum does very, very well. Not many other pitchers seem to be able to generate Lincecum-like velocity with a delivery like that, while commanding the strike zone at the same time. Hideo Nomo comes to mind…

However, Oswalt gets Lincecum-like velocities without any dramatic ‘reverse rotation’ of his torso…I’ll venture the opinion that it may actually be easier for Oswalt to control the zone at high velocities with his delivery than it is for Lincecum…

Again, sports fans, I’m not saying Lincecum isn’t as good, or better, than Oswalt from a performance/results point of view…mechanical efficiency seems like a slightly different question.

JD,
Damn these away trips….a weekend with way too much time to kill…ah well…can’t resist…

[size=18]LIVE from NY…it’s SATURDAY NIGHT![/size]

Interesting you should point out the respective uniqueness of our subjects whereas all I hear announcers talk about is how similar they are. I’m sure it comes as quite a shock, for you to learn you’ve seen more than 95% of those that do this for a living. Margaritas on the house for you my friend!!

http://popup.lala.com/popup/432627065031023628

Any query into superior “efficiency”, given the limited tools and resources available to most of us out here in Internet land, :noidea: is probably going to result in no more than a little speculative fun at best. Nonetheless I thought it might spur on a little productive, if not entertaining… banter.

No doubt every pitcher is unique, however “efficiency” in the general sense has a broader meaning beyond the individual differences. As I’m sure you know, generally speaking, efficiency is simply a ratio of work done to amount of energy used.

For machines: Mechanical efficiency = work output/work input

For human movement: Gross and Net efficiencies are also involved.

Gross efficiency = work accomplished/energy expended and Net Efficiency = work accomplished/energy expended above that at rest.

http://www.answers.com/topic/mechanical-efficiency

Theoretically then IF we could create agreed upon ways of measuring efficiency for baseball throwing we should be able to compare Tim’s efficiency to Roy’s or any other pitchers for that matter. There have been several methods of evaluation created toward that end…works still in progress as…. “some people claim, there is always an instructor to blame”

Those that have had a biomechanical evaluation at the ASMI should recognize this one.

Mechanical Efficiency In Baseball Pitching
http://w4.ub.uni-konstanz.de/cpa/article/viewFile/3284/3085

And for those who may have had biomechanical evaluations further toward the Wicked West…. :lol: :lol:

Method For Assessing Biomechanical Efficiency Of The Pitching Delivery
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2008/0058126.html

Of course unless we could kidnap Tim and Roy off to one of these labs such methods aren’t going to help us much.

Now I suspect some will find all this a bit too pedantric. If you want to know who has the most efficient mechanics find the smallest pitcher who throws the hardest, and without further ado…“THERE YOU HAVE IT.”

http://popup.lala.com/popup/504684667894062064

Efficiency is not velocity, but throwing exceptionally hard indicates a high level of skill, which correlates well with efficiency. If this were your way of uncovering efficiency, then Tim, being at least an inch shorter and 20 lbs lighter would have to get the vote.

LA said:

[quote]I’m going to go out on a heretical limb here and suggest that Oswalt might have an edge in the efficiency-for-generating-velocity department.

The only basis I have for saying that is: Hired Guns’ excellent side-by-side comparison of these two outstanding pitchers shows that Lincecum really shows his numbers to the hitter as part of his delivery. That’s fine if you can do it and still command the strike zone…which Lincecum does very, very well. Not many other pitchers seem to be able to generate Lincecum-like velocity with a delivery like that, while commanding the strike zone at the same time. Hideo Nomo comes to mind…

However, Oswalt gets Lincecum-like velocities without any dramatic ‘reverse rotation’ of his torso…I’ll venture the opinion that it may actually be easier for Oswalt to control the zone at high velocities with his delivery than it is for Lincecum…

Again, sports fans, I’m not saying Lincecum isn’t as good, or better, than Oswalt from a performance/results point of view…mechanical efficiency seems like a slightly different question.[/quote]

LA,
Oh darn…. you would have to mention “reverse rotation” …nothing like an excuse to do a massive a clip unload….

Okay then… one of the more obvious differences is the amount of shoulder and hip counter rotation we see from Tim. Indeed it does appear that Tim is initially doing more work than Roy. However given his smaller size, is this something Tim must do, along with maximizing the range of movement in his other “hinges” (as he refers to them), to throw at velocities comparable to Roy?

A few more words, regarding Lincecum turning his back…as it appears a highly contagious strain of Tiant-ism…as in LOO-EE, LOO-EE…is spreading around the league.

Crank it up! UP! WAY WAY UP!
http://popup.lala.com/popup/937030201816457203

I noticed it first with Grenike’s increased counter beginning last year and later Felix Hernandez when he appeared to become slightly possessed out of the wind-up.

Then there was the struggling Luke Hochevar’s jump to mid 90’s, toping at 97, in this years opener after a 91.8 mph average fastball last year.

What’s up with that? A remade Greinke inspired delivery (not nearly as countered as Greinke from the windup, but at least 20 deg more rotation than in 2008)…or perhaps just a little renewed intent…maybe both?

Pitchers, like position players, are aware who is having success and will often test the water. Somebody did a comparison on Hernandez somewhere on the Internet, and reported his velocity might have been up a tick. Ah here it is…along with the usual parade of Nervous Nellie’s.

http://www.proballnw.com/07-2009/felix-hernandezs-new-look/

Anyhow… in most cases the improvement in game performance is likely the result of added deception, hiding the ball, more bells and whistles etc. than an increase in throwing efficiency. Increased counter rotation hopefully won’t become a panacea and should come with a warning that in some cases bad things could happen… a can of worms opened. As has been said elsewhere… it’s an informed “trial and error” process.

Having said all this, IMO Tim’s counter is not merely about “style”. His initial shoulder and hip turns are preparatory loading moves, integral to what happens immediately after, and whose influence carries through to the distance he puts between his back foot and the rubber. No, without the counter as HE executes it, I seriously doubt Tim would consistently throw as hard or as long. Incidentally, going deep in games provides another potential indicator of efficiency, possibly determining who is a future starter vs reliever.

Tim has optimized the mechanical potential of counter moves in a way only a few others have done. He applies force to the baseball over a very long distance with this counter technique, in some ways compensating for his smaller size.

Likewise Roy’s mastery of the quick and explosive initial “lift and drift/thrust” technique is almost as good as it gets. Tim drifts too of course, but is simultaneusly countering.

Again, I agree Oswalt’s move appears to have a directness and simplicity that Tim’s doesn’t and may indeed be an easier way to throw strikes. the velocity accuracy tradeoff is always there. Although, we shouldn’t be terribly surprised that what appears to be two entirely different beginnings bring about comparable results. Willy Nilly….something similar has happened in another throwing event.

And wouldn’t ya know….one appears to be more rotational the other linear… :roll: :roll:

Gliders:

Spinners:

PS
One final thought regarding Tim. We have seen his velocity drop as he has come to rely more on off speed pitches, especially his split finger change-up. One wonders given the drop off in the percentage of fastballs he threw last year whether this trend will continue. In 2008 he threw 66.3 fastballs averaging 94.1 mph, in 2009 he threw only 55.8 fastball averaging 92.4 mph.

Given the complexity of his delivery “keeping it tuned” to near max level effort appears more critical than say the more straightforward, delivery of Oswalt. I’ll speculate that small changes in Tim’s mechanics could be far more catastrophic than Roy’s. No doubt his split fingered change is one hell of a pitch, but IMO if Tim is going to maintain his velocity for the next 15 years he also needs to keep an eye on his fastball percentage.[size=18][/size]

As usual Hired Guns… this is excellent.

Lot’s of great thoughts and things to think about.

Well done!

So Maddux throwing uninjured for 20 years in the 80 mph range, with years of 200 inning plus volume and a very high winning % is less efficient than Nolan Ryan’s 20 (he had elbow chip surgery a couple of times and had years in which he was way under 200 innings and was a near 50-50 win loss guy)? How about Wakefield isn’t he efficient? Couldn’t he throw 200+ innings this year? What is efficient? Zumaya throws it at 100 with a big body and Billy Wagner does it with a small body, both have been injured, both have differing delivery methods. How about Bobby Jenks who has about a half a step delivery followed by a wildly strong torso rotation, is he efficient if he can throw that way for 20 years as a closer? If he became a starter would that method be efficient? To have a huge body and throw fast would seem a mitigating factor based on the study or from a value stand-point within the study which proposes that small body throwing fastest=most efficient. On it’s face this premise falls way short of how I would describe an efficient pitcher. This is why it is impossible to define individual mechanics as more efficient imo.
The ASMI study has left me many questions but a major point of contention, one that by the way has made scouting simply an endeavor of finding a 6’ 3" 95+ body, it uses “speed vs body size as the determinant factor of efficiency”, now in an engine this would be correct…for a human?? To much of an art. This to me leaves out some of the more spectacularly successful pitchers in the history of the game…so the premise in and of itself is exclusatory of pitchers who because they fall outside of the “standard” aren’t considered in this efficiency equation (I am an engineer by education and trade). This to me disqualifies the question as unanswerable or leaving a false answer. A real world example I would site is within the Cubs rotation, Carlos Zambrano vs Randy Wells, Big Z is “faster” but Wells more efficient in that, for the dollars, he throws a higher volume of innings to greater success over the last year, from a business stand point, a success stand point…this would define efficiency, not that Carlos throws it faster, even factoring in size and the other UEK’s mentioned in the article.

[Disclaimer: This discussion may not be suitable for individuals who are primarily interested in throwing strikes and dominating hitters from an actual pitcher’s mound.]

“…efficiency is simply a ratio of work done to amount of energy used.”

I almost agree with this statement, but direct comparisons of the efficiency of different machines, let alone different pitchers’ bodies, require so many conditions and disclaimers that such comparisons become shockingly complex…like trying to compare the efficiency of apples and oranges as lunch-box snacks.

For a rational discussion of pitcher efficiency, one does need to decide exactly what work parameter is being compared between individuals…velocity is probably the easiest (which no doubt is a reason for all those radar gun sales over the past couple of decades). There is no convenient way to define “filthiness” because there are so many different ways to achieve it.

But, the pitchers really should be identical twins with identical upbringing and identical physical condition…who just happen to use mechanically different deliveries. The Lincecum/Oswalt comparison tries to do something like this, with the obvious caveats–they are not identical twins, we don’t know anything detailed about their individual physical condition, etc, etc. Height, age, and “body-type” comparisons between the two are complicated, at best.

Even under the most controlled conditions, you might find out during experimentation with identical twins that highest efficiency for velocity resides in one type of delivery and efficiency for durability resides in a different delivery. But, to create a hybrid velocity/durability parameter and start measuring for that would be brutally complex.

Most models of pitching mechanics efficiency require the gross oversimplification that “we are identical copies of the same machine”. Paul Nyman has made some very interesting observations about pitching mechanic archetypes using such models (Hardball Times articles) but he clearly understands the limitations separating the models from the real world of individuals.

There was one interesting stab at a motion analysis biomechanical study of traditional mechanics versus Marshall mechanics using a single individual: A Marshall-trained pitcher who apparently defected from the cult and who also was trained to throw with a more traditional delivery style. John D’Acquisto was one of the authors of the study, I believe. Their conclusion was that traditional mechs are more efficient in several important ways than Marshall mechs. This conclusion tended to strongly corroborate an earlier ASMI study of four Marshall pitchers versus non-identical control subjects, but…I don’t quite think Mike Marshall was convinced. (What a surprise…).

A “simple” efficiency comparison used commonly in the real world: Using identical engines under controlled lab conditions to measure fuel efficiency (i.e., octane ratings).

Beyond that, life gets very complex. Interesting topic, Hired Guns.

LA,
I believe the article by Paul Nyman you were referring to is linked below. There are at least two distinctions being made that appear relevant to the previous discussions on mechanical efficiency. The first is between “pitching” and “throwing”, the second, between “strength” and “mechanics”. There is of course much more… I’m not going to comment until everyone has had a chance to read the entire article.

[quote]What constitutes effective throwing mechanics?

Before attempting to answer this question it’s important to distinguish the difference between pitching and throwing: You can throw a baseball without pitching it, but you can’t pitch a baseball without throwing it. This emphasizes that pitching is all about defeating the batter. And throwing is an integral component of the pitching process.

But throwing in itself does not constitute pitching. And this is where the water begins to muddy; i.e., the difference between pitching mechanics and throwing mechanics. In reality, there should be no difference, but more often than not what is deemed as good pitching mechanics is more about defeating the batter than it is about throwing a baseball.

Effective throwing is efficient use of the body to throw the baseball. Effective throwing is the least amount of wasted effort necessary to achieve the desired throwing result.

There are two primary components at work in throwing a baseball: strength and mechanics. The strength component can manifest itself in several ways. The good way is when the strength component works in conjunction with the mechanical component primarily in the form of maintaining what is called connection during a transfer of momentum from the larger body parts (torso) and the arm itself.

One interesting aspect of throwing is that once the momentum has been drained out of the torso, the action of the arm is far more passive and active. The arm behaves more like a whip (buggy whip “popper”) that has been driven by the body.

The negative aspect of arm strength is when the arm itself becomes the primary mechanism to throw the baseball. This can also be described as “disconnection.” Disconnection means the arm has lost its ability to receive/transform momentum from the body. A consequence of this disconnection forces the arm-shoulder complex to become more active than it should in terms of throwing a baseball. The player is trying to make up for the lack of efficient transfer of momentum by “muscling” the ball to the plate[/quote]
Would be interested to hear any thoughts on the distinctions being made…or anything else in the article that might shed some light on our topic.

Yes, that’s the Nyman piece I was trying to recall. Thank you for providing the link to that important article, Hired.

I especially liked Nyman’s illustrations and discussion of vertical plane delivery mechs and horizontal plane delivery mechs, near the bottom of that article.

Hired Guns, if you aren’t TG2, then I’ve gone crazy.

Nobody else could go on such intelligent rants full of insights, rhetorical questions, .gifs, old school clips, humor and references to the dark ages that us younguns can’t comprehend. Good to see you here, now that setpro is no longer your/our main forum home.

edit: the nyman reference and the felix clip confirmed my suspicions :slight_smile: