One thing that is driving the pitcher injury and Tommy John surgery epidemic is what Stuart Smalley would call stinkin' thinkin'.

By that I mean thinking that is characterized by...

  • Unquestioned assumptions
  • Deferring to the conventional wisdom

...and a general lack of critical thinking.

In the best case.

Drivers of the Tommy John Surgery Epidemic

In my study of pitching mechanics, I have come across a number of examples of absolutely terrible logic and huge logical flaws.

Exhibit A

The event that got me started on my quest to understand and solve the pitcher injury and Tommy John surgery epidemic was reading literally the first study I came across.

Lyman's et al's 2002 paper Effect of Pitch Type, Pitch Count, and Pitching Mechanics on Risk of Elbow and Shoulder Pain in Youth Baseball Pitchers, which was co-authored by Dr. Glenn Fleisig and Dr. James Andrews of ASMI and David Osinski of the affiliated ABF, remains one of the most astounding, mystifying, and frankly terrifying (given the stakes) things I have ever read.

The State of the Art of Pitching Logic

If a movement reduces the risk of elbow and shoulder pain, then how can it be a flaw?

I understand that pitching injuries weren't the concern in 2002 that they are now. However, I literally can't understand how someone can write the paragraph above.

There's no mention of those "flaws" impact on velocity, which would seem the only way to continue to maintain that they are flaws even after they were shown to reduce the risk of elbow and shoulder pain.

I don't have a problem with labeling those four movements "flaws" going into the study, but to maintain that view after finding that they reduce the risk of elbow and shoulder pain?

That's mind-bottling.

Mariano Rivera's "Flawed" Pitching Mechanics

In early 2016, I attended a baseball and softball hitting and pitching clinic here in St. Louis. Among the presenters was the pitching coordinator for a major league team. While I enjoyed many aspects of his presentation, I couldn't help but be disturbed by something.

On one slide he displayed a picture of Mariano Rivera who he said, and I agree, had excellent pitching mechanics. Then, on literally the next slide, he displayed ASMI's guidelines that call for 32 to 76 degrees of External Rotation at Stride Foot Contact.

Mariano Rivera

The problem is that, as the picture above and the clip below show, Mariano Rivera's External Rotation at Stride Foot Contact is significantly greater than 76 degrees.

It's more like 90 degrees.

Mariano Rivera 2013

What he was saying was desirable was clearly and directly contradicted by what Mariano Rivera did.

I would submit that, if your pitching biomechanics model is telling you that the pitching mechanics of Mariano Rivera -- and Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Greg Maddux, Justin Verlander, David Price, and other Hall Of Fame caliber pitchers who were both dominant and durable -- are flawed, then I would suggest that the true flaw is more likely with your model than a dominant and durable Hall Of Famer like Mariano Rivera.

I believe part of the problem is that ASMI just seems to be tracking averages -- perhaps, because for privacy reasons, they have to dissociate names and numbers? -- and just reporting what they see come into their lab. Well if, as I contend, pitching mechanics get more problematic over time, and ASMI simply reports the averages of what they are seeing, you will see a larger and larger divergence between what dominant and durable pitchers like Mariano Rivera did and what contemporary pitchers are doing.

In truth, that divergence is important.

It shouldn't be ignored and the current averages simply reported as if they were the whole story.

Mayo Clinic Power Position

As I discuss in my analysis of the Power Position the Mayo Clinic is selling as being safer...

Mayo Clinic Power Position

...what they are selling is, in truth, ahistorical and, in my opinion, incredibly dangerous.

The Mayo Clinic is part of the problem, not the solution, I assume because they aren't thinking critically about the conventional wisdom about pitching mechanics.