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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Gospel of Pronation

At last year's SABR convention I had the opportunity to listen to Mike Marshall, former Cy Young winner and PhD, preach the gospel of injury avoidance through his rather unique pitching mechanics and instruction. At the time I noted how he's not taken seriously by the industry and now Jeff Passan over at Yahoo Sports has written an excellent article on Marshall (or "Doc" as his disciples call him) and his Pitching Research and Training Center in Florida north of Tampa. What's particularly interesting is the accompanying video of Marshall protege Jeff Sparks who once pitched for Tampa Bay and who still travels to Marshall's complex in hopes of catching on somewhere.

In the video you'll see the extreme pronation of the wrist in both the fastball and curveball motions as well the screwball which Marshall preaches will effectively eliminate elbow injuries requiring Tommy John surgery. The video is high speed and so shows the motion pretty clearly. You'll also want to check out Passan being interviewed by Will Carroll on BP Radio from last weekend.

In the end it would be interesting if a team would send a few borderline pitchers Marshall's way in order to see if there's anything to his claims about injury avoidance and additional velocity. Those who attend his center are certainly true believers but the rest of us won't be until there are some documented successes.

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