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Body Language

Posted on April 18, 2015 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

Body language is defined as nonverbal, usually unconscious communication in the form of gestures, movements, and mannerisms.  It has been referred to as the strongest form of communication by many and that definitely holds true in sports.

As a pitcher it is crucial to control negative body language and use positive body language when the situation calls for it.  The pitcher is the leader of the defense, and the pitchers body language reflects the overall tone of the team in the field.  After all, 90% of the time the fans are focused on the pitcher while the defense is on the field.  

When a pitcher shows negative body language towards an umpire for a call he does not agree with, he is less likely to get the next borderline call.  Umpires have good memories and have been known to hold a grudge against certain players not just in that game, but throughout a season.

If pitchers tend to get frustrated with themselves and physically show it while struggling with pitch command or giving up hits, it will give hitters more confidence at the plate.  It's very important to work on keeping a poker face while things aren't going well on the mound.

Fielders are going to make errors on routine plays.  Do not show frustration in any way towards the defense.  They already feel bad enough for the error, do not compound the problem by showing a teammate up.  Work hard to keep that runner from scoring to pick a fielder up for the mistake.

There is a fine line as to when showing positive body language is called for and when it is unnecessary.  

If you get a strikeout with the bases loaded in a close game then a fist pump is a great way to get your team fired up and create even more momentum. But if you strike the first batter out of the game and do a little dance on the mound you are lighting a fire underneath the opposition and putting your teammates at risk of wearing a fastball in the back as retaliation.   

 

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Pitches per Inning

Posted on July 04, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

Pitches Per Inning

In baseball everything is recorded and statistics are of the upmost importance. But which numbers are the most important? In pitching, everyone seems to believe individual statistics like Earned Run Average (ERA), Strikeouts (K), and Walks+Hits/Inning Pitched (WHIP) are the best measurements of success on the mound. Although these statistics are very important and do determine who dominant pitchers are, we think Pitches Per Inning (P/IP) paints a bigger picture of which pitchers are most valuable to their team and should be used alongside the current mainstay pitching stats.  

Lets first take a look at the team benefits of a low Pitches Per Inning statistic.  Below we've listed team benefits that a low P/IP measures that other individual pitching statistics do not.   

  1. Measures average pitches it takes to get outs, the most important statistic for all pitchers.
  2. Defensive fielding percentage gets better with balls put in play early and often.
  3. It gives momentum to the pitcher's offense, gets them back in the dugout.
  4. It saves energy which generally improves pitch Lokation and velocity. 
  5. Keeps the bullpen fresh generally improving team winning percentage.
  6. Gives opposing pitcher less time to rest.
  7. Umpire generally opens strike zone when pitchers prove command.
  8. Improves durability and decreases injuries, making deeper pitching staffs.
  9. Hitters see less pitches which makes timing and pitch recognition more difficult.
  10. Hitters have less chance at seeing a mistake pitch.

The lower a pitcher's P/IP is, the better all around individual statistics they will have in addition to the team benefits mentioned above. The individual statistics we are referring to do not necessarily include strikeouts because K's generally increase P/IP.  There are so many people in and around the game that are fascinated with velocity and strikeouts that they loose track of the fact that a strikeout counts the same as a ground ball to the shortstop and velocity has no value in pitching statistics.     

As of May 21st, 2013 Pitches Per Inning is already displaying its importance in MLB. Of all qualifiers, the two pitchers with the highest P/IP are Vance Worley of the Minnesota Twins and Ryan Volgelsong of the San Francisco Giants, with P/IP at 18.4 and 18.1 respectively. These numbers directly effect their other numbers- both have ERA's above 6.2.

Jordan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals has had an outstanding year thus far. He has gone 7-2 with an ERA of 1.62. Over his 66.2 innings pitched, which ranks 4th out of the qualifiers, he has struck out 45 batters. Although not a high strikeout percentage at 6 per 9 innings pitched, it directly correlates to his P/IP in which he ranks 1st in the league at an outstanding rate of 12.9, almost a full pitch better than his closest competitor Bronson Arroyo(13.6 P/IP). Zimmerman has thrived off of throwing strikes early in the count, and inducing early contact. This helps the team in numerous ways. The Nationals have won 78% of the time when Zimmerman pitches. 

Pitches per inning measures more than just individual statistics and looks beyond the "aw factor" of high velocity and strikeouts that everyone seems to be so fascinated with.  P/ IP measures pitches that get outs better than any other statistic. In the Lokator System pitches that get outs will always be the most important!

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Sunday at the Players Championship

Posted on May 13, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

After watching all four days of the Players Championship on the PGA Tour, I can't help but see more similarities between pitching and golf.  Tiger Woods closed the deal and clinched the tournament title  and I wanted to write a little about how he got it done.  

Tiger managed the course brilliantly.  He avoided the big miss off the tee by using his 3 and 5 wood instead of the driver. On his approach shots he consistently hit greens in safer spots than the rest of the field.  He gave himself good looks at the cup by understanding what part of the green would give him the best chance to hit the putt.  Then he finished the deal when it came time to knock it down.

Woods hitting a controlled 3 or 5 wood off the tee box and shaping shots instead of blasting a driver every time was an example of him choosing Lokation over power and distance.  It reminded me of a pitcher who hits Lokations at 90% velocity and knows how to use the movement of pitches to their advantage instead of using maximum effort and trying to blow hitters away.  There were times when Tiger hit the driver but he chose his spots wisely.  The same should hold true with pitchers, know when that extra few MPH's is needed and use it accordingly.

On approach shots Tiger was obviously able to avoid hazards but he also knew where the slopes of the green were and which area around the green was the best place to putt from.  He kept the ball below the hole when possible and rarely missed to the short side of the green.  I compared this aspect of Tiger's game to a scouting report on hitters because he understood what the course was giving him and then executed a shot based on a many different variables, the same way a pitcher chooses pitch Lokation, selection, and sequencing.

When Tiger got to the green and started his putting routine it really became evident how much putting and pitching have in common.  The process of determining a line to hit the putt was comparable to choosing a Lokation to aim at.  The length of the putt and whether it was uphill or downhill determined the force of the ball strike just like a pitcher determines what speed to throw the ball.  Finally, when Tiger read the green for left or right breaking putt it reminded me of a pitcher accounting for the movement of pitches.

Managing a golf course and managing the game as a pitcher are comparable on so many different levels.  First, it's not always how far you hit the ball or how hard you can throw it, but can you control it?  Second, it's not possible to hit all Lokations or always have 2 foot birdie putts, but can you put yourself in a position to succeed?  Finally, when it is time to perform and you have taken all variables into consideration, can you execute the putt or pitch to close the deal?  Tiger did it all today.

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