Q. Maybe it's true that we should have preferred Ackley to Strasburg. Strasburg's motion looks like Prior's to me.
A. Ackley's a hitter and Strasburg a pitcher. No doubts there.
Remember that, our amateur-attempts to understand pitching motions aside ... the harder a guy throws a ball and the more people he strikes out, the better his chances are.
Take 100 rookies in baseball history who had huge K rates, and another 100 rookies with tiny K rates, and I'll guarantee you that the high-K group suffered many, many fewer injuries. Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens being the pictures worth 1,000 words.
And that's got to be even MORE true when the high-K guys had low walks. A great CTL speaks to better mechanics.
But we're talking tendencies, of course. Some high-K pitchers get hurt, of course.
Q. Does Strasburg's motion look risky to you?
A. Well, it does indeed have a bit of elbow-above-the-shoulder to it. Here's a discussion.
But we are all, every one of us, shooting in the dark about that. We know very little about mechanics and their effects on injuries.
Personally, *I* take it as self-evident that the lower your elbow, the less stress on the shoulder; I mean, girls' fastpitch stars never hurt their shoulders. How much do you weight this single factor of elbow angle? Who knows. I don't.
Q. What are the risk factors?
A. As I see it, the top seven are:
1) Velocity (higher velo = less health risk)
2) Workload (more pitches under strain = more health risk)
3) History (proven ability to handle workload without DL time = less health risk)
4) Pitching mechanics
5) Shape of pitches (sideways-breaking pitches torque elbow ligaments; vertical pitches are easy on elbow)
6) Body shape (longer, whippier, more centrifugal motions = less health risk)
7) Pitcher age and handedness (older = less health risk; LH = less health risk)
Half the world guaranteed that Tim Lincecum was a huuuuuge risk because they laser-focused on two factors: he's short, and he ran real high pitch counts in college. They waved off the other five factors, and they paid the price.
There was a tiebreaker with Lincecum: the way he felt after 140 pitches.
For me, the tiebreaker with Strasburg is that, like Nolan Ryan, he was born to throw a baseball. Other guys can't throw 101 in the 7th. Strasburg is a different species.
Could be wrong. All pitchers are health risks. The Mariners dumped Randy Johnson because of that.
The basic question is reasonable - that with Strasburg you're still sweating the crash-and-burn. Would you guys decline a Strasburg-for-Ackley offer today? :- )