Games » Minnesota TwinsJun3
110% is 16% too much
Trying harder may be the sign of a good person, but it’s not the sign of a good ballplayer. That’s one of the messages in Harvey Dorfman’s book, “The Mental Game of Baseball.” Ned Yost confirmed that by saying Danny Duffy needed to learn to pitch at 94%. (I’m guessing the exact number is open to negotiation, but the idea is the same: don’t give it your all.)
The explanation for this lies in the two sets of muscles we all have: extenders and contractors. When you try too hard you put both sets of muscles in play and that accounts for tightness you feel when you swing a bat as hard as you can or throw a ball with all your might.
Back off a bit and you become more efficient. Finding the right setting for your thermostat is a trick all ballplayers need to learn. That’s what they’re talking about when they give those weird “I just need to stay within myself’ quotes.
Ned thought Danny overthrew for the first three innings and that accounted for the loss of control. Once Duffy learns to throw at 94% we’ll see 100% of his talent.
Watch the front knee
There are probably a lot of other factors that I’m unaware of (on this and every other subject), but if you watch the front knee of a pitcher, you’ll get a rough idea of how quickly he’s getting the ball home.
If he picks the knee up high (and Duffy does this much of the time), it’s hard for the catcher to throw anybody out: it just takes too long to get the foot and down and send the ball on its way.
So when you see the opposition put up a few stolen bases, it might not because of the catcher’s arm, it might be because of the pitcher’s knee.
Every time - let me emphasize every time - the ball is hit to the pitcher’s left, he must break for first. The first baseman might be fielding the ball and the pitcher will have to cover the bag. Duffy lost a shot at a 3-6-1 double play when he got off the mound late.
Alex Gordon has made some spectacular plays diving for the ball to his right. Hey, if he catches them, it’s a great play. But if he misses one (and in this game he did), the attempt can turn a single into a triple or inside-the-parker. A dive to his left isn’t as dangerous because he has help coming from Melky Cabrera; to his right, Alex is on his own.
Gordon dove, missed, ran back to the bullpen gate to collect the ball and started a spectacular 7-6-2 relay to nail Alexi Casilla who was trying to circle the bases. In Ron Polk’s system, a mental mistake is -2 points and an outfield assist is +2. Alex got both on this play and breaking even seems just about right.
Passing the game along
Several times I’ve written about the baseball tradition of passing the game along: father to son, veteran to rookie. Before the game, Eric Hosmer told a neat story. When he was in New York, playing in Yankee Stadium for the first time, Derek Jeter took the time to tell him not to worry: this was the game he’d been playing all his life. The only difference was that more people were showing up to watch.
I’m guessing someone took the time to say that to Derek and now Derek was taking the time to say it to Hos’. Part of why I love baseball.
(This also goes for Alcides Escobar by the way.) Eric Hosmer’s range changes where Chris Getz can stand. If Eric can cover more ground he can play further off the line and still keep balls from getting into right field. That means Chris Getz can play further to his right and get more balls up the middle. This shows the problem with looking at things in isolation: Chris Getz catches a ball because Eric Hosmer is good.
Now what stat reflects that?
Mitch Maier and interleague play
If you read the website yesterday you know that Kevin Seitzer said the best swing among the pitchers belonged to Sean O’Sullivan. Before the game I asked Mitch Maier to name the worst swing among the pitchers. He picked Luke Hochevar with no hesitation. He also picked Luke when I asked what pitcher was most likely to get hurt swinging the bat.
Do you suppose we could bet on this in Vegas?
Well, it wasn’t like getting hit by a pitch
I’m sitting in the dugout and notice a water cooler with the word “ammonia” written on it. Friday was a bit heated so I asked trainer Kyle Turner if that was what I thought it was: water with ammonia mixed in. Kyle said it was and said, “Hey, you get hit by a pitch, wanna try this?”
I said I was in, so Kyle soaked a towel in the ammonia-ice water mix and dumped it on my head. Then he wrapped the towel over my face so I was forced to breathe ammonia fumes. Now THAT will wake you up. So when you see pitchers and catchers (Matt Treanor says he does it every inning on a hot day) with a towel over their heads in the dugout, you’ll know what they’re doing: Finding a legal substitute for an illegal feeling.