Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 24, 2006
BASEBALL: Glavine!

Good Daily News profile of how Tom Glavine finally accepted that he was finished if he didn't try a new approach on the mound - and how he made the change work:

The difference, he said, was pitching inside more and using more breaking balls to set up the pitch that made him famous — his changeup on the outside corner of the plate. For years, Glavine did not regularly pitch inside because he didn't need to; his changeup was enough.
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He and Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson talked during bullpen sessions about what to do. Peterson recalled Glavine throwing nasty breaking balls when warming up and then not using them enough in games. "Why don't you use it?" Peterson asked. "He said, 'I don't know, I just never have.'"

(Via Repoz). This is typical of the crisis that besets successful athletes as they get older - it can take years to figure out that what used to work just doesn't, anymore. Glavine was lucky he figured it out before it was too late.

As a stat-geek aside, I note that the News' list of pitchers with 270-297 wins is capped with "Bobby Mathews 297," which means they're probably working from baseball-reference.com, which (unlike the official record books) includes Mathews' wins in the National Association from 1871 to 1875.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:29 AM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

"Why did Glavine's changeup stop working" is a good question. Could be wrong here, but it would seem to be the pitch least susceptible, after the knuckler, to decreased effectiveness b/c of age. So, unless he just started missing, or NL hitters finally after a dozen or so years adjusted, the answer would have to be a tighter strike zone. Which is probably a good thing, but which may also diminish his earlier accomplishments. That he has adjusted late in his career, and seems to be successful, argues that he could/would have sooner but for the wide, low zone. But do we really know?

Posted by: seamus at January 24, 2006 12:02 PM

I don't think the strike zone has as much to do with the ineffectiveness of the change-up as age does. A change-up is only effective if it looks like the fastball and travels at a significantly slower rate. With age comes the loss of some zip on the fastball. When the fastball slows down, the hitter can sit back on it a little longer to make sure it is really the heater and not the change. Five years ago, a hitter looking for the fastball would need to react very early and would be way ahead of the change. Today, the hitter can better react to the change-up because he doesn't have to react so quickly to the fastball. If Glavine comes inside with the fastball, he decreases the time hitters have to react to it, effectively adding a few MPH to the pitch. That change brings back the effectiveness of the change-up.

Posted by: beanball at January 24, 2006 2:37 PM

Makes sense. The fastball's been effected, and so the change-up. I'll buy that. I do think the salad days of Maddox, Glavine, Key and a few others wouldn't have been so green if essentially unhittable low and outside pitches weren't called for strikes, but I can't prove it. That said, they exploited it where legions of others did not.

Posted by: seamus at January 24, 2006 2:46 PM
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