FanPost

Pitching Mechanics: Rich Harden

Over at Driveline Mechanics, I did an analysis of Rich Harden's pitching mechanics....

Hardenfullspeed_medium

via www.drivelinemechanics.com

Rich Harden brings serious heat and combines it with an outstanding changeup and quality breaking balls. The Pitch f/x tool says he throws a fastball (94 MPH), slider (85 MPH), and changeup (86 MPH). I am inclined to believe that, however, I have seen him mix in a split-finger fastball as well that comes in around 81-82.

(I’d like to apologize for the poor quality of the animated images in this post. However, I am constrained by the quality of the video I can find online, which isn’t great.)

Let’s break down his mechanics - first up is Arm Action and Tempo:

I paused the animation for 1 second in three frames, accompanied by highlights. Watch the video closely - you can see he breaks his hands with his arms (not with bent elbows, in other words), and takes the ball straight down, back, and up with the palm facing down. I prefer the palm facing up, however, the pendulum swing arm action is good. However, Harden could be a bit quicker into footplant, which I think would help take the strain off his shoulder.

Much ado about nothing is made of his wrist positioning. Yes, he bends his wrist upwards, but Harden’s injuries are most frequent and dangerous in his shoulder. He does have a UCL sprain in his closet, which makes him a higher risk for Tommy John surgery, but there is no evidence that shows a flexed upwards wrist will increase load on his elbow or shoulder. Regardless, Harden gets the ball up and does not show it to center field, instead showing it to third base, which is great. Showing the ball to center field / second base causes extra stress on the elbow during the throwing phase. Here’s a still image of what many healthy and long-lasting pitchers look like at footstrike:

Harden’s arm is at the ready position at footstrike, showing no signs of a delayed arm. His elbow is also below the level of his shoulders, avoiding possible impingement/hyperabduction problems:

Ball Release / Followthrough

More good stuff. Harden finishes aggressively, his pitching arm side (PAS) leg moves towards home plate and around his body, and he points his acromial line towards home plate and doesn’t stop the rotation of his shoulders. I prefer that pitchers “sprint” off the mound, using that tempo to keep the weight going foward at the plate, and a good cue to help in this is to tell pitchers to point their PAS shoulder at the plate through release.

Improvements and Final Thoughts

Harden could do a bit better job throwing against a firm front side by “slapping” his chest with his glove and tucking his elbow into his ribcage, which would be a more efficient use of his decelerator muscles, but that’s not really a huge issue. I’d prefer to see faster tempo, but I doubt that is the root cause of his shoulder problems. Like other analysts, I can’t point out the reason why he lands on the disabled list so often. Pitching is a violent act, and many people theorize that the harder you throw, it becomes exponentially more likely you are to end up with injuries no matter how strong or physically fit you are. I agree to a point, but it’s also possible that some people are not genetically wired to handle the unbelievable stresses of throwing a baseball 90+ MPH. I hate to question Harden’s conditioning, but if you forced me to make a guess, I’d say that he has a strong genetic profile in determining his white/red fibrous muscle tissue, giving him extremely powerful anaerobic abilities, but he may not be properly strengthening the endurance muscles, leading to quicker fatigue and possible injury problems.

I wish the best for Rich Harden, as he is simply dominant when he takes the mound. Time will tell.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Athletics Nation

You must be a member of Athletics Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Athletics Nation. You should read them.

Join Athletics Nation

You must be a member of Athletics Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Athletics Nation. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker