Putting Things Together, Tearing Them Apart

There are a couple things that we know:

  1. One third of current pitchers have had Tommy John surgery.
  2. One half of all pitchers will go on the DL in any given three year period.
  3. Pitchers that throw 190 innings or more tend to do so again and again until they don’t.

I was thinking about 1 and 2 for a while, wondering if those two facts were a bit too negative. It means that two thirds of pitchers avoid Tommy John and that half of pitchers are healthy. Aren’t those pitchers as worth studying as the injured ones we chase correlations and kinematics for?

One of the criticisms of Glenn Fleisig’s work is often that he only tested the best pitchers. He’d show off a wireframe of Roger Clemens in talks. Well, yeah. Clemens gets people’s attention. It was never about cherry picking as trying to get people to listen. But people were essentially criticizing him for optimism.

Does turning the discussion to optimism help? Does pushing together this series of facts lead to some great conclusion? What other facts that are available would help? I don’t have PitchFX on Sandy Koufax or kinematics on Greg Maddux. (I do know that Mike Maddux did it once and I’ve always wondered how that looked.)

What I’m asking is are we looking at this the wrong way? Are we asking the right questions? If I could get someone with no knowledge of the problem but a great knowledge of problem solving, what would they ask for?


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