Baseball is back and Pitcher List 6.0 is here. Let’s get primed for the start of Spring Training games this Sunday by counting down a handful of the best deliveries in baseball.
Part of what makes baseball so interesting is the diversity present in the game. That great diversity includes the different cultures that come together in the clubhouse and in the stands to enjoy the same beautiful game, but also the diversity in player sizes and styles. In 2017, the American League MVP was the 5’5″ Jose Altuve. Right behind him in second place was Aaron Judge at 6’8″. There is room in the game for players of all sizes and body types.
Baseball players also use different mechanics to get the job done. The range of batting stances and swing mechanics that have worked for one player or another is long. A good chunk of effective pitching is disrupting the timing of hitters. Hiding the ball an extra split second or a slight hitch in a leg kick can do just enough to change a potential home run pitch into a foul ball or a swing and a miss.
The six deliveries chosen show there is more than one way to get a hitter out.
Johnny Cueto has always loved to mess with the timing of hitters. Cueto’s changeup has been his signature pitch throughout his career and he is still able to get hitters out in front in the nadir of his career.
Along with his changeup, Cueto messes with the timing of hitters by using a slow turn and leg kick before exploding toward the plate with his pitch. As a counter to the slow windup, Cueto also uses a quick pitch. Cueto will start his slow delivery as he would normally before using virtually no leg kick to quickly throw his pitch. Hitters have to be ready for Cueto’s varied delivery speeds. That extra thought in the back of a hitter’s head is a win for Cueto.
Bullpens around the league are dotted with sidearm throwing LOOGYS and ROOGYS, but there are only a few pitchers left dropping all the way down submarine style. Chad Bradford, the knuckle-dragging submariner of Moneyball fame, would be proud of Tyler Rogers‘ mechanics. Rogers bends over all the way to get low and change the eye level of hitters.
Clayton Kershaw’s delivery is iconic. I’m sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, of kids who have emulated Kershaw and his distinct mechanics. Kershaw brings his hands way over his head before using a stuttered leg kick to mess with hitters’ timing. Included below Kershaw’s GIF is a GIF of Tyler Anderson’s mechanics. Anderson’s mechanics are quite similar to Kershaw’s mechanics. To Anderson’s credit, there are worse strategies than emulating Hall of Fame pitchers. The staggered leg kick has become more popular since the beginning of Kershaw’s career.
James Karinchak’s mechanics are at first notable because Karinchak rocks his upper body rhythmically like a kid who can’t sit still. Karinchak’s jitters, however, serve a purpose. The hitter doesn’t know when Karinchak will stop fidgeting and start throwing the ball. Karinchack comes to a set before exploding toward the hitter with an over-the-top arm path that hides the ball well. With the quirkiness of his delivery, Karinchack’s big fastball and hammer curveball are that much more effective.
Jalen Beeks was part of the tremendous Rays bullpen in 2020 before Tommy John surgery ended his season. Beeks doesn’t throw particularly hard, and his out pitch is a changeup that doesn’t have a pronounced speed difference to his fastball. Beeks was successful last season because his delivery hides the ball from hitters so well. Beeks starts his windup and hides the ball behind his waist as he pauses briefly at the bottom of his back knee bend. Beeks seems to put all his weight on his back leg as he extends his front leg straight before exploding toward the plate.
The front leg point in Alex Cobb’s delivery is more reminiscent of a ballet dancer than a baseball pitcher. My guess is Cobb’s leg kick is a signal to some other segment of his mechanics. As he points his leg, Cobb brings the ball behind his back. Cobb then plants his foot to turn and throw the pitch with purpose.
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)
Do non-active guys next. Dan Haren and Dontrelle Willis need a GIF