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To long toss or not to long toss, that is the question

May 20, 2011, 1:02 PM EST

Long toss

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! has an interesting story up today about long-tossing for pitchers. The upshot: two of the top prospects in this year’s draft are warning teams that ban their pitchers from long-toss drills against selecting them, because they’re all about long-tossing.  Included in the anti-long toss crowd: the Royals and Pirates and, according to Passan, about half of all of the teams in baseball.

Of course complicating all of this is that no one has any actual data about whether long-tossing — as opposed to throwing 120 feet with no arc, which the Royals, Pirates and others advocate — is a good thing or a bad thing.  The teams think long-tossing is bad, the players believe that long-tossing is good for them, but no one has any freakin’ idea.

If only there was some way to figure this stuff out!  Some sort of discipline that begins with observation, moves on to the formation of a hypothesis, tests said hypothesis with some sort of experiment or gathering of empirical data and then compels one to reach a conclusion as to the validity of said hypothesis!

But sadly, there is no such thing in the world.

  1. spudchukar - May 20, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    Knowing the Pirates and Royals, are not proponents is evidence enough for me.

  2. Mark Armour - May 20, 2011 at 1:13 PM

    It is hard to use science for something like this because you need to have willing professional pitchers to use as your lab rats. This will not happen.

    • rebarratige - May 20, 2011 at 1:40 PM

      There are (admittedly less convenient) ways to extract enough data to reach a conclusion without actual experimenting on professional pitchers. Some work would have to be done to isolate the relevant variables properly, but in general it stands to reason that if long-tossing is dangerous, pitchers who long-toss will have a history of more frequent and/or severe injuries. It’s probably all there in the historical record, and interviews with retired pitchers could fill in the gaps.

  3. b7p19 - May 20, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    Wow. That was a great link. I’m blown away. Seems like you may have stumbled accross something just like that which you said was not available.

  4. thefoz26 - May 20, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    Hard to argue with the Royal’s and Pirate’s ongoing history of excellent starting pitching…

  5. RedHeadedBastard - May 20, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    An interesting article but a picture of Nyjer Morgan and Justin Maxwell from last year? Are you hurting for pictures?

    • Craig Calcaterra - May 20, 2011 at 1:48 PM

      Not a lot of pictures of long toss floating around.

  6. hermitfool - May 20, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    “You do not clone pitchers. If an individual chooses to long toss, that’s fine. You don’t give him a distance. Why there’s a limit on 120 feet I do not know.” – Leo Mazzone, Pitching Coach, Atlanta Braves

  7. 5thbase - May 20, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    So the Pirates and Royals are pretty much terrible at developing pitching talent but they’re dogmatic with their theories? At least the Royals had Greinke, but who was the last good Pirates pitcher? Doug Drabek? With such an amazing track record of failure, I think the correct conclusion for the organizations to come to would be that they have no clue and shouldn’t be telling anyone what to do.

  8. kopy - May 20, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    Michael Kay, on his radio show yesterday, brought up long toss as an explanation for the year of the oblique injury that we’ve been having. There wasn’t much in the way of evidence, but it’s interesting to think about.

  9. addictedzone - May 20, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    Perhaps we could analyze that along with pitchers throwing footballs or javelins to increase strength. I myself want shortstops and second basemen working with a frisbee to help their backhand flip

  10. dglnj - May 20, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    Of course, the fact that the article is entirely wrong with the claim that the Pirates don’t allow long toss may slightly change the story, you know, maybe 180 degress.

    See, for example, http://www.piratesprospects.com/2011/05/dylan-bundy-doesnt-want-to-be-a-pirate.html

    • randall351 - May 20, 2011 at 7:10 PM

      You mean there’s an article out on the internet where they don’t have the facts right?

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