POTD Rafael DePaula (Mechanics)

=== Executive Summary ===

DePaula has a gorgeous, easy, clean motion ... that serves mostly to get out of the way of his electric arm.

Many power pitchers, such as Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens, develop a lot of their velocity out of their thighs, backside and abdomens.  Others, such as Felix Hernandez, Bob Gibson and Randy Johnson, have loose motions that mostly serve to provide their arms with simple, reliable fulcrums.

DePaula is mostly in the latter category. 

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=== Windup ===

Begins windup with a long rock-step to 1B, but does so without exaggerating the sideways deflection of his head.

Steps lightly into a huge, easy, chest-high knee kick in Cuban style that provides a floating CG and that puts his head nicely onto the centerline in a repeatable fashion.  (The higher a pitcher gets at the top, the more directly his head is over his plant foot.)

Is balanced, with excellent body control, in a consistent strike position at the top. 

Grade A on the windup, mostly for centerline position and light-on-the-feet balance, with the only quibble being that he won't want to move his head this much later in his career.

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=== Cocking Action ===

To accelerate the baseball, DePaula keeps his hands together pleasantly late, and sinks his weight only slightly, tilting his shoulders back towards centerfield slightly.

The circular movement of his hands is common in Nippon baseball, notably with Kazuhiro Sasaki, for example.  This provides DePaula a very stress-free backstroke and keeps his shoulders and CG attached to the baseball.

As noted, DePaula sinks his weight less than most pitchers.  This has the disadvantage of drawing less power from the large part of his body, and the advantage of involving fewer moving parts in the motion.

Grade A-.  We love the harmony and beauty of the motion, but in terms of power, the mechanics themselves are a bit light.  This is a Greg Maddux, control-pitcher type of weight usage on the backstroke.

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=== Torque ===

The high knee kick is unpleasantly aiki-deceptive, because DePaula's arm is actually quite DISconnected from his lower body. 

He sinks the weight almost imperceptibly, takes a surprisingly short stride, lands feather-light on the front foot, and the hips/stomach aren't much related to what his shoulders are about do.

This is, in theory, an SSI complaint -- sound and fury signifying nothing.  :- )  If you watch the videos consistently, you'll see that there's (1) a big boastful knee kick, and then (2) the lower body essentially goes static while (3) a golf-style "pause at the top" occurs for about 1/10th of a second and then, almost in "lying" fashion, (4) the upper body roars into motion like a lion and the real power begins.

Grade C.  I don't care for the disconnect from a beauty-and-harmony standpoint, but as noted above, there is certainly a "cleanness" to it.  When a pitcher is throwing* with just his arm, he's positioning himself to throw with outstanding command.

Think about pub-darts throwing.  When a drop-and-drive pitcher gets tired, the path of his CG changes -- introducing unpredictability into the sports movement (and theoretically introducing command problems). 

A pitcher with less CG drop "simplifies" and avoids a lot of this fatigue/command sydrome.  Think Aaron Sele and Greg Maddux throwing easy strikes in the 7th inning.

DePaula's motion sacrifices power for precision.  Objectively this is neutral, not good or bad, but aesthetically I don't care for the way the knee kick looks in this motion.  That's not important.

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part 2

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Comments

Taro's picture

Taro

Interesting.

The Mariners probably cut this years draft budget so that they could sign guys like this.

I hope we nab him.

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