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The "One Philosophy Fits All" Approach...


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#1 Greg Pappas

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 11:20 AM

In consideration of hitters like Matt Wieters, and pitchers like (too many to name).......

Do we, throughout our system, use only one hitting & pitching "philosophy"? IF true, shouldn't we consider hiring a multitude of additional instructors that would be made available to teach those that have failed/struggled to adapt to our current instruction, by offering different methods of instruction?  Wouldn't making such diversity available have the potential to help players in the system that might benefit by change, or does it seem prudent to you that we continue to preach a one-philosophy fits all approach? 


 


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#2 Ricker Says

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 11:24 AM

I think we should be somewhat nimble and responsive to a players individual strength's/weaknesses, at the same time - I do like that we seem to be implementing a standard and consistent approach. With that, we can draft and acquire talent accordingly to fit that mold. I think there are benefits to that, like players being able to help one another with the same type of stuff, coaches being on the same page at all levels, etc.

 

That said, there is zero reason why we can't also adapt as we go along to try and maximize each asset's value. The Rays were smart enough not to put David Price, for instance, through the same exact program as most of their other pitching prospects. They realized his skill set was unique, and adapted to the talent. We should be doing the same thing.


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#3 Mackus

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 11:25 AM

I don't think it's fair to say their method is a one-style fits all philosophy.  They definitely have a preferred style for pitchers - strong fastball control, change up, and one strong off speed offering - and that's what they target in the draft, but I don't think they limit their prospects or take away things they do well if they happen to find someone who does other things.  They aren't grabbing all the pegs and then jamming square ones into their round hole.  They are instead focusing on adding round pegs.

 

Offensively, I don't think there is anything resembling the approach that we see with the pitching.  I don't see any real consistent focus in the draft for a certain type of hitter.

 

Whatever they've been doing over the years developmentally certainly hasn't been successful.  But it's hard to pinpoint at exactly which point in the process have things broken down and assign blame.  Is it scouting?  Is it development?  Is it bad luck?  Is it physical training and keeping guys healthy?  Is it just on the players themselves for not developing?



#4 JeffLong

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 12:23 PM

I don't think it's fair to say their method is a one-style fits all philosophy.  They definitely have a preferred style for pitchers - strong fastball control, change up, and one strong off speed offering - and that's what they target in the draft, but I don't think they limit their prospects or take away things they do well if they happen to find someone who does other things.  They aren't grabbing all the pegs and then jamming square ones into their round hole.  They are instead focusing on adding round pegs.

 

Offensively, I don't think there is anything resembling the approach that we see with the pitching.  I don't see any real consistent focus in the draft for a certain type of hitter.

 

Whatever they've been doing over the years developmentally certainly hasn't been successful.  But it's hard to pinpoint at exactly which point in the process have things broken down and assign blame.  Is it scouting?  Is it development?  Is it bad luck?  Is it physical training and keeping guys healthy?  Is it just on the players themselves for not developing?

 

You saw this with Joe Jordan. He loved to draft speedy 4th OF types, hoping they could develop into everyday players. Think Hoes, Avery, etc (I used to have a list of like 10 guys whose names escape me now).

 

With pitchers, what you described is basically what any team looks for in a starting pitcher. Changeup to get opposite handed hitters out, breaking ball to get same handed hitters out.

 

The O's don't seem to have a philosophy to me as much as a team like the Twins used to. They only really targeted plus control guys with 4+ pitches (Perkins, Blackburn, Baker, etc)

 

The Orioles like two types of pitchers it seems. Sinkerballers and power arms. Harvey, Gausman, Bundy all fall into the power arm group. Mike Wright, E-Rod, Zach Britton are groundball types.

 

 

There's a difference between having a system for evaluation and promotion and instruction. The Cardinals, Rays, Rangers, etc. all have systems for evaluation & promotion where they evaluate players based on criteria drawn up at the beginning of a season or call up. This gives the player and org. specific goals to achieve before moving players around. This creates better communication, and means all players/coaches are on the same page.

 

The Rays (and other teams, like the O's) have instructional systems where they decide what type of instruction a player will get, regardless of who they are. There are obviously exceptions, but there are general guidelines. For the O's its biomechanical analysis, tweaking their mechanics to fit within predetermined norms based on that, and no cutters it seems.


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#5 Greg Pappas

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 12:38 PM

I think we should be somewhat nimble and responsive to a players individual strength's/weaknesses, at the same time - I do like that we seem to be implementing a standard and consistent approach. With that, we can draft and acquire talent accordingly to fit that mold. I think there are benefits to that, like players being able to help one another with the same type of stuff, coaches being on the same page at all levels, etc.

 

That said, there is zero reason why we can't also adapt as we go along to try and maximize each asset's value. The Rays were smart enough not to put David Price, for instance, through the same exact program as most of their other pitching prospects. They realized his skill set was unique, and adapted to the talent. We should be doing the same thing.

 

Good post. I agree. Perhaps it's a poor example, but I wonder whether Wieters might benefit by trying the Walt Hriniak approach at the plate.  Again, just an example, but that seems to be a different way of approaching hitting as compared to the way we do things now. Again, I'm not saying that  trying to hit specifically  the way George Brett or Wade Boggs did would help Wieters, but what he's been doing hasn't worked as well as he or we'd like. Why not try something else?

 

I don't think it's fair to say their method is a one-style fits all philosophy.  They definitely have a preferred style for pitchers - strong fastball control, change up, and one strong off speed offering - and that's what they target in the draft, but I don't think they limit their prospects or take away things they do well if they happen to find someone who does other things.  They aren't grabbing all the pegs and then jamming square ones into their round hole.  They are instead focusing on adding round pegs.

 

Offensively, I don't think there is anything resembling the approach that we see with the pitching.  I don't see any real consistent focus in the draft for a certain type of hitter.

 

Whatever they've been doing over the years developmentally certainly hasn't been successful.  But it's hard to pinpoint at exactly which point in the process have things broken down and assign blame.  Is it scouting?  Is it development?  Is it bad luck?  Is it physical training and keeping guys healthy?  Is it just on the players themselves for not developing?

 

It is hard to tell who has been at fault, but we can hope that with a multitude of personnel changes in the system (Dave Stockstill gone, etc...) that we'll see notable positive developments. 

 

Offensively, I don't think there is anything resembling the approach that we see with the pitching.  I don't see any real consistent focus in the draft for a certain type of hitter.

 

You may be right, but teams like the Red Sox preach OBP, strike zone judgment, patience... that is a different animal than what we preach, or at least the results bear that out year after year. The statistics show that the Red Sox way produces a more desirable result. I know you are not saying you agree with how we do things, but I bring this point up to illustrate that we might be in need of more diverse lines of thinking. As you alluded to, we shouldn't try to fit everyone into the same mold.


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#6 Greg Pappas

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 12:42 PM

................

 

There's a difference between having a system for evaluation and promotion and instruction. The Cardinals, Rays, Rangers, etc. all have systems for evaluation & promotion where they evaluate players based on criteria drawn up at the beginning of a season or call up. This gives the player and org. specific goals to achieve before moving players around. This creates better communication, and means all players/coaches are on the same page.

 

The Rays (and other teams, like the O's) have instructional systems where they decide what type of instruction a player will get, regardless of who they are. There are obviously exceptions, but there are general guidelines. For the O's its biomechanical analysis, tweaking their mechanics to fit within predetermined norms based on that, and no cutters it seems.

 

Good post. In regards to my OP, do you feel affording players that have not adapted nearly as well to said instruction, the benefit of giving them alternative resources?


Time comes and goes, like mist in the morning… the rays of dawn wane into twilight. Unaware on our journey, we often fail to realize that we are breathing… ALIVE in this wondrous gift called Life.

 


#7 JeffLong

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 12:57 PM

Good post. In regards to my OP, do you feel affording players that have not adapted nearly as well to said instruction, the benefit of giving them alternative resources?

 

If I were running a team I would evaluate each player independently and determine areas for improvement. Then I'd set them up to work 1 on 1 or in small workshops with a coach who has expertise in that area. These would be your coaches like Bordick who work with players of all levels. Only once a player has successfully achieved goals outlined in a meeting between his parent club, his minor league club, himself, and the roaming coach would they be done working with said coach.

 

Then each minor league affiliate would have coaches and instructors whose job it was to identify and help solve issues common at a given stage of development. I'm not expert in this, but I'd have a pitching coach who worked with lower level minor leaguers on maintaining repeatable mechanics for example. For each player there would be a list of goals and targets that give them a realistic chance for improvement. The ideal player growth model is, ironically, fairly similar to the RTTS mode in MLB: The Show where the player in question has certain goals they must hit in order to move up in the rotation or advance to the next level in the minors.

 

For me, you're investing millions of dollars in these young players, so it only makes sense to spend an extra million or two to have the best coaches possible.

 

 

 

Long story short - I'd say that if you're going to have more rigid instruction, you should have a back up plan where players can learn a different way of playing if the preferred method doesn't sink in with them. The O's kind of do this as a last resort, as they've had pitchers work on learning a knuckleball as a last ditch effort to recoup some value.


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#8 Greg Pappas

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 01:01 PM

If I were running a team I would evaluate each player independently and determine areas for improvement. Then I'd set them up to work 1 on 1 or in small workshops with a coach who has expertise in that area. These would be your coaches like Bordick who work with players of all levels. Only once a player has successfully achieved goals outlined in a meeting between his parent club, his minor league club, himself, and the roaming coach would they be done working with said coach.

 

Then each minor league affiliate would have coaches and instructors whose job it was to identify and help solve issues common at a given stage of development. I'm not expert in this, but I'd have a pitching coach who worked with lower level minor leaguers on maintaining repeatable mechanics for example. For each player there would be a list of goals and targets that give them a realistic chance for improvement. The ideal player growth model is, ironically, fairly similar to the RTTS mode in MLB: The Show where the player in question has certain goals they must hit in order to move up in the rotation or advance to the next level in the minors.

 

For me, you're investing millions of dollars in these young players, so it only makes sense to spend an extra million or two to have the best coaches possible.

 

 

 

Long story short - I'd say that if you're going to have more rigid instruction, you should have a back up plan where players can learn a different way of playing if the preferred method doesn't sink in with them. The O's kind of do this as a last resort, as they've had pitchers work on learning a knuckleball as a last ditch effort to recoup some value.

 

A great post and we see things the same.

Your ideas seem the most prudent way of going about it... so my question is: What are the O's doing differently than what you prescribe above?


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#9 JeffLong

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 01:17 PM

A great post and we see things the same.

Your ideas seem the most prudent way of going about it... so my question is: What are the O's doing differently than what you prescribe above?

 

One area where I'm in disagreement is that the club is having players go through bio-mechanical analysis and then adjusting their mechanics to fit into accepted ranges. Peterson's analysis suggests that things like the angles of the arm at delivery should be within a given range in order to minimize torque on the elbow, etc etc.

 

While this insight is useful, the best way of leveraging it isn't to institute a program where you adjust mechanics to fit within the ranges in my opinion. Every pitches does not and should not have the same mechanics.

 

Also, the cutter - I have no problem with the pitch when thrown properly. If you want to get rid of a pitch, make it the slider which puts more torque on the elbow than a properly thrown cutter (I wouldn't get rid of any pitches in my organization).

 

 

Beyond that I don't have enough insight into what the org is teaching. I love that they have Brady instilling a workout plan into players who need that. Is it being designed properly as it would be by a true strength & conditioning coach? I have no idea, but my assumption is that Brady is doing a good job with it.

 

I just think that baseball, and the development of players, is kind of taken as a great unknown and so people don't put a lot of structure into it. In reality, it's more of a known than things like leadership development in a corporation where there aren't tangible ways to measure success (as easily). Yet major corporations spend millions of dollars annually on developing their people and enhancing their skills. Incorporating some of this model into baseball where things are more structured would certainly help. Again, they may be more structured than I think or know in the O's org. I just know that other organizations (STL, TB, TEX) have track records of success as a direct result of their player development program which is more structured and wholistic than others throughout the game.


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#10 BSLRobShields

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 01:56 PM

What do the Orioles develop well?

 

What aspect of anything can you point to and say, the Orioles do a very good job of that?


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#11 PatrickDougherty

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 02:03 PM

One area where I'm in disagreement is that the club is having players go through bio-mechanical analysis and then adjusting their mechanics to fit into accepted ranges. Peterson's analysis suggests that things like the angles of the arm at delivery should be within a given range in order to minimize torque on the elbow, etc etc.

 

While this insight is useful, the best way of leveraging it isn't to institute a program where you adjust mechanics to fit within the ranges in my opinion. Every pitches does not and should not have the same mechanics.

I ran competitively in high school and this reminds me specifically of our stride training. There is an optimal foot strike, stride length, etc. for every runner. For example, a runner's stride when going full speed should be approximately as long as he is tall. We put a lot of work into improving the mechanics of our gait, because usually, a runner's natural stride is very unlike what he should be doing mechanically.

 

But our coach was very clear: at a certain point, there are diminishing returns. While theoretically, a stride of a certain length is optimal for energy conservation, drastically altering a runner's stride forces their muscles to grow differently and adapt in ways that they were never asked to before, forces them to think about their stride rather than their breathing or their line, and a number of other real-world complications that don't show up in a textbook start to crop up. The goal was to have better, "as good as possible" mechanics but not to force every person and body type to run a specific way.

 

With that background, it is mind-blowing that the Orioles allegedly want every pitcher to fit a certain mechanical form. Clearly, it doesn't even require that history to understand that at a certain point, you have to let guys perform the way their body wants to. There are so many throwing motions in the NFL, even among the best quarterbacks. Fix the mechanics of younger guys up a little, teach them the right way, and find a way to mix the textbook with the person for best results.


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#12 PatrickDougherty

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 02:03 PM

What do the Orioles develop well?

 

What aspect of anything can you point to and say, the Orioles do a very good job of that?

They do well with players who were very likely to be good regardless of development program.


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#13 Ricker Says

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 03:12 PM

I ran competitively in high school and this reminds me specifically of our stride training. There is an optimal foot strike, stride length, etc. for every runner. For example, a runner's stride when going full speed should be approximately as long as he is tall. We put a lot of work into improving the mechanics of our gait, because usually, a runner's natural stride is very unlike what he should be doing mechanically.

 

But our coach was very clear: at a certain point, there are diminishing returns. While theoretically, a stride of a certain length is optimal for energy conservation, drastically altering a runner's stride forces their muscles to grow differently and adapt in ways that they were never asked to before, forces them to think about their stride rather than their breathing or their line, and a number of other real-world complications that don't show up in a textbook start to crop up. The goal was to have better, "as good as possible" mechanics but not to force every person and body type to run a specific way.

 

With that background, it is mind-blowing that the Orioles allegedly want every pitcher to fit a certain mechanical form. Clearly, it doesn't even require that history to understand that at a certain point, you have to let guys perform the way their body wants to. There are so many throwing motions in the NFL, even among the best quarterbacks. Fix the mechanics of younger guys up a little, teach them the right way, and find a way to mix the textbook with the person for best results.

 

Very interesting perspective. Maybe the O's should only run biomechanical analysis on HS draftees, those who will take 3-4 years to make it to the bigs as it is... and only draft college kids who closely fit what we're looking for and only need minor refinements?


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#14 PatrickDougherty

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 03:49 PM

Very interesting perspective. Maybe the O's should only run biomechanical analysis on HS draftees, those who will take 3-4 years to make it to the bigs as it is... and only draft college kids who closely fit what we're looking for and only need minor refinements?

I imagine it would be easier to correct the mechanics of a younger player. If this became their guiding principle and then they worked with each player individually, I wouldn't hate it. I wouldn't want to overlook someone with a delivery that is unorthodox unless it looked like a sure sign of future injury problems, though.


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#15 Russ

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 06:57 PM

I think it's a better idea to place a mental emphasis on certain areas rather than start tinkering with mechanics. When I think about organizational philosophy when it comes to hitting, I think about OBP, seeing a certain number of pitches, and situational hitting. You can instill these things without screwing with someone's swing mechanics.

#16 BSLRobShields

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 08:20 PM

What do the Orioles develop well?
 
What aspect of anything can you point to and say, the Orioles do a very good job of that?


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#17 Russ

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 08:32 PM

What do the Orioles develop well? What aspect of anything can you point to and say, the Orioles do a very good job of that?

Stockpiling the NPB.
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#18 Sangar

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 10:56 PM

Might as well join in.

 

The Orioles have been great at developing AAAA pitching.



#19 PatrickDougherty

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 03:40 PM

Not trying to move this discussion elsewhere, but I just put together a review of Orioles pitching draft picks over the last ten years and how many have been successful. The forum topic is here. Thought you guys might want to take a look over there too!


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#20 JeffLong

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 10:30 AM

Thought this was relevant:

 

Brenden (Minneapolis)

 

Met someone recently who had gone through a few minor league systems and said that one in particular nearly ruined his career by trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. "Every pitcher must throw tall and fall" "Every pitcher has to throw % of this pitch" etc. Surprised by this? Is this more prevalent then we might think?

 

 

Klaw (1:21 PM)

 

Not surprised. Not in the least. You'd be horrified if you heard what I hear, and I know I don't even hear half of what actually goes on. Player development is (IMO) the hardest department to run and the hardest to evaluate.


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