Matt Harvey: Mental, Mechanics, Muscle and Mystery … “The Butterfly Effect” Part 2

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Matt Harvey in 2016 throwing 93 mph- Do you see his mechanical Flaw?

Matt Harvey: Mental, Mechanics, Muscle and Mystery … “The Butterfly Effect” Part 2

Mets confident they diagnosed Matt Harvey’s simple flaw

By Brian Lewis  April 21, 2016 | 1:54am

“I’m not a pitching coach. I believe in my pitching coach. He’s very, very good, and if that’s what he’s determined and they’ve got it fixed then Matt Harvey will be back,’’ said Collins. “The way we tried to get all those young guys ready for the season, he might have not done enough extra work in the bullpen.

 Mets have identified mechanical flaw in Matt Harvey

By Mike Puma May 27, 2016

“There’s things going on the second time through the order that he’s doing, and I’m not going to get into them,” Collins said. “We’re seeing stuff he’s doing on the mound that it’s not giving away, but it’s keeping him from having the ability to make the pitches he needs to make. We’re seeing the velocity drop, and there’s a reason for that. We’re seeing lack of command for his breaking ball.”

 Matt Harvey back to his old self, Mets’ pitching coach says

Updated June 4, 2016 6:15 PM By Marc Carig

MIAMI — For Dan Warthen, it was only a matter of time. The Mets’ pitching coach had seen too much evidence. He was convinced that buried under the weight of uncertainty lived the real Matt Harvey.

“He’s been throwing his bullpens the same way as we saw in his last game,” Warthen said of Harvey, whose seven shutout innings on Monday halted what had been a personal tailspin. “Finally, he took it to the game.”

 “I think he actually learned a lot about himself,” Warthen said. “I think that he let himself get way too far down before he came back up. But I think it’s been a great lesson.”

Warthen refused to share details about what caused Harvey’s career-worst slump, aside from acknowledging a “glitch” in the pitcher’s delivery. That mechanical flaw led to a crisis of confidence, one that Warthen believed to be temporary.

The Mets are unwilling to specifically identify what they have found with Harvey’s delivery. Early on their pitching coach said that Harvey’s back leg was an issue.

More recently Doug Collins indicated that it was an issue/problem was Harvey’s inability to get batters out the second time through the order. And allegedly that by having Harvey throw off the diamond mound with batter standing in the box help to solve this problem.

And I would also add that I believe Collins and rent them would give you a good deal on buying the Brooklyn Bridge.

In part one identified what I consider five of the most critical biomechanical, physiological and neural factors necessary to maximize throwing efficiency and by definition velocity (velocity being a vector with magnitude and direction i.e. speed and control).

The critical factors in effectively throwing a baseball

  1. Momentum transfer
  2. Power
  3. Development, storage and release of connective tissue elastic energy
  4. Muscle potentiation stretch shortening cycle
  5. Dynamic Systems and Constraits

The real question (the most difficult question) is how do these factors manifest themselves in how the body throws the baseball. When I first began SETPRO I spent literally thousands of hours trying to understand how the body optimally throws the baseball. It started by comparing what was being promoted as "good mechanics" to video of pitchers such as Nolan Ryan, Pedro Martinez, Walter Johnson, Carl Hubbell, Bob Feller, etc., etc. and applying my training and background in physics and engineering science.

In the process I developed a fairly standard approach to analyzing throwing mechanics (and swing mechanics) using video of the pitcher to quantify and qualify using the critical factors.

Momentum Transfer

Any discussion involving pitching mechanics also involves the concept of kinetic chain or kinetic sequence. The kinetic sequence being the development and transfer of momentum from proximal to distal body segments (from feet to fingertips). The kinetic sequence being the development and transfer of momentum from the large body mass to small body mass i.e. from lakes to hips to torso to upper him to forearm to wrist and then to the baseball.

Question: if we could convert the rotational momentum of the upper body through the arm and then wrist hand to the baseball, theoretically how fast can we throw the baseball?

From a physics standpoint it’s a conversion of rotary motion to linear motion. Rotation of the body and arm to straight-line motion/travel of the baseball. From a physics perspective rotational momentum and linear momentum are two independent entities. There is no simple direct conversion from rotational momentum to linear momentum.

Power and Energy

Quite often the words power and energy are used to describe how the body throws the baseball.

The Power Position: A good, strong throwing motion begins from the Power Position, in which the player’s body is properly aligned and ready to make a throw.

The body cannot directly “power” the baseball.

In physics, power is the rate of doing work. It is the amount of energy consumed per unit time. Having no direction, it is a scalar quantity.

For the exercise of converting momentum of the upper body to the momentum of the throwing baseball the concept of energy becomes important.

The energy acquired by the objects upon which work is done is known as mechanical energy. Mechanical energy is the energy that is possessed by an object due to its motion or due to its position. Mechanical energy can be either kinetic energy (energy of motion) or potential energy (stored energy of position).

What the body can do is develop and transfer momentum. Energy becomes a useful calculation and measurement tool primarily to determine the transfer of rotational to linear momentum.

We can use energy to determine what happens if we could apply all of the upper torso rotational momentum to the baseball.

For example 1200° per second is a typical rotational velocity of the upper body when throwing a baseball (high level pitchers). A 6’2", 200 pound pitcher has an upper torso (including arms) moment of inertia of approximately 1 slug-foot2.

The rotational energy is equal to 1/2Iw2 where I is the rotational inertia of the upper torso (1 slug-foot2) and w (1200° per second or 21 radians/second ) is the angular speed of rotation of the upper torso.

Performing the calculation ½ * 1* 212 , the upper torso rotating at 1200° per second develops 220 foot-pounds-seconds of rotational energy.

The energy of a moving baseball is equal to 220 = 1/2mv2  where m= mass of the baseball and v = velocity of the baseball in feet per second.

Equating rotational energy of the upper torso to linear energy of the moving baseball:

220 = 1/2mv2  or velocity of the baseball (feet/second) v =√ ((220*2)/m)

Converting this to linear energy of the baseball: 1/2/mv2 where m= mass of the baseball = (5/16)/32 = .01 slug-foot2 . The velocity of the baseball due to the transfer momentum/energy of the upper torso rotation is then:

√((220*2)/.01) = √(44000) = 209 feet/second = 143 miles/hour

To gain further insight into this transformation phenomena the rotational speed of the shoulder at the point where the upper arm connects to the body it would be approximately 25 ft./s  or 17 MPH measured the peak rotational speed of 1200° per second. It is the whipping action of the arm that then converts very much slower rotational speed of the shoulders to the much faster speed of the baseball.

More information regarding this phenomena can be found here:

Matt Harvey Part 3

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