By Frankie Piliere
Part of baseball’s charm are the oddities of the game. Players often have their own style and flare. Juan Marichal’s delivery was far from ordinary but it is nothing short of a thing of beauty. What’s my point? Baseball is one of the few sports where something other than the standard is not only accepted, but also embraced. What I am also getting is that some players, pitchers in particular, are who they are because of their mechanics. Scott Patterson, Yankees’ Triple-A reliever, is one of those guys.
Patterson is a pitcher with underwhelming pure stuff, and while his command is above average, it is not the type of command that could, by itself, make him as dominant a pitcher as he’s been since joining the Yankee organization. So, what exactly is it that allows Scott Patterson to be such a chore to hit? I took the opportunity to go to Scranton to get an up close look at the big righty to get a better idea of just what makes him so deceptive. Find out more about the quirky Scott Patterson after the jump…
The 6’7 Patterson has some of the most intricate pitching mechanics you’ll find in the game. Pitchers throughout the history of baseball have been effective due to deceptive or quirky mechanics. Just look around the league at Hideki Okajima, Chad Bradford, Pat Neshek and many, many others. Granted, all of them have their strengths in the pure stuff department as does Patterson, but the reason they are who they are is their ability to create deception.
Point 1 – Arms & Legs
The term “all arms and legs” is thrown around a lot in describing a pitcher’s delivery. For Scott Patterson, it may apply more than ever before. When a hitter steps in against him, before even seeing a ball being thrown, they will first see arms and legs flailing toward the plate. Don’t be fooled, however. Patterson’s wild leg swing may appear just that, wild, but in fact it is well controlled by the big righty. Watch in the video as his glove arm swing seems to correspond well with his leg stride. That is a lot of extra movement to look at from a hitter’s standpoint.
Point 2 – Pitching From Less than 60′ 6″
Most hitters would say that a 6′ 6″ pitcher is hard enough to hit from 60′ 6″ away. Well, Scott Patterson makes that distance quite a bit shorter, giving his 89-92 MPH fastball that much of an extra hop towards the plate. He denies a lot of conventional wisdom and allows most of his weight to come forward and prematurely lifts his rear leg, but what this also allows him to do is release the ball even closer to the plate than he normally could. Check out in the video just how long that stride is and how much closer he gets himself to the plate.
Point 3 – Early Hip Rotation
There is really nothing logically timed or fluid in Scott Patterson’s delivery. From a hitter’s point of view, there is no real way to time him. One of the reason’s behind that is his early hip rotation. Even before his front foot is completely planted, Patterson’s hips are beginning to aggressively rotate. Might this be costing him some velocity? Possibly. But, I would take the deception it creates and it’s unsettling impact on a hitter’s timing any day of the week. He has such exceptionally long, yet fast arm action that it is enough to make up for that lost power in his lower half. What is pivotal for him though is how well he firms up his front leg and uses it to drive over. He does this as aggressively and as violently as anyone you will find in baseball.
Point 4 – Pitching From The Skies
“Straight over the top” does not even begin to describe Scott Patterson’s high arm slot. Pitches very rarely come from as high a point as this 6′ 6″ reliever can send them from with his sky high release point. And, this is by far his most deceptive aspect. Hitters simply are not use to seeing a pitch come from this angle or height, just as they are not use to seeing a pitch come from submarine angles ala Chad Bradford. Throwing straight over a locked-out front leg, Patterson uses his lightning quick arm to create an arm motion similar to a batting cage pitching machine. It may look ugly and violent with injury risks a plenty, especially on his right shoulder, but there’s no doubt that it is nothing short of a chore for a hitter to face such a high, whip-like release point.