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Travis Burten

Steven Strasburg SP WAS

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tm30, I understand the argument, but to be fair to Chris, he didn't come here and say "this is why this guy *got* hurt", he said "this is why I think he'll *get* hurt" BEFORE they got hurt, and in many cases, without any injury flag other than their mechanics - and that's a lot different than playing armchair quarterback with 20/20 hindsight. He's also taken the time to provide anatomic theories, and he'll be the first to concede the data isn't strong enough to call it fact - but his hypothesis at the very least has proven to predict injuries on a pretty impressive level *AND* it's also been able to give pitchers a clean bill of health - and that's what's more impressive than most so-called experts. It's why after 2 years of reading his stuff, I've come to at the very least respect his work, even if it's not a proven hypothesis. You seem like a very knowledgeable poster - if you actually read his posts about it and his site (he doesn't post *that* much, so it doesn't take that much time to read it), then I think even if you're not convinced, it's a sound hypothesis that deserves some recognition as having potential. To say they need to *prove* it, well if we applied the same principle to modern medicine, we'd be giving antibiotics, aspirin, and a few other medications, and little else. FBB isn't medicine, but while the notion that a theory has to be proven is always the ideal, the practical aspects say that we need to find alternate solutions of testing and evaluating hypotheses, and I think that applies in sports medicine as well.

(As years go by, the proof will be in the pudding, and perhaps we'll understand injuries and mechanics to find something that improves upon Chris's work - or it might provide a *true* cause whereas the inverted W simply turns out to be a *marker* of some more important mechanical flaw. But to be fair to him, he's predicted *both* injuries *and* clean health at a high enough success rate to my recollection that I credit his work as much more than just online guesswork.)

Food for thought.

Thank you for the response. My objective is not to discount Chris. My objective is to point out that for the Washington Nationals (or a fantasy owner) to be cowed into passing on a fantastic talent like Steve Strasburg because their might be a connection between "inverted W" and Tommy John injuries is ridiculous. To even bring it up as a factor seems unproductive because there hasn't been enough data to prove the degree of likelihood. It's a Catch-22. If the Nationals pass on Strasburg and he goes on to have a Hall of Fame career, they're the biggest jackasses ever. If they pick him and he ends up with a debilitating injury, they're the biggest jackasses ever. The only way for the Nationals to resolve this conundrum is to look at the frequency of major pitching injuries and decide if they're going to act out of fear of something nearly impossible to predict, or roll the dice on what many are calling the best college pitching prospect to date.

I hope Chris continues his analysis. I think his work is valuable, but incomplete. And I just don't see making a decision on someone like Steve Strasburg based on an incomplete picture.

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Thank you for the response. My objective is not to discount Chris. My objective is to point out that for the Washington Nationals (or a fantasy owner) to be cowed into passing on a fantastic talent like Steve Strasburg because their might be a connection between "inverted W" and Tommy John injuries is ridiculous. To even bring it up as a factor seems unproductive because there hasn't been enough data to prove the degree of likelihood. It's a Catch-22. If the Nationals pass on Strasburg and he goes on to have a Hall of Fame career, they're the biggest jackasses ever. If they pick him and he ends up with a debilitating injury, they're the biggest jackasses ever. The only way for the Nationals to resolve this conundrum is to look at the frequency of major pitching injuries and decide if they're going to act out of fear of something nearly impossible to predict, or roll the dice on what many are calling the best college pitching prospect to date.

I hope Chris continues his analysis. I think his work is valuable, but incomplete. And I just don't see making a decision on someone like Steve Strasburg based on an incomplete picture.

Fair enough, that's more than valid, it's good business practice for the Nats. It also IMO illustrates why bats are a better bet than arms in FBB and in real-life, as bats are less likely to suffer career ending-injuries. But, I do agree 100 percent even with that principle, Strasburg's such an elite, game-changing talent that the Nats would be *fools* to pass up the chance to sign him. Given the minimal cost (12-14M for 6 years is a bargain), and the lack of game-changing talents at the top of the 2010 draft, it's a chance they have to take. Here, the juice is worth the squeeze, and it's a no-brainer IMO.

One area I'd disagree - while most FBB owners willl take him #1 overall next year and I have no problem unless someone just explodes this year, for FBB owners who already have an elite prospect and are weighing trade offers, I would suggest that the risk attributed to Strasbourg doesn't warrant the perceived upgrade in ceiling, especially if they have to give up *more* than just their elite prospect. Here, the risk mitigates the gain, which isn't as great if you already have an elite prospect in hand.

(I'm talking elite guys, not just good, before I start a whole new argument with Strasbourg supporters, just to be clear. B) )

Excellent discussion overall, btw.

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Thank you for the response. My objective is not to discount Chris. My objective is to point out that for the Washington Nationals (or a fantasy owner) to be cowed into passing on a fantastic talent like Steve Strasburg because their might be a connection between "inverted W" and Tommy John injuries is ridiculous. To even bring it up as a factor seems unproductive because there hasn't been enough data to prove the degree of likelihood. It's a Catch-22. If the Nationals pass on Strasburg and he goes on to have a Hall of Fame career, they're the biggest jackasses ever. If they pick him and he ends up with a debilitating injury, they're the biggest jackasses ever. The only way for the Nationals to resolve this conundrum is to look at the frequency of major pitching injuries and decide if they're going to act out of fear of something nearly impossible to predict, or roll the dice on what many are calling the best college pitching prospect to date.

I hope Chris continues his analysis. I think his work is valuable, but incomplete. And I just don't see making a decision on someone like Steve Strasburg based on an incomplete picture.

Personally, I think you have to consider the risk in degrees. By that I mean, it is certainly possible that a pitcher with the inverted W in his motion is a higher risk for injury. However, even if you do acknowledge that the risk exists, you (or in this case, the Nationals) have to draw some correlation between risk and reward.

If they are looking at a possible 5th round pick, for example, and their braintrust says, "ya know Option A has the inverted W and drafting him could be kinda risky." The appropriate response might be, "lets take Option B and see if Option A slides down a couple rounds where the risk will be more palatable."

But this isn't a 5th round option. This is arguably the best pitching prospect to come along in many, many years. There hasn't been a pitcher with this much upside potential in our nation's capitol since Walter Johnson. They NEED Stephen Strasburg. He could be a huge fan draw, he certainly could be an even more important sponsorship draw, and if he touches his potential he *could* go beyond "ace" and fall into that "franchise" category.

Yes, these are all IF's and COULD's! As with all pitchers, there is a risk and if you believe that the inverted W increases that risk, then so be it - I think it would be hard to totally deny that the risk could be greater. But the players who really deserve "if" and "could" status don't come around very often. In Strasburg's case, this is a risk you have to take.

Just keep this in mind ... how long ago did Walter Johnson pitch in Washington?

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Strasburg Nearly Gave Up Baseball As A Freshman

26th March, 2009 - 5:55 pm

SI.com - Stephen Strasburg won just one game as a junior at West Hills High outside San Diego, went undrafted after his senior year and failed to impress San Diego State manager Tony Gwynn.

"To me, he didn't have a lot of confidence," Gwynn recalls.

Strasburg was 250 pounds, had never lifted a weight in his life, and after practice every day went to Estrada's Taco Shop and scarfed down a California burrito, packed with carne asada, and french fries. He could throw 90, but he was so out of shape that his knees would occasionally buckle during games, forcing coaches to help him off the field.

"He would just collapse," says his high school coach, Scott Hopgood. "It was scary. His knees couldn't support his weight." When scouts asked Hopgood to name his best pitcher, he pointed them to a polished lefty named Aaron Richardson.

"I know everybody now is asking, 'How did you miss on Stephen Strasburg in high school?' " says a major league scout. "But we didn't miss. He was soft in every way." Strasburg would bark at infielders after errors and at umpires after bad calls. If he gave up a couple of hits and the opposing dugout started to chirp, he had a tendency to overthrow his fastball, which would then flatten out and get smacked even harder.

"I told scouts not to draft me," Strasburg says. "I wasn't ready."

Strasburg nearly dropped out of school during his second week of conditioning as a freshman.

"I was this close," he says, holding his thumb next to his index finger. "I was going to find a job. We have a Home Depot and a Lowe's near our house."

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Strasburg Nearly Gave Up Baseball As A Freshman

26th March, 2009 - 5:55 pm

SI.com - Stephen Strasburg won just one game as a junior at West Hills High outside San Diego, went undrafted after his senior year and failed to impress San Diego State manager Tony Gwynn.

"To me, he didn't have a lot of confidence," Gwynn recalls.

Strasburg was 250 pounds, had never lifted a weight in his life, and after practice every day went to Estrada's Taco Shop and scarfed down a California burrito, packed with carne asada, and french fries. He could throw 90, but he was so out of shape that his knees would occasionally buckle during games, forcing coaches to help him off the field.

"He would just collapse," says his high school coach, Scott Hopgood. "It was scary. His knees couldn't support his weight." When scouts asked Hopgood to name his best pitcher, he pointed them to a polished lefty named Aaron Richardson.

"I know everybody now is asking, 'How did you miss on Stephen Strasburg in high school?' " says a major league scout. "But we didn't miss. He was soft in every way." Strasburg would bark at infielders after errors and at umpires after bad calls. If he gave up a couple of hits and the opposing dugout started to chirp, he had a tendency to overthrow his fastball, which would then flatten out and get smacked even harder.

"I told scouts not to draft me," Strasburg says. "I wasn't ready."

Strasburg nearly dropped out of school during his second week of conditioning as a freshman.

"I was this close," he says, holding his thumb next to his index finger. "I was going to find a job. We have a Home Depot and a Lowe's near our house."

Not trying to make this a religious conversation in any way, but I am reading this right after attending a Bible study that focused on the topic of failure. Basically, we discussed the fact that people often don't reach their greatest point of success until they've seen their lowest point of failure. Just ask guys like Michael Jordan, who got cut from his high school basketball team. Not trying to say that Strasburg is the coming Michael Jordan of baseball, but just pointing out how cool a story like the one SS Express posted here is when the person succeeds. Josh Hamilton comes to mind, as well.

Anyway, back to Strasburg.

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Strasburg Nearly Gave Up Baseball As A Freshman

26th March, 2009 - 5:55 pm

I read that article, and thought it was very interesting that they basically made it sound like conditioning and staying motivated are going to be the keys to Strasburg's future success. I don't think there was a single mention about his mechanics or any concerns about them.

I find that interesting, not because it would "refute" any of the opinions of those who have expressed concern over Strasburg's ability to stay healthy, but because it makes me wonder just how much the reporter tried to delve into it.

One factor that I have not seen added to the discussion is the fact that Scott Boras is Strasburg's agent, and is no doubt going to ask for the moon for him, and what that, combined with the issue of his mechanics, will mean for the Nationals in June. As has been indicated before, he would be a massive name to add to the organizational roster, and could potentially be one of the most dominant pitchers in Washington baseball history.

But, do you draft, and they pay through the nose, a pitcher that has these red flags, especially when they've already been doing a decent (from my perspective) job of collecting young pitchers like Detwiler, Zimmerman and Martis?

The answer may be more of a no-brainer than I'm making it out to be, but it's a variable I haven't really seen be explored too much.

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So what gives with ESPN.com reporting that Strasburg's "delivery is clean, with none of the signs that would suggest future injury" as if the guy can throw 100mph for 20 years and not get injured. i know that they typically drink the kool-aid of the hottest thing going, but i usually trust buster olney to have some sense about him

i love the kid, but i think most reasonable people can see that he has a lot of 'extra' in his throwing motion that can certainly predict future injury

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I read that article, and thought it was very interesting that they basically made it sound like conditioning and staying motivated are going to be the keys to Strasburg's future success. I don't think there was a single mention about his mechanics or any concerns about them.

I find that interesting, not because it would "refute" any of the opinions of those who have expressed concern over Strasburg's ability to stay healthy, but because it makes me wonder just how much the reporter tried to delve into it.

One factor that I have not seen added to the discussion is the fact that Scott Boras is Strasburg's agent, and is no doubt going to ask for the moon for him, and what that, combined with the issue of his mechanics, will mean for the Nationals in June. As has been indicated before, he would be a massive name to add to the organizational roster, and could potentially be one of the most dominant pitchers in Washington baseball history.

But, do you draft, and they pay through the nose, a pitcher that has these red flags, especially when they've already been doing a decent (from my perspective) job of collecting young pitchers like Detwiler, Zimmerman and Martis?

The answer may be more of a no-brainer than I'm making it out to be, but it's a variable I haven't really seen be explored too much.

Timmah, see my most recent post above.

That is exactly what I was trying to convey. Yes, it looks like he will use Boras who supposedly is going to ask for $15 million. My point was, that although I think they have done an excellent job with guys like Detwiler, Zimmermann and Martis, Strasburg is in a whole different category. While I think it can be prudent for a team to bump *good* prospects down a few notches when they are concerned with injury risk or even signability, Strasburg simply offers too much potential to be one of those once in a blue moon ceiling guys who can literally define the franchise.

That kind of opportunity, which may not come around again for many years, warrants a considerable risk.

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Timmah, see my most recent post above.

That is exactly what I was trying to convey. Yes, it looks like he will use Boras who supposedly is going to ask for $15 million. My point was, that although I think they have done an excellent job with guys like Detwiler, Zimmermann and Martis, Strasburg is in a whole different category. While I think it can be prudent for a team to bump *good* prospects down a few notches when they are concerned with injury risk or even signability, Strasburg simply offers too much potential to be one of those once in a blue moon ceiling guys who can literally define the franchise.

That kind of opportunity, which may not come around again for many years, warrants a considerable risk.

Trust me, you don't have to prompt me to pay attention to what you write :)B) I remember you saying as much in your older assessment of Strasburg.

So, if we take it as a given that he goes to Washington, what is the consensus on their ability to properly handle and develop such a massive talent/investment?

We've already seen them push Detwiler and Cordero*, and I'm sure the temptation to do the same with Strasburg would be great, even if they don't give in.

* yes, I'm aware that they were used as/are locked in as relievers

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Trust me, you don't have to prompt me to pay attention to what you write :)B) I remember you saying as much in your older assessment of Strasburg.

So, if we take it as a given that he goes to Washington, what is the consensus on their ability to properly handle and develop such a massive talent/investment?

We've already seen them push Detwiler and Cordero*, and I'm sure the temptation to do the same with Strasburg would be great, even if they don't give in.

* yes, I'm aware that they were used as/are locked in as relievers

Overall, I generally think Washington takes a reasonable approach to most of their young pitchers - i.e. they are typically a "favorable" organization in my evaluations. They did let Detwiler pitch an inning in September of his draft year and Cordero might have been rushed a wee bit although I don't really think he was too much.

The big thing to keep in mind is that Strasbug is a college pitcher and has therefore already had experience at what would be roughly equivalent to perhaps low A ball and is naturally older than a high school draftee. It is not all that unusual for pitchers his age who are very well developed to reach the majors relatively soon after being drafted. In fact, the evolving development of excellent college baseball programs is a huge difference in how players often progress to the majors compared to a few years ago when most were drafted younger and spent considerably more time in the minors.

That said, Strasburg could see MLB action as soon as this fall although he would likely benefit from some AA or higher minor league experience. And, he might get that, it really will depend on how he fares if they do try him. In any event, if he signs with them, I think Washington will VERY carefully balance his potential contribution with their sizeable investment.

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Today's line v. TCU

8 IP

3 H

2 ER

1 BB

14 K'a

1 HR

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john smoltz has had arm issues but has also pitched at an extremely high level for 20 years
Given the infrequency of TJ injuries, I would assume that there are more than enough who had an inverted W and did not sustain major injury. That's just simple logic, and the only thing that can controvert that is if it can be proven that the inverted "W" delivery is a freak aberration and not frequently employed by pitchers across the years - in other words, prove that it's something so unnatural that one could assume the percentage of pitchers who fell into using it are few. I doubt that.

But then, inverted W is not my theory to prove. Those who promote it need to prove that there is a sustainable pattern, and they haven't done that.

*Bangs head against wall*

Yes, I know about Smoltz. I pointed him out.

I want ONE name, just one of an inverted W guy in recent years that has had a long productive career without surgery. If any of you can offer me one guy with a link to a picture, I will be very very happy and more than willing to acknowledge that it isn't a problem. If it's just "simple logic" then find me one example and I'll be happy dropping it and acknowledging your point.

Until that happens, just saying, "well, I'm sure there were some," just doesn't cut it. Not everyone features the W, but the ones that do are dropping like flies. How can you ignore that? Much stronger evidence for the theory than against it.

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*Bangs head against wall*

Yes, I know about Smoltz. I pointed him out.

I want ONE name, just one of an inverted W guy in recent years that has had a long productive career without surgery. If any of you can offer me one guy with a link to a picture, I will be very very happy and more than willing to acknowledge that it isn't a problem. If it's just "simple logic" then find me one example and I'll be happy dropping it and acknowledging your point.

Until that happens, just saying, "well, I'm sure there were some," just doesn't cut it. Not everyone features the W, but the ones that do are dropping like flies. How can you ignore that? Much stronger evidence for the theory than against it.

The point is, it's not my theory that Inverted "W" is a killer. I don't have the resources to examine all the pitchers and their deliveries over the past ten years. So, if I say - "the sky is green" - and you say "you can't prove that" - and I say "prove to me it's not" - then I don't have much of a case to begin with. It's not the burden of the skeptic to finish your work. If you want to know of just one inverted W guy in recent years that had a long productive career without surgery, I recommend doing it yourself, since it's your theory to prove, not mine. Until then, the theory is without merit.

What don't you understand about this? That's my whole problem with the inverted W proponents - it's incomplete data and they want the world to accept it as incontrovertible proof. NONSENSE! If you want me to believe in your theory, get out there and start looking and start examining a wider sampling of pitchers. If I'm wrong, fine. But you're definitely not "right" until there's a better picture of the pitching population over the past ten years. Until someone steps up and says, "I've examined 50% of all major league pitchers over the past ten years - HERE'S THE RESULTS", I'm not buying it. It's too simplistic an answer without taking into account other possible factors. I think it's valuable work and analysis, but it's not conclusive.

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The point is, it's not my theory that Inverted "W" is a killer. I don't have the resources to examine all the pitchers and their deliveries over the past ten years. So, if I say - "the sky is green" - and you say "you can't prove that" - and I say "prove to me it's not" - then I don't have much of a case to begin with. It's not the burden of the skeptic to finish your work. If you want to know of just one inverted W guy in recent years that had a long productive career without surgery, I recommend doing it yourself, since it's your theory to prove, not mine. Until then, the theory is without merit.

What don't you understand about this? That's my whole problem with the inverted W proponents - it's incomplete data and they want the world to accept it as incontrovertible proof. NONSENSE! If you want me to believe in your theory, get out there and start looking and start examining a wider sampling of pitchers. If I'm wrong, fine. But you're definitely not "right" until there's a better picture of the pitching population over the past ten years. Until someone steps up and says, "I've examined 50% of all major league pitchers over the past ten years - HERE'S THE RESULTS", I'm not buying it. It's too simplistic an answer without taking into account other possible factors. I think it's valuable work and analysis, but it's not conclusive.

A few observations:

1. As covered before, there's not going to be enough data numbers-wise to scientifically prove a theory with injured pitchers and the inverted W. For that reason, the 3 criteria of biological plausibility, case reports and most importantly, the ability to predict both at-risk and low-risk players is a reasonable surrogate until empiric analysis can be done.

2. tm30, I hear you on the fact it's unproven. But, help me out here - do you believe *everything* in baseball has to be proven? If you do, then I respect the stance 100 percent as it's consistent with your beliefs. However, if you accept some premises without empiric evidence, but when you doubt, you require others to prove their *own* theories, that's not consistent. Since you have accepted there is some merit or at least some intrigue to the notion that deserves other study, you can understand why others simply choose to go along with the premise after performing their own analysis. Does it mean they're right? No, but if you accept some premises more than others without empiric evidence to back you up, you can't then point a finger at the hypotheses you don't like and say "there's no proof" as making your point more valid than others. It might not be enough to convince you personally (which is fine), but posting that their stance is less valid isn't quite accurate - it's not your belief, but when there's no evidence either way, you can't point the argument your way based on this fact and be consistent if you accept other premises that aren't scientifically proven, either.

3. Although there is more risk in using small #'s, if the data is compelling enough, it at least merits consideration. While we all agree history has demonstrated that a season's worth of stats for a player who exceeds expectations isn't enough to predict future performance when it doesn't match prior trends, it makes us at least *evaluate* what's happening. The same principle holds to a hypothesis that has biological principles and some success in predicting injury. Does it prove it? Of course not, but it does mean that we should pay attention, and where possible, analyze it further - until that happens, I don't think we should embrace it blindly (one concern I have with the Verducci effect, as that's *really* an oversimplified concept with little biological plausiblity and a ton of counfounding variables present), but judge each individual's merits as to whether the hypothesis applies to that one person.

(Now, that doesn't mean you're right and they're wrong, or vice-versa, but it does mean that they are simply applying the same criteria you use in other situations, given that there is no hard evidence - and they fall on the proponent side, while you are on the skeptic side. This is a situation that we encounter not just in sports medicine, but medicine in general, FWIW).

To be clear, I respect and listen to Chris' analysis, and believe it's sound enough on the 3 principles (and the numbers are too small to call me a believer that it's proven, but he's done well enough the last 2 seasons in predictions, both good & bad, that I pay *full* attention), that I at least have to weigh his analysis in the decision. As I said before, maybe work later on will debunk it, or as I suspect, will show the inverted W is one of *several* markers of poor mechanics, when we understand the mechanics of pitching injuries to a more sophisticated level.

But, as I said before, I don't think it devalues Strasburg enough to make him anything *but* the consensus #1 draft pick. As with any arms, there is injury risk, and thus more concern with the stakes being this high. Still, in his case, the juice is worth the squeeze.

The *excellent* discussion continues.

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The point is, it's not my theory that Inverted "W" is a killer. I don't have the resources to examine all the pitchers and their deliveries over the past ten years. So, if I say - "the sky is green" - and you say "you can't prove that" - and I say "prove to me it's not" - then I don't have much of a case to begin with. It's not the burden of the skeptic to finish your work. If you want to know of just one inverted W guy in recent years that had a long productive career without surgery, I recommend doing it yourself, since it's your theory to prove, not mine. Until then, the theory is without merit.

What don't you understand about this? That's my whole problem with the inverted W proponents - it's incomplete data and they want the world to accept it as incontrovertible proof. NONSENSE! If you want me to believe in your theory, get out there and start looking and start examining a wider sampling of pitchers. If I'm wrong, fine. But you're definitely not "right" until there's a better picture of the pitching population over the past ten years. Until someone steps up and says, "I've examined 50% of all major league pitchers over the past ten years - HERE'S THE RESULTS", I'm not buying it. It's too simplistic an answer without taking into account other possible factors. I think it's valuable work and analysis, but it's not conclusive.

Okay, I don't know enough about either side of this argument to be a biased party, so let me quickly add my two cents regarding the argument about who the burden of proof is on. I agree tm30, that you have every right to be skeptical of the Inverted W theory. Like other "theories," it has not been proven 100%. Therefore, to insist that the Inverted W is a pitching mechanics killer is not fully merited, but it has been based on much observation and analysis. However, you are proposing a theory of your own to say that there are others out there who have the inverted W that are fine. When Czar asks you to show him one example, you have nothing. Your theory is, in actuality, an anti-theory belief that has zero known observation or analysis to support it. For people to take your "theory" as valid, you will need to provide, as Czar has repeatedly asked, at least one name, or another factor that is common to all of these inverted W pitchers who have gone under the knife.

Again, I am unbiased in this, and in no way am I intending to attack you or your character. I'm just pointing out that the other side has some evidence and you have none. They currently have the elevated position.

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The point is, it's not my theory that Inverted "W" is a killer.

Right....it's theirs. Yours appears to be that the Inverted W is NOT a career killer.

I don't have the resources to examine all the pitchers and their deliveries over the past ten years. So, if I say - "the sky is green" - and you say "you can't prove that" - and I say "prove to me it's not" - then I don't have much of a case to begin with. It's not the burden of the skeptic to finish your work. If you want to know of just one inverted W guy in recent years that had a long productive career without surgery, I recommend doing it yourself, since it's your theory to prove, not mine. Until then, the theory is without merit.

Even in a court of law, where the burden of proof is on the prosecution, a defense theory of an alternate scenario behind the crime needs to be reasonable, and that means offering some kind of factual basis to support it.

If you have a theory that pitchers can enjoy success and have minimal injury problems in spite of mechanical red flags, it's your theory to prove, not theirs.

That means being able to provide examples, which is what you've been asked for.

What don't you understand about this? That's my whole problem with the inverted W proponents - it's incomplete data and they want the world to accept it as incontrovertible proof. NONSENSE! If you want me to believe in your theory, get out there and start looking and start examining a wider sampling of pitchers. If I'm wrong, fine. But you're definitely not "right" until there's a better picture of the pitching population over the past ten years. Until someone steps up and says, "I've examined 50% of all major league pitchers over the past ten years - HERE'S THE RESULTS", I'm not buying it. It's too simplistic an answer without taking into account other possible factors. I think it's valuable work and analysis, but it's not conclusive.

But you're not definitively right until you've done your own analysis, which can refute what Chris, Bog and Czar have been offering. You can start by pointing to guys who support your theory and your belief that the Inverted W isn't a definitive harbinger of bad news.

It works both ways. They have their theory, they've done what they can to prove it. You have your theory, and the burden of proof for it is on you.

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Right....it's theirs. Yours appears to be that the Inverted W is NOT a career killer.

Even in a court of law, where the burden of proof is on the prosecution, a defense theory of an alternate scenario behind the crime needs to be reasonable, and that means offering some kind of factual basis to support it.

If you have a theory that pitchers can enjoy success and have minimal injury problems in spite of mechanical red flags, it's your theory to prove, not theirs.

That means being able to provide examples, which is what you've been asked for.

But you're not definitively right until you've done your own analysis, which can refute what Chris, Bog and Czar have been offering. You can start by pointing to guys who support your theory and your belief that the Inverted W isn't a definitive harbinger of bad news.

It works both ways. They have their theory, they've done what they can to prove it. You have your theory, and the burden of proof for it is on you.

In a court of law, if the prosecution does not prove its case, the defense doesn't have to offer any alternative. They will simply rest. Since the inverted W crowd is presenting "facts not in evidence", there's nothing for me to prove. It is not a fact that inverted W deliveries lead to arm injuries because the sample size is not large enough to constitute "proof". And it certainly can't be "proof" without examining pitchers who did not sustain such injuries with the same delivery, whoever they may be. MAYBE it's no one. MAYBE these guys are absolutely right. But they're not right without eliminating alternative explanations.

Allow me an off-topic analogy. If a group of scientists get together and determine, "the ozone layer is depleting because people use spray deodorant," I suppose the world should just outlaw spray deodorant instead of asking, "well, did you examing the size of the ozone for the first forty years people used spray deodorant without apparently putting a hole in the ozone layer?" Well, in this analogy, the scientist responds, "We don't have to look at that. Since you disagree with us, why don't YOU look at the data?" It's not up to the scientist to study additional evidence and actually prove his theory, it's apparently up to the consumer to disprove him! That's crazy. In the same way, why is it my burden to provide the evidence that the inverted W proponents should already be looking at? It's not my theory, therefore, it's not my burden. I don't have a theory about inverted W not causing arm injuries because it hasn't been proven that it does. I don't have to be definitively right, because I'm not stating that I am definitively right. I could be completely wrong! But the inverted W proponents are stating that they are definitively right, and I'm saying the jury is still out. Therefore, avoiding picking a talent like Stephen Strasburg based on incomplete research into a possible connection between inverted W and TJ surgery is kind of goofy, in my opinion.

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A few observations:

1. As covered before, there's not going to be enough data numbers-wise to scientifically prove a theory with injured pitchers and the inverted W. For that reason, the 3 criteria of biological plausibility, case reports and most importantly, the ability to predict both at-risk and low-risk players is a reasonable surrogate until empiric analysis can be done.

2. tm30, I hear you on the fact it's unproven. But, help me out here - do you believe *everything* in baseball has to be proven? If you do, then I respect the stance 100 percent as it's consistent with your beliefs. However, if you accept some premises without empiric evidence, but when you doubt, you require others to prove their *own* theories, that's not consistent. Since you have accepted there is some merit or at least some intrigue to the notion that deserves other study, you can understand why others simply choose to go along with the premise after performing their own analysis. Does it mean they're right? No, but if you accept some premises more than others without empiric evidence to back you up, you can't then point a finger at the hypotheses you don't like and say "there's no proof" as making your point more valid than others. It might not be enough to convince you personally (which is fine), but posting that their stance is less valid isn't quite accurate - it's not your belief, but when there's no evidence either way, you can't point the argument your way based on this fact and be consistent if you accept other premises that aren't scientifically proven, either.

3. Although there is more risk in using small #'s, if the data is compelling enough, it at least merits consideration. While we all agree history has demonstrated that a season's worth of stats for a player who exceeds expectations isn't enough to predict future performance when it doesn't match prior trends, it makes us at least *evaluate* what's happening. The same principle holds to a hypothesis that has biological principles and some success in predicting injury. Does it prove it? Of course not, but it does mean that we should pay attention, and where possible, analyze it further - until that happens, I don't think we should embrace it blindly (one concern I have with the Verducci effect, as that's *really* an oversimplified concept with little biological plausiblity and a ton of counfounding variables present), but judge each individual's merits as to whether the hypothesis applies to that one person.

(Now, that doesn't mean you're right and they're wrong, or vice-versa, but it does mean that they are simply applying the same criteria you use in other situations, given that there is no hard evidence - and they fall on the proponent side, while you are on the skeptic side. This is a situation that we encounter not just in sports medicine, but medicine in general, FWIW).

To be clear, I respect and listen to Chris' analysis, and believe it's sound enough on the 3 principles (and the numbers are too small to call me a believer that it's proven, but he's done well enough the last 2 seasons in predictions, both good & bad, that I pay *full* attention), that I at least have to weigh his analysis in the decision. As I said before, maybe work later on will debunk it, or as I suspect, will show the inverted W is one of *several* markers of poor mechanics, when we understand the mechanics of pitching injuries to a more sophisticated level.

But, as I said before, I don't think it devalues Strasburg enough to make him anything *but* the consensus #1 draft pick. As with any arms, there is injury risk, and thus more concern with the stakes being this high. Still, in his case, the juice is worth the squeeze.

The *excellent* discussion continues.

I agree that this is a great discussion, but I think it boils down to my belief that you don't pass up Stephen Strasburg based on a theory that is substantially unproven. One can take the empirical evidence and make an educated conclusion, but the risk has not been adequately quantified to justify avoiding a talent like Strasburg. That's my angle on this.

Allow me to say this: I think there very well COULD be a connection between inverted W and TJ surgery. I'm not disregarding their evidence at all. In fact, I find it extremely compelling. I'm encouraging the proponents to solidify their theory with a much larger sample size than previously injured pitchers and currently-healthy prospects and frontline starters. I'm not saying the proponents are "wrong". I'm saying they're not yet "right".

Without this confirmation, however, leaving a generational talent like Strasburg on the table would be imprudent.

Maybe we can leave this matter alone for now and get back to enjoying what this kid has been doing on the mound... Sorry for the digression.

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Given the infrequency of TJ injuries, I would assume that there are more than enough who had an inverted W and did not sustain major injury.

Such as...

The burden of proof is on you since you're the one making the claim.

That's just simple logic, and the only thing that can controvert that is if it can be proven that the inverted "W" delivery is a freak aberration and not frequently employed by pitchers across the years - in other words, prove that it's something so unnatural that one could assume the percentage of pitchers who fell into using it are few. I doubt that.

The Inverted W is much more prevalent now than in the past because while some people used to do it in the past, it is now being taught by people like Paul Nyman and Tom House.

But then, inverted W is not my theory to prove. Those who promote it need to prove that there is a sustainable pattern, and they haven't done that.

You are making a claim that the Inverted W is inconsequential, so you have to back it up with some evidence.

Please list some Inverted W pitchers who didn't have arm problems.

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I want ONE name, just one of an inverted W guy in recent years that has had a long productive career without surgery. If any of you can offer me one guy with a link to a picture, I will be very very happy and more than willing to acknowledge that it isn't a problem. If it's just "simple logic" then find me one example and I'll be happy dropping it and acknowledging your point.

In an attempt to demonstrate my intellectual honesty, I'll give you the two major exceptions to the rule that I know of.

Tom Glavine

Glavine is right on the borderline of an Inverted W. What this proved to me was that all of the Inverted arm actions are only problematic if they cause a timing problem.

In Glavine's case, it doesn't.

I also think that arm action problems take an increasing toll as velocity increases. There's some pretty good evidence that stress levels are non-linear; that going from 95 to 96 is much harder on the body than going from 90 to 91. I know that it's much harder to take a pitcher from 95 to 96 than it is to get them from 90 to 91. I don't think it's a coincidence that Glavine was a relative soft tosser. The same may be said for Jamie Moyer, whose back elbow gets a bit high but who is a soft tosser (perhaps because his back elbow gets so high). I think one of the things that ups Strasburg's risk is his very high velocity. If you combine a borderline to problematic arm action with exceptional levels of force, you've got a big risk.

P.S. I'm not sure where the inflection point is where the stress curve hockey sticks and really goes non-linear, but it's probably around 90 or 91.

P.P.S. I have seen some more recent video of Strasburg where his timing looks a bit better, but it's hard to tell due to dropped frames.

Bob Feller

Feller's elbows do get quite high and are at least borderline. The reason why I think he's the exception that proves the rule is that he basically had two careers. Due to WWII, he had a 4-year hole in the middle of his career. That would have given his arm time to recover from any problems and basically refresh it for the second half of his career.

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The point is, it's not my theory that Inverted "W" is a killer.

No, but it is your claim that the Inverted W is NOT a killer, so you have to back that claim up.

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In a court of law, if the prosecution does not prove its case, the defense doesn't have to offer any alternative. They will simply rest. Since the inverted W crowd is presenting "facts not in evidence", there's nothing for me to prove. It is not a fact that inverted W deliveries lead to arm injuries because the sample size is not large enough to constitute "proof". And it certainly can't be "proof" without examining pitchers who did not sustain such injuries with the same delivery, whoever they may be. MAYBE it's no one. MAYBE these guys are absolutely right. But they're not right without eliminating alternative explanations.

Allow me an off-topic analogy. If a group of scientists get together and determine, "the ozone layer is depleting because people use spray deodorant," I suppose the world should just outlaw spray deodorant instead of asking, "well, did you examing the size of the ozone for the first forty years people used spray deodorant without apparently putting a hole in the ozone layer?" Well, in this analogy, the scientist responds, "We don't have to look at that. Since you disagree with us, why don't YOU look at the data?" It's not up to the scientist to study additional evidence and actually prove his theory, it's apparently up to the consumer to disprove him! That's crazy. In the same way, why is it my burden to provide the evidence that the inverted W proponents should already be looking at? It's not my theory, therefore, it's not my burden. I don't have a theory about inverted W not causing arm injuries because it hasn't been proven that it does. I don't have to be definitively right, because I'm not stating that I am definitively right. I could be completely wrong! But the inverted W proponents are stating that they are definitively right, and I'm saying the jury is still out. Therefore, avoiding picking a talent like Stephen Strasburg based on incomplete research into a possible connection between inverted W and TJ surgery is kind of goofy, in my opinion.

Oh lord. You are employing a very old trick of argument. You step into this discussion and cast yourself as the "defense" that need not offer any proof on your side of the argument, thus "cleverly" setting yourself up to "win" the argument because you can simply rest as the defense because the "prosecution" hasn't offered up enough evidence. Thus, you are saying that you are de facto correct in this discussion because the "opposition" has not offered up enough proof for your liking. That doesn't work. (Pro tip: if you don't like their take on it, ignore it and do what you wanted to do all along anyways. It's their take. Don't sweat it)

The fact of the matter is that this is not a court of law. It's a discussion regarding pitching mechanics. O'Leary has offered up at least a modicum of proof that certain mechanics lead to injury. You have offered up nothing. Thus, you win nothing. Not this argument, not anything. You haven't colored yourself the clever one here as you might think you have. And if it were a court of law, this wouldn't be a criminal case where you can just rest as the defense. You aren't the defense. It actually would more likely be a civil action, with you suing O'Leary for a faulty product because it is you that is claiming that his work product is incorrect. That would place the burden of proof on you, now wouldn't it? (Pro tip: yes, it would)

Fact remains that you do need to offer up some evidence to the contrary of O'Leary's argument, because otherwise your "take" on the situation is out there flapping in the breeze without any support. You can't step in and say "No, no, no Mr. O'Leary, guy who does this for a living, I DON'T BELIEVE YOU!," without offering anything up to support your argument. And, no, saying "it's a small sample size" does not work as support. Hell, you don't even have a small sample size of your own to controvert his purportedly small sample size. You have nothing. The burden is on you, and if it was not on you in the first place it has now shifted to you because most belive O'Leary has met his burden of proof.

Nice try, grashopper, but your science/legal analogies don't hold water in this context.

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I agree that this is a great discussion, but I think it boils down to my belief that you don't pass up Stephen Strasburg based on a theory that is substantially unproven. One can take the empirical evidence and make an educated conclusion, but the risk has not been adequately quantified to justify avoiding a talent like Strasburg. That's my angle on this.

Allow me to say this: I think there very well COULD be a connection between inverted W and TJ surgery. I'm not disregarding their evidence at all. In fact, I find it extremely compelling. I'm encouraging the proponents to solidify their theory with a much larger sample size than previously injured pitchers and currently-healthy prospects and frontline starters. I'm not saying the proponents are "wrong". I'm saying they're not yet "right".

Without this confirmation, however, leaving a generational talent like Strasburg on the table would be imprudent.

Maybe we can leave this matter alone for now and get back to enjoying what this kid has been doing on the mound... Sorry for the digression.

I'm going to point out by the *last* reply from tm30 before we re-hash this argument again the following:

1. There is no proven mechanism or theory behind arms injuries. That is the one fact we can all agree upon.

2. Chris & the Inverted W hypothesis isn't proven. As I outlined in my earlier reply, over 90 percent of clinical medicine isn't proven by the same rigid scientific measures used in the "hard" sciences. Given the early stage of development, sports medicine is even more unproven. It's unlikely given the frequency of injuries that we're going to get hard evidence for a very long time.

3. If you accept #1 & #2, then you have to look for alternate methods to *support* or *refute* hypotheses. That is why I look for the principles of biological plausibility, case series *and* most importantly, the ability to predict future injury *AND* low-risk candidates. In that respect, the work he has done the last 2 years is compelling enough to make me pay full attention. And frankly, it's a lot better when you look at those criteria than some of the rather simplistic and confounder-laden hypotheses out there (cough *Verducci* cough).

Saying you have to *prove* a hypothesis scientifically, well it's not what's actually done in medicine in general - and so saying it should be applied to making decisions in talent evaluation is somewhat disingenous - people make decisions *all the time* based on methods that aren't proven, but accepted because they are so compelling in the sound principles behind them, and the ability to predict/explain injury risk (or break-out, or regression, etc.). As others have alluded to, saying you have not completed steps #1 & #2 is *not* sufficient to say an argument has been made in your favor - it can be used to justify a personal opinion, but if we are in a true debate, it means the onus is on *both* parties to "show their work". It can justify a personal belief, but as we have seen, it has also failed to sway others - and that points the fact that when it's impossible to do #1 & #2, arguments for/against do matter in the court of public opinion, even a well-informed public such as the RW Forums users. IF we accept that this is a debate, then it falls to both sides to provide arguments.

And tm30, I think that's others are disagreeing - if someone was providing a hypothesis that required proving in order to *change an established and scientifically proven* method of talent evaluation, then you would be correct in saying the burden falls on the Inverted W camp. But, if we are simply debating the merits of the hypothesis, then you have already conceded that it is compelling enough to consider, and deserves merit. In the minds of many, that alone justifies the hypothesis as worth consideration - while you may disagree, given the field of injury risk evaluation that is *completely unproven*, I understand your point, but the others' point is completely justifiable as well.

Ultimately, I believe by his last response, tm30 is simply acknowledging that he hasn't disproven the hypothesis - he just doesn't believe the risk is enough to pass on Strasbourg. I would disagree with the notion that lack of hard empirical evidence dismisses the inverted W concerns altogether....but given the potential and the National's situation, even the most concerned Inverted W proponents would concede that given the draft alternatives (in a relatively weak draft class), and the money being risked (forget 50M, it's going to be record-setting, but since the record is 10.5M and the Nats hold *all* the cards in this negotiation, I'll go 15M), he is still the consensus #1 pick overall.

So, can we all agree that Chris's hypothesis and work is compelling enough to consider, but clearly like everything else, needs more time to accept as hard-driven fact? I actually think most here do, but to be clear, since tm30 has already conceded that he hasn't disproven the theory, but simply that he doesn't believe it is compelling enough to pass up on Strasbourg, a point most of us would agree with given the alternatives, the money risk and the PR nightmare the Nats would face, we can move on to enjoying watching him pitch.

(And I'm not trying to curtail the discussion, as it's been very civil and constructive up until now, but I get the impression we're now re-hashing arguments, that's all. Otherwise, it's been an *excellent* discussion, and done constructively and civilly, even with the significant disagreements from both sides).

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I'm going to point out by the *last* reply from tm30 before we re-hash this argument again the following:

1. There is no proven mechanism or theory behind arms injuries. That is the one fact we can all agree upon.

2. Chris & the Inverted W hypothesis isn't proven. As I outlined in my earlier reply, over 90 percent of clinical medicine isn't proven by the same rigid scientific measures used in the "hard" sciences. Given the early stage of development, sports medicine is even more unproven. It's unlikely given the frequency of injuries that we're going to get hard evidence for a very long time.

3. If you accept #1 & #2, then you have to look for alternate methods to *support* or *refute* hypotheses. That is why I look for the principles of biological plausibility, case series *and* most importantly, the ability to predict future injury *AND* low-risk candidates. In that respect, the work he has done the last 2 years is compelling enough to make me pay full attention. And frankly, it's a lot better when you look at those criteria than some of the rather simplistic and confounder-laden hypotheses out there (cough *Verducci* cough).

Saying you have to *prove* a hypothesis scientifically, well it's not what's actually done in medicine in general - and so saying it should be applied to making decisions in talent evaluation is somewhat disingenous - people make decisions *all the time* based on methods that aren't proven, but accepted because they are so compelling in the sound principles behind them, and the ability to predict/explain injury risk (or break-out, or regression, etc.). As others have alluded to, saying you have not completed steps #1 & #2 is *not* sufficient to say an argument has been made in your favor - it can be used to justify a personal opinion, but if we are in a true debate, it means the onus is on *both* parties to "show their work". It can justify a personal belief, but as we have seen, it has also failed to sway others - and that points the fact that when it's impossible to do #1 & #2, arguments for/against do matter in the court of public opinion, even a well-informed public such as the RW Forums users. IF we accept that this is a debate, then it falls to BOTH sides to provide arguments.

And tm30, I think that's others are disagreeing - if someone was providing a hypothesis that required proving in order to *change an established and scientifically proven* method of talent evaluation, then you would be correct in saying the burden falls on the Inverted W camp. But, if we are simply debating the merits of the hypothesis, then you have already conceded that it is compelling enough to consider, and deserves merit. In the minds of many, that alone justifies the hypothesis as worth consideration - while you may disagree, given the field of injury risk evaluation that is *completely unproven*, I understand your point, but the others' point is completely justifiable as well.

Ultimately, I believe by his last response, tm30 is simply acknowledging that he hasn't disproven the hypothesis - he just doesn't believe the risk is enough to pass on Strasbourg. I would disagree with the notion that lack of hard empirical evidence dismisses the inverted W concerns altogether....but given the potential and the National's situation, even the most concerned Inverted W proponents would concede that given the draft alternatives (in a relatively weak draft class), and the money being risked (forget 50M, it's going to be record-setting, but since the record is 10.5M and the Nats hold *all* the cards in this negotiation, I'll go 15M), he is still the consensus #1 pick overall.

So, can we all agree that Chris's hypothesis and work is compelling enough to consider, but clearly like everything else, needs more time to accept as hard-driven fact? I actually think most here do, but to be clear, since tm30 has already conceded that he hasn't disproven the theory, but simply that he doesn't believe it is compelling enough to pass up on Strasbourg, a point most of us would agree with given the alternatives, the money risk and the PR nightmare the Nats would face, we can move on to enjoying watching him pitch.

(And I'm not trying to curtail the discussion, as it's been very civil and constructive up until now, but I get the impression we're now re-hashing arguments, that's all. Otherwise, it's been an *excellent* discussion, and done constructively and civilly, even with the significant disagreements from both sides).

Good post and agreed.

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For those of you who are interested in this, here's a proposed rationale, offered by an orthopedic surgeon, as to why the Inverted W may be bad.

Chris I am an orthopedic surgeon, and would like to offer you a theory on why the Inverted W is bad to the long term health of the shoulder.

In the position of hyper abduction, elevation and extension of the distal humerus above the shoulder (inverted W) the inferior glenohumeral ligament is placed on stretch. The humeral head must lever against it to advance the arm forward. This ligament is the primary anterior stabilizer of the glenohumeral joint with the arm elevated (i.e. pitching). In other words, this position places this ligament under tension, then it is levered against in order to throw. This eventually will either loosen the shoulder, or tear the anterior labrum.

It should be recognized this ligament is under stress during the "normal" delivery. If you traumatically dislocate your shoulder, this ligament is a key part of the pathology.

Shoulder instability in turn leads to impingement, and other problems. Conversely, when the elbow is below the shoulder, this ligament would not be as stressed.

Also, the specific use and timing of the muscles about the shoulder is critical. They have done muscle activity studies during throwing, and there are distinct differences between amateurs and professionals. There is also evidence for muscle use differences in the healthy shoulders, and the ones that aren't.

This too is just a theory, but it may explain what I think I see.

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