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Does the Pitcher’s Mound Cause Injuries?
- Updated: January 27, 2009
Back in 1969 the height of the pitcher‘s mound was lowered from 15″ down to 10″ in an attempt by major league baseball to level the playing ground between the era’s dominant pitching and the effect they were having on batters. Hitters were at an all time low for batting average of .237 the year before (1968).
Last year, research was done concerning the possible negative affect this 10″ mound has on a pitcher’s arm, elbow and shoulder. The analysis starts out by mentioning how pitchers in years gone by threw more complete games at the 15″ mound height, but noted that careers were significantly shorter as a possible result of this combination. Then refocuses it’s analysis on the stress that is induced upon a pitcher’s arm, elbow and shoulder given the necessary motion that is needed to throw a baseball at such high velocities as is seen in MLB games in an effective manner to get batters out from the height in which the pitches are now thrown from (10″).
With the investment (that would be their salaries) that teams ans ownerships are making in pitchers, there has become a trend to protect (some may call it babying) those young expensive arms if not the man himself. It has gotten to the point of seriousness that this report claims that MLB actually funded this medical investigation, led by the Milwaukee Brewers head team physician, William Raasch, M.D.
The article (link to be found at the end of this post) is enhanced by two streaming videos that show a pitcher’s motion (one is skeletal while the other is a wire frame model).
They think that it would be better if rehabbing pitchers threw off level ground more often until they are closer to being game ready. It was also noted that Hall of Fame pitcher, Nolan Ryan (now in the Texas Rangers management system), who player for 27 years, attributed his longevity to this practice of throwing off flat ground in his latter years out of preference because it just felt better as he got older to do so and he was throwing 100 mph into his 40’s. The hope my the research team would be for players to follow Ryan’s example for the sake of the game and their bodies.
The results of this study is said to have been presented at the 2007 MLB winter meetings. You can read this article, Lower Pitcher’s Mound Will Reduce Baseball Injuries – Study by the News Staff of Scientific Blogging from March of 2008.