Nolan Ryan’s Philosophy on Pitching   2 comments

As Ryan shapes the Rangers in his image, the basics are simple. He wants pitchers to be tough, to fight through fatigue, to attack the strike zone and to pitch inside.

“There is an art to doing that,” he said. “It’s not about hitting guys or head-hunting, it’s about knowing when to pitch in and developing the ability to do it.”

Ryan tells of a conversation he had last year with Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn.

“I said, ‘Tony, who’s the toughest left-hander you had to face?’ He said Randy Johnson. I said, ‘What about Steve Carlton?’ He said, ‘Nope, I never had a problem with Carlton.’ I asked why.

“He said, ‘Randy would stand me up at least once every game we faced him, and I was aware of that, so I couldn’t look out over the plate. Carlton never did that. He pitched me away, away, away. That’s my strength, and I never had to worry about the inside.’

“That sums it up right there. Every pitcher should hear that and say, ‘I need to pitch inside.’ “


Posted July 6, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

2 responses to “Nolan Ryan’s Philosophy on Pitching

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  1. What up Mitchell, this is Andy…

    I am not too impressed by this comment by NR. As a lawyer you should be mindful of how easy it is to manipulate the picture using small sample sizes and incomplete information sets.

    Just because one guy (who happens to be Tony Gwynn) always felt that he fared better against Steve Carlton than the Big Unit, doesn’t logically lead any of the following conclusions which are being implied:

    1) Big Unit is more effective over time than Carlton (the case could be made that EITHER pitcher was better)
    2) That he achieved supposed superiority as a result of pitching inside
    3) That Carlton did not regularly throw inside despite not taking that approach with Gwynn (according to his memory, which as we see is not perfectly accurate)

    Tony Gwynn says he “never had a problem with Steve Carlton.” In fact, he had a .559 OPS against Carlton in 22 PA… terrible.

    Not that it’s bad advice. If you are a 6’10” lefty with a 100mph fastball, you might be well advised to throw inside once in a while.

    Great stories can be poetic and moving, but if you are actually gonna use them of evidence of something, they should actually prove something.

  2. Hey Andy,

    I didn’t actually post this to prove anything. I posted this because I believe that you need to pitch inside, and I enjoyed the story. Again, not to prove a point, but because of the poetry of it. You know me… I love baseball in part because of the rich stories that come out of it.

    I wouldn’t necessarily use this story by Gwynn as a support, but I am a firm proponent of certain things in pitching that I think have woefully declined in recent years.

    1) Pitchers need to throw inside. You need control to do it because I don’t want people getting plunked in the head. But you need to throw inside because, more often than not, it takes people out of their comfort zones–if even a little bit.

    2) Modify the pitch count. I understand that you need to protect young arms, but I think there are too many people who use a pitch count as an excuse, as in… I’ve thrown 90 pitches, my job is done. That’s horrible! Pitchers need to learn to pitch through adversity. I’m not suggesting that people need to go back to the 150-pitch days, but I think pitchers need to learn to pitch through adversity and through tiredness.

    3) Control, control, control. Although I love our Doyers, I cringe when I think that Bills and Kershaw are both in the top-5 in the league in walks.

    4) The Dodgers need to fire Ned Coletti. Never liked him and I never will. (Just needed to add that short rant.)

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