I don’t want to take credit for animated gif above (I found it on THIS forum) but it must be the single worst thing to happen to JP Howell since being born without a fastball. Howell is the pitcher in the middle. He is flanked on the left by Scott Kazmir and on the right by Jamie Moyer. Howell may someday be a very good pitcher but to compare him to Kazmir is like putting a picture of Julia Stiles next to a picture of Scarlett Johansson. Stiles is a good lookin’ girl, but she is no Scarlett and comparing her to Scarlett just accentuates the flaws.
The first thing you will notice in the animated gif is that Howell is basically Moyer minus the viagra. I have seen the Prof compare Howell to Moyer on this site before, but seeing them side-by-side, the similarities are down-right ridiculous.
As for comparing Howell and Kazmir, we can see very easily why a pitcher like Kaz can generate a 95 mph fastball and Howell cannot.
- Starting with the legs, Kazmir drops more on his delivery to the plate. It is not quite Tom Seaver, but this allows him to get more drive off his back foot. Howell’s leg is much straighter and it is more like his body “falls” towards the plate.
- Notice how softly Howell and Moyer land on their plant foot (front leg). This makes their delivery much more fluid, but it does not trigger the same torque seen in Kazmir. When Kaz lands on his plant foot it is a much more violent landing, and his body actually appears to jump up.
- Notice the amount of torque that Kaz generates throughout his body. His plant leg will actually twist to the right after landing and his rear twists very strongly to the left. Again, very little of this is seen in Howell, who relies almost entirely on his arm.
- But where Kaz appears to get the extra couple of inches on his fastball is the glove arm. Howell does a good job of keeping the glove close to the body which helps pull the right shoulder through, but the force is not that great, as you can see the glove arm just dangle off to the right on the follow through. On Kazmir, the glove moves with almost the same amount of arm speed as his pitching arm. His glove arm has it’s own follow through. I don’t recall another pitcher that has that much arm action on his glove hand. I would equate it to the golf swing of John Daly.
- All of this adds up to an incredible amount of arm speed generated on somebody that is only 6’0″. For those that do not recall their physics classes, points farther away from the point of rotation have a higher rotational velocity. in other words, if pitcher A is 6’9″ and player B is 6’0″, we can assume that pitcher A has a longer arm. And if they generate the exact same arm speed, the taller pitcher will actually have a faster pitch. This is why teams prefer taller pitchers.
- Notice the difference in follow through on the pitching arms of three pitchers. When Kazmir follows through his pitching hand comes through and actually collides with his lower right side. On the other hand, when Howell follows through, his arm just stops and dangles straight towards the ground.
All this adds up to one pitcher that is a dominant pitcher already at a young age, and another that will never be dominant but one day be a consistent innings eater that keeps his teams in games, like Jamie Moyer. Howell must learn how to miss the sweet spots of the opposition’s bats and will struggle until he does.