Breaking Down Tim Alderson’s Delivery

Alderson's velocity was in the 87-89 range today, and touched 90.

Tim Alderson pitched a few innings in the AA game at Pirate City this afternoon in Bradenton.  I was busy watching Stetson Allie and Bryton Trepagnier at the time, so I didn’t get to see Alderson pitch.  Fortunately, I brought an extra set of eyes down with me this week, my dad, who grabbed the radar gun and watched Alderson’s innings.

In the first, Alderson was sitting around 87-89 MPH.  He came back in the second to throw mostly around 87, although he did touch 90 MPH.  He struggled with his command in the second, and had some control issues.  His curve was at 75 MPH.

His command improved a bit in the third inning, when he was hitting 88-89 MPH, along with a 75 MPH curve.  Throughout the outing, the opponents (the AA players from the Toronto system) were hitting Alderson pretty hard.  He was throwing mostly fastballs, mixing in a few big breaking curves.

I did see Alderson from a distance, and watched him warm up prior to the outing.  Despite the mention of changes this off-season, he still has the jerky delivery.  When he throws, you can see he’s throwing at maximum effort, which makes it hard to believe that he can add velocity.  He played in the AA game today, although that game was filled with guys who are expected to start the season in either high-A or AA, which doesn’t give any indication as to where he will start.

As for his delivery, I walked over to get a few shots, and basically got a frame by frame breakdown of his delivery.  Here is the motion below:

First, Alderson basically crunches up, putting all of his weight on his back foot.  That’s good, but what happens next is interesting…

Alderson plants his foot, then basically goes upright.  From there, it almost looks like he’s warming up and playing toss…

His follow through doesn’t look like he has much momentum following the pitch from his upper body.  And speaking of momentum…

Notice that his leg whips around, but his body stays the same.  He’s not transferring his momentum properly from his back leg to his upper body for the pitch.  He’s not putting his back in to the pitch at all.  Now I’m no pitching coach, but let’s take a similar look at Stetson Allie today:

Allie puts his weight on his back foot, which is standard.  However, he’s not crunched up like Alderson…

Notice the step.  Allie has a much bigger stride to the plate.  Then, he follows through, transferring his weight forward, and putting his back in to it…

This is the standard finishing position for a delivery.  Allie continues to swing his leg around, which is normal, but he’s actually putting his back in to it.  He doesn’t look like he’s warming up.  He looks like he’s pitching.

The problem I see with Alderson is that he’s taking too small of a step, then using too much energy going from a crouched position to an upright position.  From there, when he’s throwing, it’s the same as if he was warming up in the bullpen before a start.  He’s not following through, which indicates that his momentum isn’t being transferred from his back leg to his pitching arm.  Again, I’m not a pitching coach, but looking at the breakdown of Alderson’s throwing motion, and the breakdown of Allie’s throwing motion (which is pretty standard), I can’t see how Alderson could add velocity unless he finds some way to transfer his momentum better from his back leg, through the pitch.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Share This Post On
  • Anonymous

    good observations as usual Tim. One thing I’d like to add is that some pitchers take shorter strides on their offspeed stuff ( it appears Alderson’s follow through as though he threw a change up), though that’s generally amateur guys. It might be good to try to get more than one picture sequence than of one pitch (assuming that’s what the pics of Alderson were).

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Alderson was throwing mostly fastballs, and these were pictures of his fastball. I had multiple sequences (I usually take 3-4 shots of a pitcher’s delivery), and they all were similar.

  • http://twitter.com/JoshTaylorsRow Josh Taylor

    As always, you totally break it down so it can forever & consistently be broke… the differences are so clear.

  • Anonymous

    Wait, I thought there was another website “full of scouts” and we were the nerd website that just had guys crunching numbers. Nice frame by frame, Tim. Warming up and playing toss is the perfect way to describe him. Everyone should search Youtube for Alderson from his Giants days….his delivery was even worse then, I think.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      I did play tennis in high school, to the point where I was in 1-2 tournaments a weekend. The serve in tennis is a similar motion to pitching, as far as how you want to transfer your momentum. So this is something I’m somewhat familiar with, even if I’m just a numbers cruncher.

      • Anonymous

        You played tennis in high school, too? Now I know how we will settle my next raise.

  • drkfj

    Please someone…. show this to Tim Alderson’s High School coach so he can straighten Tim out!!!!

  • drkfj

    Please someone…. show this to Tim Alderson’s High School coach so he can straighten Tim out!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I’m a pitching coach and have worked at high school and college level. I’m am amazed that Alderson’s mechanics are so poor. I know they have tried working on it with him, but I fear at this point he doesn’t have the athleticism to change or the coaches are blind. Picture two and three are really bad. The crouching is ok, that helps keep his weight over the ball of his back foot. But notice in pic 2 how his front leg swings out and his lead arm is down and straight – this is terrible. He should be stepping straight out toward the plate and his elbow should be around shoulder height and bent (like he is driving his elbow toward the plate). In picture three, notice how low his throwing arm is when he plants the left foot (its almost planted, so I imagine it would be a bit higher). This is poor timing due to all the crap in pic 2. Notice where Allie’s arm is when he plants – its right around shoulder height, which is proper and causes more whip in the arm and less stress on it. The pics after that are insignificant because he will never look right in his follow through until the previous motions are fixed. I sure hope this kid can hit, cause it’s gonna be a long road to the majors as a pitcher.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Thanks for the insight!

    • http://twitter.com/mocasdad Charlie Conley

      I’m not a pitching coach, so my thoughts are much more at the layman level. The very top photo in Tim’s post is so ungainly looking …it looks like how I imagine Napoleon Dynamite would if he were going thru a windup. So, I fear you’re correct about his having not having sufficient athleticism. Kids in LL have tighter, more compact deliveries than what show in Tim’s photo sequence.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EVUE3DY6XK433O5VXMUPWESV3Q cpass

      Absolutely yes, you are right. The first thing I noticed is that his arm is nowhere near fully loaded, yet his front foot is planted. This is bad, bad, bad mechanics. Ideally the arm is fully loaded and ready to move forward at foot plant, or very close to fully loaded. Some organizations will not touch a pitcher who isn’t, either in the draft or in trade.

      • Anonymous

        Which brings up the questions – what did the Pirates see in him? And how did this kid put up good numbers in the past? This guy came over for Freddy Sanchez, so if they saw Alderson as a project that was a terrible risk. I hope he gains the coordination or athleticism he needs to correct all this, but as AC/DC said “Its a long to the top if you wanna rock n roll”

        • Anonymous

          I am not a pitching expert but I have read that when he was younger he was getting away with the bad mechanics but as he filled out it became more difficult to be successful with them. Possibly because of declining athleticism? Obviously he was doing something right early on in the minors and it’s not all because of pitching against better competition because he pitched well at high A before and when he got demoted he got rocked by high A hitters. I don’t know if he is resistant to coaching or what but I’d make him start the season in extended spring training until he gets these issues smoothed out. Righties that throw under 90 mph are more often than not useless so he’s looking more and more like a bust.

          • Anonymous

            I agree, righties under 90mph don’t get far unless they have movement and command like crazy. That makes sense what you found out about when he was younger. He probably threw hard and was successful so they didn’t try to change him. With guys of his frame, there’s a certain awkwardness to their coordination alot of times. He seems to not have that coordination.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a pitching coach and have worked at high school and college level. I’m am amazed that Alderson’s mechanics are so poor. I know they have tried working on it with him, but I fear at this point he doesn’t have the athleticism to change or the coaches are blind. Picture two and three are really bad. The crouching is ok, that helps keep his weight over the ball of his back foot. But notice in pic 2 how his front leg swings out and his lead arm is down and straight – this is terrible. He should be stepping straight out toward the plate and his elbow should be around shoulder height and bent (like he is driving his elbow toward the plate). In picture three, notice how low his throwing arm is when he plants the left foot (its almost planted, so I imagine it would be a bit higher). This is poor timing due to all the crap in pic 2. Notice where Allie’s arm is when he plants – its right around shoulder height, which is proper and causes more whip in the arm and less stress on it. The pics after that are insignificant because he will never look right in his follow through until the previous motions are fixed. I sure hope this kid can hit, cause it’s gonna be a long road to the majors as a pitcher.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a pitching coach and have worked at high school and college level. I’m am amazed that Alderson’s mechanics are so poor. I know they have tried working on it with him, but I fear at this point he doesn’t have the athleticism to change or the coaches are blind. Picture two and three are really bad. The crouching is ok, that helps keep his weight over the ball of his back foot. But notice in pic 2 how his front leg swings out and his lead arm is down and straight – this is terrible. He should be stepping straight out toward the plate and his elbow should be around shoulder height and bent (like he is driving his elbow toward the plate). In picture three, notice how low his throwing arm is when he plants the left foot (its almost planted, so I imagine it would be a bit higher). This is poor timing due to all the crap in pic 2. Notice where Allie’s arm is when he plants – its right around shoulder height, which is proper and causes more whip in the arm and less stress on it. The pics after that are insignificant because he will never look right in his follow through until the previous motions are fixed. I sure hope this kid can hit, cause it’s gonna be a long road to the majors as a pitcher.

  • gonfalon

    Great work, Tim! The shots of Alderson were rather depressing, but at least the shots of Allie were encouraging.

  • Anonymous

    A lot of pitchers throughout history had quirky deliveries, I think Louie Tiant would have never made it out of rookie ball in todays world.
    IMO, if the guy can throw the ball where he wants to, a mile and hour here or there does not make much difference, his big thing when the Pirates got him was his control, if he can get that back and still throw 88-89, I don’t care if he stands on a ladder to throw it or lays on his back to throw it, just get people out.
    I know it looks like if he threw with a standard delivery he would be better, but for him that might not be the case.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      That would be true about his velocity not being a problem if the control was there. However, he doesn’t have pinpoint control. His control was off yesterday. That’s why there’s cause for a lot of concern with him and his velocity.