Article

Fastball Velocity TRENDS in short season minor league Baseball.

1Department of Exercise Science, School of Public Health and Health Professions University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York. 2Baltimore Orioles, Major League Baseball, Baltimore, Maryland. 3Department of Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences. University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (Impact Factor: 1.86). 01/2013; 27(8):2206-2212. DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31827e1509
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Diminishing baseball velocities are objective measures to delineate pitching fatigue. Yet velocity changes over the course of a competitive season versus a single game remain unknown. This study examined fastball velocity trends of minor league pitchers over an 8-game span. We assumed accumulation of pitches would cause similar velocity decreases within games to produce velocity decreases between games pitched. Retrospective analysis of major league affiliated pitching charts indicated mean fastball velocities (FBV), game pitches thrown (GPT), game innings pitched (GIP), rest days, and pitching work to rest ratios (PWRR) for 12 pitchers over 8 games. Regression analyses (p <0.05) were performed using the ordinary least squares method. FBV was the dependent variable, where the explanatory variable was the game number (representing cumulative workload). Further analyses were performed on ball velocity differences (VDiff ) predicted by days rest and pitching work to rest ratios. FBV increased linearly for the first eight games of the season (R = 0.91, F (1, 7) = 64.67, p < .001). Over the 8-game period, mean fastball velocities increased 0.25 m/s (0.56 mph) with the greatest velocity increase occurring between the first and eighth game at 1.97 m/s (4.4 mph). Days rest and pitching work to rest ratios did not impact fastball velocity differences. When compared with previous research, minor league pitchers at the Class A Short Season level did not show similar exertion-responses to cumulative workloads (pitches and innings pitched). Recovery factors (rest days, pitching workload to rest ratios, and training) also did not impact fastball velocities. Velocity increases may be attributable to biomechanical compensations, skill development, strength and conditioning regimens, multi-starter rotations, as well as other performance related factors. Strength and conditioning professionals should be aware of ball velocity trends, as apparent changes may infer neuromuscular fatigue and increased injury susceptibility, which require in-season training modifications.

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