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Pitching Mechanics Analysis
Shelby Miller

While many of Dr. Mike Marshall's ideas have yet to be widely accepted, one of his ideas that has been taken seriously is the concept of pronation. Unfortunately, Dr. Marshall is such a miserable communicator that people have -- presumably unwittingly -- taken the concept of pronation in a direction that is causing more problems than it is fixing. Shelby Miller looks like he may be one such victim of the misunderstanding, or misapplication, of the idea of pronation.

In sum, pronation is something that pitchers need to do through the acceleration phase of the delivery. However, presumably because of the limits of Dr. Marshall's communication skills, what I am seeing is pitchers pronating earlier and earlier, to the point where they are creating problems in their arm actions.

Shelby Miller 2012

Shelby Miller
2012

I first noticed something problematic in Shelby Miller's arm action when he came up in 2012; his arm looked pretty consistently late.

I was concerned enough about this that I mentioned Shelby Miller's timing problem in my presentation to the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association in early 2013.

However, while I knew that something was wrong, I couldn't put my finger on why that was happening; what the root cause of the problem was.

Shelby Miller 2013

Shelby Miller
2013

Shelby Miller 2013

Shelby Miller
2013

Shelby Miller 2013

Shelby Miller
2013

However, the more I saw of Shelby Miller in 2013, I came to realize that part of the reason why his arm was late was because of how he pronated his Pitching Arm Side (PAS) forearm relatively early on in his arm swing and then held that pronated position through the start of the acceleration phase.

Shelby Miller 2013

Shelby Miller
June 2013

The movement that I am talking about is very obvious in the clip above from June 2013. The thing to notice is how, as he goes through his arm swing, Shelby Miller maintains an internally rotated and pronated, thumb down position for an extended period of time and into foot plant.

As a result, during the time when his PAS forearm should be externally rotating and getting more vertical as he goes into foot plant, instead his PAS elbow elevates and his PAS forearm stalls. That makes his arm significantly late at foot plant and forces him to externally rotate his PAS upper arm more and faster than is optimal.

Shelby Miller 2013

Shelby Miller
June 2013

In fact, the way that Shelby Miller pronates, and when, is exactly the opposite of what you want to do. His PAS forearm should be supinated, and not pronated, during the period of time when he is at maximum pronation.

A while back I put together a piece on Michael Pineda in which I labelled showing the ball to center field as the root cause of his problems. However, it could very well be that what is going on with Michael Pineda is the same problem with premature pronation that you see with Shelby Miller. The showing the ball to center field thing is just a symptom of the premature pronation.

If you compare the arm swings of Nolan Ryan and Shelby Miller, you will see some significant differences, the most significant of which is the length of each.

Comparison of Nolan Ryan and Shelby Miller

Nolan Ryan vs. Shelby Miller
June 2013

Nolan Ryan's arm swing is short and direct; his arm goes quickly and smoothly to the high-cocked position. In contrast, Shelby Miller's arm swing is long and jerky; Miller breaks his hands much earlier than Nolan Ryan does, yet he has to rush his arm up to the high-cocked position due to how he leads with his PAS elbow.

Finally, I should note that people like Paul Nyman would have you believe that Nolan Ryan's arm action is similar to Shelby Miller's when it is anything but. For going on eight years I have been telling people that they should ignore people like Paul Nyman and Tom House when they talk about Nolan Ryan's pitching mechanics and focus on what Nolan Ryan actually did. I don't know if people are listening, but one can only hope so.

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