What happened to Mark Prior?
That remains a frequently-asked question, even 20 years after his debut.
I've made many attempts to answer that question...
Assisted by some new footage of Mark Prior...
...in this piece I try to provide an answer to that
question that's as simple and straightforward as possible.
Timing, Mark Prior,
and the Epidemic
As I've said since 2007, the problem with
mechanical patterns like the Inverted W...
...is that they CAN — and I mean CAN and
not always DO — create Timing
problems where the pitching arm isn't in the proper orientation at
the moment it starts to come under load.
The Inverted W doesn't ALWAYS create such Timing problems.
But it very often DOES.
As it did in the case of
In fact, Mark Prior's Inverted W created a particularly bad form of Timing problem, that I
call Flat Arm Syndrome that, combined with another problem
called Hyperabduction, led to the shoulder problems that ended his career.
I first started understanding what poor Timing looks
like by looking at Kerry Wood's pitching mechanics in
general and the picture below, in particular.
Notice how Kerry Wood's shoulders are starting to turn, but his pitching arm is FLAT and not UP?
Timing in baseball pitchers, as I define it, refers to...
- The position of the pitching arm.
- When it starts to come under load.
- When the shoulders start to turn.
I should note, up front, that this is a
different definition of Timing than is employed by
the Conventional Wisdom.
(Stride) Foot Contact is IRRELEVANT. It doesn't correlate with anything.
Not any more.
Thanks to DRIVELINE.
After initially focusing on the feet, I've since
learned to ignore them, much less (Stride) Foot Contact.
That is one reason why people have so far failed to
duplicate my findings.
Mark Prior: What Happened?
So what exactly happened to Mark Prior?
With the 20th anniversary of Mark Prior's debut,
some new, VERY high quality video of his pitching
mechanics has come to my attention.
What interests me about what I see in the video clip
isn't — just — how high Mark Prior's elbows
get, but what happens as a result.
After coming to a very standard, common, and no big
deal T position, Mark Prior does something unusual.
He starts to lift UP out of the
position with his elbows.
Prior Scap Loads, but more UP than BACK.
As a result, Mark Prior ends up in a potentially
vulnerable position of Hyperabduction in which his
elbows aren't just BEHIND but are ABOVE the level
of his shoulders.
As I learned early on in my efforts to understand
what was happening to pitchers and why, do anything
for a long period of time, especially anything forceful,
with the elbows ABOVE the level of the shoulders can
lead to an Impingement injury and necessitate Rotator
As happened to a friend who was a
union Sheet Metal worker.
At the same time I was trying to figure out what
was going on with pitchers, starting with Mark Prior.
In sum, my friend told me that Rotator Cuff problems,
and surgery, was very common among union sheet metal
workers, pipefitters, plasterers, and anbody else who
spent a lot of time working with their elbows above
the level of their shoulders.
That's bad, but what happens between
Frame 4 and Frame 5 is worse.
Mark Prior's shoulders start to turn.
As you can see by the fact that Prior's Pitching Arm
Side elbow starts to get blurry in Frame 5.
Which is due to the increasingly rapid — and
forceful — rotation of his shoulders.
So, not only is Mark Prior in a potentially vulnerable
position, with his elbows Hyperabducted, but he's quickly
and forcefully turning his shoulders.
While his pitching arm is FLAT and not UP.
And, you'll note, in this analysis I don't say anything about Mark Prior's feet.
Because they are IRRELEVANT.
All I'm looking at is Mark Prior's pitching arm.