Why Tall Baseball Pitchers are better than Short Pitchers

The statement of tall pitchers being better than short pitchers is, like many generalizations, a prejudice. Pitching is a complex athletic action whose performance success or failure can not be reduced to mere physical proportion. More than anything the consistent execution of mechanics in the pitching motion is the foundation of consistent performance from the mound.

Balance, rotation and forward drive help deliver speed to the pitched baseball. All of these elements are not height advantaged. Balance may even advantage the shorter pitcher. While rotation and forward drive are matters of strength and do not automatically assume as advantage for the taller pitcher.

The movement on the baseball as it leaves the pitchers hand is determined by the grip and to a lesser extent the arm angle through the release. For some pitches, particularly a change-up a large hand with lengthy fingers makes the grip with the ball placed deeper in the hand easier. But this does not predispose the results to be better. There are too many other factors in the performance of the pitching act to isolate one specific element as a determinant of advantage.

That said there are two elements within pitching that are based on height and are not overcome or offset by other gains or balancing elements. Taller pitchers added to a 10 in mound can present a greater vertical angle on the delivery of the pitch. The greater this delivery angle assuming it is a strike, or swung at by the batter the more contrary to the swing path of the bat and the smaller the intersection between the two that is needed to make contact and place the ball in play. Additionally with a tall pitcher, depending on his motion, stride and arm angle can release the ball from his hand physically closer to the plate or at an angle off the plate with a more side arm type delivery. This typically improves the perceived speed of the pitch, as the reaction time is reduced for the batter to successfully read the pitch and track it into the hitting zone.

These few advantages can be easily lost for a tall pitcher that can not throw strikes effectively or consistently and can be offset or overcome by smaller pitchers with efficient and sound pitching mechanics and grip that deliver movement and control. The reduction of pitching assessment into a visual cue like height is an attempt to eliminate the work in correctly accessing pitching ability. Complex sport activities like pitching are based on many attributes and abilities, some which can be taught others are natural abilities. Understanding all of all these dimensions are needed to determine whether one pitcher is better than another, because it is individuals, of all shapes, sizes, mental toughness and abilities that pitch on a given day, you can not send a generalization to the mound.

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