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The Brewers and Biomechanics

There was a story in  Sports Illustrated this week about how Jack Zduriencik and the Mariners were using the undervalued asset of defense to build a better team, expanding on the concept of Moneyball, which is finding an undervalued commodity and exploiting the inefficiency in the market. Former Brewer scout Tony Blengino made a lot of comments in that that article, at one point he made the accurate observation that eventually teams will learn how to value defense properly through Hit F/x and analyzation of UZR and defensive statistics, and then teams will move on in an attempt to find the next inefficiency, which is the concept of Moneyball.

He made this interesting comment: "A team that figures out how to get 250 innings out of a starter, for example, is going to have a huge advantage. Who knows what the next inefficiency in the marketplace is going to be."

Of course, I want the Brewers to be a leader at any potential innovation that would create an advantage. As an analyst that is what I most want to see for the Brewers, finding an inefficiency that allows them to win more, and win more efficiently. That's why that quote, along with what I've seen from the Brewers in terms of biomechanics research, is really exciting.

I know next to nothing about biomechanics. I have read a decent amount of information from people who do know a lot about biomechanics (I highly recommend reading this piece right here, and the comments). There's an untapped world out there and I am excited to see the Brewers at least making an investment in this field to see if even a small advantage can be gained. Graham's post at Lookout Landing deals mostly with the notion of predicting pitcher injuries, and though I'm not familiar with other possible applications, I would think that there are possible benefits to maximizing velocity, break, and delivery consistency through advanced analyzation of pitching motions.

I have to think that Rick Petersen is a big part of this new emphasis the Brewers seem to be placing on pitching motions this spring. But there's plenty of evidence that there's been a strong system in place for some time now, based on this McCalvy post that says the Brewers have been interested in biomechanics for at least five years and have been analyzing minor league pitchers with an advanced system for about that long, noting that Gallardo has gone through the described process five times now.

I've been conditioned to be skeptical of any miracle pitching fix or claim that injuries can be predicted by examining a motion. The only reliable predictor of future pitching injuries, at this point, is past pitching injuries. But I have to believe that only good can come from doing extra work and trying to take advantage of a field that has generally not been seized by major league teams yet. It's neat to be considered the leader at something, and even if no notable results come from this new program and emphasis on mechanics, it shows that the Brewers are willing to step out of the crowd and take the lead on something new. There's no downside to that.