Last night in Seattle, Carlos Peguero hit a ball 450 feet to dead center. Somehow, this wasn’t the most extraordinary thing that happened at Safeco that evening. In one fell swoop, Angels right-hander (left-hander?) Garrett Richards revolutionized the art of pitching.
In the potentially groundbreaking .gif above, we see Mariners designated “hitter” Justin Smoak making his way to the plate. Is he trying to gain momentum by running towards the plate a la Happy Gilmore or is something even deeper going on here?
For whatever reason, Richards begins slightly offset to the left of the mound. His delivery begins with the ball in his glove, as most deliveries do. However, Richards has the glove raised and pointing towards first base. He drops his glove cautiously as if he’s catching a very delicate egg, and proceeds to whip his arm around and release the ball with stunning accuracy. This motion clearly does not allow Richards to take advantage of about 93% of his body, as his right side is just along for the ride and doesn’t play much part in delivering the ball to the catcher. There is an unusual amount of movement in the lower half that includes several steps backward to help Richards make sure he’s still on the rubber. Let’s slow it down.
This .gif allows us to see the incredible conclusion of this play. Smoak, in all his glory, turns on the circus pitch and rips it right back to the pitcher. Richards, who is already pointing at the plate as if he’s prepared for a comebacker, snags the ball with his bare hand. The sheer velocity of the ball propels him backwards, returning him back to a more familiar position at the top of the mound.
Mechanics Report Card
We’re gonna keep an eye out for this mystery of a motion throughout the season, but we doubt we’ll see it again any time soon. For one wondrous moment, Garrett Richards changed baseball. We hope it’s not the last time.