Baseball Articles

Tommy John Surgery Theory

The big talk of baseball this season has not been on the play in the field, but rather on the apparent explosion of Tommy John surgery on young pitchers. Everybody has a theory, so why not me?

tommy john surgery
The men who started it all — Tommy John and Dr. Frank Jobe.

The trendy idea going around is that it all has to do with pitchers’ behavior when they are young; throwing curveballs at age 12, pitching year-round, etc. I do not buy this for a second.

If pitchers are doing such damage to their arms when they are teens or pre-teens, why do they suddenly need surgery 10 years later? Shouldn’t they need it in high school., college, or in the minors. Yes, Tommy John surgery is performed at those levels as well, but most of them seem to happen after they reach the majors.

Many experts agree that pitching injuries occur when a player is tired; when a pitcher’s arm is tired, it is difficult to maintain consistency in their release points, leading to awkward throws, leading to injury.

If this is true, then why are most Tommy John surgeries happening after a player reaches the majors? Certainly pitchers get tired in the minors, right? Maybe not.

Pitchers in the minors are on such strict pitch and innings count that they often do not get to the point where they are tired. Then when they reach the majors and suddenly they have to stretch things out, they get tired and get hurt.

This theory is not really new; many experts say the coddling of pitchers in the minors is somehow leading to injuries in the majors, but they could never put their finger on exactly why. Perhaps this is why. If pitchers threw more in the minors, they would be in better shape to really exert themselves in the majors. They would not get tired because they would be used to throwing so many pitches, and they would not get hurt.

Obviously, I am not a medical expert and this is all just speculation on my part. But there is some common sense here, at least I believe so. Regardless of whether this theory is correct, something terribly wrong is going on in baseball, and someone needs to figure out what it is and stop it.

3 thoughts on “Tommy John Surgery Theory

  • I recently saw an interview with Leo Mazzone, pitching coach. He said that pitchers in Glavine, Smoltz, Maddux era used to throw between starts, keeping their arms stretched out. A Tommy John injury was very rare. They weren’t taken out of starts because of an insane pitch count if they were performing well. Today’s pitchers are on a pitch count, don’t throw between starts and when they do get the nod every 5th day they try to dial it up to 98 mph too often. Of course somethings gotta give. His theory makes perfect sense to me.

  • Met Fan 4 Ever

    Throwing between starts…that makes perfect sense. I wonder why the dim bulbs who run baseball these days haven’t figured that out.

  • if they don’t currently throw b/w starts then i’d be surprised. ron consistently talks about how he had his throw day b/w starts, just to keep loose. he also brought up this very theory, saying how he was raised to go 9 innings where pitchers these days expect to go 7 b/c of pitch counts and more hitters looking to walk and draw more pitches

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