What the Heck Does Joe Janish Know About Pitching?

I get it all the time — why would I know ANYTHING about pitching, catching, or hitting mechanics, when I’m not an MLB coach and never played an inning of big league baseball? Who the heck am I to think I know more about pitching, hitting, etc., than someone like Bob Ojeda, Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez, or [fill in the former MLB star turned broadcaster / talking head].

Before I go about discussing my qualifications, I have a few questions to you to set up my defense. One: how many bloggers who write about sabermetrics are professional statisticians? More to the point, why is it OK to accept theories set forth by statheads who aren’t on Theo Epstein’s or Billy Beane’s payroll, but it’s not OK to accept the theories written by someone who doesn’t coach for the Red Sox or Athletics? Similarly, if all of the literally 100+ Mets bloggers are free to write their opinion on the Mets management and performance — even though none have press credentials nor are paid by a newspaper as a professional journalist — then shouldn’t I be equally free to write about a player’s mechanics? If not, why not?

Qualifications

I played NCAA D1 baseball for four years, and coached at the same level for three more. All in all, I’ve been studying and teaching pitching, catching, and hitting mechanics for over 20 years. Dozens of players under my tutelage have signed pro contracts and earned D-1 scholarships, and in fact one “student” has enjoyed a decent MLB career. Additionally, I have played with, and caught, both former and future MLBers — including some All-Stars and World Series heroes. Further, I’ve enjoyed many, many, long conversations about baseball with former and current pro players (a few of the conversations can be found here). People pay me to teach them (or their kids) baseball mechanics — which technically qualifies me as a “professional”, doesn’t it?

I’m not an MLB (or even a minor league) coach because I never played pro ball, and it’s absolutely impossible to get a pro coaching job without pro playing experience — that’s simply the way it works. “Organized Baseball” is very much a closed club, available only to those who have inked contracts at some point. Don’t believe it? Locate a manager or coach affiliated with an MLB organization who never played pro ball at some level and get back to me. Pro ball never happened for me, for a number of reasons, so I’m excluded from entering “the club”. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t know about pitching mechanics, or the proper catching stance, or the fundamentals of hitting. In fact, at least one former MLBer — the lefthander with the lowest walks per 9 innings all-time and the holder of the lowest ERA in Yankee Stadium history — once said,

“Sometimes the best coaches come from the ranks of those who never played in the big leagues”.

Of course, all this may mean nothing to you. That’s cool — if you don’t believe you can learn something about baseball from me, it’s your right. But if your agenda is only to lambast my opinions without a supporting argument, and to undermine me with “who the heck are you?” comments — again, it’s your right, but understand that I don’t care in the least. My skin is thick as a brick, and at this point I’m too damn tired to convince people that I know what I’m talking about. While you’re spending time doubting me and finding reasons to negate my opinions, I’ll be continuing my research and teaching, and helping others become better ballplayers.