Most pitchers bring the heat overhand, but some athletes are forced to get creative. Chad Bradford has been an MLB pitcher for over a decade. His unusual approach to pitching was suggested by his former high school coach/minister. Bradford was never a superior athlete, but he found a niche to exploit. A sidearm technique that evolved into an underhand delivery. His knuckles practically scrape the ground with every pitch. It looks like he's bowling.
The effectiveness of this approach is measured by the batter's hesitance. Submarine pitchers barely break 85mph on a fastball, but their unorthodox style creates an uneasiness. Batters can't look for the same visual cues to identify pitches. If a traditional pitcher slows up right before the release, chances are a change up is en route. With submarine pitchers these subliminal hints are non-existent. A batter's thoughts become, "I'm going to get pegged in the shin!"
Instead of a top-down approach, the ball rises to greet them or breaks suddenly. This unusual trajectory forces hitters into ground balls that are easy for the defense to scoop up. Grounders, of course were more difficult in the 1800's before players used gloves.
Shunsuke Watanabe uses a similar style in the Japanese Leagues. To reduce knee injuries, Watanabe uses a custom pad in his right pant leg.
One disadvantage to submarine style pitching is the strain it puts on the back. Pitchers can tire out easily and perhaps end up with hurty elbows.
- Brief Video Analysis of Bradford's Delivery
- Photo collection of sidearm/submarine pitchers in the comments
- Chad Bradford featured in the 2003 book Moneyball by Michael Lewis
- In Japan, Fear That Submarine Starters Will Fall by the Wayside
- Wikipedia on Submarine Pitchers
Pitchers of Note: