KC Royals: Five Reasons Chris Young Can Continue to Dominate

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Jun 9, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Chris Young (32) pitches in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

2) Chris Young Has A Deceptive Pitching Motion

The time it takes for a ball to travel to home plate isn’t the only thing that determines how long a hitter has to react to a pitch.

Before a hitter can decide whether or not to swing at a pitch, first he has to see it. Some pitchers make it harder than others for hitters to quickly lock in on the ball with their eyes.

Such pitchers can gain a critical fraction of a second with deception that can make them significantly more difficult to hit.

Hitters are taught to look for the ball approximately at the pitcher’s cap level. Pitchers that can change their arm slot, or simply make it hard for the hitter’s eyes to lock onto the ball can develop a major advantage that their velocity does not reveal.

KC Royals pitcher Chris Young is such a player.

Current Kansas City Star writer Andy McCullough wrote a piece for the New Jersey Star Ledger about Chris Young’s deceptive motion in 2011 when Young was pitching for the Mets.

Not only does Young hide the ball behind his knee in his windup, he also throws the ball at a much higher release point than hitters are accustomed to seeing.

McCullough wrote:

"Second, Young’s over-the-top release alters a batter’s eye level. His fastball appears fat as it approaches the plate. But the ball doesn’t drop into the zone. It rides high, above a batter’s hands, spoiling his swing. “When you swing,” [Jose] Reyes said, “pop-up to the infield.”"

Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal called Young high pitches “the best optical illusion in baseball”. Mets third baseman David Wright told Costa:

"“It’s tough because as a hitter, when you see a ball up there,” Wright said as he held his hand about shoulder-high, “you think it’s going to end up kind of here,” he said, bringing his hand down to his belt. “But when it kind of stays at that level, it’s tough to lay off, and it’s even tougher to hit.”"

Chris Young’s height, however, is not entirely an advantage. Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen told McCullough that tall guys have a difficult time repeating their mechanics. This difficulty might help explain why Young is seeming to hit his peak with the Kansas City Royals at the relatively advanced age of 36.

Next: Chris Young's Unique Pitching Approach