Great job by our resident mechanics guru. --Kurt
Done reading? Ok, now I'll start my little (and hastily put together) piece.
Now mechanics are a fun because they are subtle, sometimes they are big. And sometimes big changes can result in good things. For Benoit, it seems he made one of those big changes somewhere because I have visual proof of it.
First off we'll look at the Joaquin Benoit of 2008 - 2009.
I used a data set from the beginning of April 2008 through the end of September 2009. I don't think including 2009 did me any good but I did it anyway just in case. Now what we see here is an incredibly scattered release. It varies being really high, really low, really left, really right (and not the good kind of right). Now I'm gonna make a note here, 2008 was Benoit's injury-shortened season that required shoulder surgery. This data set isn't the greatest but I couldn't get data any earlier.
Now what this tells me is that there is general inconsistency in his mechanics. Some of it was probably due to injury, but the shear variance between points on the chart suggest to me that the problem was probably always there. Assuming this, it also suggests that maybe the mechanical problem heightened injury risk.
So we jump now onto 2010.
Here we see great improvements. Especially in the high-low points of the graph. I tend to look at the height more than the left/right because of how these graphs are generated. They are generated after the actual release and are therefore subject to being skewed by the break of a pitch.
Now what is this chart telling us? It's telling us that there was a major jump in mechanical consistency for Benoit, which is a good thing in terms of his production. And looking at the season stats I can tell that he sustained really good numbers for an entire season while facing a total of 217 batters. That implies sustainability in his mechanics.
So, if the Tigers keep Benoit in the role that he had comfort with while pitching in Tampa, we should see continued success. Obviously his numbers should drop some, but there is no reason to believe that we haven't at least signed a pretty good set up man.
Just a couple of notes: I'm not looking at any pictures or video of Benoit. I don't know with any sort of certainty if the changes to his mechanics were good changes. I can say with some certainty that he wasn't right in previous seasons. However, good things aren't generally sustained like this when the results come from still flawed mechanics.
So have at it. Give me your thoughts on his mechanics (provide me a video if you have a good one). Go on, DISCUSS!