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Power Pitcher Stephen Strasburg

Updated on August 6, 2017

Stephen Strasburg is the owner of one of the most coveted throwing arms in Major League Baseball. He is one of the preeminent strikeout pitchers in the game today. He's the kind of guy fans bring the big K posters to the games he starts, so they can rack up a count along the railing of the stadium.

Stephen pitches for the Washington Nationals, and there are some other great talents to be found there. The nation's capital maybe deserves to have one of the great teams, and some of the best of the best. But the first over all picks in the drafts go to the worst team. This is how the Nationals got to pick Strasburg.

So he was a much ballyhooed prospect from the start. When he did first pitch in the Big Leagues, he set the tone too. His 14 strikeout debut performance had folks looking at Stephen as the new Nolan Ryan. We can always hope.

Strasburg has as much talent as any pitcher in the MLB, but has a problematic pitching delivery

Stephen Strasburg may have more talent than any other pitcher in baseball. His fastball reaches one hundred miles per hour, and he's got a knee buckling curve ball, and a very good change up too. He's not particularly wild. He throws a lot of strikes.

So why isn't he the greatest pitcher in the game? On any given night, he well may be. It won't be surprising should he take a no hitter late into any game, what will be surprising would be him being allowed to finish the game. He's already had Tommy John surgery. He came back from it with, yep, the same outstanding fastball and assortment of pitches.

Strasburg is just handled with kid gloves. The reason for this is his delivery. His pitching mechanics seem to indicate he's an arm wreck waiting to happen. So he is limited by the Washington Nationals in pitch counts and innings. He's not given the chance to be Roger Clemens, or Randy Johnson. There are webpages concerning the question of whether or not Strasburg is over-rated. Nobody wants to see him get wasted like Kerry Wood.

Stephen Strasburg and the 'inverted W' delivery


What is an inverted W delivery?

What is wrong with Strasburg's delivery? The image shows you how when Stephen cocks his arm back as he is striding towards home plate to throw a pitch, his two elbows are above his head so he is in an inverted 'W' position. So what's wrong with that?

The thinking here is purely mechanical. Looking at the body as a machine, as it certainly in a sense is, the inverted W suggests the legs are out in front of the arms. So in the process of repeatedly throwing baseballs, the inverted W delivery pitcher, like Strasburg, is putting undue stress on his arm. You look at Nolan Ryan. You know Nolan could throw 100 miles per hour, and probably did so more often and definitely for longer than anyone else ever has. Nolan Ryan would tell you his legs were maybe more important than his right arm was.

But probably no one is going to attempt to adjust Strasburg's pitching mechanics. Instead he'll likely always be a six or seven innings maximum starting pitcher. If he gets another major arm injury, I think he could wind up becoming a closer instead of a starter. The switch has worked out well for some other persons in the past, namely Kerry Wood.

Stephen Strasburg with San Diego State University.
Stephen Strasburg with San Diego State University. | Source

Stephen Strasburg was NOT a highly regarded prospect out of high school, or at first in his college career

Stephen played baseball in high school, but he didn't excel in sports in high school the way persons who eventually wind up number one picks in the nation normally do. In fact, Stephen wasn't even drafted out of high school at all. So take note of that one, young athletes, a guy who wound up the number one over all pick in the MLB draft in 2009 wasn't drafted at all out of high school.

Strasburg is a Californian. He is also a man who values his brain and intelligence very highly. He wanted to attend Stanford university, and Stanford is a fairly elite university indeed. He instead went to San Diego State university, and he would there play baseball under the greatness of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. Stephen will tell folks he was immature at the time, unready for what lie ahead. He was famously overweight when he showed up to baseball practice, and was even encouraged to quit.

While Stephen was initially used as a relief pitcher, he was so good at it the team decided to test him as a starting pitcher. He got increasingly into top physical condition, and added 8 miles per hour to his fastball, and then one day he struck out an amazing 23 University of Utah batters. College baseball is often as good as AA or even AAA ball in the minor leagues. Sometimes it isn't, sometimes it is. But when a pitcher does things even Roger Clemens or David Price could not do in a college game, you can bet scouts take notice. He could hit 102 miles per hour on the radar gun. Such athletic abilities are rare, and usually rewarded.

Stephen Strasburg's Unbelievable Debut

Biggest hype in baseball history?

Stephen Strasburg has worn a heavy burden in his MLB career. He wore that burden before it began, for he was once called, by ESPN, no less - the most hyped draft pick in history. Sports Illustrated was right in line with ESPN, referring to Stephen as most hyped and closely watched pitching prospect in the history of baseball.

But before these things came to pass Stephen Strasburg would be an international baseball star too. He represented the United States national baseball team in the World University Baseball Championship. He did a fine number on the Netherlands team. He allowed just one hit.

When the 2009 MLB draft came around, the Washington Nationals had the first pick out of every single last available player. The first pick over all is given to the team who did the worst the previous season. The Nationals picked Strasburg, and signed him to an extremely large, and record breaking dollar amount for the draft. These draft dollar numbers continually go higher and higher. Sometimes the first over all pick works out. Strasburg has proven himself to be a top notch Major League starter. The next season, the Nationals again had the top, first pick over all, and they picked another guy who's proving himself worthy of it all, Bryce Harper.

Stephen breezed through the Nationals minor league system as expected. He debuted in the Major Leagues on the 8th of June, 2010. The game was hyped by everyone involved in baseball mass media, and Strasburg did not fail to live up to the expectations placed upon him in his MLB debut.

2010 Topps Baseball Card #661 Stephen Strasburg RC - Washington Nationals (Rookie Card - Phenom) HOBBY FACTORY SET VERSION

Stephen Strasburg and the big business of baseball

When we think of domination in pitching, we think of strikeouts. Strasburg is a strikeout pitcher, and went on in his first season to be compared to the great strikeout pitchers of yesteryear and of today. J.R. Richard was brought up often. Because Strasburg could hit 100 miles per hour rather frequently.

Major League Baseball is a business, first and foremost, the money must be made to support the thing. This is just the world we have set up at present. Strasburg's #37 jersey became a monster of a product insofar as sales go.

Another sign of the times, this one specific to baseball, is the occurrences of ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgeries. Strasburg tore his UCL in his first season in the MLB, and had to have the infamous Tommy John surgery to repair it. If anything, the demands upon pitchers now is greater than ever before. Velocity is like a demigod in baseball, and your fortunes, as a pitcher, often rise and fall with the average fastball readings from the radar guns.

Stephen Strasburg 2011-2013

Strasburg has the sort of talent with throwing a baseball the Washington Nationals treat him as though he were a national treasure. And he is one. Tommy John surgery requires a lot of recovery time, and the Nationals were not going to rush their prized arm.

Strasburg returned to the Major Leagues in 2012. Yes, Strasburg appeared in 2012, but the sample was too small for much consideration on this page. Great pitchers are somewhat like racehorses. They are very very expensive, and very very fragile. Zack Greinke comes to mind here as another example.

Stephen is no slouch with the bat. There are loads of pitchers in the National League who can hit. None are greater or even close to what Madison Bumgarner is in hitting as a pitcher, but Stephen Strasburg won't embarrass the team while at the plate with a stick in his hands.

The 2010 debut was just a teaser. We got to see a season of Stephan in 2012, and he did quite well. He showed he was a legitimate phenom, and not the overblown hype some had wanted to present him as. He wasn't a waste of money to the Washington Nationals. A man shouldn't be judged on how much he earns for himself, or for others, but in any event, Strasburg was a huge draw for attendance at Nationals home games, and for television audiences everywhere.

He only got 159 and 1/3 innings in 2012 - but he displayed his powers in all their glory by punching out 197 batters. This strikeout percentage of 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings is something to be admired, no matter what your name is. He also won 15 games to just 6 losses, and that gives a winning percentage of .714. This is an outstanding winning percentage.

2013 wouldn't be as fine a year, statistically for Stephen. Baseball is a game which glories in statistics and statistical analysis. Strasburg may or may have not had the finest year of his life that year, but in baseball, he did not. But baseball is a team sport. A win is a team effort. Strasburg had a lower earned run average in 2013 than in the previous season when he was thought to have done so well.

Lower ERA, or not. In 2013 Stephen Strasburg went 8 wins and 9 loses. He struck out fewer batters per nine innings, and he at least progressed in total innings pitched, reaching all the way up to 183 innings. Kid gloves. Stephen is handled with kid gloves. Maybe it is finally time now to take them off? Well, you and I do not run the Washington Nationals MLB organization.

Stephen Strasburg in 2014 with the Washington Nationals


Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals 2014-present

The 2014 season would be the breakout season for Stephen. The National League is now the strongest of the two Major Leagues in pitching, the American League is strongest in hitting. Strasburg had a great year in 2014, and he showed what he could do when the cord is cut, at least cut just a little.

He is six feet and four inches tall. He weighs 235 solid and athletic pounds. He's got the dream physique for a MLB pitcher, and the type of arm capable of the Hall of Fame career. But will he ever do it? Who knows, but in 2014 he led the National League in strikeouts. He punched out 242 batters im just 215 innings even. He also won 14 games to 11 losses. he tied for league lead in games started, which showed some degree of good health on his part.

2015 was disappointing when compared to the previous year. Strasburg was only healthy enough to make 23 starts, but his winning percentage in those starts was very very good. No one in the MLB will ever argue against a .611 winning percentage. Stephan won 11 games, and he lost 7. He pitched much fewer innings, but recorded an even 11 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched.

In 2016? The season has now started, and Stephen Strasburg has won his only start. Here's three cheers to Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and the rest of the Washington Nationals representing the capital of the United States of America well in 2016. I hope the best for them, and so should you. Thanks for reading.

Stephen Strasburg Ultimate 2014 Highlights


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    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile imageAUTHOR

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      12 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I was rooting for the Nationals. Between the Dodgers and Cubs I don't have a favorite. I'll be watching with interest just the same though. I think Houston is going to go all the way.

    • Angel Guzman profile image

      Angel Guzman 

      12 months ago from Joliet, Illinois

      Man you mentioned Kerry Wood three times. I remember his whole career and is one of my favorite players. It's a shame how his career turned out. Strasbourg would look really good in a Cubs jersey. I wish him well. Glad we got past him and Nationals but I do feel foe Dusty Baker.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile imageAUTHOR

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      12 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I'm going to be watching for sure. He's the closest thing to a Kerry Wood out there these days. And I wonder if he won't wind up being a late innings guy before too many more years pass.

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 

      12 months ago from Auburn, WA

      Todd, thoughts on the Strasbourg decision for tonight's game? Sounds like he heard the "diva" label being applied and relented.


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