Peterson Brings Complex Pitching Notion To Mets

For new Met pitching coach Rick Peterson, pitching is a science that involves three essential principles: positive mental approach, top-notch physical condition, and, of course, fundamentally sound mechanics. So far in his career, it's fair to say its worked rather well. Now he brings his knowledge to Shea Stadium and attempts to get his new staff to join in on his complicated theory. (Free preview of premium content)

Saying Peterson is a advocate of Dr. James Andrews' biomechanics system may be the biggest understatement ever proclaimed. He lives and breathes by it. The program produces computer analysis of a pitcher's delivery, which, in turn, helps reduce the risk of injury and aims to enhance performance.

"The system is based on the attitude and habits that great performers have," says Peterson.

When did this develop? He was a coach in the Chicago White Sox organization and came in contact with Andrews.

"We went back to the Bob Gibson days and started looking at pitchers of that era and started asking the question, ‘Is there something that all these guys do that we could maybe design a system around?'"

R. Peterson
MR. PREPARATION: Rick Peterson is one of most prepared coaches in baseball and it's showed over the last few seasons with the Athletics.
Based on their findings of the various components that make up a pitcher's delivery, conditioning programs were devised. They aimed at allowing a major league pitcher to carry out these specific functions with the force necessary, in order to succeed, while not severely risking injury.

Hopefully, it'll also improve the Mets team ERA, which ranked 18th in baseball last season at 4.48.

One thing is certain: its worked for the A's.

But, on the other hand, a contributing factor could be that they had the likes of Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder engraved into their rotation.

In addition, as Matthew M. Cerrone of writes: "Peterson is at the forefront of a new generation of pitching coaches. He relies heavily on state-of-the-art technologies, including a system he helped develop for Tendu Inc., a new scouting service that helps track every pitch in a MLB season allowing its users to track the tendencies of pitchers and hitters. Only the A's and Mets are official subscribers of Tendu."

When Peterson arrived with Oakland prior to the 1998 season, he was inheriting a staff that finished with 5.49 ERA the year before -- last in the American League -- and also ranked last in the AL in walks, hits, and runs.

That began to change.

Following his arrival, the team's earned run average dropped considerably over the course of his first four seasons. In 1998 his staff finished with a 4.83 ERA (ninth in AL), 1999 at 4.69 (third), 4.58 in 2000 (third), 3.59 in 2001 (second), and at 3.68 in 2002 (first).

Whatever the man's doing, it works.

R. Peterson
HUH? Many of the Oakland Athletics pitchers, including Aaron Harang (above) and Mark Mulder, don't understand Peterson's method, but it has worked well over the last few seasons.
The graduate of Jacksonville University, with a degree in psychology, preaches staying ahead of hitters by throwing first pitch strikes. His playing career lasted four seasons in the Pirates organization from 1976-79 before being a player-coach with them for several years and later their bullpen coach. He was a pitching coach in the White Sox organization for six seasons prior to being hired as the minor league pitching coordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1996-97.

Mark Mulder, did you believe, or at any rate understand, his biomechanics theory?

"I don't really understand it all either, but you know what? What he does and how he does it, he's been very successful and he's done a great job," Mulder said in a WFAN interview on Wednesday. "More than anything, I know for me, as far as picking out little things in my mechanics, he did a great job with me and helping me with that."

In other words, enter baseball's version of "Bill Nye The Science Guy".

Al Leiter and company are in for a change. It's safe to assume that Dave Wallace, Charlie Hough, and Vern Ruhle didn't apply these methods.

"He's going to help [the Mets] out," Mulder continued, "and I can guarantee you they will be a much better pitching staff with him next year."

They'll probably be a little smarter too.

E-mail baseball analyst Christopher Guy at

Quotes from both Mark Mulder and Rick Peterson were taken from WFAN 660 in New York, where both were interviewed on Wednesday afternoon.

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