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The Rise in Tommy John Injuries: How Rapsodo Can Reduce the Risk

The Rise in Tommy John Injuries: How Rapsodo Can Reduce the Risk

April 22, 2024

Injuries are on the rise among pitchers from youth to MLB. It's hard to deny when looking at the trend in data. According to researcher Jon Roegele34.2% of pitchers to appear in an MLB game last season had Tommy John surgery at some point in their past. 
That number was 34.0% in 2022, 30.5% in 2021, and 29.8% in 2019, the last full season before the pandemic.
Certainly a number of factors play into this conversation. Recently, the MLBPA claimed the pitch clock is to blame for the uptick, while others like ESPN point to pitchers trying to chase velocity and spin rates with the introduction of technology. Maybe all of these are true.
However, as they say, "A scalpel in the hands of a surgeon can save a life, in the hands of a criminal it can kill."
Products like Rapsodo shouldn't be to blame. In fact, it's actually a solution to the ongoing problem. When used correctly, technology like PRO 3.0 and PRO 2.0 can open the eyes of pitchers and coaches giving them a deeper look into the issues that are ultimately causing the injuries.

How to Use Rapsodo Devices and Lower Injury Risk

Baseball has entered a pitch-design era, where technology like Rapsodo’s can provide detailed, real-time data that allows players to enhance their pitches with precision. Players who do not use the technology correctly may base technique changes solely on movement measurements, ignoring their comfort level and potentially raising their chances of elbow injury. However, by using Rapsodo devices as directed and correctly, pitchers can not only enhance their performance but can also reduce their risk of Tommy John injuries. Here’s how you can safely and effectively use Rapsodo devices like PRO 3.0 and PRO 2.0:

Creating Baselines 

One of the main concepts of Rapsodo's Pitching Certification Course is the idea of understanding baselines. Understanding an athlete's raw arm talent data on day one of getting on Rapsodo to understand their baselines and what improvement looks like.
Allowing coaches to build baselines for pitchers lets them track the player's progress throughout the year. By doing this, programs are able to monitor arm health and flag any potential injuries before they happen. 
One place to start is the release information data on Rapsodo. These metrics show release height, side, extension, and angle, telling the user where the ball is being released in space.
Every pitcher will have a different release profile. A different release height, extension, side from rubber, etc.. Establishing a baseline of where the ball is getting started off the mound will help understand release parameters before going deeper into the ball flight information.
Creating a baseline for a pitcher's natural spin rate and what the natural break they're creating before utilizing the information to provide feedback is an essential starting point for player development.

Use our data guides for pitching averages across each age group to help in setting a baseline.

Monitoring Pitch Count & Spin Rates 

Rapsodo's ability to provide real-time, objective data on pitch count and spin rates guides informed decisions that prioritize injury prevention while maximizing performance.
Keeping track of pitch count allows coaches and players to manage workload effectively. Overuse is a significant contributor to pitching injuries. Being able to monitor the number of pitches thrown in a game or practice session helps prevent athletes from exceeding safe limits.
As pitchers fatigue, mechanics can deteriorate and increase the risk of injury. Spin rates help coaches detect signs of fatigue early on. A decrease in spin rate, for example, may indicate that a pitcher is tiring, signaling the need for rest or reduced workload to prevent injury.
Every pitcher is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Pitchers with high spin rates may benefit from certain pitch grips or mechanics adjustments to reduce stress on their arm. Creating individualized training programs tailored to the specific needs of each pitcher optimizes their development while minimizing injury risk.

Arm Angle Health

Arm slot matters. It's unnatural to go against the natural movements of a pitcher, so it's important not to force a pitcher to try to do something that works against their body.
Using the pitching metrics, coaches can understand what a pitcher's natural arm angle is and then build a pitch arsenal around release. Being able to identify the natural arm slot will lead to maximum efficiency and minimal stress on an athlete's arm.

Tracking the pitcher's arm angle throughout a practice session will also help identify fatigue or mechanical issues. Catching any changes that differ from a player's normal baseline allows for timely adjustments to prevent injury.
The ability to analyze arm angle in real-time through metrics like release point and extension is an added resource to a coaching staff. 
With this information, adjustments can be made to improve efficiency and reduce injury risk, ultimately extending the longevity of an athlete's time on the mound.

Load Management 

"Load Management" has become a buzzword in MLB within the last few years. The term has traditionally been associated with the NBA, but is becoming more common with some of the bigger stars in baseball. 

The concept of load management is to ensure athletes aren’t over-training or under-training to help prevent possible injuries and maximize their performance.

Every team manages workload differently. While multiple factors can contribute to how load management is handled, one solution remains constant. The use of technology like Rapsodo. 

Before technology and immediate visual feedback, pitchers working on pitch design would simply have to remember how they gripped the ball to get it spinning the way they wanted it to. Some even had to take notes the old-fashioned way with pen and paper.  

Not only were pitchers trusting what they saw with their naked eye, but they would also have to throw more pitches during sessions to figure out how the ball was moving. 

Rapsodo takes the guess work out of pitch design while also reducing the amount of pitches thrown. The immediate feedback showing pitchers a visual of how a pitched ball is spinning, how it was orientated, and the break as a result of those factors can help play a significant role in load management.

When reflecting on his career during an interview with us at ABCA, R.A. Dickey said something similar, "Before Rapsodo, to make a change for the better, it would take me a week. It took me 5-6 bullpens to figure out what I could learn in one pitch on Rapsodo."


For those sidelined by injury, Rapsodo offers a roadmap to recovery. Pro-level metrics help injured arms can find their way back to full strength without further injuring the pitcher.
Coaches or trainers can create specific programs to build back to the baseline metrics in a healthy way.
We've seen plenty of success stories from MLB pitchers using Rapsodo to help guide their rehab process, like Kyle Wright of the Kansas City Royals.
He spoke with us at ABCA this year about how he's incorporated Rapsodo into his return from shoulder injury. One of the things Kyle spoke about was how he should have realized something wasn't right. 

"If I wasn't so stubborn, I could have known my shoulder injury was coming because my numbers weren't anywhere close to what they were at their best."
He went on to talk about utilizing Rapsodo with his actual recovery: "This is where data can be massive in a rehab. Understanding who was I at my best and how can I get back to that."
Another example is from Madison Bumgarner who used Rapsodo during the rehab process to monitor his pitch characteristics.
For pitchers returning from injury or undergoing rehabilitation, Rapsodo can play a massive role in tracking their progress while monitoring any drastic changes in performance. In doing so, coaches and medical staff can ensure that the pitcher is gradually returning to full strength without risking re-injury.

Train the Right Way with Rapsodo

Yes. Injuries among pitchers are rising at an unprecedented rate. But with the rise of injuries, we also see a rise in the ability to analyze pitching performance for the better.

So what should we do? Rather than blame the introduction of technology in baseball, maybe we should lean into it MORE. These resources help get ahead of injuries before they occur while significantly reducing the trend of we've seen.

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By Rapsodo Baseball

With an unwavering passion for the game and data-driven insights, we're here to inspire and elevate your Baseball journey through articles that help you find improvement and excellence.