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Submarine (baseball)

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In baseball, a submarine is a pitch delivered with an underhand motion. Some submarine pitchers deliver the ball while almost scraping their knuckles on the dirt. The pitch has a tendency to break more than one delivered with an overhand motion. Pitches thrown via a submarine motion are also generally more difficult for hitters to see relative to pitches thrown via an overhand motion; as such, they are the toughest pitches for same-side batters to hit (if the submarine pitcher is right-handed, then he or she is the most difficult for a right-handed hitter to hit). However, a lot of their breaking balls seem to float to an opposite-side batter.

For example, assume that a right-handed submarine pitcher were to face a right-handed hitter. From the view of the pitcher towards home plate, a submarine style fastball tends to break toward the right of the plate towards the batter. However, against a left-handed hitter, the pitch would break away from the batter, allowing him to wait on the ball for an easy hit. The converse is true for left-handed submarine pitchers: a fastball from southpaw submariner Mike Myers would break towards left-handed hitters, but away from right-handed hitters.

The rarity of submarine pitchers is sometimes attributed to the different technique required, rather than it being an inferior pitching style. The technique is unknown to most coaches simply because the vast majority of pitchers use overarm motions. Thus, most young baseball pitchers are encouraged to throw overhand. Also, the unusual bending motion required to pitch effectively as a submariner means that many submariners develop back problems, and lack the stamina required to be used as starting pitchers. One exception is Byung-Hyun Kim, who started 87 games in his Major League career.

There are not many hard-throwing submarine pitchers. Perhaps the most notable was Carl Mays, whose unorthodox delivery possibly contributed to the fatal beaning of Ray Chapman.

Past submariners include Ted Abernathy, Elden Auker, Mark Eichhorn, Kent Tekulve and Dan Quisenberry.

Shunsuke Watanabe of Japan's Chiba Lotte Marines is known as "Mr. Submarine" in Japan. Watanabe has a low release point, even for a typical submarine pitcher, as he drops his pivot knee so low that he scrapes his knee. He now wears a pad under his uniform to not injure his knee. In addition, his release point is so low that the knuckles on his pitching hand occasionally drag on the ground and are scraped raw.

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