Background Medial ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction is a common procedure performed on Major League Baseball pitchers. Variations in pitching mechanics before and after UCL reconstructive surgery are not well understood. Methods Publicly available pitch tracking data (PITCHf/x) were compared for all Major League Baseball pitchers who underwent UCL reconstruction between 2008 and 2013. Specific parameters analyzed were fastball percentage, release location, velocity, and movement of each pitch type. These data were compared before and after UCL reconstructive surgery and compared with a randomly selected control cohort. Results There were no statistically significant changes in pitch selection or pitch accuracy after UCL reconstruction, nor was there a decrease in pitch velocity. The average pitch release location for 4-seam and 2-seam fastballs, curveballs, and changeups is more medial after UCL reconstruction (P <.01). Four-seam fastballs and sliders showed decreased horizontal breaking movement after surgery (P <.05), whereas curveballs showed increased downward breaking movement after surgery (P <.05). Conclusions Pitch selection, pitch velocity, and pitch accuracy do not significantly change after UCL reconstruction, nor do players who require UCL reconstruction have significantly different pitch selection, velocity, or accuracy than a randomly selected control cohort. Pitch release location is more medial after UCL reconstruction for all pitch types except sliders. Breaking movement of fastballs, sliders, and curveballs changes after UCL reconstruction.
- Tommy John
- Valgus instability
- release location
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine