Todd Williams: Former RHP MLB pitcher several teams, 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist Team USA


1. Could you tell us your story on dropping down?

Not much of a story about me dropping down. I have always been a 3/4 to side arm thrower. When I was in College I started and threw a complete game, 9 innings. I then came in relief the next day and threw the last 8 1/3 innings of the game to cap off our Regional Championship. That was probably the point in which I started throwing at my sidearm slot. If anything, it was probably just because of fatigue and adrenaline and throwing at that low was just natural and comfortable. I did not know I was lower than usually until a teammate told me so. I always had good sink on my fastball but really never understood why until I signed professionally. That is when I really started working with pitching coaches on how to be an affective sinker ball pitcher.


2. What are some of the advantages you had from your arm angle?

See answer number 1.


3. If you didn't drop down, do you think you would have had the same success?

I do think that I would have had success if I did not throw at the sidearm slot. Actually for me, I have mixed my pitching style up a little over the years and sometimes threw a little higher or lower depending on how I felt and making adjustments to how I needed to throw to certain hitters. When I was at my best, I would never worry about the arm angle. I would just throw where I was comfortable. Sometimes comfortable for me would change depending on my workload. As a reliever, I had to be ready every day. I have had to throw 3,4,5,6 games in a row quite a lot. Sometimes the 3rd or 4th game my sinker would be more affective because I could not over throw the ball. Simply because I couldn't. Also, remember as a reliever, we not only throw in multiple games but also organizations never take into consideration the bullpen sessions, and the times you get ready in the bullpen but do not enter the game. That takes a toll on an arm throughout a season. To help myself in these situations, I took it upon myself to not throw before batting practice and get my arm loose. I felt that I did not want to have to get through the soreness throwing before the game when I might have to do it again a few hours later. The only time I would throw before a game my the last ten years of my career was when I had 2 or 3 days off and felt that I needed the work. I would use those times to long toss.


4. What would you tell someone debating on changing their arm angle?

The debate on whether someone should change arm angles? Since retiring a few years ago, I have been a full time Dad and coach. Coaching three sports and doing clinics and pitching lessons. I feel that you do not need to fix something that is not broke. If someone throws sidearm naturally then who am I to tell him to change. When handling kids I feel that letting them throw in their comfort zone is the way to go. If they are able to do it comfortably then why not? When kids start getting into High School, College or even Pro ball, then I think switching to sidearm can be considered more often because they should be getting to the point of understanding why they want to drop the arm angle and how to be an effective sidearm pitcher. Remember, not only do pitchers get asked to drop down lower but there are guys who are asked to throw at a higher angle. These are usually taller guys asked to throw down hill. Pitchers who decide to drop down usually do it for 2 reasons. 1. An injury to the throwing arm forces them to change something and the lower slot may give them the ability to still pitch a high level. 2. A pitcher is struggling and / or feels like he needs to make a change so decides to try and drop down to side arm and occasionally guys turn to submarine style. Some guys make the transition to knuckle ball pitchers for the same reason. Bottom line, I feel that a pitcher should not be forced to change. Especially at a young age when their body's are not fully developed. As pitchers get older then there can definitely be great benefits from lowering there arm angle for plenty of reasons. As long as it is comfortable and not forced then taking advantage of those benefits can certainly help.


5. Are there any mechanical tips that you'd give to someone throwing sidearm/submarine?

There are some mechanical things that you can do as a sidearm pitcher. As long as the pitchers body and arm can handle it. You will notice that sidearm pitchers tend to throw across their body's. Again, I do not suggest it, but if it is comfortable it can be an advantage. Throwing a bit across your body, combined with throwing sidearm and the possibility of throwing from the far right of the pitching rubber (RHP) can be a big advantage because of where the angle of the pitch will be starting from. I have had hitters tell me that they feel like I am starting out throwing behind them. It also gives you the opportunity to hide the ball longer. I personally threw from both sides of the pitching rubber over my career. I felt that pitching from the left side gave my ball more room for the movement into a right handed hitter. Pitching on the extreme right side of the pitching rubber made me have to get through the ball more which in turn made me have more sink on my fastball. Mechanics are very important.

These things I am writing aboutare only a couple of things. The basic fundamentals always come into play when it comes to pitching. One thing that side arm pitchers tend to do wrong is over throwing. When we try to force the ball to get to a spot (especially when RHP's throwing away to RH hitters or in to LH hitters) open our shoulders to try and get the pitch outside. Staying back during the pitch and staying the same fundamentally will let pitchers be able to get their hands and fingers through the ball, therefore leading to better spotting on pitches and better movement and or sink on the pitch.


6. What pitches did you throw?

I threw a various combination of pitches throughout my career. Obviously the older we get, the more we learn. I threw a sinking fastball probably 85% of the time. I threw a curve ball and slider the first few years of my career and then I committed to becoming a sinker ball, ground out pitcher. I basically was a sinker ball pitcher and threw a slider (dry no seam fastball ) and an occasional split finger for an off speed pitch. My pitching mentality was to try and get a guy out with 3 pitches or less. A ground ball for me was the equivalent to a strikeout.


7. How did you pitch to lefties/righties?

Pitching to right handed hitters compared to left handed hitters. Well, most of my career I threw hard in on right handed hitters. I loved breaking bats and getting ground balls. As I got older I found that guys would start cheating and I had to adjust to throwing outside more to be successful at the Major League level. I found that hitters tend to open up more against me because of my release point and they would cheat in. Once I adjusted to throwing away I realized I was getting just as many slow ground balls because hitters still would not be getting the barrel of the bat on the ball. Once you sense a hitter sitting away, that is when you go right back inside and break a bat. Throwing to left handed hitters was a different approach. I basically stayed away most of the time. Maybe start off with an off speed pitch to start the at bat. I actually would bet that I had more success on hitters that took an aggressive approach. I would use that to my advantage. The more aggressive the swing, the more I can let my sinker do its job and have them swing over the ball or top it for a ground ball. The trouble hitters were the hitters that had a up the middle to away approach. I would have to see it and throw the ball a touch lower and away to get them to rollover on a pitch. Also throwing off the plate away would set me up to jam them in as they would be cheating away. Its basic pitching but from my side of view with the movement on my ball.


8. Lastly what was your favorite part about pitching from down there?

My favorite part of pitching side arm was the fun and fear that you can see from hitters that are so uncomfortable hitting against me. I remember a year in AAA that Baseball America did a poll on the most feared pitcher in the league voted on by the hitters in the league. They voted me as the most feared pitcher to face. That meant a lot to me. Not to be feared but to be respected by my peers like that was an honor. I enjoyed messing with other teams and hitters. I always got a bad rap that I cheated. That I would rub up the balls, or use something to get the movement and sink that I would get. I never once did anything to a ball except throw it the way I knew how to get the best movement. Although, once I found out people thought I was cheating then I would always mess with them by grabbing my pants and belt, rubbing the ball, licking my fingers. All legal but just trying to get into their heads. That was fun for me. Saying all of that, my favorite part of pitching was those games I had to come in and get a double play with bases loaded in a 1 run game. There is nothing better than going into a Major league game in that situation and they send up a power pinch hitter and getting him to roll over on a first pitch sinker for a double play.