The Transformation of Alek Manoah

The Importance of Positioning for Pitchers

Part 1/2

Despite being considered a favorite for the AL Cy Young award, Alek Manoah’s performance in the 2023 season failed to meet the high expectations set for him. Posting a 5.87 ERA, an ERA+ of 72, and a WHIP of 1.74, which all represent a significant decline compared to the previous season.


The first video is Alek Manoah pitching during his junior year at the University of West Virginia. At this point in his career Manoah lands slightly closed with his front leg. While his front foot is relatively pointed towards home plate. Throughout this movement his front knee remains soft and does not fully extend until well after releasing the ball. During the latter phase of the delivery Manoah demonstrates sufficient strength and mobility to effectively absorb the energy he generates throughout his delivery. Allowing for enough rotation to allow his trunk to get into an optimal and consistent spot, enabling him to maintain balance and repeat his mechanics on a pitch to pitch basis. The positioning of his front foot enables his hips to maintain enough range of motion to facilitate effective rotation while absorbing the forces generated throughout his delivery without compromising his balance.



In 2023, there is a significant difference in where Alek Manoah’s front foot is landing. His front leg/foot is landing in a closed-off position, and the direction of his front foot is also significantly closed off. This change in position appears to have impeded Manoah’s ability to effectively rotate and absorb the energy he creates throughout his delivery. As this position restricts is hip internal rotation (more on this later). His inability to rotate causes his body weight to pull him towards the first base side of the mound (off balance), instead of transferring the energy and momentum that he created throughout the delivery back into his body. Consequently, due to his lower body not rotating efficiently, his trunk cannot rotate efficiently either. His inability to efficiently rotate not only causes a lack of balance but also causes his torso to be in a slightly different position from pitch to pitch, resulting in an inconsistent release point. Ideally the torso needs to rotate into ball release, but Manoah’s inability to rotate efficiently causes him to pull into ball release only adding to him being unbalanced. He attempts to compensate for his lack of range of motion in his front hip by lifting the ball of his front foot off the ground, thus allowing his front hip to open and complete his rotation without stumbling. These mechanical deficiencies not only affect his overall velocity & command but also impact the movement profile of his breaking balls and place additional stress on his body.

The angle at which Manoah lands is significant because although it may not seem like much, through him landing in a more closed off position it requires his body to have additional hip IR (internal rotation) to be able to efficiently rotate around his front leg. IR that he appears to not have. Landing in a closed off position may restrict one’s ability to rotate optimally due to simply not having enough range of motion in one’s hips or it could be an anatomy factor as well. Through not being able to rotate efficiently around his front leg Manoah isn’t able to get his trunk into an optimal position to deliver the ball, as his trunk is lagging behind which causes him to pull into ball release instead of rotating into ball release. This creates consistency and balance issues related to the latter part of his delivery.

It is worth noting that according to the University of West Virgina baseball website Alek Manoah is listed at 260lbs during his jr. season, compared to having him listed at 285lbs for the 2023 season. This gain in weight requires Manoah to possess significant more stability and strength to be able to effectively move through the positions discussed above in an optimal way. Not only does this additional weight require additional stability and strength it may also be affecting his range of motion, as there is now more mass in the way of his movements as well as more load being placed upon his joints which may be restricting his range of motion not only throughout his hips but his entire body.

Without actually knowing the range of motion he currently possesses or the range of motion he possessed in 2019, focusing on hip mobility, specifically internal rotation (IR) would potentially be a good area to focus on. Also, adjusting the position where his front foot lands and the direction that his front foot faces should significantly improve his overall rotation as it will create more space throughout his front hip. This, in turn, would hopefully help Manoah repeat his mechanics easier. This should also allow his lead leg block to improve, as in its current state Manoah’s lead leg block represents a significant energy leak. However, if he is able to rotate more efficiently it would help improve his lead leg block, assisting in cleaning up his lower body mechanics and making those movements more efficient. It is important to note that over time, his struggles with commanding the ball and executing pitches may have become a mental barrier. As he continued to struggle it is potential that his confidence waned, negatively impacting his velocity, command, and the effectiveness of his slider and changeup. However, I firmly believe that the root of the issue began as a mechanical one. Through making a few small mechanical adjustments, which could be accomplished through soft tissue, mobility work and drill work as well as getting in better shape would help Manoah return to form for the 2024 season.


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