By Tim Healey
A week ago, if you Googled Marlins reliever Carter Capps, the top of the page likely yielded the usual assortment -- his baseball-reference.com page, his MLB.com player profile, probably a Wikipedia article.
Monday night changed all of that. The Internet caught on to his freaky pitching style, and now headlines indicating as much include: "Marlins pitching Carter Capps has bizarre, leaping pitch delivery" (Bleacher Report); Carter Capps' delivery will probably blow your mind" (
Upworthy Yahoo! Sports); "Marlins reliever Carter Capps's delivery is weird as hell" (Deadspin).
What's all the fuss about? Before releasing the ball, Capps hops forward off the rubber, dragging his toe along the dirt, landing significantly closer to the plate than he otherwise would. He also, incredibly, hides the ball down behind his back before whipping his arm back around and releasing. Witness:
It seems a little dirty, but Capps and the Marlins actually got clearance that his delivery is legal, which is good because he's pitched in close to 100 games since debuting in 2012.
"They just said they wanted me to make sure I dragged my foot and not get too elevated in the air, and make sure it's more on a lateral plane," Capps said, according to MLB.com. "As long as I do that, they have no problem with it."
Baseball is no stranger to unorthodox pitching styles. Here are some of the strangest through the years.
Let's get this one out of the way, since it's basically a less-exaggerated version of Capps. (Or maybe Capps is a more-exaggerated version of Walden.)
Either way, Walden has the hop thing going on, and still somehow manages to throw his four-seamer in the mid- to high 90s.
The legendary right-hander's delivery consisted of a seemingly superfluous arm rotation, followed by Paige lifting his hands above his head and a decent-sized leg kick.
It's hard to imagine this windup had any physical benefit in terms of throwing a better pitch, but hey, can't knock the results.
The recently re-retired left-hander was famous for his absurdly high leg kick. Few know what it's like to be that flexible, but flaunt it if you've got it, I guess.
It worked out pretty well for him, too. Example: his 2003 one-hitter against the Mets.
Hey, here's an idea: Instead of throwing the ball like a normal pitcher, throw it with a similar motion -- but at the last moment look away from the plate. How Okajima managed to regularly throw stikes is unclear, though there's probably a joke in there somewhere about his consistently increasing walk rate.
You'd think this delivery might cause some problems with comebackers, but apparently not. (This clip also has a few good slo-mo looks that show Okajima turning his head, so give it a look.)
A Hall of Famer and one of the greatest Dominican pitchers ever, Marichal was well known for his high leg kick, one that was different from Willis' version. Instead of keeping his leg bent and lifting it up, Marichal extended it -- almost completely -- and to the point where at its peak it was about level with his head.
You can see several examples of that here, but here's a slo-mo version.
Chad "Knuckle-Scrapin'" Bradford was a bit more than a submariner. He came from so low that his fingers were just inches away from hitting the dirt before his arm released the ball. But at least he didn't throw it to first that way, too.
Hide Nomo's order of operations: Raise both hands straight up, pause, lift leg and turn, turn back and deliver. It doesn't make any sense, but it worked (for a while).
Another leg kick of the gigantic variety. Hernandez' was exacerbated by his crouching his head/upper body down, as if momentarily crouching into a ball (while still standing on one leg).
El Duque's still got it, by the way.
Williams was, simply put, a character -- you don't get nicknamed "Wild Thing" for nothing -- and had a windup to match. It looked normal until the very end, when Williams, who unleashed each offering with a considerable degree of ferocity, had to catch himself with his glove hand, or else fall down.
At least Walden and Willis kept their eyes on the plate during their windups. The same can't be said of right-handed Cuban great Luis Tiant.
El Tiante would lift both hands over his head, raise his right foot, completely turn his back on the batter, then turn back around and deliver. If you're reaction to that is "…what?" then just watch.
Anyone we missed? List your favorites below in the comments.
Tim Healey is a contributor to Sports on Earth. Follow him on Twitter @timbhealey.