Oakland Athletics: Sonny Gray’s Small Stature A Cause For Concern?

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The Oakland Athletics’ young ace, Sonny Gray, is going to be a hot topic of conversation this offseason. Even though he will not hit free agency until 2020, many other teams are hoping that Billy Beane will decide to trade Gray now. Gray has found unbelievably successful during his first two and half seasons in the MLB, but there is always a nagging concern about his small stature and its ability to handle the stress and pressure of a Major League starting pitcher.

Gray may have a bulldog demeanor on the mound, but his physical presence is not as menacing. He stands at just 5’11” and weighs only 180 lbs. When compared to some of the other pitchers with whom Gray goes toe-to-toe with, he is definitely on the smaller side.

Because of his small size, there is some concern that his career as a Major League ace could be short. A starting pitcher role is physically demanding despite only taking the mound every five days. Because Gray is smaller, he has to put in extra effort to generate enough force to pitch up into the mid-90s. The extra power needed to pitch at a high level was ultimately Tim Lincecum’s downfall, who Gray has been compared too in the past.

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Lincecum is even a little smaller than Gray at 5’11” and 170 lbs. Lincecum has spent his entire eight year career with the San Francisco Giants, but was really only successful for four of those seasons. Lincecum’s torque-heavy pitching style has taken a toll on his body and it has lead to numerous injuries including a degenerate hip problem. He has not found much success since 2012, and it is unlikely he will return to the Giants next season.

However, despite the comparisons being made between Lincecum and Gray, there may not be a huge reason to worry just yet. Unlike Lincecum, Gray has top-notch pitching mechanics that utilizes his small, compact size to produce high velocity pitches down in the strike zone. Lincecum had a more violent approach on the mound and was known for his unorthodox mechanics.

At some point, Gray’s forceful pitching style will take a toll on his small frame. However, he will probably experience more years of success than Lincecum did because Gray’s mechanics are rock solid. As long as he continues to employ proper pitching tactics, Gray will be on the mound in Oakland for many more years to come – unless he is traded.

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