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Nutshots & Studying Pain Tolerance

In the ninth inning last night, Rob Johnson took a foul tip off the junk. It wasn't funny, because it was a foul tip off the junk, but it was funny, because people getting hit in the junk is funny, because the reactions tend to be pricelessly disproportionate to the severity of the damage. Bonus funny points were granted on account of it being Rob Johnson on the receiving end.

What was interesting about Johnson, though, was the speed with which he collapsed forward in a heap, and the amount of time he spent positioned in said heap on the ground. Not that any man who's ever been hit in the junk would ever condemn another man for not taking it well when he gets hit in the junk, but if you thought Johnson's response and recovery were drawn out and unusually excessive, you weren't alone. It seemed like a long delay, and longer than we've seen in the past.

So I went to the video and made use of the stopwatch on my phone that I just discovered by accident last night. Serendipity! Here's the relevant data for Rob Johnson's nutshot:

Pitch 93mph fastball
Result Foul tip
Time to ground 3s
Time to kneel 80s
Time to stand 110s
Time to warmup 150s
Time to next pitch 190s

The most important thing, of course, is the time to next pitch. That's the best measure of how well a guy takes a foul tip off the junk. All the stuff in between only adds color. More than three minutes passed between the pitch that hit Rob Johnson in the junk and the next pitch that did not hit Rob Johnson in the junk.

But then, what is data without a point of comparison? And that's where LL comes in handy. The activity in the game threads can frequently be overwhelming, but the advantage of having so many comments is that everything that happens on the field gets archived online, so by using the search bar we're able to track down the timing of prior events with ease. It was in this way that I was able to pull up a relevant Kenji Johjima nutshot from 2008. Results?

Pitch 88mph fastball
Result Foul tip
Time to ground N/A
Time to kneel 2s
Time to stand 60s
Time to warmup N/A
Time to next pitch 92s

Roy Corcoran got Kenji good, but Kenji took it a hell of a lot better than Johnson did. He never went to the ground, and he didn't need a warmup pitch. He just knelt, caught his breath, and recovered in half the time.

Worried that this might've been an anomaly, I pulled up another relevant Kenji nutshot from 2006. The camera work on this one wasn't as good, so I couldn't measure the transition stages, but Kenji took a Javy Lopez foul tip on a JJ Putz 88mph splitter off the junk, knelt, and prepared to catch the next pitch just 72 seconds later. 72 seconds. That's 20 seconds faster than the first Kenji clip I pulled up, and an unthinkable 118 seconds faster than Rob Johnson last night.

Following are what Rob Johnson and Kenji looked like after 72 seconds, respectively:


And lest you think that Kenji is just some sort of unfeeling iron man, remember that Adrian Beltre took one of the most famous baseballs off the junk in Seattle history last August when he was playing the field. The baseball tore one of Adrian Beltre's testicles. Time to next pitch: 68 seconds, with much of the delay caused by a changing of the batters. Beltre winced, but never fell to the ground. He didn't even kneel or rest his hands on his knees for more than a moment.

Last night, Rob Johnson took a foul tip off the junk. You never want to criticize the way a man responds to a foul tip off the junk, because it really hurts, but, really? More than three minutes? You're a catcher, Rob. You're a catcher in the Major Leagues. It's time to start acting like you've been there before.