This is probably the hardest fastball success factor to quantify since it all revolves around the perception of the batter. The longer a pitcher can “hide” the ball from the batter, the less time the batter will have to see and react to the pitch. This can be especially useful for pitchers who have a slight variance in release point as batters will not know where the pitch is coming from until it has been thrown.
The two-seam fastball appears to have more movement than a four-seam fastball, but can be more difficult to master and control. The amount of break on the pitch varies greatly from pitcher to pitcher depending on velocity, arm slot angle, and pressure points of the fingers. The two-seamer is a very natural pitch to throw, and is often taught to pitchers at a very early age. Its use is widespread throughout all levels of baseball, and most pitchers at any level have a two-seamer in their repertoire.
The 4 seam fastball is usually delivered with a smooth upward rotation of the pitching arm. The ball exits the thumb at the peak of the pitching action since the index and middle finger impart gripping action on the “top” seam to spin it down the “back” of the ball. When releasing a 2 seam or sink fastball, there will be less friction between the pitcher’s index and middle finger and the ball when compared to a 4 seamer. This causes the 2 seamer to spin less and helps create extra horizontal movement . Along with the arm slots from which the pitches are thrown, the grips will be the big differentiators between a 4 seam and 2 seam fastball.
Further, backspin combined with the steady rotation of four seams in alignment with the direction of the pitch stabilizes the ball’s flight-path. A four-seam fastball, also called a rising fastball, a four-seamer, or a cross-seam fastball, is a pitch in baseball. It is a member of the fastball family of pitches and is usually the hardest (i.e., fastest) ball thrown by a pitcher. It is called what it is because with every rotation of the ball as it is thrown, four seams come into view. A few pitchers at the major league level can sometimes reach a pitch speed of up to 100 mph.
It is often higher in average velocity than a traditional two-seamer. If you’re a beginner or aren’t familiar with the seam pitches, you should learn four-seam fastball first as it’s overall more important. Only then should you learn the two-seam fastball to give you more room to work with when the time is right.
The reason for this lies in the direction, as this type of throw is usually a straighter pitch. In baseball, a fastball in general moves because of the high-pressure zone which is creating in front and underneath the baseball, and this is aided by the stitching on the ball. The figure-eight pattern on the ball isn’t flush to the surface, it is slightly raised, allowing airflow to whirl around catcher tips softball it as it moves. Depending on the type of pitch, the trajectory of the ball can be modified and changed. Using this technique puts the pitcher more in control, and as the ball travels in a straight line, it is harder for the batter to hit it. 4 seam and 2 seam pitches are commonly heard terms throughout any baseball game, both are delivered at high speed yet their outcomes are very different.
Interestingly, there is pretty much no correlation between quality of contact and different amounts of both vertical, and horizontal movement. The R2 value for vertical movement is less than 0.01 and the value for horizontal movement is slightly negative . This finding is surprising given the drastic difference in swinging strike percentage with vertical movement. The drop ball is a tricky pitch for hitters to identify because it has similar spin to a four-seam fastball. Like the rise ball the pitch is rarely thrown as a strike and is thrown with velocity.
Seam-shifted wake is the phenomenon taking baseball by storm. Simply put, seam-shifted wake is when a baseball moves in an unexpected direction that is not based on the Magnus force that a regular pitch would exhibit. In that article, I primarily focused on sliders – but four-seam fastballs can undergo the same force. By looking at an observed vs actual spin axis chart, which compares what the ball should’ve done to what it did, you can see if a pitch experienced seam-shifted wake. To demonstrate this, I’ll look at San Francisco Giants pitcher Tyler Rogers. Shown below in red is the expected vs actual spin axis of Rogers in 2022 for his four-seam fastball.
To get this pitch to be effective and run the way it’s supposed to, you should place slightly more pressure on the index finger than the middle finger. It should be noted that length of fingers and overall hand size can play a role in how much the ball may move, to some degree. A four-seam is named after the positioning of the seams which are visible when the ball rotates in the air. This straight thrown pitch travels directly towards the batter, and all four seams can be seen one each rotation due to the grip used before throwing the ball. In comparison, the two-seam pitch displays two seams on each rotation.