Four Types of Fastballs and How to Throw Them

A pitcher in the past who made use of what he called a “sinking fastball” was Bill “The Spacemen” Lee. You’ll probably find that just about every pitcher has a 4 seam fastball in his arsenal of available pitches . However, this is about the value of the four-seam fastball alone. It makes sense to throw a fast four-seamer even if it sinks. Pitchers who throw fast fastballs tend to have a higher Whiff% on their breaking ball, which can increase the value of the breaking ball. For instance, when a pitcher needs a safe, accurate pitch, a 4 seam fastball is the go-to pitch.

Grip the ball with your top two fingers across the seams and with your index finger and middle finger across the seams at the ball’s widest point. But don’t grip it tightly—grip it like an egg in your fingertips.The key is to get the ball to leave your hand without much friction. Every fielder must use a four seam fastball grip for the fastest, straightest throw possible. Oftentimes, you’ll hear a 2 seam fastball referred to as a “sink fastball” or “sinker”. The pitch got that name from past eras due to its low strike zone placement and its ability to produce ground balls.

When talking about spin rate, it is important to know that there are two types of spin. First, there is Active Spin (sometimes referred to as “Transverse Spin”) which is the amount of spin that results in the baseball’s directional movement. The other type is called Inactive Spin (sometimes referred to as “Gyrospin”) which does not impact the trajectory of the ball and works like the spiral of a football or bullet instead. This means that a pitcher with a high spin rate will not generate extra movement unless the majority of their spin is Active Spin. No matter how hard you throw, every pitcher needs to keep the four seam fastball in his selection of pitches. Even a lower velocity fastball can be used to the pitcher’s advantage if it is located well and used intelligently with other pitches.

There should be a space between the baseball and palm of the hand, and the baseball should be held loosely with the fingers. This grip allows the baseball to spin in a fashion that limits movement and generates the best velocity compared to other pitches. This criterion goes hand-in-hand with the observed vs actual spin axis, although I believe it deserves a separate discussion due to the nature of the matter.

There is very little horizontal or vertical movement on the ball as it approaches home plate. This lack of movement makes it somewhat easier to hit as a hitter can anticipate the location of the baseball as it approaches the plate. As you rise to higher levels , the hitters who can hit a fastball will rise with you and it will be more difficult to throw a good fastball past a good hitter. This does not mean the four seam fastball becomes less effective, but instead means that the pitcher needs to learn when to throw the four seamer for it to be effective. Also, if he can locate the pitch well, then the it becomes even more effective.

The reason that this ball is so great to throw when you are behind in the count is because this type of pitch has absolutely no movement. A lot of pitchers that I work with like to “touch” their pinky and thumb when gripping this pitch . It helps to develop a good “feel” for the pitch, which is important since the changeup is a finesse pitch. With the “close grip,” the index and middle fingers are placed side by side and directly on the center of the ball. The standard grip on the left and adjust based on their comfort, ability to command the pitch, and movement profile.

Position your thumb directly beneath the baseball and allow it to rest on the smooth leather. The perfect location for your thumb is in the center of the horseshoe seam on the bottom of the baseball. Holding the ball “loosely” in your fingertips allows for the gap required between the ball and the palm of your hand. Let’s take a closer look at how to grip and throw the four-seam fastball… Because of the shortened arm action and the rotation on the ball, curveballs are much slower than fastballs. It is also the most common pitch to throw up in the strike zone since the batter will tend to swing under it, resulting in a popup.

This twist in your wrist will give the ball its forward top-bottom rotation that will make the ball break. The curveball is a great pitch to have in your arsenal in order to throw off and fool batters. A curveball slightly sinks as it reaches the catcher’s glove. Moreover, when thrown correctly, a curveball can appear to be outside the strike zone, but then suddenly break back in towards the plate so that it’s a strike.

Due to slightly alternating grips, arm slots and wrist angles; there will be pitchers who find that they get more drop on this pitch than others. Some out there might then say that the pitch atec hitting streak pitching machine that drops more is a true sinker . Tom Seaver a Rawlings man who pitched 20 seasons in Major League Baseball was quoted as saying that “ good rising fastball is the best pitch in baseball”.

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