Pitch Design Articles

1. Pitch Development and Design… Basics

Tomorrow’s elite pitchers have to learn and take advantage of the implications of data analysis.  Advancements in technology have brought data to the doorsteps of commercial baseball facilities and the future will be never be the same.

When pitchers are moving at rapidly increasing speeds, observing and evaluating a pitcher’s movements with high speed data capture can be truly eye opening. The amount information can be overwhelming at first, but as you begin to grasp it, the aha! moments begin to accumulate. We are discovering things about pitchers that were unfathomable just a year ago without this technology.  Pitch Design is here and it will change how tomorrow’s pitchers will be trained… [click here]

2. Fastballs

In Part of 2 of this series on Pitch Development and Design, we’re going to review how we incorporate new tech into evaluating ball movement and help our pitchers improve and further develop their overall delivery (in this case the fastball).  Not long ago, coaches would basically rely on the naked eye to evaluate pitchers.  With commercially cost effective technology, it’s now obvious that the eyes only tell part of the story… [click here]

3. Change-ups

When you log over 5,000 pitches through the Rapsodo camera and spend countless hours crunching data you begin to have a pretty good understanding of ball movement and behavior on a pitch-by-pitch basis.  Today we’re going to review change-ups, the slower fastball, in great detail .  First, let’s get this straight.  There seems to be no shortage of how pitchers grip their change-ups.  Consequently, you see a great deal of variation in change-ups’ movement from pitcher to pitcher.  But a decent change-up generally features the following… [click here]

4. Cutters

Today’s article is on cutters, the same pitch Mariano Rivera made a nice living with, even though his opponents knew it was coming nearly 90% of the time.  Cutters or cut-fastballs move differently than every other fastball.  But before we go any further let’s establish what we consider to be a cutter and there is no better place to go than Rivera’s pitch… [click here]

5. Sliders

With all the talk around spin rates, we sometimes forget that at the end of the day pitching is all about velo and movement.  Unlike fastballs  and change-ups, sliders and curveballs tend to break towards the glove side.  They are generically referred to as breaking balls, and although most talk about them in similar terms they behave very differently from one another…. [click here]

6. Curveballs

This past spring, high school senior, 6’6” 200, LHP Matthew Liberatore was selected 16th overall in the MLB Draft by the Tamp Bay Rays.  According to reports, his curveball has a total spin rate of approximately 2800 rpm with a 99% spin efficiency.  Thrown in the low to mid-70’s mph, it has a vertical drop of 24 inches (2 feet).  His stats and data were posted on social media, along with commentary that noted his curveball has an additional 500 rpm’s vs. the MLB average.  Data is here folks and it’s influencing everything up and down the chain.  So, let’s get into it… [click here]

7. Relative Ball Movement

How often have we heard so and so throws hard but his ball is flat? They are talking about movement. Velocity is a pre-requisite but movement and relative movement is the other half of the equation.  Let’s quickly review where movement comes from. The diagram further below provides a summary of how velocity, true spin and spin axis determine not only the amount of movement/break but also the direction of movement.  According to Dr. Alan Nathan (University of Illinois: The Physics of Baseball) some of this relationship is linear and some is non-linear.  Nonetheless, putting earthly topics aside these three attributes… 1) velocity, 2) true spin and 3) spin axis… pretty much determine ball movement… and how your pitches move vis-a-vis each other is pretty much all pitching is about (next to velo… lol)… [click here]

8. Grips, Seams, Spin Axis and Movement

Seams and grips matter, so let’s put that to rest.  But how is spin axis generated?  Before we begin, let’s cover a relevant but important topic.  As it relates to ball movement, there are two different topics that sometimes get thrown in together as simply “movement”.  They are:

    • Amount of movement
    • Direction of movement

Different things impact each of these topics differently.  So, just for clarity’s sake, in this article we are only discussing direction of movement… [click here]

9. Why Don’t Young Pitchers Know How to Throw a 2-seam?

For eons pitching coaches have been showing young pitchers how to throw a 2-seam by rotating the baseball from a 4-seam grip to a 2-seam grip and telling them to go-ahead and chuck the ball.  The implication being that a simple rotation of the ball in the hand along a different set of seams will create the desired movement. Unfortunately, we’re going to bust that myth up today and throw away years of pitching instruction… [click here]

10. Pitchers… Your Eyes Lie (A Comprehensive Report on Rapsodo Data)

This report is a summary of approximately 10,000 pitches thrown by 50 high school-level pitchers, randomly selected from our various winter, spring and summer programs. The new Rapsodo camera system exposes a great deal and explains why “the eyes lie”. We are willing to bet that our findings are not unique but rather common place in youth pitchers everywhere. [Read more…]

11. Total Spin vs. True Spin (simplified)

At any given moment, a baseball is likely spinning along all 3 axes at the same time. We’re talking a little bit of:

    • Left or right
    • Backspin or topspin
    • Spinning around in one, or the other, direction (like a football spiral spin also referred to as gyro spin) [Read more…]

12. Putting Pitching Data Analytics to Work

In today’s article, we’re going to dig a little deeper into:

    • What it (spin) all means
    • How movement is generated
    • Different types of spin and related info
    • Advantages of having access to the data
    • Why it’s important to understand the ramifications
    • How we can use it to our benefit

With that said, let’s go over some basics [Read more…]

13. You Better Get Ready… Data has Come to Pitching

As much as some people don’t want to admit it, baseball is turning even more into a numbers game run by machines such as Statcast, Rapsodo and Trackman, to name a few. The ordinary fan watching a game on TV is getting a glimpse of this when they see Aaron Judge’s exit velo, launch angle, projected distance and exit velocity pop on the screen, or, when they’re watching Aroldis Chapman and instantly see his velo, extension, spin rate, and horizontal and vertical movement. Whether we like or not, data is changing the landscape for baseball players. And I can speak to this first hand, from my own experience with the Indians over the past 7 years. [Read more…]

14. How We Assess Pitch Movement Patterns w/ New Tech?

The introduction of new tech like Rapsodo cameras is changing the landscape for pitchers at all levels. Until recently, most pitchers would focus on their pitching mechanics and strength training. Now, technology is bringing a whole new realm to pitching at the point of release and we have a third leg on the stool that can’t be ignored:

    • Pitching Mechanics
    • Strength and Conditioning
    • Point of Release [Read more…]

14. The Pursuit of Abnormal Movement

A while back we wrote about a topic titled “What is Relative Movement? And Why is it Important?”.  This article looks to further refine that concept, and it’s a topic that all high-level pitchers should consider at all levels of the game. [Read more…]