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A Beginners Guide to Evaluating Four-Seam Fastballs

Master this basic fastball and you will be on your way to becoming a better pitcher. There are many variations of this pitch with similar spins. The back-handed changeup has a unique spin, like a sideways 2-seamer. This is thrown to deceive the hitter by looking like it has velocity but really is the slowest pitch. If you’re looking to add some extra movement to your 2 seam fastball, it’s a good idea to realize that a different approach will be had when compared to a 4 seam fastball. Because a 4 seam fastball has no movement, the pressure on each finger before the throw applied to the baseball will be equal.

It’s a great pitch for you to use if you want to jam or confuse a hitter. If you are a righty, the pitch will run in on a right-handed batter. If you are a lefty it will run in on a left-handed batter. The ball tends to run or drift in the direction of your throwing arm’s side. The con, or hard part, about using the two-seamer is that it can be hard to spot in the strike zone.

A few pitchers at the major league level can sometimes reach a pitch speed of up to 100 mph. Upon the release, the ball will first leave the thumb, sliding off the fore and middle fingers at the top of the throwing motion, imparting backspin on the ball. The backspin on the ball, along with the action of the four seams all rotating into the direction of the throw, act to stabilize the ball’s flight.

But now there is a new concept called Vertical Approach Angle that includes the height of the release and the height of the pitch’s path. With that in mind, let’s think again about what is needed for a good four-seam fastball. Relief pitchers with most of these traits such as Sean Doolittle and Josh Hader have already proven that pitchers can survive throwing fastballs upwards of 80% of the time. This is encouraging as last season saw many starting pitchers throwing 4-Seam fastballs above 50% of the time and many of those starters had above average velocity and/or vertical movement. Unfortunately, many of them made the first mistake of focusing on the bottom of the plate and paid the price .

You will also find that a two-seamer typically has more velocity. There are many different types of fastballs that you can throw. A four-seam fastball is part of the fastball family but is not the only type of fastball. The four-seamer gets its name from the view of the four parallel seams spinning toward the batter. The ball exits the hand from the pitcher’s first two fingers and rotates bottom to top from the batter’s perspective roughly 20 times before reaching the plate.

Before we continue, this writer must comment that it is impossible for a human to throw a rising pitch when it is thrown from a 10 inch mound toward a home plate that is 60 feet 6 inches away. However, due to the limitations of the human eye, an elite 4 seamer’s ability to “drop less” as it arrives towards home plate. A batter’s eyes can be tricked into seeing a high velocity fastball rise as it crosses home plate. The pitch gets this name because four seams appear insight with each rotation of the ball as it is pitched. Some of the major league pitchers can occasionally pitch up to the speed of 100mph. Usually, its comparison is made with the two-seam fastball.

Once they break away in their appropriate manners, a batter has less time to react, making these pitches incredibly difficult to hit. An effectively mirrored fastball needs a breaking ball to pair with – done alone, this concept is not in effect. But if a pitcher can successfully use both a four-seamer and off-speed to fool hitters, it is so much more deadly, proving to be another point of value-added via a four-seam fastball. It does indeed break a bit on its path towards the plate.

So, What’s the difference between a 4 seam and 2 seam fastball? A 4 Seam Fastball will travel in a directly straight path to the plate, whereas the 2 seam fastball travels to the right or average softball pitching speed left depending on your throwing arm. A 2 seam fastball, if thrown down the middle, will move to the left with a right handed pitcher, and to the right if you’re a left handed pitcher.