Some will appear to rise as the pitch is thrown, and others will have a regular downward path or break away. Easier pitches to hit will follow an expected fastball path – not sinking, rising, or breaking much above the average. The hardest pitches to hit deviate from that path – rising, sinking, and horizontally breaking at a rate that is much different than the average pitch. Pictured below is a graph of the 4-Seam pitch movement versus the average, explaining which pitches are deadly and which are not. With a four-seam fastball, more spin means more power in the pitch.
While some may perceive it to rise, the four-seam fastball is just a straight pitch. You use it when you are trying to stay ahead of a batter. It’s a great pitch to use if you are trying to overpower a hitter, or if their swing is slow. The main difference between a two-seam fastball and a four-seam fastball is movement.
Hold the ball should slightly unbalanced by off centering the ball toward the ring finger and applying more pressure to the first finger pad. Check out this video clip of Felix Hernandez firing a 92-MPH four-seamer past Prince Fielder for a called third strike. Keep a firm grip, but allow the wrist and forearm muscles to be loose and relaxed. As a pitcher progresses with this pitch, they may develop sink or arm-side run. Often this pitch will be used to work the arm side of the plate.
The ball looks like it is floating and darting in different directions to the batter because there is no spin added to the ball. When a pitcher can throw what appears as a flatter fastball, he also has a wider margin of error to throw low in the zone. As previously mentioned, fastballs are most effective in the upper part of the strike zone. But when the pitch appears to be rising at a high rate, it can still garner a lot of whiffs – no matter the location. With a wider margin of error, pitchers have a much higher probability of success.
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. Considering that he is 6’8”, raw release point data would suggest that Glasnow has a three-quarter/sidearm delivery since his release point is much lower than his height. However, the picture above suggests that Glasnow is an overhand pitcher who just doesn’t stand upright during his delivery. Unfortunately, I could not find any type of pitcher arm angle leaderboard so I cannot prove that the correlation between vertical release point and vertical movement should be higher.
Look to throw the change up 10-15% off fastball velocity. So if a pitcher throws an MPH fastball, an effective change target pitching machine up speed will be MPH. The four-seam fastball is an excellent pitch to throw hard, up in the strike zone.
Pitching is still a thinking game at the end of the day, and you need to stay one step ahead of the batter at all times. When you pitch the ball use the exact same arm speed and body mechanics as you would with a fastball. For a change-up to be effective, you need to sell the batter that you’re throwing him another fastball. The grip will slow the ball as it leaves your hand.
Everyone on this list has an above-average fastball movement profile. This makes sense since their high Active Spin rate means that the majority of their fastball spin contributes to movement. This made me wonder whether there is an ideal movement profile that affects high fastball results. The pros and cons of the two-seamer both deal with the movement. It’s a great pitch for you to use if you want to jam or confuse a hitter.