We’ve recently shown results of two Seam Shifted Wake pitches with no gyro. The Scuffball and the Looper. These pitches involve using a specific orientation between the seams and the axis of rotation. As a result, we can generate break independently of the Magnus effect. One novel feature of these pitches is this orientation can be reversed for the same pitch type (like a fastball), so you could add or subtract vertical or horizontal break for the same spin axis, RPM and speed. First, let me talk about the similarities and differences in these results.
There is a subtle difference in the axis. The photo is my Looper demo. If you wanted a scuffball, that axis (the rod) should come right through the seam.
But our tests had other differences. The scuffball test was performed on a 12:00 pitch while the looper was 3:00. We didn’t plan this. In each case, the pitches were 90 mph and spun close to 1200 RPM.
In each pitch, the result was to add horizontal and vertical break to the pitch. For the Looper, where the Magnus force was purely horizontal, the results were nearly symmetric. For the Scuffball, for which Magnus force was purely vertical, it appears we were better able to make an increase in downward break than upward. Note that the Looper looked more effective in general too.
So, at this point, it’s hard to know if the difference is the seam orientation (Looper vs Scuffball) or the tilt direction (12:00 vs 3:00).
Now let me try to describe the results of both similar pitches in a general way that will allow us to apply what we’ve learned to a pitch on any axis or spin direction. The break we see has a component parallel and perpendicular to the spin axis. I need to use the baseball version of the “Right Hand Rule.” In the picture below, I wrap my fingers of my right hand around the ball in the direction it is spinning. The ball is moving into the page. Based on our two experiments, the break will be roughly 45 degrees from the axis. The direction will depend on which side the look or scuff is on. In both cases, break is toward the opposite side. So for the picture, break would be right and down. If I flip the ball over but keep the spin in the direction of my fingers, the break will be up and left.
This is pretty interesting because it says if I spin the ball the opposite way (so my thumb points left), break is still in the same two directions (depending if the loop is top or bottom). If I’ve talked you into trying this (and I think you should!) that photo is really important and is all you need to know.
The curveball grip would be something like this. The loop is on the left, so the ball will move down and to the right in addition to what it would have done based on Magnus effect. I’m probably a little off on that axis since that rod needs to go though my hand a little and I am not that dedicated. Imagine the right side of the ball rotated into the page a bit.
What does this mean? It means that if your fastball is 1:30, the extra break will be straight up. If your curve is 7:30, the extra break can be straight down. That’s a pretty nice result. I think we still need to prove that this works on a 1:30 fastball. I am very confident of the 7:30 curve. If you are blessed with a 12-6 curve, it’ll still move down, but will also move arm side for a right hander.
What could it do?
A good fastball at 90 mph is about 2000 rpm. Look at how many extra RPM would be required to gain 5″.
A good curve is about 3000 rpm.
Let me know if you try it and especially if it works. Tell the Sunday Night Baseball crew that Bart sent ya’.