Seam Shifted Wake Predictions for 2020-2021

We’ve learned a lot in the last year. One thing I am more convinced of than ever: Seam Shifted Wake (SSW) pitches are common. They have been hidden from us because of the limitations of our measurement systems and well-intentioned efforts to mitigate those limitations.

Based on our research, data shared with me by anonymous sources in the MLB, and conversations with pitchers, I make these bold claims:

1) 2-Seamers with gyro are SSW

I have seen examples that break downward or up and arm side. Each are possible. The added break can range to a subtle 2″ to more than 10″. Currently, they are interpreted as having a different and incorrect axis. Hawkeye data will make this obvious.

The movie on the left is a non SSW 2seamer and on the right is a SSW 2 seamer.

2) Many “Discoball” Changeups are SSW

Strasburg, Scherzer, Strailey, Connor Hinchcliff. The baseball world will be lousy with this pitch by the end of 2020.

Dan Straily
Connor Hinchliffe

3) New ones turn up all the time

Watch carefully and make sure to follow @pitchingninja. I never thought I’d see a reverse gyro looper changeup, but here it is, from the KBO.

According to UMBA, he gets 6″ of extra drop from the seams. Case 0 is without the seam effect, case 1 is with the seam model. It adds -6″ of vertical break.

4) We will see many examples of pitchers using SSW to generate opposite effects on fastballs.

As of now, I only know of one pitcher doing this and it’s Jarred Hughes.

SSW Sinker moves ball down
SSW 4-Seamer moves ball up

5) USU will soon be in a position to suggest new SSW pitches.

Our model is currently a bit simple. I think it predicts break from seams in the non-Magnus direction pretty well but currently does not handle break added or subtracted from Magnus.

Once this is fixed (based upon data we are currently acquiring), we can simply ask the model to search all combinations of axis, orientation, speed and spin rate and pick the low hanging fruit.

6) We will see and explosion of elite pitchers who don’t have elite spin

The skillset required to be an elite pitcher is going to change. The ability to orient the ball as desired will be as important as being able to spin the ball.

7) 2021 will be the second “Year Of The Pitcher” as a result

I wouldn’t want to be a hitter right now. And I don’t think lowering the mound will help.

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One thought on “Seam Shifted Wake Predictions for 2020-2021

  1. Have you considered looking at the aerodynamics of a pitch that has the spin axis tilted back toward the pitcher.
    To describe it better, define up and down as Z axis, left and right as Y axis, and forward/backward as X.

    Throw the ball with perfect spin along the z axis, the ball is released in the straight X direction, but now tilt the Z axis back toward the pitcher. If the seams are oriented to give you the largest amount of SSW, how much gravity induced drop can you avoid?

    Now, if this could be done by a submarine pitcher who releases the ball with virtually no initial downward trajectory, could the ball actually still be on an upward trajectory when it reaches home plate?

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