Advice to Young Pitchers: How Can You Use SSW On Your Fastballs? Post 62

I get asked about this a lot, and I finally have an answer based on the data reported in our recent Baseball Prospectus article. Here’s my take:

1. Know Your Efficiency

It is hard to generate Seam Shifted Wake effects without some gyro. I recently posted a video that explains why this is.

If your fastball has 100% efficiency, you have a gift. One downside of that gift is that SSW may not be for you. If your fastball or sinker is 90-95% efficient, you are in business. If it is less, you might want to work on that.

In this range, both a 2-seamer and a 4-seamer will gain movement in a different direction from Magnus as shown below. The direction of the SSW force is opposite for the two ball orientations. For a side-arm pitcher, the 2S moves down and the 4S moves up. Another way of looking at this is a 2-seam adds to the inferred axis (an axis based on movement, as was reported everywhere until 2020) while a 4-seam makes it smaller. (Recall 180 is straight up, 0 is straight down).

For pitchers with a high arm slot (as pictured), the SSW movement on a 4-Seam is often described as “cut.” I would note, however, that the same effect gives a lower-arm-slot 4S positive vertical break, and no one would call that a cutter.

2. Learn to Manipulate and Control Your Efficiency

The ability to add and subtract gyro will open up lots of SSW avenues. Until now, there has been a singular drive to higher efficiency, but learn how to dial in how much you want.

When examining hundreds of MLB pitchers in 2020, it is 1) clear that SSW is common and 2) that some pitchers repeat it much more. Repeating a SSW requires a repeatable gyro degree and a repeatable orientation of the ball.

Now, let’s discuss. While there is data to back up much of what I have said here, there is also some conjecture. I’d love to hear what pitchers and coaches think based on their experience.

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6 thoughts on “Advice to Young Pitchers: How Can You Use SSW On Your Fastballs? Post 62

  1. Hello, I am a senior at Lewis & Clark College (not on the baseball team, but a submarine pitcher). I have watched a bunch of your videos and read your writing about seam-shifted wakes and wonder if that works with submarine pitches. For reference, my average spin direction is 4:25 and my release height is 2 feet off the ground. My average horizontal break is 12’ and vertical break is -13’. The gyro degree is 28.

    Thank you,

    1. This is all independent of arm slot. But note the directions in that figure need to be rotated to look like you.

  2. I think this explains why my 4S rode glove side and 2S ran arm side.

    Does this mean that an over the top delivery of a change up will run arm side instead of down? I haven’t seen that.

    1. I would not expect a high arm-slot changeup to move down (maybe you mean longform?). But generally, if you throw that change 2S (as is common), it will move more armside than your arm slot would suggest. If your arm slot if pretty low, it may shift to moving down.

  3. I would not expect a high arm-slot changeup to move down. But generally, if you throw that change 2S (as is common), it will move more armside than your arm slot would suggest. If your arm slot if pretty low, it may shift to moving down.

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