Wednesday, May 6, 2009
RT Staff Note: As a follow up to Mondays story on Steven Strasburg, we thought that if a player has to face someone that pitches with that much accuracy and firepower, the only defense is knowledge of what he is throwing. Some of the most successful hitters in the game study pitches as if they were preparing for a final exam. You can have any opinion about Barry Bonds that you desire, but 100% of players and pitchers will tell you that nobody studied pitchers and their pitches more intently than he did. He may have enhanced his power stats, but there wasn't and probably won't be a better contact hitter in the game than Mr. Bonds. His knowledge of what to look for in a pitch, it's movement, the pitchers delivery and his ability to track balls is legendary. Here's a few tips on how to get a leg up on the pitchers you face. We found this information on a blog called Baseball Pitches Illustrated
Baseball Pitches Illustrated
A fan’s guide to identifying pitches.
I‘m a baseball fan. I’ve watched my share of televised games and attended a few handful. After all this, I was still in the dark about the difference between pitches. I knew a curveball broke downwards, but what exactly was a circle changeup?
The diagrams below are the results of skimming through baseball books and doing online research. This is not a complete guide. I’ve picked twelve of the more common pitches:
Fastballs:Four-seam, Two-seam, Cutter, Splitter, and Forkball
Breaking Balls: Curveball, Slider, Slurve, and Screwball
Changeups: Changeup, Palmball, Circle Changeup
Learning to Identify Pitches
The list of pitches might seem like a lot to keep track of, but remember that each pitcher utilizes only a selection of these pitches. For example, Pedro Martinez throws a curveball, circle-changeup, an occasional slider, and a fastball. Do a little research on the pitcher before the game.
Things to watch for that will help you identify a pitch:
Movement - the general direction the ball is moving
Break - a sudden shift in direction
There are a few other things that can help you identify a pitch: ball rotation, point of release, and grip. For a casual fan though, it might be a bit much and I don’t illustrate or discuss any of the latter three items.
Reading the Diagrams
Take note of the speed, movement, and break of the ball. Don’t worry about where the baseball is shown in the the strike zone. You can throw a fastball in the middle of the strike-zone like the one illustrated, or you can throw one high and away from the batter. It’s still a fastball. Location doesn’t determine the pitch.
I’ve collected all twelve of the pitch diagrams below, minus the text notes, into a single PDF:
Fastest, straightest pitch. Little to no movement.
Also known as a Sinker.
Moves downward, and depending on the release, will sometimes run in on a right handed hitter (RHH).
Breaks away from a right handed hitter (RHH) as it reaches the plate.
Mix of a slider and a fastball. Faster than a slider but with more movement than a fastball.
Breaks down suddenly before reaching plate.
Like a splitter, but with a less dramatic, more gradual downward movement.
Commonly called a 12-6 curveball. The 12-6 refers to the top to bottom movement (picture a clock with hands at 12 and 6).
Breaks down and away from a RHH.
Between a fastball and a curve.
11-5 movement. Similar to a curve but with more lateral movement.
1-7 movement. Opposite of the slurve.
Slower than a fastball, but thrown with the same arm motion.
Ball is gripped tightly in palm.
Just like a changeup, this pitch is slower than a fastball, but thrown with the same arm motion.
A changeup with 1-7 moment like the screwball.