Technology is part of our modern sports world, no question about it. Baseball and softball are no exception. We talk about the spin rate a lot when we throw a ball from the mound. But what really is a spin rate? – Why is it so important, and how can we improve it?
Well, let’s start with MLB’s definition of what the actual spin rate really is. According to them, a pitcher’s spin rate represents the rate of spin on a baseball after it is released. It is measured in revolutions per minute.
Makes sense, right? – The amount of spin on a pitch changes its trajectory. The same pitch thrown at the same velocity will end up in a different place depending on how much it spins.
For instance, a fastball with a high spin rate appears to have a rising effect on the hitter, and it crosses the plate a few inches higher than a fastball of equal velocity with a lower spin rate. Conversely, a lower spin rate on a changeup tends to create more movement.
As more data has become available, most experts have agreed that fastballs and breaking balls are tougher to hit when they possess higher spin rates. In fact, some data suggests that spin rate correlates more closely than velocity to swinging-strike percentage.
It seems only logical that baseball coaches would want to be able to measure the exact spin rate of their pitchers’ throws. Unlike most systems that employ radar technology to do so, Yakkertech uses vision imaging technology to provide uncompromising ball kinematics for the purpose of analysis and and iterative performance enhancements for pitchers.
Our device applies the only methodology capable of direct measurement of spin rate and spin axis. With the use of vision imaging technology, the actual movements of the baseball seams are identified, which allows for a very accurate calculation of the spin rate/axis.
But is spin rate the only thing that matters? – All the characteristics of a thrown pitch matter, but other things matter as well. Location, velocity, pitch sequence, slide steps, position on the rubber and the ability to hide the ball during the windup are just some of the things that immediately come to mind. It’s never just one thing.
Spin Rate vs Velocity (see link below)
However, there is no question that knowing the spin rate and knowing the exact data of every thrown ball can help the bullpen to improve his or her pitch.
Our friends over at Catawba College have been using our device this season, and harvesting the data was so helpful that the team recently won the conference championship. Pitchers were able to see what they were doing wrong and adjust. This is only one helpful element in knowing the spin rate of every pitch.
How much possible late life is on that pitch for that certain velocity and spin axis? – You want every pitch except for a slider to be between 85-100%. A slider has the most gyro spin of any pitch, meaning it is spiraling dead straight more than any other pitch.
The efficiency measures how the axis is correlated with the spin rate. The lower the percentage, the more the pitch is moving in a straight path, and not taking advantage of the spin rate. For example, take two fastballs both with similar velocity and spin rate of 2400. Fastball #1 with a tilted axis causing movement, and thus taking full advantage of the high spin rate, would show 85-100%. Fastball #2 with a slight tilt of axis and a high degree of gyrospin might show 40%, which means less movement of the ball and not taking advantage of the spin rate.
As baseball and softball continue to embrace new technology, players will have better opportunities to improve their pitching. This is exciting news to all of us that love the sport so much.