Quantifying Baseball Pitch Grips – Driveline Baseball

By Chris Langin, Pitching Coordinator

Pitch grips spark a particular curiosity amongst pitchers – fueled by tales of pitchers creating dastardly pitch profiles with seemingly easy adjustments. Whereas there are unimaginable sources that element several types of grips throughout the league, akin to Pitching Ninja’s Dropbox; to our information there has not been a rigorous public evaluation of how altering grips impacts pitches’ profiles – granted the provision of monitoring tech to try this (from a non-MLB perspective/price range) on a large foundation has been a newer growth.

Step one can be to determine which grips are the identical or shut sufficient to group collectively for evaluation. From right here you might common the metrics for various grips (when you provide you with a naming/grouping system for that in addition to simply ‘Clayton Kershaw’s curveball’) – however there are a pair confounding elements with this strategy which are vital to try to regulate for.

We element a few of our ideas with regard to these right here and the way we’re approaching that evaluation with athletes coaching at Driveline.

The remainder of the weblog will talk about the items we discover most vital to trace—or concentrate on—when determining the way to regulate a pitcher’s arsenal.

1. Athlete Expertise Stage

That is the obvious of the elements we are going to talk about. 

Tyler Glasnow may seemingly take a splitter grip and nonetheless throw a nastier breaking ball than over 90 % of Energy 5 faculty pitchers. What we actually need to reply is whether or not or not that splitter grip provides Glasnow one of the best breaking ball he may have. 

No matter how optimum your grip/cue choice is for a median faculty athlete, they are going to by no means be capable to compete with Tyler Glasnow’s breaking ball given his velocity and skill to spin the ball, even when Glasnow is given the worst breaking ball grip attainable. 

To regulate for this, we get hold of a  “baseline” profile of an athlete’s pitches once they come in-gym. From there, we are able to then see how differing cues/grips impression the choices relative to their baseline profile. This offers each the coach and the athlete some extra context to rule out sure pitch shapes and simply recall optimum grip/cue mixtures once they go away the ability or begin to lose really feel for the providing.

By logging this info, we are able to extra confidently rule out that the athlete isn’t throwing a poor breaking ball on account of a poor teaching course of. For instance, an athlete that’s incapable of acquiring sweep and not using a vital tradeoff in velocity ought to seemingly be nudged in direction of a extra gyroscopic or cutter sort of profile.

With out figuring out what an athlete has tried earlier than, it’s robust to know in the event that they’ve acquired inadequate instruction on the way to throw a breaking ball with sweep or if their grip is at fault. Whereas we definitely don’t consider that is the case at Driveline, we are able to additional objectify that by logging information to strengthen our pitch design course of. 

2. Athlete Focus / Teaching Cues

An athlete being cued to “throw a sideways curveball” is more likely to throw a pitch with a vastly completely different motion profile relative to being instructed nothing, a lot much less when cued into  throwing the ball “as arduous as humanly attainable.” 

This enables us to seize potential confounding elements which may be at play when in search of simply grip insights. As an example, if we discover {that a} given curveball grip has considerably extra depth relative to our remaining menu of grips, we should always in all probability look to see how usually it’s paired with a cue that might try and affect depth. 

This not solely helps us management for this context previous to leaping the gun on answering “what do completely different grips do” however permits us to basically conclude what quantity of causality a training cue has relative to a grip adjustment for the typical athlete trying to get hold of a selected motion profile. 

3. Varied Grip intricacies

When logging grips, we need to seize as a lot related element as attainable. We additionally want to have the ability to group grips collectively for evaluation and don’t need to overburden ourselves with pointless info. We settled upon the next intricacies as being of observe for logging functions along with index/center/ring finger placement:

Tilt in Ball place inward/outward + lateral shift in direction of pinky/glove aspect.

Pitchers might regulate a base grip outward/inward to barely change seam orientation and the way their fingers come off the ball. Pitchers will usually tilt a four-seam grip outward for his or her cutters in an effort to induce extra gyroscopic spin whereas sustaining a fastball really feel at launch. For changeups, a pitcher with a 2-seam grip might laterally tilt the place of the fingers in direction of the thumb – with the intent of getting away from a seam at launch and reducing uncooked spin. 

Fingertip Stress (Teaching Cue)

If an athlete is insistent that his/her grip is snug, however isn’t buying the optimum ball flight metrics, a easy grip stress adjustment would possibly do the trick. A pitcher that’s cued to emphasise center finger stress can be anticipated to be across the ball extra at launch. Pitchers that prioritizes index finger stress on a slider, might discover themselves shifting the spin course of a pitch upward and taking a pitch with slurve traits nearer to slider territory. 

Thumb Positioning (0/25/50)

Thumb positioning probably influences how the ball comes out at launch. Pitchers that place the thumb beneath the ball (0) on a given grip might discover it simpler to remain via the ball at launch, which might be advantageous in situations during which they’re making an attempt to take a slider and rework it right into a cutter. Pitchers that place the thumb on the aspect of the ball (50) might discover it simpler to get across the ball at launch. 

Moreover, we’ll look to outline whether or not or not the thumb is “flat” or “tucked.” 

“Flat” Thumb Positioning
“Tucked” Thumb Positioning

Spike Alterations

Spiking the ball could also be a pure methodology to get extra center fingertip stress on the seam with out having a coach internally cue it. Moreover, the index finger can intervene with the spin course of a breaking ball when it’s launched along with the center finger. By making use of a spike various, this will end in a extra downward (nearer to six:00) spin course for curveballs. 

Conversely, relieving a breaking ball of a spike might end in a extra upward spin course (9:00-12:00) which might be helpful when engaged on optimum slider form. 

Depth of Grip

Grip depth isn’t hypothesized to be correlated to something past case-by-case consolation. Totally different hand sizes could also be a purpose for depth of grip adjustments, some have to choke a four-seamer within the palm whereas others want to depart some house between the palm and the ball to attain a sure motion. Altering the depth of the grip may additionally permit an athlete to search out an optimum seam to drag off of… or just be a manipulation to get the thumb to a extra snug location on the ball. 

The one exception might be the changeup – during which athlete’s might “choke” the grip in an effort to reduce spin and velocity on the pitch. Although some athlete’s usually obtain each of those by gripping the ball within the fingertips “like an egg” as effectively. 

4. Intent Stage (Fastball Velocity) in the course of the session for Breaking Balls

Essentially the most easy methodology of bettering the “stuff” traits of fastballs in addition to breaking balls is to easily throw them firmer. 

The quicker you throw your fastball, the more durable we’d anticipate your breaking ball to be as effectively. MLB information when pitchers acquire 1 mph on their fastball, we see slider velo climb 0.75mph as effectively and enhance in stuff+ by 8-10 items.

There’s a pair causes we need to management this. 

For one, pitch design classes are seldom thrown at true sport depth. Velocities are usually down a bit relative to in-game averages due to decreased adrenaline. As well as, athletes might acquire velocity between our baseline and retest arsenal assessments.. As an example, an athlete that has an 85 mph fastball in April, and shoots as much as 90 by his PD session in August must have that context managed for, because it isn’t as if any pitch design particular work has actually improved his breaking ball to that time. 

Intent stage and the way an athlete “feels” additionally varies session to session. Some PD classes are carried out at 70% RPE, others at 95% RPE. Breaking balls will at all times play higher within the 95% classes, as there’s extra fastball velocity to tradeoff to secondary choices. Nevertheless, we’re principally involved with how the form of the providing pertains to that day’s fastball velocity. 

To regulate for this, we  scale the athlete’s velocity to at all times be huge league common for his or her handedness. In 2021, Righties averaged 94.1, lefties 92.8. We’ll then apply the rate changes towards the breaking ball. An instance of that is proven beneath. 

Closing Ideas

By controlling for and monitoring all the above, we intention to shed extra gentle on what adjustments impression ball flight metrics and the way to finest leverage these for arsenal growth. From this library of knowledge, we hope to have the ability to assess the effectiveness of grips, cues and varied mixtures of them to create a validated hierarchy of choices for athletes designing or refining pitches. This may permit us to shorten the training curve for pitchers and permit us to allocate effort in methods which are almost definitely to work for a selected athlete – specializing in particular grips, or figuring out when to maneuver on to making an attempt a distinct pitch/strategy.

This enables our athletes to be extra environment friendly with their coaching economic system, shortening the length it takes to reliably execute a pitch form from say 4 weeks to 2 weeks. In the end resulting in the tip purpose of allocating extra time in direction of mound growth and the command of the providing. 


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