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 modifications. Whereas there are unimaginable assets that element several types of grips throughout the league, comparable 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 do this (from a non-MLB perspective/finances) on a large foundation has been a more moderen growth.

Step one could be to determine which grips are the identical or shut sufficient to group collectively for evaluation. From right here you would common the metrics for various grips (when you give you a naming/grouping system for that apart from simply ‘Clayton Kershaw’s curveball’) – however there are a pair confounding components with this strategy which can be necessary to try to manage for.

We element a few of our ideas with reference 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 necessary to trace—or concentrate on—when determining the right way to modify a pitcher’s arsenal.

1. Athlete Expertise Stage

That is the obvious of the components we’ll talk about. 

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

No matter how optimum your grip/cue choice is for a median faculty athlete, they may by no means be capable of 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 potential. 

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

By logging this data, we will extra confidently rule out that the athlete isn’t throwing a poor breaking ball attributable to 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 possible be nudged in direction of a extra gyroscopic or cutter kind of profile.

With out realizing what an athlete has tried earlier than, it’s powerful to know in the event that they’ve obtained inadequate instruction on the right way to throw a breaking ball with sweep or if their grip is at fault. Whereas we definitely don’t imagine that is the case at Driveline, we will 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 totally different motion profile relative to being informed nothing, a lot much less when cued into  throwing the ball “as onerous as humanly potential.” 

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

This not solely helps us management for this context previous to leaping the gun on answering “what do totally 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 seeking to get hold of a selected motion profile. 

3. Varied Grip intricacies

When logging grips, we wish to seize as a lot related element as potential. We additionally want to have the ability to group grips collectively for evaluation and don’t wish to overburden ourselves with pointless data. We settled upon the next intricacies as being of word 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 modify a base grip outward/inward to barely change seam orientation and the way their fingers come off the ball. Pitchers will typically 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 Strain (Teaching Cue)

If an athlete is insistent that his/her grip is comfy, however isn’t buying the optimum ball flight metrics, a easy grip stress adjustment may do the trick. A pitcher that’s cued to emphasise center finger stress could 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 cases 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 intrude with the spin course of a breaking ball when it’s launched along side the center finger. By making use of a spike different, this may increasingly lead to a extra downward (nearer to six:00) spin course for curveballs. 

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

Depth of Grip

Grip depth is just not hypothesized to be correlated to something past case-by-case consolation. Completely different hand sizes could also be a motive for depth of grip modifications, 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 can also enable an athlete to seek out an optimum seam to drag off of… or just be a manipulation to get the thumb to a extra comfy location on the ball. 

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

4. Intent Stage (Fastball Velocity) throughout the session for Breaking Balls

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

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

There’s a pair causes we wish 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 achieve velocity between our baseline and retest arsenal assessments.. As an illustration, 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 degree and the way an athlete “feels” additionally varies session to session. Some PD classes are completed 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 largely 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 large league common for his or her handedness. In 2021, Righties averaged 94.1, lefties 92.8. We’ll then apply the speed changes towards the breaking ball. An instance of that is proven under. 

Closing Ideas

By controlling for and monitoring the entire above, we intention to shed extra gentle on what modifications influence ball flight metrics and the right 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 combos of them to create a validated hierarchy of choices for athletes designing or refining pitches. This might enable us to shorten the educational curve for pitchers and permit us to allocate effort in methods which can be most definitely to work for a selected athlete – specializing in particular grips, or realizing when to maneuver on to making an attempt a unique pitch/strategy.

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


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