Baseball has a rich history connected with stats thanks to the likes of Bill James and Billy Beane. So, when the topic of spin rate was raised in 2015, it didn’t take long before players and General Managers began to evaluate the impact of revolutions on the ball, and they were interested in what they found.
The reality is that spin can affect the success of pitchers for several reasons that were previously unknown. However, now that they are, the attribute is being used more and more when pitchers are on the plate. Do you want to learn more about spin and pitch success? Just continue reading.
Where Did It Come from?
In many respects, it took quite a while for baseball to understand the importance of spin. Thankfully, new software from Statcast that was introduced in 2015 helped to shift the emphasis because the technology came with a feature called the Doppler radar. The radar tracks spin rate, something that was tough to analyze with the naked eye in the past.
As a result, teams began to optimize terms and phrases that we take for granted today, such as "late-life" and "rise" and altered the sport by taking on long-held beliefs that used to be the gospel truth. This is when the game saw a swing in the contest between bat and ball.
How Did Baseball Evolve?
Due to the new knowledge, pitchers could start to fight back against batters who were crushing the typical tools in their armories. For audiences, this meant a lot changed due to the competitive nature of the matchup. Not only was the game more exciting, but there were more wagering options for people who wanted to increase the anticipation of the game further. You can learn about the impact on baseball betting markets and get a baseball betting offer here in the process.
Here’s how the above manifested itself and continues to do so today.
Harder to Hit
Essentially, spin makes a ball harder to hit. This conclusion comes from figures from the 2018 season, where fastballs between 93 and 94 mph with revolutions of 2,240 to 2,300 per minute clocked a .279 hitting average. But the average decreased by .24 in the same season when pitchers boosted their spin rates to between 2,540 to 2,600 RPMs. As the spin causes the ball to react unnaturally, hitters end up swinging and missing more because they can’t judge the flight of baseball as effectively.
For years, fastballs were pitched low to make batters uncomfortable. The logic was obvious – the lower it is, the harder it is to hit. Of course, the best hitters reacted and altered their swings to make fastballs easy to slog out of the stadium. That meant the conventional wisdom was out of date, yet pitchers didn’t have a backup plan and continued to aim lower in the box.
Spin revolutions transformed everything because they encouraged pitchers to aim higher in the batting box, since most pinch hitters had shorter swings to deal with standard fastballs. In 2018 again, the franchises that utilized high-spin pitches the most effectively performed better regarding reaching the post-season.
Part of what makes spin a pitcher’s weapon is the fact that it makes other balls more effective. After all, batters don’t know what’s coming and can’t set themselves for a stock ball. This means pitches that don’t spin, such as a "knuckle-ball," are harder to hit since they fluctuate in the air like spin pitches, yet aren’t thrown as quickly.
Does spin affect pitcher success? Yes it does, and long may it continue for the sake of the competitiveness of the sport!