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What Is the Difference Between a 2-Seam and 4-Seam Fastball?

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The ball exits the thumb at the peak of the pitching action since the index and middle finger impart gripping action on the “top” seam to spin it down the “back” of the ball. As stated earlier, 2 seam fastballs typically move to the pitcher’s arm side. Movement is great for pitchers – as long as they can control it. If a pitcher wants to generate more movement on his fastball, then a 2 seam is the way to go. When releasing a 2 seam or sink fastball, there will be less friction between the pitcher’s index and middle finger and the ball when compared to a 4 seamer.

These fastballs differ from curveballs and other styles, so let’s learn how they compare against each other. The pitch gets this name because four seams appear insight with each rotation of the ball as it is pitched. Some of the major league pitchers can occasionally pitch up to the speed of 100mph. Usually, its comparison is made with the two-seam fastball. There is no uniform timeline on when to teach a pitcher a 2 seam grip; however, when a pitcher seems to have no issues throwing a 4 seam, it might be time to try and teach him a 2 seam.

The four-seam fastball typically is thrown with a straight overhead swing of the throwing arm. Further, backspin combined with the steady rotation of four seams in alignment with the direction of the pitch stabilizes the ball’s flight-path. This pitch is going to feature more horizontal movement than vertical movement to it. And that horizontal movement will occur towards the arm side of the pitcher. So for example, if a right handed pitcher is throwing a 2 seamer to a right handed batter, the pitch will dart in toward the batter.

Out of all the baseball pitching grips, fastball grips are the easiest to master and be consistent with. This can be a very easy pitch to learn because it isn’t thrown much different than the four seam fastball. The drop ball is a tricky pitch for hitters to identify because it has similar spin to a four-seam fastball. Like the rise ball the pitch is rarely thrown as a strike and is thrown with velocity. Something else that I find interesting is the high fastball success of sidearm and submarine style pitchers.

Four-seam fastball is also the most preferred throw for fielding as it is the fastest and has no stray lateral movement in the air, according to Harold Reynolds and Kevin Kiermaier. Place your index and middle fingertips tennis pitching machine directly over the corresponding ball seams. There’s always a lot of discussions about which one is better and produce the desired results. The true answer is that it depends on the pitcher and batter.

It could be possible that Cole was unknowingly throwing his 4-Seam fastball with the Major League Baseball logo horizontal when he would hit 2300 rpm. There would be few differences with the grip of his fingers other than the “horseshoe” of the seams being on one side of hand vs the other. In 2017, we can see that Cole’s fastball was hard – averaging nearly 96 MPH – but it was relatively flat and had a similar movement profile to that of Chris Sale . His spin rate was nothing special and unfortunately, Statcast did not start tracking Active Spin Rate until 2018. All of this resulted in a – rather lacklustre – high 4-Seam fastball swinging strike rate of 13.5%.

Young pitchers with naturally lower arm slots may also be more apt to learn how to throw a 2 seam at a young age because it works better with the way they throw the ball. Also, a 2 seam may be the fastball of choice for pitchers with low and ¾ arm slots. 4 seams require pitchers to get on top of the ball to maximize the spin. It is really hard for pitchers with lower arm slots to get on top of the baseball to create that backspin.

A year later now at 13 he has leaned how to control his two seam and does not throw the 4 seam at all. I asked him to throw a 4 seam just to see how hard it would be but he told me he is more comfortable with the 2 seam and does not want to throw a 4 seam anymore. I think its a matter of what you feel and there is no method to which one is faster it depends on the player and what they are most comfortable for with. I guess everything could be relative to the particular pitcher in question and their arm slot. For myself, there was no question that my 2 seamer rode in on a RH hitter…and the kids that I have coached since then have seen similar results.

The key is to maintain consistent arm action and arm speed so as not to tip the pitch. Conversely, because the four-seamer doesn’t break, it is quite hittable by the quick, “good-eye” batter who can “see” where the pitch will arrive. Moreover, its extreme velocity helps experienced batters to hit it extremely hard; that is, if a batter can “square up” on it, a four-seamer pitch can be readily hit for power. Further, a fastball’s effectiveness decreases substantially if it is not accurately thrown, i.e., if the pitch is not under control.