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Benefits of a Ground Ball

Posted on April 16, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

There are many advantages to getting a ground ball over a fly ball or even a strikeout.  There are very few ground ball extra base hits and no ground ball home runs.  The wind blowing out plays little to no role when a ball is hit on the ground.  It only takes one pitch to get a ground ball out which will lower pitch counts and increase innings pitched.

Multiple ground balls early in counts keep your fielders and umpire in rhythm.  Your defense will be more active and focused, likely resulting in higher fielding percentages behind you.  The umpire will also be more likely to give you borderline calls if you are aggressive in the Go and 4 Zones early in the count.  Often times you have to prove to the umpire you can command the Go Zone before they will give Chase Zone strikes.

It is especially frustrating for the opponent when you can get ground balls early in the count the first time through their lineup.  If you can induce a grounder within the first couple pitches, they are not able to see, time, and track the movement all of your pitches early in the game. The longer the hitter stays alive in the count, the better chance they will have at solid contact.  Don't show your hand (all pitches) if you don't have to. 

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4 Seam Fastball

Posted on April 16, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

Generally the four-seam fastball is a straighter pitch with a 1-2 mph increase in velocity over the two-seam. When throwing opposite arm-side, righty away from righty or lefty away from lefty, you have the option to throw the four-seam straight fastball to avoid the ball moving back over the middle of the plate. The four-seam fastball opposite of arm-side is a good lock in pitch early in the count.

To execute a lock in pitch, you must have good extension and a good release point to get the ball to the other side of the plate. Once you find that release point and are “locked in”, you can begin to throw your other pitches in relation to the four-seam fastball release point with extension.

It is important to note that it can be very beneficial to be able to throw the two seam fastball in Zones 1-6.  The 4 seam opposite arm side will help keep the ball straight if you WANT it to stay straighter.  If you would rather have more movement then it would be a good idea to practice the 2 seam in all those Zones.

The 4 seam fastball is generally used when you need to elevate the ball to the top of the strike-zone (Freeze Zones) or above the strike-zone (Purpose Zones, Red Box). Some pitchers prefer to use the 2 seam fastball when throwing the arm-side Purpose Pitch so the movement of the ball helps get the pitch inside.  But others have found that the 2 seam can move too far inside and hit the batter.  Experiment with the 2 and 4 seam fastball in all Zones so you know what you do best.

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2 Seam Fastball

Posted on April 16, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments


The grip on the seams of the baseball will determine the airflow around the ball while it is in flight.  This will effect the movement of the ball on the way to the plate. The two-seam fastball will have more movement than the four-seam. To get the best sink or vertical movement on your fastball, the spin on the ball should also be vertical instead of horizontal. Vertical spin is the same as direct backspin.

Sidespin on the ball will create a flat plane while backspin will create a sinking fastball. The two-seam generally moves down-and-in to a right-handed batter when thrown by a right-handed pitcher and two-seam thrown by a left-handed pitcher generally moves down-and-in to a left-handed batter.

The two-seam will be responsible for many of the ground balls you will induce. It will also help the downward plane of your fastball. When throwing a fastball in a fastball count, more times than not, the pitch should be two-seams to promote movement.

Whenever you aim for the 2 Zone with a fastball, it should be thrown with two-seams. If you ask a hitter whether he would rather see a pitch in the middle of the plate that was straight, or one that had movement, every hitter would rather see the straight pitch.  

One of the most important qualities of the 2 seam fastball is late movement.  The later in flight the ball sinks, the less time the hitter has to react to the movement of the pitch.  It doesn't take a lot of sinking action on the ball to move from the bat's sweet-spot to the bottom of the barrel, but it will take late movement. 

If the pitch has big and early movement (horizontal spin) the hitter will be able to recognize the pitch earlier in flight, time the pitch easier, and match the plane of the swing with the plane on the ball. Strive for short and late movement compared to big early movement on the 2 seam fastball.

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