Another thread on deception led me to think about spin rate a a mode of deception. There has been a lot of talk in pitching circles of late concerning spin rate. I spent a lot of the weekend going over data on this as it concerns my son.

It seems that average spin rate on a fastball sits around 2200 rpm. The idea would be that the vast majority of pitchers are within 200 rpm of this rate. Given that fact, the theory, as I take it, is that because batters see movement on fastballs so often in this range, it is sort of the default position of a hitters experience when making the microsecond adaptions to ball flight.

So, I have, now four reference points for my son on his 4-seam fb. Three from Trackman data and one from Rapsodo gathered from the MLB PDP. 

The first set of data I got from Trackman at last year's Jr. National Showcase seemed extremely low and I assumed some sort of problem with the equipment. His fastball spin rate was anywhere from 1100 rpm to 1600 rpm. I could find no other spin rates this low. Then Trackman data from WWBA last year at Lake Point showed only a slight increase - 1300-1800. From Lake Point during WWBA this year it showed about the same - generally 1400-1900 with a few outliers in the 1000 rpm range and one or two at the 2000-2050 range. When I received his MLB PDP report, it showed an average of 1700 with a single pitch at 1950 and the rest in the 1600-1800 range.

Now, looking at other profiles, I see nothing in this low of a range. Looking at the break from Rapsodo, it seems he also gets a much better vertical break than most other fastballs I see. I might expect this from a 2-seam fastball, but it sort of throws me coming from a 4-seam. 

Not sure how any of this fits in, but I suspect it may cause more of the "deception" many recruiters see as his strong point than his unorthodox mechanics that they tend to attribute to it.

Original Post

Fastball spin rate around 2200-2300 is not considered good.  Both higher and lower is what they are looking for.

The farther away from 2200-2300 the better, either lower or higher.

This year there is a HS pitcher that has a higher spin rate on his curveball than any recorded in the Big Leagues.  He has done this several times in different places.  Of course, in his case you don't need anything but eyesight to know his curveball is a doozy. Not often that you see a highest level prospect that has a curveball grade out 2 grades higher than his fastball.

From a logical side of things, that physics doesn't always follow, you would think the further you are from average the more "deceptive" a pitch will be.  We have all experienced the anomaly of the same velocity fb  from two different pitchers impacting timing differently.  For instance, to HS pitchers throwing 85, hitters can't seem to catch up to one but absolutely hammer the other.  

I've mentioned on here before about the "benefits" of Trackman but have said that there is still lots to learn about what the results tell us.  From what little I've read, I think the lower spin rates do tend to result in a "sinking" fastball, whereas higher spin can result in a "rising" fastball.  My 2017 had some readings a year or so ago topping out at around 2500, but he has throws from a lower slot so he gets a little extra movement as opposed to a "rising" fastball (based on the spin axis).  I don't remember seeing measurements for break but suspect these are available and can help correlate velocity, spin rate and spin axes.  As I understand it, your son throws exceptionally hard and I suspect a 95 mph fastball with an above average sink can certainly throw some folks for a loop.

Have any recruiters seen the data?  Has anyone with the necessary expertise commented on the combination of velocity and spin?

So, looking closer at the numbers I have for spin rate and break, I'm not necessarily seeing what I expect to see. Here will be the numbers for particular pitches for a few pitchers. Note I've chosen two top pitchers who throw harder than my son and a couple who throw about the same. Also note these numbers come from Rapsodo and I've noticed, for the most part that recorded velocities seem to be 3-4 mph below what I know they throw. I'm not sure if Rapsodo uses some sort of avg. over a distance, but the numbers seem too low for peak out-of-hand velocity and too high for across the plate:

                                   velocity       spin rate        horizontal/vertical break

Dalton (my 2018)       87.8            1872                   -10.3/11.7                                                                                                       89.0            1783                  -10.4/13.3

Zach Argo                   87.6             2046                  -1.3/20.3                                                                                                        89.0             1978                  -3.6/18.4

Ethan Hankins           94.3             2422                  -9.1/16.1                                                                                                        93.0             2375                  -8.9/16.0

Mason Pelio               87.0             1941                  -4.2/16.4                                                                                                        86.6             1926                  -9.1/13.9

 

The first break number is horizontal (left to right) and the second is vertical (measured drop compared to flight path without gravity). I would expect my son't low spin rate to cause a greater vertical break than average. However, this doesn't seem to be true. In fact, he seems to have less sink on his fast ball than most. Instead, what I do see is greater horizontal break, in to right handed hitters, than the other pitchers I look at. Any insight?

When you find the answer what will it resolve?  Do you think spin rate is "teachable?"  Is this something that is currently out of our control?  We don't even have a good understanding of how spin rate impacts a FB.  There are SO MANY factors which many are uncontrollable.  Between weather, humidity, moisture content in the leather of the ball, seam height, not to mention the lack of repeatable mechanics from the human.  Between finger pressure, release point, axes of spin, arm speed, forward momentum, and etc....  

As a living creature we are constantly adjusting.  The human factor for both the hitter and the pitcher are so difficult to understand.  

While I find it extremely interesting, will we ever have a good enough understanding that it could impact the success of an individual pitcher?  

I think changing the way we coach pitchers based on this information is way off in the future, if we figure it out at all. However, I think this information will very shortly become a major factor in recruiting and scouting. As more and more pitchers draw up to the 94, 95, 96mph mark, recruiters and scouts will begin looking for qualifying factors to separate high velocity pitchers and you may even see a revolution equivalent to the Money Ball period where colleges and mlb clubs with limited resources try to find untapped scouting factors as they dig through the bargain bin for good deals and overlooked talent.

Root-  Great discussion.  The issue: You're looking at Vertical break wrong.  That positive number is the amount above a straight line from release to the end point.  All Fastballs have some degree of backspin.  So, your son's smaller positive vertical break means that he has more drop than the others (relatively) but still higher than a straight line.  A curveball will show negative vertical break, because the spin makes it fall faster than a straight line.  

Even changeups generally have a positive number but smaller than a fastballs positive number, because there is still backspin.  

So, in short, higher positive numbers are rises over the straight line (it doesn't mean the ball went up, just that it's fighting gravity) and negative numbers are downward breaks below the line.  So an 11 vertical break means it was up due to backspin, but not as much as 16 or 20' so relative to other fastballs it acted more like a sinker.

Here are the descriptions in Trackman (Rapsodo is similar):

https://trackmanbaseball.zende...nt-Glossary-of-Terms

 

Does that help?

I readily recall in the 80's era getting excited over watching MLB pitchers throwing in the 90's.  It was a rare enough to take a moment to watch in amazement.  What has changed?  How do we now have 1000's of pitchers in the 90's?  I have no doubt that 95 will soon be the new ave MLB FB.  

So the HS 90's guy will be like today's HS 85 guy.  Not much interest in a RHP topping out at 85, no matter what kind of spin rate you have.  In the next decade, I can foresee a world where 90 won't get you much interest.

 

roothog66 posted:

I think changing the way we coach pitchers based on this information is way off in the future, if we figure it out at all. However, I think this information will very shortly become a major factor in recruiting and scouting. As more and more pitchers draw up to the 94, 95, 96mph mark, recruiters and scouts will begin looking for qualifying factors to separate high velocity pitchers and you may even see a revolution equivalent to the Money Ball period where colleges and mlb clubs with limited resources try to find untapped scouting factors as they dig through the bargain bin for good deals and overlooked talent.

I think use of this information for "coaching" is not too far off.  Folks looking at this data, as a starting point, can probably determine what pitches should be most effective given how an individual throws.  What may be a little further out is training/development based on the data, but I could see some near term benefits at relatively young ages.  Put this data together with some super-slo-motion and then move on to computer aided "overlapping" (not sure what the actual term is but think 10 images overlapped - I've seen this in Olympic downhill skiing) and folks can sit down and see what body movements are creating a particular pitch as well as see how small differences in motion (not really evident to the naked eye) affect a pitch.  Once cost comes down, I think it will grow rapidly.

mcloven posted:

Root-  Great discussion.  The issue: You're looking at Vertical break wrong.  That positive number is the amount above a straight line from release to the end point.  All Fastballs have some degree of backspin.  So, your son's smaller positive vertical break means that he has more drop than the others (relatively) but still higher than a straight line.  A curveball will show negative vertical break, because the spin makes it fall faster than a straight line.  

Even changeups generally have a positive number but smaller than a fastballs positive number, because there is still backspin.  

So, in short, higher positive numbers are rises over the straight line (it doesn't mean the ball went up, just that it's fighting gravity) and negative numbers are downward breaks below the line.  So an 11 vertical break means it was up due to backspin, but not as much as 16 or 20' so relative to other fastballs it acted more like a sinker.

Here are the descriptions in Trackman (Rapsodo is similar):

https://trackmanbaseball.zende...nt-Glossary-of-Terms

 

Does that help?

That would explain a lot. Makes more sense now. Thanks!

VERY interesting topic, I have some questions:

1. You can expect a growing HS kid to gain a bit on velocity just due to natural growth.  Does the spin rate change as well with growth?

2. 2200-2300 is not good according to PG, does that apply to a breaking ball as well as a fastball?

3. How do you get trackman to tell you WHEN it recorded the spin rate data?

roothog66 posted:

I think changing the way we coach pitchers based on this information is way off in the future, if we figure it out at all. However, I think this information will very shortly become a major factor in recruiting and scouting. As more and more pitchers draw up to the 94, 95, 96mph mark, recruiters and scouts will begin looking for qualifying factors to separate high velocity pitchers and you may even see a revolution equivalent to the Money Ball period where colleges and mlb clubs with limited resources try to find untapped scouting factors as they dig through the bargain bin for good deals and overlooked talent.

I sure don’t mean to dump on this thread because it is very interesting indeed. But you know me. I’m not shy about asking questions.

Why is it that it’s ok to use spin rate to ferret out players who have been overlooked but it’s not ok to use other metrics? I might be able to better understand it if spin rate could somehow be related to performance.

Stats4Gnats posted:

roothog66 posted:

I think changing the way we coach pitchers based on this information is way off in the future, if we figure it out at all. However, I think this information will very shortly become a major factor in recruiting and scouting. As more and more pitchers draw up to the 94, 95, 96mph mark, recruiters and scouts will begin looking for qualifying factors to separate high velocity pitchers and you may even see a revolution equivalent to the Money Ball period where colleges and mlb clubs with limited resources try to find untapped scouting factors as they dig through the bargain bin for good deals and overlooked talent.

I sure don’t mean to dump on this thread because it is very interesting indeed. But you know me. I’m not shy about asking questions.

Why is it that it’s ok to use spin rate to ferret out players who have been overlooked but it’s not ok to use other metrics? I might be able to better understand it if spin rate could somehow be related to performance.

Please clarify and tell me where it was stated that "other metrics" were not ok to use.  As for spin rates, pitches thrown with different spin rates produce different paths to the plate.  As this analysis gets refined, I suspect there will be more clarity as to which spin rates, possibly absent other outstanding metrics such as mph and KO's, are predictors of successful pitchers at the next nevel.

2017LHPscrewball postedlease clarify and tell me where it was stated that "other metrics" were not ok to use.  As for spin rates, pitches thrown with different spin rates produce different paths to the plate.  As this analysis gets refined, I suspect there will be more clarity as to which spin rates, possibly absent other outstanding metrics such as mph and KO's, are predictors of successful pitchers at the next nevel.

 Please don’t let this turn into something where I get blamed for turning a good thread into a stats thread because that’s not at all my intention! With that understood, I’ll attempt to make a cogent response.

 That was never stated in this thread, nor was it even implied. However, if you haven’t seen any threads or posts where stats are pretty much said to be virtually useless as tools to project players at the HS level, you must not have been looking too closely.

 I understand that different spin rates produce different ball paths. I also understand that we’re in the literal infancy of having this kind of information for analysis, and that it will definitely get better.

 Are you saying mph and KO’s together are accurate predictors of future success, or that they are each accurate predictors of future success? As I’ve said many times, I love this kind of discussion, but in all honesty I don’t see how it pertains to any but the very top level pitchers. This is HSBBW. I want to see things that can be applied to all players within the level, a lot more than how some top player will do at the college or professional level.

 What can I do to help the pitchers on our team get better for the rest of the season and for the rest of the time they spend at the current level? What happens a few years in the future means nothing to me. That’s individual stuff and will be what it will be.

 Every pitcher can be improved, from the latest Cy Young winner down to the kid heading to the mound for the 1st time in his life. If a team coach can help a top level pitcher improve 1% that would be a lot. But using those same resources that same coach can likely help the other pitchers improve from 10% to 50%. But I’m not seeing how spin rate can do that.

Stats4Gnats posted:

2017LHPscrewball postedlease clarify and tell me where it was stated that "other metrics" were not ok to use.  As for spin rates, pitches thrown with different spin rates produce different paths to the plate.  As this analysis gets refined, I suspect there will be more clarity as to which spin rates, possibly absent other outstanding metrics such as mph and KO's, are predictors of successful pitchers at the next nevel.

 Please don’t let this turn into something where I get blamed for turning a good thread into a stats thread because that’s not at all my intention! With that understood, I’ll attempt to make a cogent response.

 That was never stated in this thread, nor was it even implied. However, if you haven’t seen any threads or posts where stats are pretty much said to be virtually useless as tools to project players at the HS level, you must not have been looking too closely.

 I understand that different spin rates produce different ball paths. I also understand that we’re in the literal infancy of having this kind of information for analysis, and that it will definitely get better.

 Are you saying mph and KO’s together are accurate predictors of future success, or that they are each accurate predictors of future success? As I’ve said many times, I love this kind of discussion, but in all honesty I don’t see how it pertains to any but the very top level pitchers. This is HSBBW. I want to see things that can be applied to all players within the level, a lot more than how some top player will do at the college or professional level.

 What can I do to help the pitchers on our team get better for the rest of the season and for the rest of the time they spend at the current level? What happens a few years in the future means nothing to me. That’s individual stuff and will be what it will be.

 Every pitcher can be improved, from the latest Cy Young winner down to the kid heading to the mound for the 1st time in his life. If a team coach can help a top level pitcher improve 1% that would be a lot. But using those same resources that same coach can likely help the other pitchers improve from 10% to 50%. But I’m not seeing how spin rate can do that.

Well, speaking as a total novice, my son has an odd spin on his pitches. Not sure if this has anything to do with spin rate, but I think it might.

The odd spin on the ball results in balls being popped up about 200 ft in the infield, a dribbler back to him, or the ball hits the bat and it flips over the catchers head to be foul.  Now occasionally there are some solid hits but they are rare if he's using his pitch that has that odd spin. It's actually fun to watch teams try to bunt because once the ball hits the ground it spins out foul.  So, wouldn't it be cool for all ages to learn how to get the ball to spin while being hit with the bat?

To begin with, until this system becomes cheap off the shelf, it will be reserved for top players.  As for high school stats, most of the comments are that college recruiters have difficulty in putting significant confidence in high school statistics across the board and can only really rely on them if they have first hand knowledge of the competition.  As for mph and KO's, both have their weaknesses and my comment was that these alone are not terribly productive, especially when you have a group of kids all throwing low 90's and you want to choose the kid that has the best chance to succeed at the next level - what helps separate these kids?

I loved the "NEW" trackman data that i watched in Jupiter in 14. Coming out of that tournament, my son had the 4th best FB & SR and 9th best CB & SR....both considered very good by the Trackman standards and competition there at the time. If your kid does not hit his spots, this all goes out the window. Velo is king, but at the next level to be a starter...you better have 3 or maybe 4 pitches you can throw for strikes at any time in any count. Same applies for closers...i can tell you at least 3 games that my son missed his spots and we lost those games because the hitter made him pay.

2017LHPscrewball posted: To begin with, until this system becomes cheap off the shelf, it will be reserved for top players.  As for high school stats, most of the comments are that college recruiters have difficulty in putting significant confidence in high school statistics across the board and can only really rely on them if they have first hand knowledge of the competition.  

Actually, it will only be reserved for players who can afford to go to venues where it’s available, and that isn’t necessarily only top players.

The HS stats scouts and recruiters have no confidence in are the stats derived from scorebooks, mainly the slash stats. And the reason they have no confidence in them isn’t because they don’t have firsthand knowledge of the competition, it’s because they don’t trust the validity of the numbers for various reasons.

The numbers coming from systems like trackman are the same as the numbers coming from a gun. They are objective, they are valid, and they are STATISTICS.

As for mph and KO's, both have their weaknesses and my comment was that these alone are not terribly productive, especially when you have a group of kids all throwing low 90's and you want to choose the kid that has the best chance to succeed at the next level - what helps separate these kids?

I just don’t get this statement: As this analysis gets refined, I suspect there will be more clarity as to which spin rates, possibly absent other outstanding metrics such as mph and KO's, are predictors of successful pitchers at the next nevel.

You called KOs and MPH outstanding metrics and predictors, but now are saying they aren’t terribly productive. I think what you’re trying to say is they’re ok predictors to generally separate those with a poor or no chance to move on from those that do, but aren’t worth much to rank those making that cut from best chance to least to have success at the next level. In that I agree.

Actually, I believe you will see an explosion in this area in the next two years. With the Rapsodo units, costs have come down. I believe the system now runs a little over $3k. That is extremely affordable for many of the private facilities throughout the country. They have just recently refined their units to the point of objective reliability. This will happen fast, in my estimation.

I may have used the term "outstanding" in a confusing manner.  What I meant to imply was spin rates might prove useful in the absence of some kid having great numbers ("outstanding" in my initial comment) for mph or KO's.  Did not mean to imply that the metrics themselves were outstanding metrics.  

AS for high school stats, it sounds like we are generally on the same page as to the usefulness of high school stats, although our reasons why such stats are not terribly useful may not line up perfectly.On my point about competition, you could have very valid stats for a team's pitcher showing solid performance (low ERA, high KO's. low walks, etc) but unless you are able to backtest the batting averages of the opposing players (and maybe the pitchers they have been facing all season long), you cannot assume he is pitching against top talent, at which point the stats have less impact.

 

2017LHPscrewball posted: I may have used the term "outstanding" in a confusing manner.  What I meant to imply was spin rates might prove useful in the absence of some kid having great numbers ("outstanding" in my initial comment) for mph or KO's.  Did not mean to imply that the metrics themselves were outstanding metrics.  

That makes more sense to me. Thanx.

AS for high school stats, it sounds like we are generally on the same page as to the usefulness of high school stats, although our reasons why such stats are not terribly useful may not line up perfectly.On my point about competition, you could have very valid stats for a team's pitcher showing solid performance (low ERA, high KO's. low walks, etc) but unless you are able to backtest the batting averages of the opposing players (and maybe the pitchers they have been facing all season long), you cannot assume he is pitching against top talent, at which point the stats have less impact.

I guess everything revolves around what you’re looking to use the stats for. If you’re looking to hand out a ship or draft a HS kid, I agree the stats normally seen in the paper or in places like MaxPreps don’t serve much of a purpose other than to identify the top performers. But, if you’re a coach trying to set the most productive lineup he can from the players he has available, or if he’s trying to identify the players he can help the most, it’s a different matter.

CaCO3Girl posted:

VERY interesting topic, I have some questions:

1. You can expect a growing HS kid to gain a bit on velocity just due to natural growth.  Does the spin rate change as well with growth?

2. 2200-2300 is not good according to PG, does that apply to a breaking ball as well as a fastball?

3. How do you get trackman to tell you WHEN it recorded the spin rate data?

CaCO, there is something called a Bauer unit, which normalizes spin rate, taking velocity into account (faster pitches will generally have more spin): www.drivelinebaseball.com/2017...ts-pitch-comparison/

CaCO3Girl posted:

VERY interesting topic, I have some questions:

1. You can expect a growing HS kid to gain a bit on velocity just due to natural growth.  Does the spin rate change as well with growth?

2. 2200-2300 is not good according to PG, does that apply to a breaking ball as well as a fastball?

3. How do you get trackman to tell you WHEN it recorded the spin rate data?

1. It's unclear. Spin rate remains fairly consistent, as far as I can tell, after puberty. There have been some tests trying to determine factors on spin rate and it's still a mystery. For example, tests designed to measure the effect of grip strength on spin rate have found no correlation.

2. A majority of fastballs will fall in this range. From my minimal research, I'd guess that somewhere upwards of 90% of four seam fastballs will fall between 2100-2300 rpm. What this mean is that the majority of fastballs hitters see are in this range. The hitters mind must make micro-computed projections on the path of an incoming fastball. Given past experience, the hitter's mind will default to the path of a fastball thrown with this spin rate. Fastballs with spin rates significantly higher than this range will fight of the effects of gravity to a greater degree and follow a path that doesn't drop as quickly. Thus a hitter will often swing under a fastball with a 2500 rpm spin, because his mind computed it reaching the plate at a lower position than it in fact arrived. Alternately, a fastball spinning at 1900 rpm is more effected by gravity than the those in the 2100-2300 range and fall to a position below where the mind decided it was going to be. So, generally, if you could choose, you'd like to throw at a rate either a couple hundred rpm below or above the "normal" range. If you break it down, I believe you'll see much higher rates of swing-and-miss at the higher and lower ranges, given similar velocity.

3. On Trackman, if you attach your player to your account, it will show a graph with all of the pitches. Unfortunately, it seems individual pitch data only seems to be available for balls that made contact with a bat - fair or foul. When you put your cursor on the pitch, you get no information on other pitches, but on the ones included, you get date, opponent, batter's name, exit velocity, pitch type and result.

The numbers I used above came not from Trackman, but from the MLB PDP results and were recorded by a Rapsodo system. Through Trackman, I don't see any real vertical/horizontal break data.

real green posted:

Root,

What about the rate of deceleration?  Any data in regards to time of flight compared to max velo and spin rate?

If it takes a 85mph 4 seam with a 2200 rpm .45 sec to travel 55ft.  How long does it take at 2500 rpm?  

 

My guess would be that, because it drops slightly less and takes a slightly straighter path to the plate (perhaps the total flight distance of the pitch is as much as an inch shorter because of less "curve" in the actual flight pattern), it would get there slightly sooner. Since deceleration occurs at a non-linear rate, my guess is that that last inch could make the same pitch arrive at the plate as much as 1-2 mph slower. I'm sure the math could be done, but it's beyond my abilities. I'm a lawyer. I was promised there's be no math in my profession.

To be more clear, it would seem logical that 85mph out of the hand at 2500 rpm would arrive at the plate quicker and at a higher rate of speed than the same pitch, form the same angle, out of the hand at 2200 rpm. Would be interested in the actual numbers. 

roothog66 posted:

To be more clear, it would seem logical that 85mph out of the hand at 2500 rpm would arrive at the plate quicker and at a higher rate of speed than the same pitch, form the same angle, out of the hand at 2200 rpm. Would be interested in the actual numbers. 

I'm going to guess that they show up at the same time.  While the argument about distance may have some merit, I am guessing that the 2500 rpm ball creates a tad more (scientific term) drag, which allows for the "rise".  

What I'd love to know is whether the actual fingertips are traveling faster with the 2500 rpm versus the 2200 rmp (identical mph out of hand) and the additional fingertip velocity is translated somehow into additional spin.  Some form of energy is required to produce additional spin and wonder if a pitcher could dial back spin on occasion and pick up 1-2 mph.

I've got an 11 yo whose fingers bleed off to the side most times when he throws (pitching, throwing to 1st, OF thros, etc).  I keep telling him he is probably "throwing" hard enough, but he is losing velocity and he is not transferring the energy into forward movement.  My 2017 is recommending the towel drill to help correct.  That is an extreme example of spin rate (sidespin) taking away from MPH but is an easy analogy for my point above.

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