The Saber's Edge: Making Sense of Pitch Spin Values
The Saber's Edge: Making Sense of Pitch Spin Values

This article is part of our The Saber's Edge series.

The folks at MLB Advanced Media have a great new statistic they have pushed out recently — pitch spin rate. Just a few days ago, they showed that Yu Darvish's four-seam fastball has one of the league's highest spin rates. In 2013, we didn't need to know Darvish's spin rate to understand his fastball was a good pitch with him striking out 11.4 batters per nine innings. I can understand why someone could be skeptical of spin rates. I am. The following is a shallow dive into a deep topic to help get a bit of an understanding of spin rates and what information can be useful.

What does the spin rate actually tell us that we already don't know with sites like FanGraphs and BrooksBaseball having a ton of information on each pitch? Besides the spin rate, other factors go into the quality of a pitch like velocity, location, deception, release point and other pitches in the pitcher's arsenal. Additionally, some work has already been done on the subject by FanGraphs' Jonah Pemstein in a two-partseries. For each pitch type, he found the contact rate, swing rate, groundball rate, pop-up rate, BABIP and overall value. The post was extremely information heavy, but few new conclusions were provided.

I will start my own study with the basics with the two most common pitches getting mentioned, four-seam fastball and curveballs.

Effects of Spin Rate on Four-Seam Fastballs

The basic fastball is a great place to start because

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Zimmerman
Zimmerman writes analytics-focused baseball and football articles for RotoWire. He is a three-time FSWA award winner, including the Football Writer of the Year and Best Football Print Article awards in 2016. The 2017 Tout Wars Mixed Auction champion and 2016 Tout Wars Head-to-Head champ, Zimmerman also contributes to FanGraphs.com, BaseballHQ and Baseball America.
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