The Z Files: A Look at Spin Rate
The Z Files: A Look at Spin Rate

This article is part of our The Z Files series.

A couple weeks ago, Jeff Erickson wrote a piece on exit velocity and spin rate. Last week, I delved deeper into exit velocity. This week, spin rate will be the focus.

Much like exit velocity needs to be considered in tandem with launch angle for maximum benefit, spin rate and spin axis are necessary to get the whole picture. This discussion will be more of a survey piece, dealing mostly with spin rate. For those interested in the physics behind spin rate, spin axis and pitch movement, please read A DEEPER DIVE INTO FASTBALL SPIN RATE and the associated linked pieces posted on DRIVELINE BASEBALL. The bulk of the information referenced on spin rate and axis in the next few paragraphs is from those postings.

It's generally assumed the higher the spin rate, the better. In many instances this is true, but not all. The effect varies between pitch classifications. The average spin rate for different pitches will be examined later.

Big picture, spin rate and spin axis work in concert with gravity to enact pitch movement, both laterally and vertically. Obviously, gravity always acts to pull the ball downward. Spin rate and spin axis affect air pressure and movement, sometime forming a cushion countering gravity, other times acting as a funnel guiding the ball side to side.

Many equate higher spin with greater movement, but the opposite is true with a fastball. The backspin on a four-seam fastball induces a magnus force counteracting gravity, lessening the

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year. Todd is a five-time FSWA awards finalist.
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