Demystifying Data: Throwing a Two-Seam Fastball

In the 15 years between my time as a college catcher and a dad just hoping to help his son get better, an interesting thing happened to player development — science.

Data collection has become table stakes, and applying it in training is critical to helping players reach their full potential. For those of us looking for the best coaches and facilities to help our kids improve, the amount of information collected and the new vernacular that comes with it can be overwhelming.

Where I used such scientific phrases as “smoke” and “off the table,” my son’s native baseball language will include spin efficiency, axis, and break profile.

In an attempt to better understand what it all means, I watched a tutorial on pitching data at Baseball Rebellion and came away believing coaches and instructors who embrace modern methods are actually best positioned to deliver on principles that transcend eras.

Focus on the Little Things

I was amazed how quick and efficient data can be in identifying teaching moments and making small changes to get big results.

When a young pitcher at Baseball Rebellion missed with his two-seam fastball, his instructor used Rapsodo PITCHING 2.0 to show a slight change in spin axis that caused the spin efficiency to decrease. More importantly, the instructor knew exactly how to translate the data to correct the flaw.

“That shows me the ball came off your middle finger a little too much,” he said. “Let’s throw it again, and really focus on putting more pressure on your index finger.”

With that information, the pitcher fired off another two-seamer, focused on making that one small change. The increased spin efficiency confirmed what our eyeballs witnessed – the pitch was on the money. 

Get Better Every Day

I used to catch entire bullpen sessions where pitchers “couldn’t find it.” Using data, instructors can now identify and fix issues pitch-to-pitch.

As a parent, I am well aware of the potential for arm issues in young pitchers if their workouts aren’t closely monitored. I’m also aware that players who excel are inherently competitive. No pitcher in the history of the game has felt good about ending a bullpen without dialing in their final pitch. In my experience, when a pitcher “can’t find it” they tend to extend their session and extend themselves.

My favorite thing about the amount of data available to my son is that it will be increasingly rare for him to go an entire session without “having it.” Coaches and instructors know exactly why pitches miss and can correct them quickly.

Even as someone who fancies himself a little old school, I can’t imagine taking my son to an instructor or facility that doesn’t capture data and apply it during the lesson.

Once you embrace the data, the key to “having it” is no longer a mystery.