The theory of the Magnus Effect is a relatively simple exercise in aerodynamics. When any object is moving through the air, its surface interacts with a thin layer of air known as the boundary layer. In the case of a sphere, which has a very poor aerodynamic shape, the air in the boundary layer peels away from the surface, creating a “wake” or low-pressure region behind the ball. The front-to-back pressure difference creates a backward force on the ball, which slows its forward motion.
When you release the ball, you pull down on the seams with your middle finger, creating the downward rotation that produces the break. “Breaking ball” is also used as a way of lumping the curve and slider into a family. Some people see the slider and curve as being arbitrary points along a continuum rather than sharply distinguished pitches. Pitching coach Leo Mazzone, for instance, encourages his pitchers to develop a “quality breaking ball” without making a strong distinction between the different varieties of breaking pitch. In the 19th Century, it was common to call all breaking pitches curves.
You might be thinking about the primary difference between a changeup and a breaking ball if their target is to mislead the opponent. The changeup is a regular baseball pitch suitable for players who want to learn the skill of deception. Like the breaking ball, the objective of a changeup is to create a weak contact or make the hitter miss. Further information regarding the precision of the coefficients may be found in the second column of Table 2.
Whereas I grip and release the ball with my palm turned inward for a curve, I turn my palm out when throwing a screwball–almost like I’m turning a screwdriver. One component we pitching in slow pitch softball did not discuss in this blog was the tradeoff between breaking ball velocity and spin efficiency. This is something that will be covered in the second post of this series.
Thus, Burnes gains 2.4 mph more than expected on the pitch. On the other hand, his curveball loses 3.9 mph more than the expected 11.7 mph differential, dropping 15.6 mph on average. Lastly, his slider velocity differential is nearly identical to his expected loss at 8.9 mph. The list of pitches might seem like a lot to keep track of, but remember that each pitcher utilizes only a selection of these pitches. For example, Pedro Martinez throws a curveball, circle-changeup, an occasional slider, and a fastball. Generally the Magnus effect describes the laws of physics that make a curveball curve.
It’s likely that some 19th Century pitchers threw pitches that were called curves back then but would be described as sliders today. Inside pitches are thrown close to the batter, but ideally as a strike. Pitchers can also throw a ball inside to brush the batter back off the plate and intimidate them, making it easier for them to throw strikes outside afterwards. In baseball, a breaking ball is a pitch that does not travel straight as it approaches the batter; it will have sideways or downward motion on it, sometimes both .
Breaking balls are types of pitches that are meant to deceive the batter about where the ball will end up.Sliders and curveballs are two of the most common types of breaking balls. There are a few different ways a breaking ball can be utilized. Breaking balls thrown breaking away from the hitter on the outside of the plate will appear as a strike before diving out of reach. Pitches thrown breaking towards the hitter on the inside of the plate will cause the batter to swing over the ball.
Previously, we plotted Burnes’ breaking ball velocity differentials on a polar coordinate graph with each pitch’s spin direction. We saw that each pitch’s actual velocity drop lined up fairly well with its expected difference. A palmball in baseball is a type of pitch that resembles an off-speed pitch or changeup.
This will be part one of a two-part breaking ball pitch design blog series. Big leaguers are using advances in Pitch Design to their advantage to increase velocity and add additional sweep and depth to their breaking balls, helping them achieve a record number of strikeouts in the process. It is commonly used by broadcasters when they can’t be sure whether a pitch was a curve or slider but know that it was one or the other.