July 22, 2010, 9:01 am
Fastball, Cutter, Slider
By Henry Woodbury
In an appreciation of New York Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera, the New York Times has put together an impressive animation that shows how he pitches. Even if you are not a baseball fan, this is worth a look for its artistry and integrity. By modeling and animating a season’s worth of data the visualization connects process — how Rivera throws the ball — with outcomes — a scatter plot of where his pitches cross the plate.
One highlight of the visualization is the comparison of three pitches — fastball, cutter, slider. Each is distinguished by a different spin, created by a different grip and release.
Credit for the visualization goes to Graham Roberts, Shan Carter, and Joe Ward.
You guys mixed up the fastball and cutter rotations in the image above. The cutter is a mix of back spin and side spin, where the fastball is straight backspin. I threw a four seam cutter in college, so I am experienced in this matter. From speaking with professionals who have faced Rivera personally what makes Rivera’s cutter so effective is how slight the variation of spin is from a traditional four seam. This means that most of the force is applied behind the ball, thus resulting in more velocity and later movement. Basic physics tells us that the force acting on the ball (wind resistance/friction) redirects the ball based on the rotation of the seams in relation to the direction the ball is traveling.
Posted by Colin Snow on September 6, 2012 at 8:25 am