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Animation of a typical fastball (speed in mph )

Fastball (or heat or heater ) is the fastest way to throw a baseball . A "normal" major league fastball is around 90  mph (miles per hour, 145 km / h). 95 mph (153 km / h) is considered very good, with few reaching the 100 mph ( triple digits , 161 km / h) mark . In fastball, you grasp the baseball with your index and middle finger, and with both fingertips on the long side of the seam of the ball, and let the ball roll over these fingers when you throw it. The resulting backspin ensures that there is overpressure under the ball (the so-called Magnus effect ), because the seams under the ball run in the direction of flight. If the ball is thrown quickly with a lot of rotation, the impression is created that the ball is rising ( rising fastball ). Hitters sometimes describe extremely fast balls as exploding fastballs or screaming fastballs , due to the buzzing of the seams in the wind and the bang when the ball lands in the catcher's glove .

Besides speed, which limits the response time of the hitters, other aspects are important: The control ( control or command on the fastball ) refers to the ability to place the fastball, the motion ( movement ) indicates the deviation from the straight flight direction. A good fastball is essential to the pitcher's strategy. The constant threat of throwing a fastball adds to the dangerousness of other pitches. A good addition is e.g. B. the changeup , a throw that looks just like a fastball ( deception ) to the hitter , but which is about 10–15 mph (16–24 km / h) slower. The hitter swings too early, does not hit him or only hits him weakly. In addition, there is often a fall down and a movement towards the batsman (right-right duel).

The fastest officially measured baseball pitch in a professional game was an Aroldis Chapman fastball at 169.1 km / h (105.1 mph) that he threw on September 24, 2010.


Animation of a cutter (speed in mph )

There are different variations of fastball:

  • four-seam fastball (short: four-seamer ): this is the easiest and fastest type of fastball. Here you grasp the baseball so that four seams turn against the incoming air wind.
  • two-seam fastball (short: two-seamer ): here the baseball is gripped in such a way that the seams do not turn against, but in the oncoming air wind, so that when the ball rotates completely, only the two transverse seams can be seen. The baseball is thrown with the index and middle fingers, and since the middle finger is longer than the index finger, this creates a twisting motion. This spin is (starting from a right-handed pitcher) towards the right-handed batsman and descends. A “two-seamer” is a little slower than a “four-seamer”, but compensates for this with the twist.
  • cut Fastball (short: cutter ): the cutter is gripped like a fastball, only offset slightly to the left or right ( off-center ), which gives the ball an additional side rotation.
  • split-finger fastball (short: splitter ): The splinter is gripped like a fastball and thrown similarly, but the pitcher spreads the index finger and the middle finger to form a "V". As a result, the ball slows down and it receives less rotation, so that it drops sharply downwards - as soon as possible before reaching the strike zone ("it drops off the table"). The desired drop is reinforced by the pitcher snapping the wrist forward just before releasing the ball.

Individual evidence