The game of baseball is one of the most difficult sports to play around the world. From the earliest days of playing the game to the modern-day game played around Major League Baseball (MLB), players of all ages continue to get bigger, stronger and faster. One of the game’s main elements is pitching, as pitchers continue to evolve while standard pitches such as the two-seam fastball continue to anchor their pitching repertoire. With the two-seam fastball being such an important pitch, understanding how to throw a two-seam fastball is key for any pitcher.
When it comes to the two-seam fastball, the pitch is like the four-seam fastball designed to be thrown at a high velocity while being a pitch that can be thrown by pitchers of all ages while being safe to throw. Read on to learn more about the two-seam fastball, the pros/cons of throwing a two-seam fastball, and how to throw a two-seam fastball.
What Is a Two-Seam Fastball?
A two-seam fastball is one of the various members of the fastball pitching family, used as a high-velocity pitch. In addition to the four-seam fastball, the two-seam fastball is one of the main pitches any pitcher throws, including one of the first pitches little leaguers learn to throw. The two-seam fastball is gets its name from the grip used to hold the baseball. You will position your two fingers along two seams of the major league baseball compared to overlapping four seams as the four-seam fastball.
How to Throw a Two-Seam Fastball
The two-seam fastball is one of the easiest pitches to add to any pitcher’s arsenal while also being one of the first pitches taught to little league baseball players. The pitcher, right-handed or left-handed, will place his index finger and middle fingers along two seams of the ball while the thumb is positioned under the ball. The pitch is then thrown over the top at the 12 o’clock position but can also be thrown at various arm angles and slots.
While most elect to do this where the writing is on the baseball, some pitchers may elect to rotate the ball forward or backward while gripping just two seams. In addition, pitchers can add various amounts of pressure to the index finger, thumb, or middle finger to help with movement and change of speed among the pitch.
Two-Seam Fastball Movement
How Does a Two-Seam Fastball Move?
Depending on the arm used, the two-seam fastball grip and the amount of pressure applied will determine what movement a two-seam fastball has, and its direction. Typical movement of the two-seam fastball is a downward approach to home plate will be moving down and to the right for right-handed pitchers and down and to the left for left-handed pitchers.
Two-seam fastballs are slightly slower than a four-seam fastball, and because two-seam fastballs tend to have more movement, they’re more difficult for pitchers to control.
Two-Seam Fastball Speeds
The two-seam fastball can vary in speed based on the pitcher throwing the ball and the level he is playing at. In professional baseball, the two-seam fastball can be thrown in the mid to upper 80s to mid to low 90s, depending on the pitcher. In theory, the success of the pitch doesn’t revolve around the velocity but with how it is thrown and how it moves. This is key for pitchers to learn how to throw an effective two-seam fastball at an early age.
Is a Sinker the Same as a Two-Seam Fastball?
Sinkers and two-seam fastballs share similar pitch profiles, known for their arm side action, diving movement, and sidespin. The biggest difference is in the way they move. Two-seamers and sinkers move to either side, depending on the arm used or downward.
A two-seamer is a pitch that moves horizontally (left-to-right for right-handed pitchers and right-to-left for left-handed pitchers), while a pitch that drops vertically is a sinker.
When Did It Appear in Baseball and Who Invented It?
We can’t determine an exact time frame, but it is believed to be one of the first pitches used when baseball was being played during the mid-1800s. Its also hard to determine which pitcher invented the two-seam fastball as the game’s history is difficult to learn much past the early 1900s.
Pitching has been a staple of the game since the beginning, and the two-seam fastball has been around since the start, with many players putting a different spin on it.
How to Throw Right-Handed?
As far as throwing a two-seam fastball right-handed, pitchers will position the index and middle fingers along the two seams of the baseball with the thumb being located on the left side of the baseball or underneath.
What happens with a two-seam fastball when you put your thumb on the side of the ball? In theory, for a right-handed pitcher, the positioning of the thumb could impact the movement more to the left if the thumb position is more to the left side of the ball.
How to Throw Left-Handed?
Compared to throwing the ball as a right-handed pitcher, the same two fingers of the left hand will be positioned on two seams, with the thumb positioned underneath the ball. The ball will be then thrown from a 12 o’clock position to allow a more downward movement action while also having an altered movement if thrown at an alternate arm slot or angle.
Which Way Does It Break for a Lefty/Righty?
It all comes to the arm orientation of the pitcher on which way a two-seam fastball breaks. While many will ask how a two-seam fastball moves, the key is remembering that a left-handed starter will be a downward pitch to the left while a right-handed pitcher will get a downward to the right motion.
Pros/Cons of a Two-Seam Fastball
Regarding the pros/cons of two-seam fastballs, the biggest pro of the pitch is that it is safe for any pitcher of any age to use while requiring little to no arm/wrist twist. In addition, the ball will have a downward motion, making it difficult to hit.
The biggest con of the two-seam fastball is it is more difficult to control, making it more difficult to throw compared to the four-seam fastball.
At What Age Can You Throw?
When it comes to throwing a two-seam fastball or how to throw a two-seam fastball, any baseball player of any age learning to pitch can learn to throw it.
However, since it is more difficult to determine what a two-seam fastball does because of the movement, it is often the second pitch learned by pitchers when they are starting out.
Furthermore, some professional starting pitchers elect to stay away from the two-seam fastball when they are having control issues.
Do You Need Big Hands?
When debating how to grip a two-seam fastball and whether you should throw it, your hand size does not play a major role in throwing it. Pitchers with various hand sizes can add the two-seam fastball to the mix, and kids learning the game at an early age are encouraged to use the two-seam fastball along with the four-seam fastball.
Does Throwing a Two-Seam Fastball Hurt Your Arm?
If thrown properly, the two-seam fastball will not hurt your arm. That is why it is key to learn how to throw a two-seam fastball correctly and understand what it does. Understanding this will ensure the pitcher does not attempt to add spin to the pitch by twisting the wrist or elbow. Proper stretching is always recommended before throwing.
The best way to throw a two-seam fastball without hurting your arm is by learning how to grip and throw. Throwing an effective two-seam fastball involves learning how to throw over the top (12 o’clock position) with no twist or spin on the arm.
Who Throws This Pitch up in MLB?
The two-seam fastball is a very common pitch among MLB, with many pitchers using it because of the movement it can offer. Some of the current players using the two-seam fastball on the list include the likes of All-Star closer Zach Britton, starting pitcher Marcus Stroman and top-tier aces Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer. Most MLB starters that use the two-seam fastball understand what movement a two-seam fastball has and how they can use it to confuse opposing batters.
Best Two-Seam Fastball in the History of Baseball?
One of the best two-seam fastballs in the history of Major League Baseball is the one thrown by Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. Maddux, who was not known for throwing the ball extremely hard (upper 80’s, low 90’s), used the two-seam fastball to help him become one of the dominant starters during his playing career.
The two-seam fastball can be a key pitch for any pitcher of any age. It simply comes down to taking the time to learn how to throw a two-seam fastball, how to grip a two-seam fastball and understanding the movement that can come with a well-thrown two-seam fastball.