If you want to learn how to throw a two-seam fastball, you're going to love this article.
In this step-by-step guide, I'll show you how to grip a two-seamer with pictures and descriptions from MLB pitchers.
I'll also share some of my favorite two-seam fastball tips, tricks and techniques that I picked up along the way in the Chicago Cubs organization.
What is a two-seam fastball?
A two-seam fastball is generally one of a pitcher's fastest pitches, although it doesn't have quite the same velocity as a four-seam fastball. A two-seam fastball is one of the most frequently thrown pitches in baseball.
A two-seam fastball is often a few ticks slower than a four-seam fastball, but it tends to have more movement. With a two-seamer, the ball moves in the same direction as whichever arm is being used to throw it (meaning a right-handed pitcher gets rightward movement on a two-seamer).
The release of the ball is similar to the four-seam pitch, except for the slight movement of the hand which causes the ball to rotate off - center. As stated previously, the four-seam pitch rotates 6 to 12 on a clock face in the batter’s view, whereas a two-seam pitch could appear to the batter as a top to bottom, a 4 to 10 on a clock face.
The pitch will sink down and to the right for right handed pitchers. The pitch will sink down and to the left for left handed pitchers.
The ‘two-seam’ label originated from the view of the batter. The pitcher’s grip causes the batter to observe one pair or horizontal seams spinning rather than two. Velocity, arm slot angle and pressure points of the fingers are the factors which determine the amount of movement on the ball.
Average speed of a two-seam fastball
Average pitch speed for a two-seam fastball in Major League Baseball
MLB average velocity difference from fastball: 1.3 MPH
MLB average spin rate of two-seam fastball: 2123 rpm
MLB average strike percentage: 64.3%
What does a two-seam fastball look like?
How do you throw a two-seam fastball?
- Step 1: Grip the ball slightly tighter and deeper into the throwing hand than the four-seam fastball.
- Step 2: Place your index and middle fingers directly on top of the narrow seams of the ball.
- Step 3: Place your thumb directly on the bottom side of the baseball and on the smooth leather in between the narrow seams.
- Step 4: Use a firm grip. This induces friction between your hand and the baseball and is essential in getting the ball to change direction and back up or run into the pitching arm side of the plate. The firm grip generates the resistance for a 2-3 mph speed reduction.
Two-seam fastball grips
Five keys to developing a great two-seam fastball
Many pitchers like to throw the two seamer inside to hitters. A right handed pitcher will throw it inside to a right handed hitter.
The natural movement makes it easy to get the ball in on the hands, and makes it difficult for the hitter to make solid contact.
Getting the right amount of movement on the two seam fastball takes practice.
- Index and middle fingers going with the seams, thumb underneath.
- Still a fastball so all force is applied right through the middle of the ball creating backspin with a little extra pressure on the index finger.
- Ball should run in and possibly down to the pitcher's respective pitching arm side.
To get this pitch to be effective and run the way it's supposed to, you should place slightly more pressure on the index finger than the middle finger. It should be noted that length of fingers and overall hand size can play a role in how much the ball may move, to some degree. By placing more of the pressure on the index finger, it will naturally cause the ball to move in the direction of the pitching arm side at the release point and subsequently towards the plate, creating the "running" movement.
Keep in mind that arm slot plays a role in amount of movement on this pitch. The lower one's arm slot the more the ball is likely to run.
The wrist naturally pronates through release. Try to exaggerate pronation on this pitch and you're more likely to execute it with great movement.
How to get more movement on the pitch
When a two-seam fastball is released from the hand, the last contact is off the pitcher’s longest finger (most likely, the middle finger).
If the length of the pitcher’s index and middle fingers are ‘equal’, the pitched ball’s last contact is off of two fingers. This act balances the baseball upon release resulting in a more direct (straight) pitch. The ‘unequal’ length of a pitcher’s index finger in comparison to his middle finger creates a pitch spinning off-balance and results in movement.
The length of your fingers and size of your hand can’t be changed, but, your technique can be improved upon. If you are having difficulty producing movement on your two-seam fastball, practice develops a reliable off-speed pitch with movement. The advantage of this off-speed accommodation will compensate for your physical limitations if you are able to master the proper grip and arm action.
What do you think?
Now it's time to hear from you:
How do you throw a two-seam fastball? Can you share a pic of your two-seam grip?
Or maybe you have an idea of how I can make this article even better.
Either way, leave a comment below and let me know.