Baseball Four-Seam Fastball (FA)
Baseball pitchers often use a variety of pitches in an attempt to throw off hitters. The best pitchers will mix up their pitches so that the batter never knows what to expect. The four-seam fastball is arguably the most powerful pitch in a pitcher’s arsenal. Read on to learn more about the history of the four-seam fastball and how to throw one.
The four-seam fastball is a pitch thrown in baseball that is typically the fastest and most straight, and professional pitchers are able to place this pitch in specific locations most accurately. The pitch gets its name because the hitter can see four seams of the baseball when this pitch is rotating.
The four-seam fastball is typically a pitcher's most common pitch and one of the most powerful tools in their arsenal. Since pitchers are able to position and throw their four-seam fastball at high speeds, the pitch is often used to overpower opposing hitters. The pitch is known to leave hitters swinging and missing or making weak contact with the baseball.
How to Throw a Four-Seam Fastball
There are multiple ways a pitcher can grip a four-seam fastball, but the most common incorporates placing the pointer, ring, and middle fingers on the ball in a way that is comfortable for the individual. Comfort usually depends on hand/finger size, with the pinky completely off of the ball. The pointer finger and middle finger should be placed perpendicular to the horseshoe-looking seam of the baseball, with the ring finger on the side of the ball and the thumb underneath.
When throwing a four-seam fastball, the pitcher should aim towards their target, and when they throw the ball, they should think about “yanking” the ball down as hard as possible in order to achieve the desired speed and backspin. The pitch should be thrown straight without breaking in any direction.
When throwing a four-seam fastball, every inch of movement makes a difference, which is why there are seven variations of the pitch. These variations are differentiated by how the ball moves when the pitch is thrown, and they include pitches like the sinker, running fastball, relative cut fastball, the gyro fastball (which is mostly used by pitchers in Japan), and many more. Many variations of four-seam fastballs can be achieved through different release points and speeds. Variation in grips also results in variation in pitch break, which attributes to four-seam fastballs looking different to hitters.
History of the Four-Seam Fastball
While it is unknown who invented the fastball, it is understood that the four-seam fastball was one of the first pitches invented in the sport of baseball. Throwing the ball hard has long been a part of the game; however, pitchers threw the ball underhand until about the 1880s to make the game more focused on interactions between hitters and fielders rather than pitchers. Once teams started focusing on striking out batters, pitchers began creating different variations of fastballs that we see in today’s game.
Best Four-Seam Fastball Pitchers
Below is a list of pitchers that are known for having a great four-seam fastball:
- Jacob deGrom
- Lance Lynn
- Carlos Rondon
- Nestor Cortes Jr.
- Freddy Peralta
- Aroldis Chapman
- Nolan Ryan
- Sandy Koufax
- Roger Clemens
- Walter Johnson
What is a four-seam fastball in baseball?
A four-seam fastball is a type of pitch thrown by a pitcher in baseball. Four-seam fastballs typically move straight and at high velocities, making them useful when trying to get a hitter to swing and miss or make weak contact with the baseball. The pitch is one of the most commonly used pitches in the sport, and it is used to overpower hitters. The pitch is named a “four-seam fastball” because the hitter is able to see all four seams of the ball when the pitch is coming at them.
How is the four-seam fastball thrown in baseball?
The four-seam fastball is typically thrown using a grip that involves the pointer finger, middle finger, and ring finger around the horseshoe-shaped seam of the baseball. The pitcher’s pointer and middle finger should be perpendicular to the seams, and the ring finger should be on the side of the ball. The pitcher should then throw the ball directly toward their target while “yanking” down in order to get speed and the correct backspin on the ball. Since the pitch has a relatively straight movement, the ball should travel directly toward the target without breaking.