Photo Craig Landefeld
Richard Bleier

I’ll try to tackle the questions to the best of my knowledge.

How does faster spin rate seem to affect each pitch specifically?

4S FB drop less when they spin faster, drop more when they spin slower. High rates play well up in the zone for whiffs, low rates play well down in the zone for GBs, moderate rates don’t play very well unless there is big velocity, deception or horizontal movement. SL and CB as they spin faster tend to break later and more sharply, they don’t necessarily break bigger and the pitch might not actually be more effective in a vacuum than a bigger breaking lower spin offering, but they generally help the fastball play up because they look the same for longer, making hitters hesitate. Spin axis is also important for the breaking balls, sliders especially. It’s possible to spin a slider like crazy but if the laces aren’t lined up correctly, it’ll just spin and not move, which isn’t good. Changeups move more with lower spin, spin rate is hard to assess with changeups because there are so many different changeup grips that cause the ball to do different things and depending on the grip, different spin rates and profiles are desirable.

For all the data above, what has the most value to an analytics dept right now?

I think they will look much deeper than my simplistic observations (partially because they have a lot more data in their hands, mainly because they know a lot more about this stuff than me). But the Astros definetly target high spin CBs, they like how the high spin CB and the 4S fastball combine to be better than the sum of their parts.

Miguel Castro by far has the most spin on his slider. Is that something Elias will target? Not sure.

Luis Ortiz only threw one curve and topped the list. Is that reliable data?

Do we have any links to this data for our minor leaguers? Teams have that data, but it’s not publicly available, I wish I had access to it, it’d make assessing prospects easier. Generally there aren’t huge outliers in the spin rate data, so I imagine it’s close to where his CB sits regarding spin rate. There are commonly a couple hundred rpm swings, so I’d guess it’s 2400-2800 rpm as far as the range of reasonable possibilities.

How does Tanner Scott’s FB spin rate compare to the league’s’ elite?

It’s not elite, but it’s solidly above average. I think, and this is just the eye test, so take it with a grain of salt, that he had a notably higher spin rate in Bowie before he eased up his delivery. The pitch had much more ride up in the zone at that time.

Also, can you teach spin rate? Or does it depend on arm speed, arm or finger length, how well you snap your wrist, etc?

Grips, arm speed, hand/finger length/strength/flexibility all seem to matter. I don’t think snapping of the wrist is important or helpful, the highest spin CBs are held deep in the hand and thrown with premium arm speed. The Astros have had some success at improving spin rate, part of that may be teaching intent (trying to throw hard), some have speculated that it has something to do with sticky substances (Trevor Bauer has a theory that they are just good at cheating).