Sinker (baseball)

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In baseball, a sinker or sinking fastball is a type of fastball pitch which has significant downward and horizontal movement and is known for inducing ground balls.[1] Pitchers who use the sinker tend to rely on it heavily and do not need to change pitch speeds as much as other pitchers do because the sinking action induces weak bat contact. Other pitchers normally change pitch speeds to achieve this effect.[2] The sinker is much more often used by right-handed pitchers than left-handed pitchers.

History[edit]

Before the 1950s, pitchers did not know what caused their pitches to sink or "hop." They regarded either ability as a "gift from heaven." Bill James cites Curt Simmons as the first pitcher to be able to throw both sinkers and rising fastballs, apparently indicating that it was now known how to make a pitch sink and how to make one hop.[1]

Current Major League pitchers[edit]

Scott Feldman, Charlie Morton, Joel Piñeiro, Carlos Zambrano, Jake Westbrook, Roberto Hernández, Aaron Cook, Chien-Ming Wang, Tim Hudson, Mike Pelfrey, Jon Garland, Zach Miner, Brad Bergesen, Kyle Kendrick, Chris Volstad, Jim Johnson, Rick Porcello, Ronald Belisario, Trevor Cahill, Ryan Mattheus, Sonny Gray, and Justin Masterson are current major league players who rely heavily on the sinker.

Throwing mechanics[edit]

One method of throwing the sinker is to simply grip the baseball along the two seams and throw it similar to a fastball. Some pitchers use a downward motion on their wrist when throwing it. The pitcher's palm turns to the right at release for a right handed pitcher. This causes a sharper sink, but also has a greater risk of a wild pitch. This wrist movement is also called pronation.

However, many sinker ball pitchers today turn the inside of the ball over just before releasing the ball, combined with slightly increasing the pressure on the ball with the index finger ("press inside") which creates a tilted sidespin motion that causes horizontal movement.[1]

Effects on the batter[edit]

The sinker drops 3 to 6 inches more than a typical two-seam fastball which causes batters to hit ground balls more often than other fastballs, mostly due to the tilted backspin on the ball.[1] Horizontal movement also occurs when sinkers are thrown.[2]

Notable sinkerballers[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d John Walsh. "In Search of the Sinker". The Hardball Times. 
  2. ^ a b Joe P. Sheehan. "That Sinking Feeling". Baseball Analysts.