Freddy Garcia’s Crazy Split-Finger Fastball

My friend who writes over at H-Town Sportstake sent me this link today.  It’s a pretty interesting article about a split-finger fastball that Freddy Garcia, from the team who shall remain nameless, throws from time-to-time.

It was a clear, cool night at Yankee Stadium. The catcher, Russell Martin, was set up on the inside corner of the plate against the right-handed Rivera, anticipating the typical splitter action: a sharp downward break, with perhaps a little tail toward the hitter.

But this pitch, video replays confirm, forced Martin to move his glove about a foot to his right, away from the batter, at the last possible moment

The conflict was this: A split-finger is usually gripped to reduce backspin on the ball because backspin prevents the ball from dropping. The typical Magnus effect on the ball will tilt it slightly in toward a hitter.

“But the particular pitch that was unusual broke away from a right-handed hitter,” Nathan said.

Stumped, Nathan sent the video to the physicist Rod Cross at the University of Sydney in Australia. Cross performed several tests — often using polystyrene balls for better movement — and came up with what he views as a plausible theory. He published his findings in an article in the American Journal of Physics in January.

Make sure to go read his theory.  Neat baseball nerd stuff.

H/T: H-Town Sportstake

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