4 Seam vs 2 Seam Fastball

By Alexis
Last Updated on

Reaching speeds of 100 MPH and over, the fastball has made a name for itself in the baseball world. With random, unexpected twists and turns, different types of fastballs can massively change the outcome of a game; it all comes down to the orientation of the ball, spin speed, and spin axis.

4 seam and 2 seam pitches are commonly heard terms throughout any baseball game, both are delivered at high speed yet their outcomes are very different.

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4 Seam Fastball

4 seam fastball gets its name from the way in which the ball rotates; 4 seams are visible with each rotation. It is an essential skill in baseball which greatly helps the pitcher in delivering a high speed ball, occasionally reaching 100 MPH for some Major League pitchers.

What is 4 Seam Fastball?

Classified in the fastball category due to the high speed a 4 seamer can reach, it is also known as ‘the rising fastball’ or a ‘cross-seamer’.

4 seamer pitches aren’t aimed at tricking the batter, it’s actually a test of skill, as the ball should have no movement except to travel in a straight line trajectory. It is often compared to the 2-seam throw, however, key differences lie in the technique as well as timing in a baseball game when choosing between the two.

How to Throw a 4 Seam Fastball

A successful 4 seam pitch overthrows the batter with its pace, entering the hitting zone before the batter realizes and has time to adjust the swing of the pitch.

The ball should be held with the index and middle finger placed on or across the seams. The seams should be pointing away from the pitcher, in a horseshoe shape. The pitcher’s arms should stay straight – the lower the arm, the more movement there will be as opposed to less movement with a higher angled arm.

This type of throw is delivered with upward rotation of the arm, and with the help of the ‘Magnus Effect‘, which is the act of the ball being lifted, overcoming the gravitational pull.

Watch Out How to Throw a 4 Seam Fastball!

How to Grip a 4 Seam Fastball

To correctly throw a 4 seam pitch, players should learn and practice the exact positioning of the hand on the ball, as well as the angle in which the arm should be positioned before delivering the pitch.

To have a strong grip on the ball, the index and middle fingertips should be placed directly over the corresponding seams of the baseball.
Next, place your thumb directly beneath the baseball. It should be sitting on the plain leather part of the ball, with the innermost part of the thumb resting on the ball seam at the bottom.
It shouldn’t be gripped tightly – lightly hold the ball.
To throw a great four seam, there needs to be a high level of backspin and velocity, so the ball shouldn’t be directly against the palm of the hand. Having a gap in-between means there is less friction when the ball is thrown, so a looser grip allows the ball to be able to travel further.

When to Throw a 4 Seam Fastball?

Generally, pitchers throw a 4 seam pitch when they are down on the count, especially if a strike can’t be lost out on. It should be the most accurate and fastest pitch in baseball that a pitcher turns to, so it is often reserved for these parts of a game.

What makes a 4 seamer a successful pitch is knowing when to use it, and this is something a pitcher must learn well, as it can alter the direction of the baseball game significantly if done correctly.

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What is a 4 Seam Fastball Supposed to Do?

The point of a 4 seam fastball is essentially to overpower batters; the goal of the pitch is to reach the strike zone before the batter has a chance to react. It should be one of the easiest and most reliable throws that a pitcher uses, and is very frequently used in baseball.

Using this technique puts the pitcher more in control, and as the ball travels in a straight line, it is harder for the batter to hit it.

The Truth About the 4-Seam Fastball:

2 Seam Fastball

Fans will often hear the term ‘2 seam fastball’, as it is a pitch which commonly used. It is categorized as a fastball due to its high speed, however, the unique positioning of the ball gives it some advantages over other fastballs. It may not be as easy to learn as other techniques, however, with practice it can be a great asset to any pitcher’s baseball skillset.

What is 2 Seam Fastball?

2 seamer throws are basically a modified version of a straight fastball pitch, however, the pace of the pitch is very fast, and is often compared to a 4 seamer fastball. There are some key differences between the two, however, such as finger placement, and each serves very different purposes.

It gains its name from the view that is seen when the ball has been thrown; two seams, as opposed to four, are visible as the ball slices through the air.

How to Throw a 2 Seam Fastball

There are numerous gripping methods that can be applied when throwing 2 seam pitches, but the arm movement generally stays the same as a 4 seamer throw – kept straight. A 2 seamer should gather extra movement as fingertip pressure is applied, so learning the correct way of positioning of each finger is essential.

Learn How to Throw a Two-Seam Fastball with Daniel Norris

How to Grip a 2 Seam Fastball

One of the most common ways to grip a 2 seamer properly includes arranging both the middle and index fingers so that they are near each other, whilst the thumb is positioned on the leather. The inner part of the thumb should rest at the base, close to the seam.

To begin with, the ball should be positioned deep into the palm, allowing more room for maneuver.
The middle and index finger should be placed on the two narrow seams.
The thumb should be placed on the underneath of the ball, with the inner part of the thumb resting at the base, close to the seam.

When to Throw a 2 Seam Fastball

Choosing the right moment to throw this type of pitch in a baseball game is important, as pitchers most likely wouldn’t use it when behind in the count. Its unpredictability when it reaches the batter may mean it ‘runs away’ from the strike zone.

A guideline to follow for right handed pitchers is that they will be at an advantage when throwing to a left handed batter, and the same rule applies for right handed batters opposing a left handed pitcher. Although it is slightly more difficult to master than a 4 seamer throw, when achieved and used in the correct place it can catch the batter off guard.

How to Get More Movement on a 2 Seam Fastball

Gaining extra movement on a 2 seam fastball requires applying pressure differently than when delivering a 4 seamer pitch. Because the latter moves in a straight line, there is very little movement needed and so the pressure applied by each finger is equal. For a fantastic 2 seamer throw, apply extra pressure to the index figure, as it adds extra movement which can cause the ball to move more vertically.

Why Does a 2 Seam Fastball Move?

A 2 seam fastball moves essentially due to the different variations of pressure which are applied by the fingers on the inner or outer part of the seam. This type of throw tends to move upwards, with a lift at the end, and has more rotations than a 4 seam throw.

In baseball, a fastball in general moves because of the high-pressure zone which is creating in front and underneath the baseball, and this is aided by the stitching on the ball. The figure-eight pattern on the ball isn’t flush to the surface, it is slightly raised, allowing airflow to whirl around it as it moves. Depending on the type of pitch, the trajectory of the ball can be modified and changed.

Check This Out! MLB Two Seam Fastball Movement

Which Pitch is More Important to Learn?

If both pitches can be mastered, it would benefit the pitcher all round. In terms of movement, 2 seam fastball is the go to pitch, however for speed and accuracy, a 4 seam throw will be more reliable.

Whilst both are commonly used in baseball games and by MLB players, many master the 4 seam easier, as there is less dependency on finger pressure to increase movement in the ball. In conclusion, both offer their own unique advantages over the batter and have different timing requirements throughout a baseball game.

2 Seam vs 4 Seam Velocity

Although both require a high amount of velocity to be executed successfully, the 4 seamer tends to have a 1-2 MPH increase in velocity when compared to the 2 seamer. The reason for this lies in the direction, as this type of throw is usually a straighter pitch.

Which is Faster, 4 Seam or 2 Seam?

Both fastballs move at a high speed, however, the 4 seamer uses less movement and maximum velocity, which makes it much faster. Due to the positioning of the stitches, and the straight line in which it travels, it’s speed and positioning disarms the batter, making it harder to successfully hit the ball.

The Basic Difference Between 2 Seam and 4 Seam Fastball

There are a number of differences that distinguish these two pitches, however, regardless of their differences, both are valuable skills for a pitcher to master.

One of the biggest aspects which set the two fastballs apart is the direction which the ball follows. The 4 seam should head straight to the plate, with very little movement but high speed. The 2 seam can veer slightly to the left for a right-handed pitcher and to the right for left handed players. This is due to the positioning of the ball seams when being held in the fingers.

The seams mark the second difference, and contribute to the names given to each pitch. According to the grip of the fingers on the ball, a 4 seam fastball will show 4 seams as opposed to 2 seams on show when the ball is in movement during a baseball game.

The final difference lies in the speed of the ball – the 4 seam is one of the fastest pitches used in baseball, and whilst a 2 seam fastball is fast as well, it doesn’t beat the speed of the former pitch.

Check This Video Out! 2 Seam VS 4 Seam


What Does a Two Seam Fastball Do?

A two seam fastball is great when a pitcher wants to influence the direction in which the ball travels. This deceptiveness, alongside the speed in which the ball travels, can overpower the batter. It is often compared to a four seam fastball, however, throwing a two seam is slightly slower as it uses more movement. The ball should move in the same direction as the arm which throws it, with the grip positioned specifically around the stitching before throwing.

Is a Cutter the Same as a Two-seam Fastball?

According to MLB Glossary, a cutter is not the same as a two seam fastball due to the direction in which it travels. A two seam will travel in the direction of the arm which throws it (a left-handed pitcher will throw the pitch leftwards and right-handed player rightwards). A cutter breaks in the opposite direction as it reaches the home plate, which stops the batter from hitting in squarely.

Why is it Called a Four-seam Fastball?

A four-seam is named after the positioning of the seams which are visible when the ball rotates in the air. This straight thrown pitch travels directly towards the batter, and all four seams can be seen one each rotation due to the grip used before throwing the ball. In comparison, the two-seam pitch displays two seams on each rotation.

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Alexis has been playing baseball since he was around 10. He is a 2020 high school graduate that currently trying to achieve his dream of becoming a professional baseball player.