Spin It to Win It?

By Jonathan Massey –

One of my favorite things to do with sports is to look at how a specific sport has evolved over time. For example, the NFL of today is not the same NFL it was when I was growing up. I can still remember watching guys like Terrell Davis and Emmitt Smith just bulldoze people 25 to 30 times per game. Now, watching guys like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Patty Mahomes just sit back and pick apart a defense is a thing of beauty.

Baseball is no different. In the late 1990s (with the help of steroids) hitters began to drive the ball out of the ballpark at a pace that had not been seen before. To combat this, pitchers began to sink the ball more regularly, and thus, we got the sinker/slider era of pitching. After that came the power arms of the late 2000s.

Now, if you have paid attention over the last 4 or 5 years, you’ve probably noticed the next trend in baseball, and that you’ve got to “spin it to win it”. Fastball usage across all of Major League Baseball has been trending down, and the use of secondary pitches (specifically the use of the curveball and slider) has been on the rise. Why? Because, to put it very simply, it is harder to hit breaking pitches. And when you do hit them, it’s harder to do damage with them.

I know eventually there will be another trend as hitters adjust to this one, but there is one trend that will truly never go away.  When I initially wrote this, the Astros were preparing to take on the Braves in game 6 of the World Series, and the guy they would love to have been taking the ball wasn’t available. I’m not talking about Lance McCullers (though they would love to have had him available too). I’m talking about the guy who they handed the ball to in a similar situation in 2017 when they were down 3-2 against the New York Yankees, the Astros turned to their newly acquired ace, Justin Verlander. Justin turned in 7 shutout innings to help lift the Astros to, not a Game 6 victory, but an ALCS victory and an eventual World Series Championship. Justin wasn’t available to pitch in this game (or even in this series) as he spent the past year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

As a self-diagnosed data fanatic, I love all of the analytical information readily available. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely flaws in the interpretation of data, but I definitely believe it helps the game. However, what gets lost in trying to stay ahead of the curve is that the most valuable thing you can bring to the table is being available.

So, as we enter the month of November and the vast majority of you get ready to enter your offseason, I know the tendency will be to chase the trend of trying to throw harder or chase the trend of creating a new pitch. Remember, the truly most valuable trend you can have is to be available to pitch when called upon. It doesn’t matter how hard you throw or how “nasty” your curveball is, if you can’t pitch, you can’t help your team win.

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Important TBR Updates

  • JUST ADDED!  Because all our originally scheduled Fall/Winter Elite Pitchers Boot camp dates have sold out, we have added another date – February 19-21 (Sat-Mon).  Learn more and register  at https://www.texasbaseballranch.com/elite-pitchers-bootcamp/   If you would still like to be placed on the waitlist for our December and/or January dates, call the office and we’ll get you added (936) 588-6762.


  • Our Elite Catchers Boot Camp taking place Dec. 10-12 is sold out! Please call the office to be placed on the waitlist.


  • The Alumni/Advanced Boot Camp will be January 8th and 9th.  More information and registration available HERE.  The $500 “Early Bird” Savings ends December 1st. Brent Strom will be guest instructing again this year and Flint Wallace will be back for the weekend as well.


  • The TBR Ultimate Pitching Coaches Bootcamp is taking on a new name and look this year. The “2021 STFI Coaches Workshop” will take place December 3-5 and is limited to only 35 participants.  Only 5 slots remain. For details and registration information, email Jill@TexasBaseballRanch.com.”
Please call (936) 588-6762 or email us: info@texasbaseballranch.com
for more details or to sign up for any of these options.


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