Announcement: TrackMan brings spin efficiency metrics to PBR showcases

PBR Staff

Prep Baseball Report is excited to announce the delivery of six new three-dimensional spin metrics to PBR player profiles, delivered by TrackMan’s industry-leading B1 unit which captures pitching and batted-ball data at all PBR showcases. For pitchers who participated in a PBR Preseason ID showcase in 2023, TrackMan’s spin efficiency metrics will be available to view within PBR player profiles as of today.

The technology’s optically enhanced radar tracking system now captures spin efficiency, one of the most critical metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of an individual pitch. Spin efficiency is the percentage of the raw spin rate that directly impacts pitch movement; so while raw spin is measured by revolutions per minute (rpm), spin efficiency is the ratio of true spin divided by raw spin.

Here is an example: A four-seam fastball that has a spin rate of 1,000 rpm and a spin efficiency of 90 percent means that 900 rpm out of the 1,000 total rpm is contributing to the pitch’s actual movement.

Additionally, here's an example of an especially efficient fastball in action, produced from the arm of RHP Brayden Marx (Pleasant Grove HS, UT, 2023; Hawaii commit) at the Super 60 back in February. At the event, he averaged a fastball velocity of 92.2 mph (max of 93.5) while spinning at 2,382 rpm and at a spin efficiency average of 93 percent.

Brayden Marx (2/5/23)

It’s important to understand that more is not always better when it comes to spin efficiency. The optimal spin efficiency on a pitch depends on the pitch type and should be understood in the context of a pitcher’s entire arsenal. Regarding the true four-seam fastball, a spin efficiency close to 100 percent is preferable, indicating that nearly all the backspin generated on the ball as it leaves the pitcher’s hand is contributing to the “riding” action the pitch has as it enters and exits the strike zone, making it especially effective in the upper third of the strike zone.

Optimal spin efficiency for breaking balls varies, and it’s dependent on the pitch type and the player’s desired movement profile. For example, the true 12/6 curveball that features increased spin efficiency will also increase the vertical drop of the pitch, but these pitches are expected to be thrown with less spin efficiency than a fastball, typically in the 60-70 percent range. Meanwhile, sweeping curveballs are intended to move more across the horizontal plane, as opposed to the vertical 12/6 iteration, which in turn makes a high spin efficiency less optimal for the kinds of pitches, more often in the 50-60 percent range instead.

LHP Jeremy Pilon (Chêne Bleu HS, QC, Canada; Alabama) was one of the top left-handers at the Super 60, and he authored one of the day's cleanest 'pens which included a tightly spun, sharp curveball backed by its spin efficiency which averaged 79 percent, spinning at a raw rate of 2,716 rpm avg.

Jeremy Pilon (2/5/23)

Pitches that utilize gyro spin – think side-over-side spin like a football spiral – contribute to a pitch’s vertical movement significantly less than the pitches we’ve previously referred to, which will simultaneously decrease these pitches’ spin efficiency. Gyro sliders and sweepers are expected to have the lowest spin efficiencies in a pitcher’s arsenal – gyro sliders can have an efficiency in the 0-25 percent range, while gyro balls that move more horizontally typically range around 35 percent efficiency.

RHP Tyler August (Delaware Military Academy HS; Delaware) has a unique four-pitch mix that he showcased at February's Super 60. Metrically, his curveball checks a lot of boxes with biting action that spins at an above-average rate (2,391 rpm avg.) at 67 percent efficiency. Conversely, the slider does not look like an advanced pitch on its metrics alone, but the gyro spin he generates makes it a different kind of offering which enhances his overall arsenal. The slider, 78-82 mph, spins at 2,382 rpm on average, though at a 39 percent efficiency and with an entirely different shape than his curve. The mix of movement types elevates August's effectiveness, even if some of his pitches, like the slider, seem ineffective on paper.

Tyler August (2/5/23)

Spin efficiency is a fundamental metric to understanding a pitcher’s arsenal, and can be a critical tool for development. This is also a powerful tool for evaluators and coaches alike, and it will serve as a key indicator for pitchers who attend a PBR event to learn how they can continue to maximize their pitch mix.

The PBR data team is looking forward to highlighting spin efficiency to PBR+ subscribers, and it’s now available to view within player profiles today.


Premium Content Area

This article is only available to PBRPlus Subscribers. If you wish to continue reading this article:

CLICK HERE to login
CLICK HERE to purchase a PBRPlus Subscription