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Kagan: Why is a sinker 'heavy'?

From David Kagan at The Hardball Times on December 3, 2013:

On Oct. 6, 2010 Roy Halladay became only the second pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter in the postseason. He had thrown a perfect game earlier in the season, marking the only time a major league pitcher has thrown a no-hitter and a perfect game in the same season. A good portion of his success was due to his ability to throw the sinker ball.

Manny Acta described a sinkerballer’s outing as follows, "He pounded the strike zone with that heavy sinker. It was going down like a bowling ball." The sinker is often referred to as "heavy," but what can that mean? Certainly, a sinker ball weighs no more than a fastball or a curve. A baseball "...shall weigh not less than five nor more than five and one-quarter ounces avoirdupois…" according to MLB rules. The bottom line is major leaguers are excellent experimental physicists, so there must be something real behind their observations.

Here we’ll explore this idea of a heavy sinker from the point of view of physics. We’ll begin by reviewing the Magnus force on a fastball, a curveball, and a sinker. Then some data on the properties of these three pitches will be presented. Finally, three possible scientific explanations of the term "heavy sinker" will be suggested.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/why-is-a-sinker-heavy/

This page was last updated December 5, 2013 at 11:02 am MST.

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