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A common grip used to throw a slider
In baseball, a slider is a pitch that breaks laterally and down, with a speed between that of a curveball and that of a fastball.

The break on the pitch is shorter than that of a curveball. The release technique of a slider is between a curveball and a fastball. The slider is similar to the cutter, a pitch which is thrown as a fastball, but differs in the sense that a slider tends to be more of a breaking ball.

Slider continuum

Depending on velocity, a pitch can fall anywhere on the continuum from "fastball" to "slider":

  • fastball » cut fastball » hard slider » slider » slurve


  • cut fastball: 2-3 MPH slower than fastball


  • hard slider: 3-5 MPH slower than fastball


  • slider: 5-9 MPH slower than fastball


The most notable difference between a slider and curveball is that the curveball delivery includes a downward yank on the ball as it is released, in addition to the lateral spin applied by the slider grip. If the pitcher is snapping his wrist as he throws, and the movement is more downward than sideways, then he is probably throwing a curveball or slurve, and not a true “slider”.When throwing a slider you want to create a "dot" on the baseball. What this means is that as the ball approaches home plate the rotation of the ball is forming a dot. On a good slider the "dot" will be down where it is not noticeable for a hitter to pick up. From the batter's perspective this dot appears white, whereas the dot is red for a curve ball (created by the seam movement) allowing many skilled batters to immediately recognize the type of pitch. By having the dot on the bottom part of the ball you will create good depth to your pitch. A good hard slider has a slight break across the plate and a slight drop on its plane to the hitter.It is important when throwing a slider, or any breaking pitch in baseball, not to come "around" the baseball. When you come "around" the ball you are putting extra tension on your arm to throw that pitch. As mentioned earlier you want to create a dot on the ball when throwing a slider, but the dot is not created by sweeping the arm around and spinning the ball. The dot will be created with a regular arm motion, just like a fast ball, then at the end you pull your fingers down on the side of the ball. It is important that the dot is on the bottom half of the ball or else the slider will have little depth to it. To make sure that the dot is on the bottom you must ensure that the fingers stay on top of the ball until release. A good way to remember this is to tell yourself to throw your fingers at the catcher. With the slider, or any pitch for that matter it is important to follow through and finish your pitch.

Notable sliders

Right-handed pitcher David Cone was famous for his devastating slider, which he was able to use many different ways. To right-handed batters, Cone would throw it to hook sharply outside the strike zone, getting hitters to chase and miss it. He would also throw the pitch from various arm angles to further confuse the hitter. Cone's slider was also a strikeout pitch to left-handed hitters, throwing it to curve back over the outside corner and catch the hitter looking. Cone used the slider to great effect during his perfect game on July 18, 1999---the final out was recorded via a slider resembling a whiffle ball. In the first game of the 1988 World Series, Dennis Eckersley tried to strike out Kirk Gibson with a slider, but Gibson was sitting on that pitch and hit a game-winning home run. A notable slider is thrown by John Smoltz which comes in looking like a strike and then breaks out of the strike zone. Brad Lidge used a slider to strikeout the final batter of the 2008 World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies. Cincinnati Reds closer Francisco Cordero also possesses a potent slider. Yet another notable pitcher who throws a slider is Hall of Famemarker Rollie Fingers who used the pitch to win a Cy Young Award in 1981. Another potent slider is thrown by San Francisco Giants starter Randy Johnson, whose incredible lateral movement on the pitch eventually spawned its own nickname, "Mr. Snappy." At times, his slider was faster than most pitchers' fastballs. Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton was known for his nearly unhittable slider.

Other active pitchers with good sliders include Cliff Lee, Johan Santana, Kerry Wood, Scott Feldman, and Francisco Liriano. Armando Galarraga threw sliders 38.9 % of the time in 2008, more than any other starting pitcher in the majors, and Ryan Dempster threw them 32.9% of the time, more than any other NL starting pitcher.[54795] In 2008 CC Sabathia had the most effective slider, among major league starting pitchers.[54796]

Improper throwing while pitching sliders is associated with pitching injuries and slider pitchers experience injuries at a rate slightly higher than that of other pitchers.

History

The innovator of the slider is debated, but some credit Chief Bender as the first to use the slider, then called a "nickel change", in the 1910s. Bender used his slider to help him achieve a no-hitter and win 212 games in his career. Bender was the first pitcher to win six World Series games.More recently, NY Yankee pitcher Ron Guidry mastered the pitch to great effect in 1978 when he went 25-3 and won the Cy Young award.It is also the name of the Cleveland Indians mascot who was recently inducted into the mascot hall of fame.

References

  1. http://www.sportsmogul.com/pitches/index.html
  2. http://www.baseballhalloffame.org/hofers/detail.jsp?playerId=114129
  3. "The Mechanics Of A Breaking Pitch", Popular Mechanics, April 1997. Accessed July 6, 2007.
  4. "WISCONSIN Magazine of History",Wisconsin Historical Society Press, Spring 2004 issue. Accessed July 8, 2007.
  5. "National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum: Hall of Famer detail",National Baseball Hall of Fame. Accessed July 8, 2007.



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