シュート, or Shuuto(“Shoot” but with a Japanese accent), is a pitch that sort of “doesn’t exist” in the American baseball.
It’s often described as a pitch with unique movement that hasn’t existed.
That’s obviously not the case. It has always existed in America.
What is it?
It’s a reverse-gyro Twoseamer.
Simply put: A sinker with little sink and a lot of run.
To understand why how it works, you have to begin with the difference of Japanese fastballs:
The Japanese Fastball
In most of (especially old school) Japanese baseball, fastballs are taught to be thrown as straight as possible.
Many coaches don’t like the lateral break on the fastball, and they coach their athletes to remove the movement.
They even call the pitch ストレ―ト, or “straight“.
Hence, most Japanese fastballs have a spin axis between 12:00 ~ 12:30, which is pretty different from the American 12:45 ~ 1:15 range.
This actually led to the success of Japanese pitchers in MLB, as they all posted a crazy-high vertical movement on their fastball. For example:
- Average 1:00 axis fastball: 16in vertical movement
- Uehara Koji: ~21in vertical movement
- Nomo Hideo: ~22in*
- Darvish Yu: ~19in
- Tanaka Masahiro: ~18in
- Maeda Kenta: ~18in
If you’ve had any interest in pitch design, you’d already know that having even +3in vertical movement compared to the average is a massive advantage.
A higher axis can have its cost: less armside run. Although, in the case of fastballs it can be a good thing, since having less run essentially means that the ball cuts compared to the averages.
Spin Axis and Movement
Remember, that when it comes to a spin axis of a pitch and its separation from fastball, the following rules apply:
- Clockwise axis tilt up to 1:30, adds sink and even more run
- Axis tilt 1:30 ~ 3:00* adds sink and less run
- Gyro tilt adds sink and takes off run
Why does the concept of shuuto only exist in Japan?
It has to do with the break.
Let’s say that the typical arm side moving fastball will tilt the fastball axis 1:00 clockwise.
- For a standard American pitcher, it will be around 2:00
- For a standard Japanese pitcher, it will be around 1:15
Let’s translate that with 20 inches of movement for all pitches:
- Fastball A: 18in vertical, 9in horizontal
- Fastball J: *20in vertical, 2in horizontal
- Twoseam A: 9in vertical, 18in horizontal
- Twoseam J: *16in vertical, 12in horizontal
That results in the break(separation between pitches) of:
- A: 9in vertical, 9in horizontal
- J: 4in vertical,12in horizontal
In the case of American two-seamers, there was both vertical and horizontal break.
In the case of Japanese two-seamers, there wasn’t much vertical break, but a HUGE 12 inches of horizontal break.
*This is a slightly more advanced concept.
The majority of sinkers in MLB uses seam-shifted wakes. Especially the good ones, use a lot. And good SSW requires a gyro axis.
Because the added wake force on the baseball is mostly downwards for sinkers. They mostly sink rather than run, which is best achieved by having maximal magnus force going sideways.
That happens to be the case with shuuto.
It makes sense, how the sinker is much more common in America, and how the shuuto is much more common in Japan.
Wasn’t anything out of the ordinary:
Japanese pitchers tend to have higher arm slots, which makes the two-seamers have more run compared to the sink.