Slider (baseball)

Last updated

A common grip used to throw a slider Sliderillustration.png
A common grip used to throw a slider

In baseball, a slider is a breaking ball pitch that tails laterally and down through the batter's hitting zone; it is thrown with less speed than a fastball but greater than the pitcher's curveball.


The break on the pitch is shorter than that of the curveball, and the release technique is 'between' those of a curveball and a fastball. The slider is similar to the cutter, a fastball pitch, but is more of a breaking ball than the cutter. The slider is also known as a yakker or a snapper.

Slider continuum

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

The 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. The slider is released off the index finger, while the curveball is released off the middle finger. 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".

It is important when throwing a slider, or any breaking pitch in baseball, not to come "around" the baseball. When the pitcher "comes around" the ball, the pitcher puts extra tension on his pitching arm to throw that pitch. A slider is thrown with a regular arm motion, just like a fastball. Slider movement is a direct result of the fingertip pressure and grip. The pitcher may visualize throwing his fingers at the catcher in order to improve follow through and finish the pitching motion.

Standout sliders

A Hall of Fame pitcher famous for his slider was lefty Steve Carlton. Right-handed pitcher David Cone was famous for his slider, which he was able to use many different ways, as was Bob Gibson of the Cardinals. To right-handed batters, Cone would throw it to hook sharply outside the strike zone, getting hitters to chase and miss it. He threw 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 effectively during his perfect game on July 18, 1999—the final out was recorded via a slider resembling a wiffle ball. In the first game of the 1988 World Series, Dennis Eckersley tried to strike out Kirk Gibson with a backdoor slider, but Gibson was sitting on that exact pitch and hit a game-winning home run. Joe Carter ended the 1993 World Series with a home run on a slider thrown by Mitch Williams. A remarkable slider was John Smoltz's, which would come in looking like a strike and then break out of the strike zone. Brad Lidge featured a slider in his perfect season as a closer in 2008, and used the pitch to strike out the final batter of the 2008 World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies. Other top pitchers to throw a slider included Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, who used the pitch to win a Cy Young Award in 1981, [1] and Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks starter Randy Johnson, whose slider's lateral movement eventually spawned its own nickname, "Mr. Snappy". At times, Johnson's slider was faster than most pitchers' fastballs. Mike Jackson, who tied Paul Assenmacher with the most games pitched in the 1990s (644), also threw a slider. Ron Guidry threw a slider, which he was taught by Sparky Lyle.

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. [2] In 2008 CC Sabathia had the most effective slider, among major league starting pitchers. [3] Zack Greinke won the AL Cy Young award in 2009 in large part because of his slider, one of the better pitches in all of baseball. [4] In 2011, Clayton Kershaw won the Pitching Triple Crown by allowing only a .117 average against his slider. [5]


The innovator of the slider is debated, but some credit Chief Bender as the first to use the pitch. George Blaeholder was credited with using it with the St. Louis Browns in the 1920s, when the slider was known as a "nickel curve," [6] and George Uhle and Harry O'Neill have also been given credit for developing the pitch. [7] Bender used his slider to help him pitch a no-hitter and win 212 games in his career. [8] Bender was the first pitcher to win six World Series games. [6]

More recently, New York 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.

Related Research Articles

Sandy Koufax American baseball player

Sanford Koufax is an American former professional baseball left-handed pitcher. He pitched 12 seasons for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1955 to 1966. Koufax, at age 36 in 1972, became the youngest player ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He has been hailed as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.

Greg Maddux American baseball player

Gregory Alan Maddux is an American college baseball coach and former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher. He is the pitching coach at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Maddux is best known for his accomplishments while playing for the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs. With the Braves, he won the 1995 World Series over the Cleveland Indians. The first to achieve a number of feats and records, he was the first pitcher in major league history to win the Cy Young Award four consecutive years (1992–1995), matched by only one other pitcher, Randy Johnson. During those four seasons, Maddux had a 75–29 record with a 1.98 earned run average (ERA), while allowing less than one baserunner per inning.

Dan Quisenberry American baseball player

Daniel Raymond "Quiz" Quisenberry was an American right-handed relief pitcher in Major League Baseball who played primarily for the Kansas City Royals. Notable for his submarine-style pitching delivery and his humorous quotes, he led the American League in saves a record five times, and retired in 1990 with 244 saves, then the 6th-highest total in major league history.


The fastball is the most common type of pitch thrown by pitchers in baseball and softball. "Power pitchers," such as former American major leaguers Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens, rely on speed to prevent the ball from being hit, and have thrown fastballs at speeds of 95–105 miles per hour (153–169 km/h) (officially) and up to 108.1 miles per hour (174.0 km/h) (unofficially). Pitchers who throw more slowly can put movement on the ball, or throw it on the outside of home plate where batters can't easily reach it.

Curveball Type of pitch in baseball

In baseball and softball, the curveball is a type of pitch thrown with a characteristic grip and hand movement that imparts forward spin to the ball, causing it to dive as it approaches the plate. Varieties of curveball include the 12–6 curveball, power curveball, and the knuckle curve. Its close relatives are the slider and the slurve. The "curve" of the ball varies from pitcher to pitcher.

Changeup Baseball and Softball pitch

A changeup is a type of pitch in baseball and fastpitch softball. The changeup is the staple off-speed pitch, usually thrown to look like a fastball but arriving much more slowly to the plate. Its reduced speed coupled with its deceptive delivery is meant to confuse the batter's timing. It is meant to be thrown the same as a fastball, but farther back in the hand, which makes it release from the hand slower while still retaining the look of a fastball. A changeup is generally thrown to be 8–15 miles per hour slower than a fastball. If thrown correctly, the changeup will confuse the batter because the human eye cannot discern that the ball is coming significantly slower until it is around 30 feet from the plate. For example, a batter swings at the ball coming at him as if it were a 90 mph fastball, but instead the ball is coming in at 75 mph—this means he will be swinging too early to hit the ball well.

Split-finger fastball Baseball pitch

A split-finger fastball or splitter is an off-speed pitch in baseball that looks to the batter like a fastball until it drops suddenly. Derived from the forkball, it is so named because the pitcher puts the index and middle finger on different sides of the ball.

Starting pitcher

In baseball, a starting pitcher or starter is the first pitcher in the game for each team. A pitcher is credited with a game started if they throw the first pitch to the opponent's first batter of a game. Starting pitchers are expected to pitch for a significant portion of the game, although their ability to do this depends on many factors, including effectiveness, stamina, health, and strategy.

A screwball is a baseball and fastpitch softball pitch that is thrown so as to break in the opposite direction of a slider or curveball. Depending on the pitcher's arm angle, the ball may also have a sinking action.

Pitch (baseball)

In baseball, a pitch is the act of throwing a baseball toward home plate to start a play. The term comes from the Knickerbocker Rules. Originally, the ball had to be literally "pitched" underhand, as with pitching horseshoes. Overhand throwing was not allowed until 1884.

Breaking ball Baseball pitch that does not travel straight

In baseball, a breaking ball is a pitch that does not travel straight as it approaches the batter; it will have sideways or downward motion on it, sometimes both. A breaking ball is not a specific pitch by that name, but is any pitch that "breaks", such as a curveball, slider, or slurve. A pitcher who primarily uses breaking ball pitches is often referred to as a junkballer.

Circle changeup Baseball pitch

In baseball, a circle changeup is a pitch thrown with a grip that includes a circle formation, hence the name circle changeup. The circle is formed by making a circle with the index finger, holding the thumb at the bottom of the ball parallel to the middle finger and holding the ball far out in the hand. The ball is thrown turning the palm out.

In baseball, an off-speed pitch is a pitch thrown at a slower speed than a fastball. Breaking balls and changeups are the two most common types of off-speed pitches. Very slow pitches which require the batter to provide most of the power on contact through bat speed are known as "junk" and include the knuckleball and the Eephus pitch, a sort of extreme changeup. The specific goals of off-speed pitches may vary, but in general they are used to disrupt the batter's timing, thereby lessening his chances of hitting the ball solidly or at all. Virtually all professional pitchers have at least one off-speed pitch in their repertoire. Despite the fact that most of these pitches break in some way, batters are sometimes able to anticipate them due to hints that the pitcher gives, such as changes in arm angle, arm speed, or placement of fingers.

A gyroball is a type of baseball pitch used primarily by players in Japan. It is thrown with a spiral-like spin, so that there is no Magnus force on the ball as it arrives at home plate. The gyroball is sometimes confused with the shuuto, another pitch used in Japan.

The shuuto (シュート) or shootball is a baseball pitch. It is commonly thrown by right-handed Japanese pitchers such as Hiroki Kuroda, Noboru Akiyama, Kenjiro Kawasaki, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish and Masumi Kuwata. The most renowned shuuto pitcher in history was Masaji Hiramatsu, whose famous pitch was dubbed the razorshuuto because it seemed to "cut the air" when thrown.

Shunsuke Watanabe Japanese baseball player

Shunsuke Watanabe is a Japanese former professional baseball pitcher.

Glossary of baseball terms List of definitions of terms and concepts used in baseball

This is an alphabetical list of selected unofficial and specialized terms, phrases, and other jargon used in baseball, along with their definitions, including illustrative examples for many entries.

12–6 curveball Baseball pitch

The 12–6 curveball is one of the types of pitches thrown in baseball. It is categorized as a breaking ball because of its downward break. The 12–6 curveball, unlike the normal curveball, breaks in a downward motion in a straight line. This explains the name "12–6", because the break of the pitch refers to the ball breaking from the number 12 to the number 6 on a clock. While the 11–5 and 2–8 variations are very effective pitches, they are less effective than a true 12–6, because the ball will break into the heart of the bat more readily.


  1. "Hall of Famers: Fingers, Rollie". National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
  2. "Major League Leaderboards » 2009 » Pitchers » Pitch Type Statistics | FanGraphs Baseball". Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  3. "Major League Leaderboards » 2008 » Pitchers » Pitch Value Statistics | FanGraphs Baseball". Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  4. Smith, Cameron (August 26, 2009). "Baseball Insider – The Best Pitch in Baseball: Greinke's Slider?". Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  5. Chuck, Bill (September 20, 2011). "Kershaw and his evolving slider". Baseball Analytics Blog. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  6. 1 2 "WISCONSIN Magazine of History",Wisconsin Historical Society Press, Spring 2004 issue. Accessed July 8, 2007.
  7. Neyer, Rob (April 20, 2004). "Neyer: History of the slider". . Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  8. "Hall of Famers: Bender, Chief". National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum . Retrieved July 8, 2007.