All Three of Adam Ottavino’s Sliders, Identified and GIFed

Adam Ottavino seems like a pretty awesome dude. Not only has he been excellent in relief for the Rockies the past two seasons, but he’s been an outspoken proponent of sabermetrics (and FanGraphs! Hi Adam!), and that’s refreshing to hear from a player.

He gave an incredible interview with Brian Kenny on MLB Now, where he admitted this Mike Petriello post from June caused him to change his approach. Then, this morning, David Laurila published a scintillating Q&A with Ottavino, in which he namedrops BrooksBaseball and PITCHf/x while talking about his three-in-one slider:

On his slider variations: “I throw sliders multiple ways. They all read the same – they read as sliders on PITCHf/x — but they are three different pitches. There’s more of an up-and-down, more of a slurve, and one with more of a straight lateral break. I do that with two different grips. As a pitcher who throws such a high percentage of breaking balls (47.3% in 2014), I don’t want to make them all exactly the same, Even if the hitter reads slider out of my hand, he can’t be totally sure where it will end up.”

The way Ottavino described the three sliders was fascinating, and I wanted to get a look at them for myself. I jumped into Ottavino’s PITCHf/x data, roughly identified the three different sliders based on horizontal and vertical movement and location, and split them into three buckets. (Update: I should note, that the usage numbers are super, super rough since I don’t know Ottavino’s intent behind each pitch and simply classified them by movement.)

Usage H. Mov V. Mov Spin rate Spin direction
Vertical 28% 6.1 -3.9 1294 57.9
Slurve 48% 9.5 -2.3 1746 76.7
Horizontal 24% 9.6 -0.9 1709 84.7

In the numbers, you gain a sense of there being three different sliders within Ottavino’s one slider, but what good is getting a sense when you can actually see them for yourself?










Make sure you read the Q&A. It’s fascinating.

August used to cover the Indians for MLB and, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at

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