The Split Finger Pitch
The split finger pitch is, in my opinion, a pitch that stands alone among the family of pitches. It’s kind of like a fastball – but not, it’s kind of like a breaking pitch – but not, it’s kind of like a forkball – but not. Therefore, the split finger pitch is not a pitch that can be measured against something with a same-mo same-mo point counterpoint.
To complicate the analysis, this pitch is unique to every pitcher that throws it. Even at that, when the pitch goes wrong it still looks like a deliberate split finger, but with a different attitude to it – flight, trajectory, rotation, and that stuff. A pitching coach that works closely with a pitcher that has that pitch in his inventory, can always spot that point of "oops".
Therefore, a true split finger fastball (as it’s called) is really not a fastball, per say, although it has many of the characteristics in the fastball family. The grip and release is its marque, and that varies widely with each pitcher’s physique – not that other pitches are immune from the same remark.
This pitch is so workable by someone that understands how to grip and release this little gem, that all kinds of physiques and pitching styles can make quick work of a batting order. In addition, as I mentioned earlier, even when not everything that goes behind the execution comes off like clockwork, somehow it’s still a nasty thing to deal with for everyone 60’ 6” down range – batter, catcher, and even the umpire. And as I mentioned in my original post, a pitcher that understands a batter's recognition zone can tailor this pitch's movement to fit the situation. For example, usually the top of the batting order 1,2,3,4 all have incoming recognition zones of an incoming pitch, well out in front of them. Hence they tend to rely on meeting that pitch with the bat out in front of the leading hip. Batters that are lower in the batting order tend to make contact closer to center of their body - hence a slower recognition of the incoming speed and location of a pitch. Again, a great split finger pitch has that "tease" and "come and get me" factor that really works ideal when a man has that working for him just right.
I know this doesn’t address the posts made prior to this one, but the fact is, the split finger is a tricky little rascal to pitch, hit, catch, call – strike or ball, and explain.