What Does Tipping Pitches Mean in Baseball? Explained

Have you ever wondered what pitchers and catchers are saying to each other when they don’t say anything? These players only communicate through hand signals, and even the tiniest misunderstanding can result in passed balls or wild pitches. You might hear commentators and fans yelling about tipping pitches at this point. But, in baseball, what does tipping pitches implicate?

Tipping pitches is a term used to describe when a pitcher inadvertently or unintentionally gives away how he’ll throw the ball. It gives the batter an advantage since he better knows the pitch’s speed, rotation, location, and break. The pitcher should make every effort to prevent tipping his throws. Even the tiniest movements, tiny quirks, or habits might give the opponents away.

Baseball is a game in which a lot happens on the perimeter, which means that many acts go unnoticed by casual spectators and committed fans. Pitch-tipping occurrences can occur with the tiniest movement. Some of which can end up costing teams the game. You’ll learn everything there is to know about tipping pitches in this section. You’ll also learn about some well-known pitch-tipping instances in Major League Baseball history.

What is Tipping Pitches in Baseball?

Tipping pitches occur when the pitcher becomes careless. This incident occurs when the pitcher unwittingly advises the batter and other opposing team members about the upcoming pitch.

Tipping pitches is a term used to describe when a pitcher inadvertently or unintentionally gives away how he’ll throw the ball. It gives the batter an advantage since he better knows the pitch’s speed, rotation, location, and break. The pitcher should make every effort to prevent tipping his throws. Even the tiniest movements, tiny quirks, or habits might give the opponents away.

Additionally, tipping pitches incidents happen more frequently in the MLB than one might think. Several instances can be seen throughout MLB history when pitchers accidentally gave out instructions to batters.

What are the Things to Consider for Pitch Tipping in Baseball?

Any odd behavior by the pitcher can result in a pitch-tipping incident. Batters need to be quite vigilant in spotting these performance differences while making split-second decisions to ensure they make the correct move. Thankfully, coaches, managers, and other teammates in the dugout can help batters with these cues.

Here are some of the many things to look out for when pitchers change their pitching style:

  • Arm Slot
  • Back-leg Flex in Balance
  • Back-side Peeks
  • Blink Rates
  • Breathing Patterns
  • Elbow Pinch
  • Exit Angles
  • Facial Tension
  • Glove Angles on Break
  • Glove Height
  • Glove Swim Lines
  • Head Tilt
  • Hold Times
  • Knee Height and Speed
  • Rubber Posture
  • Shoulder Levels
  • Stride Toe Angle
  • Wrist Curl

Why would a pitcher tip pitches?

A pitcher is one of the most important players on a baseball team. Pitchers are able to control the speed of their pitches by changing the grip on their fingers. This is done with a technique called “tipping.” Pitchers will change the grip on their fingers, which causes an increase in spin and decreases the speed of a pitch.

Pitchers have the ability to control the ball with their fingertips, and they can make it do whatever they want. This has led to the idea that pitchers could be using this skill to intentionally throw a ball in such a way that it goes in a certain direction, and then manipulate the fielders. This idea is backed up by studies that show that pitchers do tend to tip pitches towards first base.

Is tipping pitches illegal in baseball?

Baseball is a sport that is known for its fair play and competitive spirit. However, many ballplayers are not above accepting a little bit of money to throw a pitch. 

Many people are wondering if tipping pitches is illegal in baseball because of the different laws that govern tipping in different states. The answer to this question is no, it’s not illegal to tip pitches in baseball.

Both the stated and unspoken norms make this absolutely legal. The first is completely legal; it’s simply a matter of doing good scouting and the angle of the pitcher’s glove or the twitch of his wrist may give hitters a hint.

Can Other Players Scream to the Batter to Tell About a Pitcher’s Tells?

Any teammate of the current batter cannot scream, shout, or yell, attempting to impede a play. These distractions can also be non-verbal interruptions, otherwise constitute unfair play.

Additionally, dugouts aren’t allowed to have monitoring devices, such as TVs and computer displays. Therefore, it’s already quite difficult for teammates to check for pitch-tipping signs if they can.

On the other hand, teams can study their opponents’ moves by reviewing past matches. That way, every player, along with team coaches and managers, will know what to expect when an opposing pitcher steps up the plate.

What Are Some Famous Pitch-Tipping Incidents in the MLB?

In this section, you’ll find some excellent examples of pitch-tipping incidents in MLB history. Some incidents even caused some teams landslide victories over their opponents.

Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays – October 11, 2019

It was a great Thursday afternoon as Tampa Bay Rays starter Tyler Glasgow is going to the plate with a baseball glove in hand. But it was a different day for the Houston Astros as each batter somehow knew that fastballs were always going their way.

The Astros figured out that Glasgow had specific tells in which he would hold his glove differently, depending on the type of pitch he was about to throw. Glasgow had a high chance of throwing a curveball if the glove was relatively low. Therefore, if the Rays’ pitcher weren’t going throw a curveball, his glove would be at an average or higher height.

Even Danny Vietti, the Senior Social Media Producer and MLB Writer at CBS Sports tweeted about the incident:

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times also posted on his Twitter account about the frustration Glasgow experienced from the incident.

From the video above, Glasgow admitted that he realized ‘it was pretty obvious, as far as the tips go.’ Although it was vexing for the pitcher and his team, Glasgow handled the loss professionally. On that day, the Astros won 6 – 1 over the Rays.

Houston Astros vs. New York Mets – March 24, 2016

Another pitch-tipping with the Houston Astros occurred two years before the previously-mentioned incident. This time, it was John Danks in the spotlight of the event.

As per a report from CBS Chicago, the hitters noticed the left-handed pitcher holding his glove in different positions whenever he tried a different pitch. Therefore, batters can prepare themselves if the upcoming pitch is a fastball or another pitch type.

Thankfully, this pitch-tipping incident wasn’t enough to spoil the victory for the Astros. On this day, the team won 8 – 5 over the Mets.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. the Minnesota Twins – April 20, 2012

The Tampa Bay team has high hopes for pitcher Matt Moore on this day. However, things started on the wrong foot for this hopeful pitcher. It’s because the Minnesota team had hitters that were ready for what Moore had to offer in the field.

This pitch-tipping incident stems back to Ray’s recent loss against Boston. One of the reasons for that loss was Moore’s pitching style, or perhaps the unintentional signs he was giving to hitters. Looking back, the Red Sox hitters were quite aggressive with their swings, indicating that they’re pretty sure that Moore was going to throw the right pitch.

This specific tell was Moore tapping his glove before he throws a fastball. Therefore, if Moore threw the ball without tapping his glove, the throw would be another pitch type.

Despite the team’s effort to make up for this pitch-tipping scenario, the Rays would still lose against the Twins, with the Minnesota team winning 5 – 4

Final Words

Tipping pitches are incidents wherein opposing teams, particularly the hitters can tell what type of pitch the pitchers will throw. Some of these tells can include tapping gloves or odd foot placements. Some pitch-tipping incidents are quite severe that they cost some teams matches.

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