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Circle changeup: Wikis


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The grip used for a circle changeup

In baseball, a circle changeup is a pitch thrown with a grip that includes a circle formation, hence the name. 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 your hand. The ball is thrown turning the palm out (pornating your forearm).


Circle Change is not a pitch

The circle changeup was originally invented by Roger Craig as a method for teaching the changeup. By making a circle on the side of the ball with the index finger, you make the palm naturally turn away from your body. It is not a different pitch from the changeup, just a good method for learning the same pitch.

Throwing mechanics

A circle change can also be used to provide screwball-type movement but without the stress placed on the arm by a traditional screwball. By placing the index and ring fingers slightly to the inside (that is, towards the thumb) of the ball and sharply pronating the forearm at release, a pitcher can make the ball move downward and inside. Pitchers with smaller hands will only place the index finger slightly to the inside (that is, towards the thumb) of the ball. A left-handed pitcher's circle change will break down and away from a right-handed batter. Effective circle changeups can reduce the platoon split a pitcher will experience.

To follow proper form, release the ball keeping your wrist straight, then follow through fully. Additional change in velocity can be achieved by dragging the foot that would normally follow through fully with a fastball delivery. This results in considerably less velocity with an otherwise normal motion. Simply using a slower arm motion is undesirable, as it may tip off the batter, and will invariably result in less movement on the pitch. If this pitch is placed too high in the strike zone, it can be hit very hard. It is an effective pitch to throw early in the count to produce a groundball; it is not traditionally used to acquire a strikeout. By rotating your wrist (before you release) you can change the movement from resembling a fastball to resembling a curveball.

An effective changeup must be thrown with an identical arm action to a fastball, to avoid tipping off the batter.


It is incorrect to think of a changeup as nothing more than a "slow pitch." It is much more sophisticated than that. It is an illusion. The pitcher uses the same, fast arm speed that he uses with his fastball except the ball comes at the batter with a much reduced velocity. There is a seeming disconnect between what the batter sees from the pitcher's motion and the resultant velocity of the ball. The pitcher accomplishes this with the grip. The "circle" made by the index finger and the thumb is designed to weaken the pitcher's grip. This allows him to throw the ball very hard and achieve a slower velocity.

Professional practitioners

Johan Santana, Pedro Martínez, Cole Hamels, Huston Street, Edwar Ramírez are current pitchers who rely heavily on their circle changeup. Longtime Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine also made a career living on the outside corner of the plate using the circle changeup. Minnesota Twins ace Frank Viola also used the circle change to great effect.



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