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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The typical motion of a pitcher.

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. Overhead throwing was not allowed until 1884.

The biomechanics of pitching have been studied extensively. The phases of throwing include windup, early cocking, late cocking, early acceleration, late acceleration, deceleration, and follow-through.[1]

Pitchers throw a variety of pitches, each of which has a slightly different velocity, trajectory, movement, hand position, wrist position and/or arm angle. These variations are introduced to confuse the batter in various ways, and ultimately aid the defensive team in getting the batter or baserunners out. To obtain variety, and therefore enhance defensive baseball strategy, the pitcher manipulates the grip on the ball at the point of release. Variations in the grip cause the seams to "catch" the air differently, thereby changing the trajectory of the ball, making it harder for the batter to hit.

The selection of which pitch to use can depend on a wide variety of situations such as; the type of hitter that is being faced, whether there are any base runners, how many outs have been made in the inning, or the current score, among others. The responsibility for selecting the type of pitch was traditionally made by the catcher by relaying hand signals to the pitcher, with the pitcher having the option to ask for another selection by nodding his head. However, current form is to have the manager or a coach relay the pitch selection to the catcher, via secret hand signals to prevent the opposing team from having the advantage of knowing what the next pitch will be. Starting pitchers typically throw over 100 pitches per game, while relievers throw fewer.[2]



The fastball is the most common pitch in baseball, and most pitchers have some form of a fastball in their arsenal. It is basically a pitch thrown very fast, generally as hard as a given pitcher can throw while maintaining control. Some variations involve movement or breaking action, some do not and are simply straight, high-speed pitches. While throwing the fastball it is very important to have proper mechanics, because it will increase the chance of getting your fastball to its highest velocity, and will make it difficult for the opposing player to hit the pitch. The cut fastball, split-finger fastball and forkball are variations on the fastball with extra movement, which are sometimes called sinking-fastballs because of the trajectories. The most common fastball type pitches are:

Breaking balls

A common grip of a slider

Well-thrown breaking balls have movement, usually sideways or downward. The notion of a pitched ball's trajectory moving is actually incorrect; a ball "moves" due to the changes in the pressure of the air surrounding the ball as a result of the kind of pitch thrown. Therefore, the ball keeps "moving" in the path of least resistance, which constantly changes. For example, the spin from a properly thrown slider (thrown by a right-handed pitcher) results in lower air pressure on the pitcher's left side, resulting in the ball "sliding" to the left (from the pitcher's perspective). The goal is usually to make the ball difficult to hit or confusing to batters. Most breaking balls are considered off-speed pitches. The most common breaking pitches are:


The changeup is the staple off-speed pitch, usually thrown to look like a fastball but arriving much slower to the plate. Its reduced speed coupled with its deceptive delivery are meant to confuse the batter's timing. It is meant to be thrown the same as a fastball, but simply farther back in the hand, which makes it release from the hand slower but still retaining the look of a fastball. A changeup is generally thrown 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 as if it was a 90 mph fastball but it is coming at 75 mph which means he is swinging too early to hit the ball well, making the changeup very effective.[3] The most common changeups are:


Other pitches which are or have been used in baseball are:


  1. ^ [Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. 15(1):37-40, January 2005. Benjamin, Holly J. MD *; Briner, William W. Jr. MD +]
  2. ^
  3. ^ Walsh, John (2007-09-19). "Pitch Identification Tutorial". The Hardball Times. Retrieved 2007-09-19. 

Simple English

A pitch, in baseball, is when a pitcher throws the baseball to the batter. This is a pitcher's main job. The pitcher tries to get the player who is at-bat out. If a pitcher throws three strikes, the batter strikes out (unless the third strike is a foul tip). A strike is when a pitch is in the zone from the batter's knees to the belt and the width of home plate (the strike zone), and if the batter does not swing. A strike is also called if a batter swings at any pitch and misses, or if a batter hits a ball into foul territory (this is called a foul tip). If a pitcher throws a ball outside of the strike zone and the batter does not swing, this is called a ball. If four of these are thrown, the batter gets to go to first base for free. This is called a walk.

Pitchers use different pitches to try to get the batter out. The most common is a fastball. A fastball is when the pitcher throws the ball as hard as he or she can. The pitcher is trying to get the ball past the batter before the batter can hit it. Another type of pitch is a changeup. A pitcher throws a changeup when he or she wants the batter to be swing before the ball gets to home plate. The batter might do this because he or she thinks the pitch is a fastball and the baseball will get to the plate faster. In addition to these two types of pitches, there are also many others.[1]


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