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Santana's Changeup: Hitters Never See It Coming

Santana's Changeup: A Study in Stealth Unlike pitches that challenge batters with overpowering speed (fastball) or change of direction (curve, slider), the changeup is all about deception. When thrown with the expertise of Johan Santana, the changeup offers only a fleeting visual key for the batter to use to identify the pitch and to react accordingly. Batters mainly have two opportunities to decipher a pitch: by getting a glimpse of the pitcher's grip (and sometimes his body position) and by reading the pattern that the seams on the ball create. Changeup Fastball or Slider? Santana's 2007 Changeup Success by Zone Santana's dominance Hitter's edge 33% 31% 31% 1340 a/26 5/16 batting average in sections of strike zone hits/at-bats 263 286 .000 5/19 27 01 s 44% 278 417 214 | 11/25 15/54 5/12 3/14 57% 4/7 206 200 000 pitches chased by hitters out of strike zone Santana's changeup delivery looks like that of his fastball or his slider. So the batter starts his swing quickly to catch up to a 90-mile-an-hour pitch, only to realize – often too late – that it is a changeup traveling much more slowly and diving out of the strike zone. Whiff! 7/34 4/20 a/13 pitches chased/ pitches out of zone 60% 52% 27% The Changeup In a split second, the batter must read that the thumb and index 100/166 77/149 21/78 finger are on the side of the ball and that the other fingers are spread. But the wrist and palm make the pitch look like His changeup often dives low out of the strike zone in the last few feet, making many batters chase a tough pitch to hit. By JOE WARD a fastball or a slider. 2007 Changeups Against Right-Handers He uses his changeup sparingly against left-handers. He uses it a lot against right-handers - and keeps it low and away from them. The Body Holds No Clues Santana's trunk angle and arm position are nearly identical in the two pitches at left, giving the batter no visual cue as to Percent of- 5% changeups thrown to 3% 1% 38 20 Meto 5% 2% 0% that zone 39 19 whether it is a fastball, a slider or a changeup. 3% 14% 3% 3% 1% Number of - 24 changeups thrown 109 26 20 Fastball or Slider? 6% 2% The pitch above is probably a slider, which comes off the thumb side of the index finger. 68 17 19% 17% 151 135 66 Mets HOW BATTERSs IDENTIFY PITCHES By Grip and Body Position By the Ball's Spin Fastball The batter sees mostly white with a few scattered, blurry red dots. Changeup Looks similar to the fastball, making it hard to distinguish between them. Szwers Curveball The seams produce red lines tumbling toward the batter. Fastball Curveball Milwaukee's Ben Sheets The pinkie side of his hand faces the hitter with his fingers on the side of the ball. His head Slider Sources: Shaun Ratchford, Institute for Sports Vision; Glenn S. Fleisig, Ph.D., American Sports Medicine Institute; Inside Edge Scouting Services displays the typical signs of a fastball: his palm faces the hitter with his: index and middle fingers behind the ball. The spinning seams fom a red PHOTOGRAPHS BY (CLOCKWISE FROM and torso are tilted at a more ABOVE) HANS DERYK/REUTERS, NATI HARNIK/ASSOCIATED PRESS MORRY GASH/ASSOCIATED PRESS IMRREN HALKCK/ASSOCIATED PRESS pronounced angle and the ball is released from a higher point. dot in the middle of the ball.

Santana's Changeup: Hitters Never See It Coming

shared by rmmojado on Jan 24
Johan Santana carried a baseball with him every day, for hours at a time, trying to become more comfortable with the feel of his fingers against the seams. He would scoop up a ball as a minor leaguer ...


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