Baseball pitches are at the heart of this fine game that is baseball, for it is the interaction between batter and pitcher that is the core of the game. To understand this central interaction in baseball, we must ask: what is a pitch, and what pitches do pitchers throw? This article will explain pitches and what they are.
A pitch is a throw delivered from the pitcher, standing on the pitcher’s mound, to home plate, sixty feet and six inches away.
Note about gloves, If pitcher is a youth then she or he must use the baseball gloves for youth. If don’t youth they can pitch by normal gloves.
Standing beside home plate in the batter’s box is the batter, whose job is to try to hit the ball. A good pitch isn’t just a throw, however; pitches are distinguished by the characteristics of speed, movement, and location.
Before I describe what kinds of pitches there are, there are a few things to keep in mind regarding pitches. First, it has been held by such notable pitchers as Greg Maddux, widely regarded as a shoo-in for the Baseball Hall of Fame, that of the three characteristics of pitches, it is location that is the most vital. Second, baseball pitches do not stand alone, but rather as a package.
For example, consider those pitchers who throw hard, yet get few swings-and-misses, and few strikeouts, like the Mets’ Mike Pelfrey. This happens because no pitcher can throw hard enough to strike out batters by the dozen without quality secondary pitches. On the other hand, there is Pedro Martinez, who by 2005 had lost enough steam off his fastball that he wouldn’t have been considered a hard thrower, yet who still struck out nearly a batter per inning (208 in 217 innings). This is because his secondary offerings were among the best in baseball, and also because of his immense pitching intelligence and ability to locate pitches precisely.
The most basic of the baseball pitches is the fastball, so named because it is fast, or at least, a pitcher’s fastest offering. Because the fastball is also the pitch that generally has the least movement, it is often the easiest to hit. It is the staple of pitching, however, because it is usually the easiest for a pitcher to control. The fastball can be made to sink in order to induce ground balls, in which case it is called a sinking fastball, or sinker. Many “power” pitchers, on the other hand, throw fastballs higher in the strike zone which may appear to the batter to rise, and/or have “tailing” action – that is, lateral movement. Such pitchers tend to generate more fly balls, but may strike out more batters than a typical ground ball pitcher.
Among the most popular secondary pitches is the changeup. Named as such for “changing up” off of the fastball, it may be described as a slowball. The best changeups are the most deceptive: thrown with the same arm action as the fastball, they catch the batter off guard.
The oldest of the secondary pitches, the curveball has been thrown since the late 1800s. It can be the slowest of pitches, but also the pitch that moves the most. The “classic” curveball is a slow pitch which starts high and drops far, far down. Power curves thrown harder and with sharper breaks and “slurves” that break on an angled plane can also be thrown.
The slider and cutter are pitches which are often confused: a pitch that one individual calls a slider, another may call a cutter. The slider can be described as a compromise between a fastball and a curve: faster than a curve but with more break than a fastball. A typical cutter generally breaks more laterally.
Other common pitches include the split-fingered fastball, or splitter, which is named after the unique grip employed which involves holding the ball between the split index and middle fingers. This pitch is meant to look like a fastball to the hitter as it comes out of the pitcher’s hand, but has a hard, late downward break.
With pitches such as these, a pitcher can confuse the batter, induce weakly hit balls, or even induce a swing-and-miss. To pitch successfully, one must not only master the pitches, but also when to throw which pitch, and how to locate it. It is not easy work to defeat a batter who has dedicated himself to hitting the ball!