Pitch (baseball)
In baseball
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

, a pitch is the act of throwing a baseball toward home plate to start a play. The term comes from the Knickerbocker Rules
Knickerbocker Rules
The Knickerbocker Rules are a set of baseball rules formalized by Alexander Cartwright in 1845. They are considered to be the basis for the rules of the modern game.-The rules:...

. Originally, the ball had to be literally "pitched" underhand, as with pitching horseshoes
Horseshoes is an outdoor game played between two people using four horseshoes and two throwing targets set in a sandbox area. The game is played by the players alternating turns tossing horseshoes at stakes in the ground, which are traditionally placed 40 feet apart...

. Overhand throwing was not allowed until 1884
1884 in baseball
-Champions:*First World's Championship Series: Providence Grays over New York Metropolitans *National League: Providence Grays*American Association: New York Metropolitans*Union Association: St...


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.

In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throwsthe baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the...

s 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
Out (baseball)
In baseball, an out occurs when the defensive, or fielding, team effects any of a number of different events, and the umpire rules a batter or baserunner out. When a player is called out, he is said to be retired...

. To obtain variety, and therefore enhance defensive baseball strategy, the pitcher
In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throwsthe baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the...

 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 factors including, but not limited to, the type of hitter who is being faced; whether there are any base runner
In baseball, baserunning is the act of running around the bases performed by members of the team at bat.In general, baserunning is a tactical part of the game with the goal of eventually reaching home to score a run. In fact, the goal of batting is generally to produce baserunners, or help move...

s; how many outs have been made in the inning
Inning is a municipality in the district of Erding in Bavaria in Germany....

; and the current score.


The responsibility for selecting the type of pitch was traditionally made by the catcher
Catcher is a position for a baseball or softball player. When a batter takes his turn to hit, the catcher crouches behind home plate, in front of the umpire, and receives the ball from the pitcher. This is a catcher's primary duty, but he is also called upon to master many other skills in order to...

 by relaying hand signals to the pitcher with the fingers, usually 1 finger for fastball and/or the pitchers best pitch , with the pitcher having the option to ask for another selection by shaking his head. However, current form is to have the manager
Manager (baseball)
In baseball, the field manager is an individual who is responsible for matters of team strategy on the field and team leadership. Managers are typically assisted by between one and six assistant coaches, whose responsibilities are specialized...

 or a coach
Coach (baseball)
In baseball, a number of coaches assist in the smooth functioning of a team. They are assistants to the manager, or head coach, who determines the lineup and decides how to substitute players during the game...

 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 more pitches than relievers.


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 this increases the chance of getting the ball to its highest velocity, making 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, and are sometimes called sinking-fastballs because of the trajectories. The most common fastball pitches are:
  • Four-seam fastball
    Four-seam fastball
    A four-seam fastball, also called a rising fastball, a four-seamer, or a cross-seam fastball, is a pitch in baseball. It is a member of the fastball family...

  • Two-seam fastball
    Two-seam fastball
    A two-seam fastball is a pitch in baseball and a variant of the straight fastball. The pitch has the speed of a fastball, but the general movement of a screwball...

  • Cutter
    Cutter (baseball)
    In baseball, a cutter, or cut fastball, is a type of fastball which breaks slightly toward the pitcher's glove side as it reaches home plate. This pitch is somewhere between a slider and a fastball, as it is usually thrown faster than a slider but with more motion than a typical fastball. Some...

  • Split-finger fastball
    Split-finger fastball
    A split-finger fastball or splitter is a pitch in baseball. It is named after the technique of putting the index and middle finger on different sides of the ball, or "splitting" them. When thrown hard, it appears to be a fastball to the batter, but suddenly "drops off the table" towards home...

    • Forkball
      The forkball is a type of pitch in baseball. Related to the split-fingered fastball, the forkball is held between the first two fingers and thrown hard snapping the wrist....

    • Fosh
      Fosh (baseball)
      The fosh, fosh ball, or fosh change is a seldom used pitch in Major League Baseball described as "a cross between a split-fingered pitch and a straight change-up". It is designed to fool a batter expecting a fastball to have to contend with a slower pitch...

  • Sinker
    Sinker (baseball)
    In baseball, a sinker , is a type of fastball pitch which has significant downward and horizontal movement. The sinker is known for inducing a lot of ground balls...

Breaking balls

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 pitch
Off-speed pitch
In baseball, an off-speed pitch is a pitch thrown at a slower speed than a fastball. Colloquially, off-speed pitches are known as "junk." Breaking balls and changeups are the two most common types of off-speed pitches. Other more rarely thrown varieties include the knuckleball and the Eephus...

es. The most common breaking pitches are:
  • Curveball
    The curveball is a type of pitch in baseball thrown with a characteristic grip and hand movement that imparts forward spin to the ball causing it to dive in a downward path as it approaches the plate. Its close relatives are the slider and the slurve. The "curve" of the ball varies from pitcher to...

  • Knuckle curve
    Knuckle curve
    In Major League history, the term knuckle curve has been used to describe three entirely different pitches.The first, more common pitch called the knuckle curve is really a standard curveball, thrown with one or more of the index or mean fingers bent. According to practitioners, this gives them a...

    • Slurve
      The slurve is a baseball pitch in which the pitcher throws a slider as if he were throwing a curve ball. The term is a portmanteau of the words "slider" and "curve".-History:...

  • Slider
    In baseball, a slider is a pitch that breaks laterally and down, with a speed between that of a curveball and that of a fastball....

  • Screwball
    A screwball , is a baseball pitch that is thrown so as to break in the opposite direction of a slider or curveball. Depending on the pitcher's arm angle, the ball may also have a sinking action....

  • 12-6 curve


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 is 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. The most common changeups are:
  • Straight change
    A changeup is a type of pitch in baseball. Other names include change-of-pace, Bugs Bunny change-up, the dreaded equalizer, and simply change. The changeup is sometimes called an off-speed pitch, although that term can also be used simply to mean any pitch that is slower than a fastball...

  • Palmball
    In baseball, the palmball pitch is a type of changeup. It requires placing the baseball tightly in the palm or held between the thumb and ring finger and then throwing it as if throwing a fastball...

  • Circle changeup
    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 the hand...

  • Vulcan changeup
    Vulcan changeup
    In baseball, the vulcan changeup pitch is a type of changeup; it closely resembles a forkball and split-finger fastball. It is a variation of the circle changeup, and when mastered can be extremely effective...

  • Knuckle changeup
    Knuckle changeup
    A knuckle changeup is a type of baseball pitch that includes combining the knuckleball and the changeup. The pitch is thrown with a circle change up grip with 1-3 fingers raised. More movement, more fingers raised. Thrown with a stiff wrist...


Other pitches which are or have been used in baseball are:
  • Knuckleball
    A knuckleball is a baseball pitch with an erratic, unpredictable motion. The pitch is thrown so as to minimize the spin of the ball in flight. This causes vortices over the stitched seams of the baseball during its trajectory, which in turn can cause the pitch to change direction—and even...

  • Eephus pitch
    Eephus pitch
    An Eephus pitch in baseball is considered a junk pitch with very low speed. The delivery from the pitcher has very low velocity and usually catches the hitter off-guard. Its invention is attributed to Rip Sewell of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1940s. According to manager Frankie Frisch, the...

  • Spitball
    A spitball is an illegal baseball pitch in which the ball has been altered by the application of saliva, petroleum jelly, or some other foreign substance....

  • Gyroball
    A gyroball is a type of baseball pitch used primarily by players in Japan.-Overview:The gyroball pitch was first identified by the Japanese scientist Ryutaro Himeno , and later developed into a specific throwing technique by baseball instructor Gitau Kimani , who used computer simulations to create...

  • Shuuto
    The or shootball is a pitch commonly thrown by such right-handed Japanese pitchers such as Noboru Akiyama, Kenjiro Kawasaki, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Masumi Kuwata...

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