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  1. Everyone in Philly calls Halladay’s splitter a changeup, mostly due to the numerous articles about how he’d added it to his repertoire in spring training ’10 after Kyle Kendrick (of all people) taught it to him.

    Seriously, I can recall at least 3 publications discussing how KK showed him the grip, and how it meant Roy was not only excellent but also humble enough to pick up things from a much worse pitcher (the last bit was implied). All of them called it a “Split-fingered grip” but that the pitch was a changeup.

    Comment by Oliver — February 17, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

  2. I’ve been reading fangraphs for several years now, and you guys never cease to amaze me with the consistent quality of the posts. This series was awesome, and you guys are great.

    Comment by Andrew — February 17, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

  3. Seems like given the number of cutters getting thrown now it’s probably worth splitting out on it’s own. I wouldn’t be surprised if there twice as many cutters thrown as curveballs in MLB last year.

    Comment by Tucker — February 17, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

  4. Never heard the Kendrick nonsense before but I agree local announcers/media often just refer the pitch as a change-up.

    Comment by zeke — February 17, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  5. Wow Venters’ sinker is ridiculous. Unfair is right. That pitch is just nasty. How he gets that much sink on a pitch that fast is pretty incredible. Just seems to dip right under bats.

    Comment by Marty — February 17, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

  6. Yeah, I’ve never heard the Kendrick thing either, but everyone in Philly calls it a changeup, including, I’m sure, Halladay himself. Rich Dubee is usually the guy credited with helping him with it (possibly even Jamie Moyer was involved, though I can’t recall).

    Comment by Richard — February 17, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

  7. Doesn’t Lincecum throw some kind of split/changeup hybrid as well? I think i remember reading somewhere that he throws his changeup with a split-fingered grip. Anyone know anything about this?

    Comment by Fletch — February 17, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

  8. I think the grip isn’t necessarily too important, rather what the pitcher calls it/uses it as.

    I think if Halladay throws it exclusively to left-handers, it’s a changeup. Just my opinion though.

    I can also attest that we never saw that pitch in Toronto.

    Comment by KKSC — February 17, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

  9. Lincecum does throw a splitter and calls it his change-up…the local announcers call it a splitter though. I think lincecum would argue its a hybrid.

    Comment by Joe — February 17, 2012 @ 2:22 pm

  10. Can you argue a particular pitch being even greater when it’s being relied upon nearly 90% of the time and still with tremendous success?

    Rivera has been throwing his cutter about 85% of the time over a 250IP stretch. Granted, he’s a relief pitcher, but still… you’d think that hitters would be able to catch up by now. Just goes to show how dominant that pitch truly is.

    Comment by baty — February 17, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

  11. This is why I actually prefer the movement to call the pitch a split-fingered change up. I mean, it serves the same purpose as a change, it’s definitely off-speed, and just moves differently from the straight or circle change.

    Comment by deadpool — February 17, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

  12. I think it shows how bad professional hitters are, all of them.

    Comment by Colin — February 17, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  13. Typically it’s called a “vulcan change” because you use a split fingered grip, but grip more on top of the ball than a traditional splitter.

    It’s name is obviously derived from the placement of the fingers.

    Comment by Jeff — February 17, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

  14. The pitch is called a foshball, I actually throw it right now, and it has great movement

    Comment by Tommy — February 17, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

  15. Rivera’s cutter is the greatest pitch of all time imo

    Comment by yungmuneyholla wat it dew — February 17, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

  16. I feel like Kenley Jansen’s cutter (fastball, whatever) should have shown up somewhere in this series, considering his 17% swinging strike rate on it. Really, if you manage to set a record in K/9 predominantly throwing one pitch, that pitch should have gotten a mention somewhere.

    Comment by Scott — February 17, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

  17. Aw. I has a sad.

    Comment by Vulcan, God of Fire — February 17, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

  18. “Another pitch is one that every person would expect to be on this list, which has been the case for the past 15 years.”

    I thought this meant you were going to rate Tim Wakefield’s Knuckler ahead of RA Dickey’s and I was going to have to physically punish you.

    Comment by Madoff Withurmoni — February 17, 2012 @ 4:22 pm

  19. It’s still kind of a hybrid between a fastball and a slider though, whereas a curveball is very much its own thing.

    Comment by Bip — February 17, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

  20. I can’t figure out what that sentence means.

    Comment by Bip — February 17, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

  21. Lincecum, it’s got a split grip, split rotation, and split action, no matter what you call it. Krukow should know.

    Comment by channelclemente — February 17, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

  22. The pitch value charts don’t rate it quite as highly as I thought they would, but having seen it, I can say that I would have thought that it had a 33% swinging strike rate. It’s got to be among the most dominant fastballs in the game considering how often he throws it.

    Comment by Bip — February 17, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

  23. I guess it’s all in the eye of the viewer, but the split Mike Scott used to throw may be the best pitch I’ve ever seen. I saw him throw that no hitter in the Astrodome in 1986 against the Giants, and I’ve never seen one better than that until Lincecum’s.

    Comment by channelclemente — February 17, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

  24. Surprised Daniel Bard’s “Hepatitis K”/”Pantless Velociraptor” did not get an honorable mention: http://www.fangraphs.com/not/index.php/daniel-bards-filthy-whiffmaker/

    Comment by Nick — February 17, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

  25. someone tell how lazy aj burnett could be to not learn another pitch?

    Comment by joe 1 — February 17, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

  26. Halladay doesn’t throw anything exclusively to lefties or righties. I’d personally call it a change as that’s what he calls it, but analyzing it as a splitter is reasonable too, as that is what it most resembles. It’s no big deal.

    Comment by Shazbot — February 17, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

  27. The Vulcan Change, popularized by one Trevor Hoffman.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — February 17, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

  28. The vulcan change is really nice. I always preferred the circle though, got a lot better fade on it (kind of down and in to righties).

    Comment by Jeff — February 17, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

  29. A “vulcan change” is thrown with the middle and ring fingers split, not the middle and pointer like a normal split. I don’t think that’s what we’re seeing here.

    Comment by This guy — February 17, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

  30. Yes, like Tommy says, it’s a fosh. I always thought of it as half circle-change, half splitter. Tough to control, but crazy late movement.

    Comment by This guy — February 17, 2012 @ 6:15 pm

  31. The writing is not the best, but he’s referring to Mo’s cutter.

    Comment by Anon21 — February 17, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

  32. Jansen’s cutter on next year’s list?

    Comment by DeliBlue — February 17, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

  33. Venters is a gem that Bobby lobbied for in 2010. If it weren’t for Bobby’s praise the guy would probably still be in AAA. I was skeptical at first considering that he was barely even ranked as a prospect on most of the lists I saw, and Bobby’s last few years……well, you know. But as soon as I saw that sinker in ST I was stunned, it’s disgusting. He consistently hits 95-96 with it and to me it’s the best in the game right now. Toward the end of the season I noticed hitters weren’t swinging at it nearly as much as we usually see, so his walk rate started climbing. Hope that doesn’t carry over….

    Comment by Undocorkscrew — February 18, 2012 @ 12:32 am

  34. If we stick with two relief pitches, he has tough company. I’m really high on Jansen though, so you never know.

    Comment by Ben Duronio — February 18, 2012 @ 12:35 am

  35. I’ve often said the best strategy opposing hitters could have against Venters is to stand at the plate and stare into the stands.

    Comment by Ben Duronio — February 18, 2012 @ 12:37 am

  36. Time was, that pitch–split middle and index, top grip—was called a forkball. It was always an offspeed pitch, with a late dive. Most pitchers couldn’t keep it in the strike zone if they could throw it at all so it never became popular, but the few who could were highly effective with it, of whom Roy Face was best known. When the split came along as a hard pitch, the announcers, all oldtimers, kept calling it ‘a forkball’ though the action was, obviously, different. The true forkball became a trick pitch nobody threw.

    If the forkball is back and called a fosh, that’s great because, as we see, for those who throw it it’s nasty. I’ve often wondered why more pitching coaches didn’t try teaching it to those having trouble mastering a change-up, but likely the difficulty of controling a forkball dissuaded them.

    Comment by Balthazar — February 18, 2012 @ 4:09 am

  37. Rivera and Venters are nasty. Hard to see their cutters/sinkers falling off next year (if ever) unless they succumb to injury, or in Mo’s case, fatigue.

    Comment by DeliBlue — February 18, 2012 @ 6:26 am

  38. Me too.

    All that really matters is that the middle and ring fingers replace the index and middle fingers on the seams.

    It allows the ball to be be easier pushed against the pads rather than remain at the fingertips.

    With the circle grip, the ball is offset so that the middle finger is the last to touch and in combination with the index and thumb making the “circle” it’s easier to get sideways spin resulting in running action or tailing.

    With the Vulcan grip the ball is more “centered” and can result in a “dropping” change-up more than not. Some pitchers find the Vulcan grip easier to “control” and easier to keep “down in the zone”.

    For batters that read “grip” at release point, the Vulcan change can be harder to pick up than the circle change. For pitchers that expose their pitching hand at some point before release, they can “give away” the circle grip very easily. At release point, some batters can see more finger “on top” as well as the fingers o the “side’ of the ball. I never could.

    What impressed me most about Strasburg is that he had a tailing change to LHBs and a dropping change to RHBs. That’s pitching, brother.

    Pitchers with larger hands may find the Vulcan change more comfortable and easier to control (as well as wrap their hand around the ball). With larger hands, the fingers in a vulcan grip can go outside of the seams rather than on the seams. I’m guessing from his height and bodytype that Halladay has very large hands, long fingers.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — February 18, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

  39. As a pitching instructor I wanted to chime in on the Halladay change up/ splitter debate. There is a difference between a splitter and split change up. For a typical splitter, the fingers will be just a little bit wider than a 2 seam fastball grip with the thumb directly on the bottom of the ball. The thumb then pushes the ball through the fingers on release, causing slow, sideways spin, but velocity that is normally 3-5 mph less than the FB. For a split change, the index and middle fingers are split a bit wider and the thumb is more on the side of the ball. On release, Halladay turns it over, which generates more spin, causing the fade in towards rightys, and velocity that is typically 6-10 mph slower than the fastball.

    A splitter, like Papelbon’s is supposed to get the batter to miss on the drop at end, while the split change is more for upsetting timing and having the hitter swing in front of the pitch.

    Comment by Pitching Coach — February 18, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

  40. They better not stare into the stands, or he’s going to start buzzing them under their chins.

    Comment by Bryz — February 19, 2012 @ 2:08 am

  41. I thought Hoffman’s highly revered change-up was actually a palmball.

    Comment by Bryz — February 19, 2012 @ 2:11 am

  42. Kerry Wood had an incredible hard curve back before he started having arm troubles — just look at the 20K 1-hitter.

    Comment by Brandon T — February 19, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

  43. Halladay throws a changeup. He turns it over like a screwball to get the “drop” effect. A splitty would be faster with less horizantal movement

    Comment by Tim — March 16, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

  44. To Me, Rivera’s cutter is the single greatest pitch of all time due to the fact that it’s equally effective versus both righties and lefties. Over his career, righties having a BA of .213 and an OPS of .583. Lefties have a BA of .207 and an OPS of .522

    Besides that, the other best pitches, at least to me, were Randy Johnson’s slider, Johan Santana’s change up, early K-Rod’s disgusting slider, Pedro Martinez circle change, Wainwright’s Curve, Dwight Gooden’s Curve, Anything that Stephen Strasburg throws, Carmona/Webb sinker, and John Smoltz’s slider.

    One of my good friends went to high school with Ian Kinsler and apparently Ian told him that the two best pitches (at the time) were Rivera’s cutter and Johan’s change up. Mo’s cutter looks like it’s going to hit righties in the wrist and then when it hits the plate it’s right on the outside rubber and Johan’s arm slot for his change up is identical to his fastball which causes the pitch to look exactly like the fastball right up until it hits the plate and completely falls off the table.

    Comment by Ryan — March 22, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

  45. Here to Québec, former Montréal Expos broadcaster play-by-play Jacques Doucet claims since long time then all pitches thrown by pitchers are breaking ball ,even if are those differents kinds clearly obvisous, curve,12-6,sinker,slider and here Quebecers frenchies wants to he earn HOF Baseball for commentators.
    This old guy are too lazy to mention to his listeners how pitcher throws really !

    Now,he broadcast some Blue Jays TV french to TVA Sports in studio in Montreal another shame !

    Comment by Louis de Funeste — May 12, 2012 @ 5:01 am

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