Big league pitchers experiment with different ways to throw a ball to deceive hitters and record-outs. Some pitchers rely on a fastball to blow the ball by hitters, while others like off-speed and breaking ball pitches to throw off a hitter’s timing. One type of off-speed pitch that pitchers sometimes throw is a palmball pitch. If you are a casual baseball fan, you may not have heard of this pitch since not many pitchers throw it today. So what exactly does that pitch do, how fast is it, how is it different from a changeup, and who were notable pitchers to throw it? Find out these questions and more below!
What Does the Palmball Pitch Do?
The palmball pitch is a slow type of pitch, similar to a changeup or circle changeup. The concept of the pitch is to look like a fastball but arrive at home plate slower than expected. Typically speaking, a palmball pitch will clock in 10-15 MPH slower than what a pitcher throws as their fastball.
How to Grip / Throw a Palmball Pitch?
The grip of a palmball requires the starting pitcher or reliever to place the ball tightly in their palm to start. Once the ball is in the palm of their hand, they use their thumb and four fingers for the main grip. Finally, they release the ball similar to a fastball, but the grip makes it arrive at home plate slower than a traditional fastball.
How Similar is the Pitch to Other Changeups?
Most people refer to the palmball as a type of changeup pitch since the core concept is the same. A changeup or circle change looks like a fastball to the hitter but arrives slower to home plate than a fastball. Typically speaking, a palmball and other changeups are around ten miles per hour slower than a traditional four-seam fastball.
There are two primary differences between a palmball pitch and a changeup. The first is that a palmball tends to have a bit more velocity over a circle change. Second, a palmball might have more break as the pitch comes to home plate than a traditional off-speed pitch. The break is not the same as a knuckleball since that has random movement, but it can break more than expected for a hitter as it arrives at home plate.
Why Don’t More Pitchers Throw the Palmball Baseball Pitch Today?
There are a few reasons why pitchers typically don’t throw this pitch anymore. If not appropriately thrown, the pitch can act as a batting practice pitch with no movement, which is easy for any Major League Baseball hitter to hit. Second, pitchers need to have a strong fastball in their pitching arsenal to have the palmball effectively get out hitters with the speed deception. Third, analytics for teams favors fast and sharp breaking pitches in and out of the strike zone to get big leaguers out. While palmballs can be compelling pitches to record outs, teams and organizations opt for something a bit different.
The Best Palmball Pitchers in MLB History
Throughout Major League and Minor League Baseball history, plenty of pitchers have thrown the palmball pitch. While pitchers today don’t typically throw that pitch as often, it is still present in the game at times. Here are some of the all-time best players in the game to use this pitch in their pitching arsenal.
- Roy Halladay
- Trevor Hoffman
- Orlando Hernández
- Joe Boever
- Steve Farr
- Bob Stanley
- Satchel Paige
- Jim Palmer
- Ewell Blackwell
Conclusion on the Palmball Pitch
In conclusion, baseball pitching is an art of deception to record an out against a hitter. There are many types of pitches pitchers can throw to a batter like a slurve, splitter, sinker, fastball, two-seam fastball, and more to record an out. It all comes down to what they are comfortable throwing and what they can throw to record-outs at the end of the day. While the palmball isn’t as widely used as traditional breaking balls to get hitters out, this pitch still holds a lot of value to some pitchers in their pitching arsenal.