Pitcher

In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throws the 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 pitcher is assigned the number 1. The pitcher is often considered the most important player on the defensive side of the game, and as such is situated at the right end of the defensive spectrum. There are many different types of pitchers, such as the starting pitcher, relief pitcher, middle reliever, lefty specialist, setup man, and the closer.

Traditionally, the pitcher also bats. Starting in 1973 with the American League and spreading to further leagues throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the hitting duties of the pitcher have generally been given over to the position of designated hitter, a cause of some controversy. The National League in Major League Baseball and the Japanese Central League are among the remaining leagues that have not adopted the designated hitter position.

Overview

(video) Hiroshima Toyo Carp number 18, Kenta Maeda, pitching a ball.

In most cases, the objective of the pitcher is to deliver the pitch to the catcher without allowing the batter to hit the ball with the bat. A successful pitch is delivered in such a way that the batter either allows the pitch to pass through the strike zone, swings the bat at the ball and misses it, or hits the ball poorly (resulting in a pop fly or ground out). If the batter elects not to swing at the pitch, it is called a strike if any part of the ball passes through the strike zone and a ball when no part of the ball passes through the strike zone. A check swing is when the batter begins to swing, but then stops the swing short. If the batter successfully checks the swing and the pitch is out of the strike zone, it is called a ball.

There are two legal pitching positions, the windup and the set position or stretch. Either position may be used at any time; typically, the windup is used when the bases are empty, while the set position is used when at least one runner is on base. Each position has certain procedures that must be followed. A balk can be called on a pitcher from either position. A power pitcher is one who relies on the velocity of his pitches to succeed.[1] Generally, power pitchers record a high percentage of strikeouts. A control pitcher succeeds by throwing accurate pitches and thus records few walks.

Baseball P
The position of the pitcher

Nearly all action during a game is centered on the pitcher for the defensive team. A pitcher's particular style, time taken between pitches, and skill heavily influence the dynamics of the game and can often determine the victor. Starting with the pivot foot on the pitcher's rubber at the center of the pitcher's mound, which is 60 feet 6 inches (18.44 m) from home plate, the pitcher throws the baseball to the catcher, who is positioned behind home plate and catches the ball. Meanwhile, a batter stands in the batter's box at one side of the plate, and attempts to bat the ball safely into fair play.

The type and sequence of pitches chosen depend upon the particular situation in a game. Because pitchers and catchers must coordinate each pitch, a system of hand signals is used by the catcher to communicate choices to the pitcher, who either vetoes or accepts by shaking his head or nodding. The relationship between pitcher and catcher is so important that some teams select the starting catcher for a particular game based on the starting pitcher. Together, the pitcher and catcher are known as the battery.

Although the object and mechanics of pitching remain the same, pitchers may be classified according to their roles and effectiveness. The starting pitcher begins the game, and he may be followed by various relief pitchers, such as the long reliever, the left-handed specialist, the middle reliever, the setup man, and/or the closer.

In Major League Baseball, every team uses Baseball Rubbing Mud to rub game balls in before their pitchers use them in games.[2]

Pitching in a game

Baseball pitch release
A Navy pitcher releases the baseball from the pitcher's mound
Baseball pitch delivery
Delivery of the baseball from the pitcher to catcher

A skilled pitcher often throws a variety of different pitches to prevent the batter from hitting the ball well. The most basic pitch is a fastball, where the pitcher throws the ball as hard as he can. Some pitchers are able to throw a fastball at a speed over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h; 150 ft/s), ex., Aroldis Chapman. Other common types of pitches are the curveball, slider, changeup, cutter, sinker, screwball, forkball, split-fingered fastball, slurve, and knuckleball. These generally are intended to have unusual movement or to deceive the batter as to the rotation or velocity of the ball, making it more difficult to hit. Very few pitchers throw all of these pitches, but most use a subset or blend of the basic types. Some pitchers also release pitches from different arm angles, making it harder for the batter to pick up the flight of the ball. (See List of baseball pitches.) A pitcher who is throwing well on a particular day is said to have brought his "good stuff."

There are a number of distinct throwing styles used by pitchers. The most common style is a three-quarters delivery in which the pitcher's arm snaps downward with the release of the ball. Some pitchers use a sidearm delivery in which the arm arcs laterally to the torso. Some pitchers use a submarine style in which the pitcher's body tilts sharply downward on delivery, creating an exaggerated sidearm motion in which the pitcher's knuckles come very close to the mound.

Effective pitching is vitally important in baseball. In baseball statistics, for each game, one pitcher will be credited with winning the game, and one pitcher will be charged with losing it. This is not necessarily the starting pitchers for each team, however, as a reliever can get a win and the starter would then get a no-decision.

Rotation and specialization

Pitching is physically demanding, especially if the pitcher is throwing with maximum effort. A full game usually involves 120–170 pitches thrown by each team, and most pitchers begin to tire before they reach this point. As a result, the pitcher who starts a game often will not be the one who finishes it, and he may not be recovered enough to pitch again for a few days. The act of throwing a baseball at high speed is very unnatural to the body and somewhat damaging to human muscles; thus pitchers are very susceptible to injuries, soreness, and general pain.

20070616 Chris Young visits Wrigley (4)-edit3
Chris Young throws a four-seam fastball in the bullpen pregame.

Teams have devised two strategies to address this problem: rotation and specialization. To accommodate playing nearly every day, a team will include a group of pitchers who start games and rotate between them, allowing each pitcher to rest for a few days between starts. A team's roster of starting pitchers are usually not even in terms of skill. Exceptional pitchers are highly sought after and in the professional ranks draw large salaries, thus teams can seldom stock each slot in the rotation with top-quality pitchers.

The best starter in the team's rotation is called the ace. He is usually followed in the rotation by 3 or 4 other starters before he would be due to pitch again. Barring injury or exceptional circumstances, the ace is usually the pitcher that starts on Opening Day. Aces are also preferred to start crucial games late in the season and in the playoffs; sometimes they are asked to pitch on shorter rest if the team feels he would be more effective than the 4th or 5th starter. Typically, the further down in the rotation a starting pitcher is, the weaker he is compared with the others on the staff. The "5th starter" is seen as the cut-off between the starting staff and the bullpen. A team may have a designated 5th starter, sometimes known as a spot starter or that role may shift cycle to cycle between members of the bullpen or Triple-A starters. Differences in rotation setup could also have tactical considerations as well, such as alternating right- or left-handed pitchers, in order to throw off the other team's hitting game-to-game in a series.

Teams have additional pitchers reserved to replace that game's starting pitcher if he tires or proves ineffective. These players are called relief pitchers, relievers, or collectively the bullpen. Once a starter begins to tire or is starting to give up hits and runs a call is made to the bullpen to have a reliever start to warm up. This involves the reliever starting to throw practice balls to a coach in the bullpen so as to be ready to come in and pitch whenever the manager wishes to pull the current pitcher. Having a reliever warm up does not always mean he will be used; the current pitcher may regain his composure and retire the side, or the manager may choose to go with another reliever if strategy dictates. Commonly, pitching changes will occur as a result of a pinch hitter being used in the late innings of a game, especially if the pitcher is in the batting lineup due to not having the designated hitter. A reliever would then come out of the bullpen to pitch the next inning.

When making a pitching change a manager will come out to the mound. He will then call in a pitcher by the tap of the arm which the next pitcher throws with. The manager or pitching coach may also come out to discuss strategy with the pitcher, but on his second trip to the mound with the same pitcher in the same inning, the pitcher has to come out. The relief pitchers often have even more specialized roles, and the particular reliever used depends on the situation. Many teams designate one pitcher as the closer, a relief pitcher specifically reserved to pitch the final inning or innings of a game when his team has a narrow lead, in order to preserve the victory. Other relief roles include set-up men, middle relievers, left-handed specialists, and long relievers. Generally, relievers pitch fewer innings and throw fewer pitches than starters, but they can usually pitch more frequently without the need for several days of rest between appearances. Relief pitchers are typically guys with "special stuff". Meaning that they have really effective pitches or a very different style of delivery. This makes the batter see a very different way of pitching in attempt to get them out. One example is a sidearm or submarine pitcher.

Position players are eligible to pitch in a game as well, this however is rare as these players are not truly trained as pitchers and risk injury. (For instance, in a 1993 game, Jose Canseco suffered a season ending arm injury after pitching 2 innings.) Plus, they tend to throw with less velocity. For these reasons, managers will typically only use a position player as a pitcher in a blowout loss, or if they have run out of available pitchers in order to avoid a forfeit (the latter typically only happens in extra-inning games). Cliff Pennington of the Toronto Blue Jays, who pitched 1/3 of an inning in game 4 of the 2015 American League Championship Series en route to a 14-2 loss, was the only documented position player to pitch during the postseason, until Austin Romine of the New York Yankees pitched the ninth inning of Game 3 in a 16-1 loss against the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 American League Division Series. The only regulation game in which both pitchers of record were position players occurred on May 6, 2012, when the Baltimore Orioles' designated hitter Chris Davis was the winner in a 16-inning game against Boston while Red Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald took the loss.

After the ball is pitched

The pitcher's duty does not cease after he pitches the ball. Unlike the other fielders, a pitcher and catcher must start every play in a designated area. The pitcher must be on the pitcher's mound, with one foot in contact with the pitcher's rubber, and the catcher must be behind home plate in the catcher's box. Once the ball is in play, however, the pitcher and catcher, like the other fielders, can respond to any part of the field necessary to make or assist in a defensive play.[3] At that point, the pitcher has several standard roles. The pitcher must attempt to field any balls coming up the middle, and in fact a Gold Glove Award is reserved for the pitcher with the best fielding ability. He must head over to first base, to be available to cover it, on balls hit to the right side, since the first baseman might be fielding them too far to the baseman's right to reach first base before the batter-runner can. Except for the first baseman, the pitcher ordinarily has the shortest run to first base of anyone other than the first baseman, and is the second-most-likely person to make a putout at first base by retrieving a fielded ball thrown by an infielder (typically a first baseman). On passed balls and wild pitches, he covers home-plate when there are runners on. Also, he generally backs up throws to home plate. When there is a throw from the outfield to third base, he has to back up the play to third base as well.

Pitching biomechanics

The physical act of overhand pitching is complex and unnatural to the human anatomy. Most major league pitchers throw at speeds between 70 and 100 mph, with fastballs, the most common pitch, generally ranging from 86-102mph, putting high amounts of stress on the pitching arm. Pitchers are by far the most frequently injured players and many professional pitchers will have multiple surgeries to repair damage in the elbow and shoulder by the end of their careers.

As such, the biomechanics of pitching are closely studied and taught by coaches at all levels and are an important field in sports medicine. Glenn Fleisig, a biomechanist who specializes in the analysis of baseball movements, says that pitching is "the most violent human motion ever measured."[4] He claims that the pelvis can rotate at 515–667°/sec, the trunk can rotate at 1,068–1,224°/s, the elbow can reach a maximal angular velocity of 2,200–2,700°/s and the force pulling the pitcher's throwing arm away from the shoulder at ball release is approximately 280 pounds-force (1,200 N).[4]

The overhead throwing motion can be divided into phases which include windup, early cocking, late cocking, early acceleration, late acceleration, deceleration, and follow-through.[5] Training for pitchers often includes targeting one or several of these phases. Biomechanical evaluations are sometimes done on individual pitchers to help determine points of inefficiency.[6] Mechanical measurements that are assessed include, but are not limited to, foot position at stride foot contact (SFC), elbow flexion during arm cocking and acceleration phases, maximal external rotation during arm cocking, horizontal abduction at SFC, arm abduction, lead knee position during arm cocking, trunk tilt, peak angular velocity of throwing arm and angle of wrist.[7][8][9]

Some players begin intense mechanical training at a young age, a practice that has been criticized by many coaches and doctors, with some citing an increase in Tommy John surgeries in recent years.[10] Fleisig lists nine recommendations for preventative care of children's arms.[11] 1) Watch and respond to signs of fatigue. 2) Youth pitchers should not pitch competitively in more than 8 months in any 12-month period. 3) Follow limits for pitch counts and days of rest. 4) Youth pitchers should avoid pitching on multiple teams with overlapping seasons. 5) Youth pitchers should learn good throwing mechanics as soon as possible: basic throwing, fastball pitching and change-up pitching. 6) Avoid using radar guns. 7) A pitcher should not also be a catcher for his/her team. The pitcher catcher combination results in many throws and may increase the risk of injury. 8) If a pitcher complains of pain in his/her elbow, get an evaluation from a sports medicine physician. 9) Inspire youth to have fun playing baseball and other sports. Participation and enjoyment of various activities will increase the youth's athleticism and interest in sports.[11]

To counteract shoulder and elbow injury, coaches and trainers have begun utilizing "jobe" exercises, named for Dr. Frank Jobe, the pioneer of the Tommy John procedure.[12] Jobes are exercises that have been developed to isolate, strengthen and stabilize the rotator cuff muscles. Jobes can be done using either resistance bands or lightweight dumbbells. Common jobe exercises include shoulder external rotation, shoulder flexion, horizontal abduction, prone abduction and scaption (at 45°, 90° and inverse 45°).

In addition to the Jobes exercises, many pitching coaches are creating lifting routines that are specialized for pitchers. Pitchers should avoid exercises that deal with a barbell. The emphasis on the workout should be on the legs and the core. Other body parts should be worked on but using lighter weights. Over lifting muscles, especially while throwing usually ends up in a strain muscle or possible a tear.

Equipment

Other than the catcher, pitchers and other fielders wear very few pieces of equipment. In general the ball cap, baseball glove and cleats are equipment used. Pitchers may also keep with them at the mound a bag of powdered rosin. Handling the bag applies a small layer of the rosin to the pitcher’s fingers in order to increase his grip on the ball.

Currently there is a new trend of introducing a pitcher helmet to provide head protection from batters hitting line drives back to the pitcher. As of January 2014, MLB approved a protective pitchers cap which can be worn by any pitcher if they choose.[13] San Diego Padres relief pitcher, Alex Torres was the first player in MLB to wear the protective cap.[14]

One style of helmet is worn on top of the ballcap to provide protection to the forehead and sides.[15]

In softball, a full face helmet is available to all players including pitchers.[16] These fielder's masks are becoming increasingly popular in younger fast pitch leagues, some leagues even requiring them.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Velocity". Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. 2007. Retrieved August 10, 2007.
  2. ^ Schneider, Jason (July 4, 2006). "All-American mud needed to take shine off baseballs". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  3. ^ Baseball Explained, by Phillip Mahony. McFarland Books, 2014. See www.baseballexplained.com Archived August 13, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b Dean, J. (October 2010). "Perfect Pitch". WIRED. 18 (10): 62.
  5. ^ Benjamin, Holly J.; Briner, William W., Jr. (2005), "Little League Elbow", Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 15 (1): 37–40, doi:10.1097/00042752-200501000-00008
  6. ^ "Pitching Biomechanical Evaluation". Archived from the original on March 16, 2008. Retrieved May 25, 2008.
  7. ^ Whiteley, R. (2007). "Baseball throwing mechanics as they relate to pathology and performance – A review". Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 6 (1): 1–20.
  8. ^ Barrentine, S. W.; Matsuo, T.; Escamilla, R. F.; Fleisig, G. S.; Andrews, J. R. (1998). "Kinematic Analysis of the Wrist and Forearm during Baseball Pitching". Journal of Applied Biomechanics. 14 (1): 24–39. doi:10.1123/jab.14.1.24.
  9. ^ Matsuo, T., Matsumoto, T., & Takada, Y. (1999). Influence of different shoulder abduction angles during baseball pitching on throwing performance and joint kinetics. p.389-392.. (). Australia:
  10. ^ Rick Peterson (February 6, 2009). "Pitching Perspectives with Rick Peterson: Understanding the Epidemic of Youth Pitching Injuries". fullcountpitch.com.
  11. ^ a b Fleisig, G. S.; Weber, A.; Hassell, N.; Andrews, J. R. (2009). "Prevention of elbow injuries in youth baseball pitchers". Current Sports Medicine Reports. 8 (5): 250–254. doi:10.1249/jsr.0b013e3181b7ee5f. PMC 3435945. PMID 23016115.
  12. ^ Jeran, J. J.; Chetlin, R. D. (2005). "Training the shoulder complex in baseball pitchers: A sport-specific approach". Strength & Conditioning Journal. Allen Press. 27 (4): 14–31. doi:10.1519/1533-4295(2005)27[14:ttscib]2.0.co;2.
  13. ^ "Pitchers' protective caps approved". ESPN.com. January 28, 2014.
  14. ^ "Who was the first pitcher to wear protective headgear". July 1, 2014. Archived from the original on March 4, 2015.
  15. ^ "New Pitching Helmet Prototype Unveiled by Easton-Bell Sports". Reuters. March 7, 2011. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  16. ^ "Softball Helmet: Selection and prices for the popular models". Fastpitch-softball-coaching.com. March 21, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2014.

Further reading

2013 Major League Baseball draft

The 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft was held from June 6 through June 8, 2013. It was broadcast from Studio 42 of the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey, but only during first and second rounds.

Each team received one selection per round, going in reverse order of the 2012 MLB season final standings. In addition, teams could receive compensation draft picks if they made a qualifying offer to a free agent player from their team, if the player rejected the offer and signed with another team.

2014 Major League Baseball draft

The 2014 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft was held from June 5 through June 7, 2014, to assign amateur baseball players to MLB teams. The first two rounds were conducted on June 5, followed by rounds three through ten on June 6, and the last 30 rounds on June 7. It was broadcast from Studio 42 of the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey.

The draft order was the reverse order of the 2013 MLB regular season standings. As the Astros finished the 2013 season with the worst record, they had the first overall selection for the third consecutive year. In addition, the Toronto Blue Jays got the 11th pick, as compensation for failing to sign Phil Bickford, the 10th overall selection of the 2013 MLB Draft. The St. Louis Cardinals got bumped from #30 to #31 because although tied with the Boston Red Sox for most wins in the 2013 regular season, the Red Sox had fewer wins in 2012.

Kansas City Royals first round draft pick Brandon Finnegan made his Major League debut on September 6, 2014, the first player to reach the majors from the 2014 draft class, with Carlos Rodon the second. Rodon first appeared for the Chicago White Sox on April 21, 2015. Finnegan became the first player to play in both the College World Series, for TCU, and the MLB World Series, for Kansas City, in the same year. Kyle Schwarber was the first position player to reach the majors from the 2014 draft class doing so June 16, 2015.

2015 Major League Baseball draft

The 2015 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft was held from June 8 through June 10, 2015, to assign amateur baseball players to MLB teams. The draft order is the reverse order of the 2014 MLB season standings. As the Diamondbacks finished the 2014 season with the worst record, they had the first overall selection. In addition, the Houston Astros had the 2nd pick of the 2015 draft, as compensation for failing to sign Brady Aiken, the first overall selection of the 2014 MLB Draft.

Twelve free agents received and rejected qualifying offers of $15.3 million for the 2015 season, entitling their teams to compensatory draft choices if they are signed by another team. The team signing the player will lose their first round choice, though the first ten picks are protected. The New York Mets surrendered their first round pick (15th overall) to sign Michael Cuddyer, while the Colorado Rockies gained a supplementary pick. The Toronto Blue Jays lost their pick for signing Russell Martin, giving a compensatory pick to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Boston Red Sox surrendered their second- and third-round picks (Boston's first pick is protected) to sign Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramírez. The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers received supplementary picks.Dean Kremer became the first ever Israeli drafted in an MLB draft, when selected in the 39th round, by the Padres.

2016 Major League Baseball draft

The 2016 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft began on June 9, 2016, to assign amateur baseball players to MLB teams.

The draft order is the reverse order of the 2015 MLB season standings. In addition, compensation picks will be distributed for players who did not sign from the 2015 MLB Draft. The Philadelphia Phillies received the first overall selection. The Los Angeles Dodgers received the 36th pick as compensation for failing to sign Kyle Funkhouser, the 35th overall selection of the 2015 MLB Draft.Teams from the smallest markets and revenue pools are eligible for competitive balance draft picks. The first six picks, Round A, were determined by lottery between the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, and St. Louis Cardinals. The six preceding teams that do not receive a pick in Round A were entered into a second lottery, with the Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, and Seattle Mariners, to receive the six picks in Round B. The twelve competitive balance draft picks are the only picks allowed to be traded. The Reds received the first pick in Round A, followed by the Athletics, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Marlins, and Pirates. The Padres received the first pick of Round B, followed by the Indians, Twins, Brewers, Orioles, and Rays.

2017 Major League Baseball draft

The 2017 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft began on June 12, 2017. The draft assigned amateur baseball players to MLB teams. The first 36 picks, including the first round and compensatory picks, were broadcast on MLB Network on June 12, while the remainder of the draft was live streamed on MLB.com on June 13 and 14.With the worst record in the 2016 MLB season, the Minnesota Twins received the first overall pick. Compensation picks were distributed for players who did not sign from the 2016 MLB Draft. Also, fourteen small-market teams competed in a lottery for additional competitive balance picks, with six teams receiving an additional pick after the first round, and eight teams receiving an additional pick after the second round. The Twins selected Royce Lewis with the first overall selection.

2018 Major League Baseball draft

The 2018 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft began on June 4, 2018. The draft assigned amateur baseball players to MLB teams. The draft order was determined based on the reverse order of the 2017 MLB season final standings. In addition, compensation picks were distributed for players who did not sign from the 2017 MLB Draft and for teams who lose qualifying free agents. The first 43 picks, including the first round and compensatory picks, were broadcast by MLB Network on June 4. The remainder of the draft was streamed on MLB.com on June 5 and 6.

With a tie for the worst record in the 2017 MLB season at 64–98, the Detroit Tigers received the first overall pick ahead of the San Francisco Giants via a tiebreaker. The Detroit Tigers selected Casey Mize with the first overall pick in the draft. There were a total of 40 rounds in the draft, with 1,214 players selected.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Edward Kershaw (born March 19, 1988) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball (MLB). A left-handed starting pitcher, Kershaw has played in the major leagues since 2008, and his career earned run average (ERA) and walks and hits per innings pitched average (WHIP) are the lowest among starters in the live-ball era with a minimum of 1,000 innings pitched. Kershaw has a career hits allowed per nine innings pitched average of 6.61—the second-lowest in MLB history—along with three Cy Young Awards and the 2014 National League Most Valuable Player Award. He has been described throughout the majority of his career as the best pitcher in baseball.Kershaw was drafted seventh overall in the 2006 MLB draft. He worked his way through the Dodgers' farm system in just one full season, and reached the majors at 20 years old. When he debuted in 2008, he was the youngest player in MLB, a title he held for one full year. In 2011, he won the pitching Triple Crown and the National League Cy Young Award, becoming the youngest pitcher to accomplish either of these feats since Dwight Gooden in 1985. During the 2013 off-season, the Dodgers signed Kershaw to a franchise record seven-year, $215 million contract extension. Kershaw pitched a no-hitter on June 18, 2014, becoming the 22nd Dodger to do so. Being a left-handed strikeout pitcher and playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kershaw has often been compared to Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax. He became the first pitcher in history to lead MLB in ERA for four consecutive years when he did so in the 2011 through 2014 seasons.Off the field, Kershaw is an active participant in volunteer work. He and his wife, Ellen, launched "Kershaw's Challenge" and wrote the book Arise to raise money to build an orphanage in Zambia. He has been honored with the Roberto Clemente Award and the Branch Rickey Award for his humanitarian work.

Cy Young Award

The Cy Young Award is given annually to the best pitchers in Major League Baseball (MLB), one each for the American League (AL) and National League (NL). The award was first introduced in 1956 by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick in honor of Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young, who died in 1955. The award was originally given to the single best pitcher in the major leagues, but in 1967, after the retirement of Frick, the award was given to one pitcher in each league.Each league's award is voted on by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, with one representative from each team. As of the 2010 season, each voter places a vote for first, second, third, fourth and fifth place among the pitchers of each league. The formula used to calculate the final scores is a weighted sum of the votes. The pitcher with the highest score in each league wins the award. If two pitchers receive the same number of votes, the award is shared. The current formula started in the 2010 season. Before that, dating back to 1970, writers voted for three pitchers, with the formula of 5 points for a first place vote, 3 for a second place vote and 1 for a third place vote. Prior to 1970, writers only voted for the best pitcher and used a formula of one point per vote.

Designated hitter

In baseball, the designated hitter rule is the common name for Major League Baseball Rule 5.11, adopted by the American League in 1973. The rule allows teams to have one player, known as the designated hitter (or DH), to bat in place of the pitcher. Since 1973, most collegiate, amateur, and professional leagues have adopted the rule or some variant. MLB's National League and Nippon Professional Baseball's Central League are the most prominent professional leagues that do not use a designated hitter.

Greg Maddux

Gregory Alan Maddux (born April 14, 1966) is an American former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher. Maddux is best known for his accomplishments while playing for the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs. With the Braves, he won the 1995 World Series over the Cleveland Indians. The first to achieve a number of feats and records, he was the first pitcher in major league history to win the Cy Young Award for four consecutive years (1992–1995), matched by only one other pitcher, Randy Johnson. During those four seasons, Maddux had a 75–29 record with a 1.98 earned run average (ERA), while allowing less than one baserunner per inning.Maddux is the only pitcher in MLB history to win at least 15 games for 17 straight seasons. In addition, he holds the record for most Gold Gloves with 18. A superb control pitcher, Maddux won more games during the 1990s than any other pitcher and is 8th on the all-time career wins list with 355. Since the start of the post-1920 live-ball era, only Warren Spahn (363) recorded more career wins than Maddux. He is one of only 10 pitchers ever to achieve both 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts, and is the only pitcher to record more than 300 wins, more than 3,000 strikeouts, and fewer than 1,000 walks.Since his retirement as a player, Maddux has also served as a special assistant to the general manager for both the Cubs and Texas Rangers. On January 8, 2014, he was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, in his first year of eligibility, receiving 97.2 percent of the votes.

Justin Verlander

Justin Brooks Verlander (born February 20, 1983) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Detroit Tigers for 13 seasons, with whom he made his major league debut on July 4, 2005. A right-handed batter and thrower, Verlander stands 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) tall and weighs 225 pounds (102 kg).

From Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, Verlander attended Old Dominion University (ODU) and played college baseball for the Monarchs. He broke the Monarchs' and Colonial Athletic Association's career records for strikeouts. At the 2003 Pan American Games, Verlander helped lead the United States national team to a silver medal. The Tigers selected him in the first round and as the second overall pick of the 2004 first-year player draft. As a former ace in the Tigers' starting rotation, he was a key figure in four consecutive American League (AL) Central division championships from 2011−2014, and in the Astros' first World Series championship in 2017. He is among the career pitching leaders for the Tigers, including ranking second in strikeouts (2,373), seventh in wins (183), and eighth in innings pitched (2511).

The winner of a number of accolades, Verlander is a seven-time MLB All-Star, has led the AL in strikeouts five times and in wins twice. He was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2006, and on June 12, 2007, pitched the first no-hitter at Comerica Park versus the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2009, he led the AL in wins and strikeouts, both for the first time. Verlander produced his most successful season in 2011, including his second career no-hitter versus the Toronto Blue Jays on May 7, 2011. By season's end, Verlander won the Pitching Triple Crown, the AL Cy Young Award unanimously, the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, and the Sporting News Player of the Year Award.

On August 31, 2017, the Tigers traded Verlander to the Houston Astros just before the trade deadline, and he immediately became an impact for the team, going undefeated in his first five starts heading into the postseason. He helped lead the Astros to the 2017 World Series, which they won over the Los Angeles Dodgers, giving him his first career ring. For his performance in the 2017 American League Championship Series, he was named MVP, and was co-winner of the Babe Ruth Award (with teammate José Altuve) for most outstanding performance in the 2017 postseason. In the 2018 season, Verlander became the 114th pitcher in major league history to reach 200 career wins, also becoming the 20th fastest to reach the milestone (412 starts).

Madison Bumgarner

Madison Kyle Bumgarner (born August 1, 1989), commonly known by his nickname, "MadBum", is an American professional baseball pitcher for the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball (MLB). Bumgarner has won three World Series championships (2010, 2012, 2014) and two Silver Slugger Awards (2014, 2015). He has also been selected to four National League All-Star teams and has the second-most strikeouts in franchise history by a Giants left-handed pitcher.Bumgarner played high school baseball at South Caldwell High School in Hudson, North Carolina, where he helped his team win the 2007 4A State Championship. After graduating, he was selected with the tenth overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants. In 2008, his first year playing professionally, he won the South Atlantic League pitching triple crown. He and Buster Posey both made their Major League debuts in 2009, and have since established a reputation as one of the best batteries in recent MLB history, largely due to their prolific success early in their careers. Bumgarner pitched eight scoreless innings in Game 4 of the 2010 World Series, making him the youngest left-handed pitcher to start a World Series game, and helping win the franchise's first World Series in San Francisco and the first since 1954. Two years later, Bumgarner pitched seven more scoreless innings in Game 2 of the 2012 World Series. Bumgarner became the ace of a Giants pitching staff that won three World Series championships in a five-year span.

Following one of the most dominant postseason and World Series pitching performances in modern MLB history, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 World Series, the 2014 Babe Ruth Award winner, the 2014 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, and the 2014 Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.

Nolan Ryan

Lynn Nolan Ryan Jr. (born January 31, 1947), nicknamed The Ryan Express, is an American former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher and a previous chief executive officer (CEO) of the Texas Rangers. He is currently an executive adviser to the owner of the Houston Astros.

Over a record 27-year baseball career that spanned four decades: 1966, 1968–1993, Ryan pitched for the New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros, and Texas Rangers. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.Ryan, a hard-throwing, right-handed pitcher, threw pitches that were regularly clocked above 100 miles per hour (161 km/h). He maintained this velocity throughout his career, even into his 40s. Ryan was also known to throw a devastating 12–6 curveball at exceptional velocity for a breaking ball.Ryan had a lifetime winning percentage of .526, and he was an eight-time MLB All-Star. His 5,714 career strikeouts is an MLB record by a significant margin. He leads the runner-up, Randy Johnson, by 839 strikeouts. Similarly, Ryan's 2,795 bases on balls lead second-place Steve Carlton by 962—walking over 50% more hitters than any other pitcher in MLB history. Ryan, Pedro Martínez, Randy Johnson, and Sandy Koufax are the only four pitchers inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame who had more strikeouts than innings pitched. Besides Jackie Robinson (whose number was retired by Major League Baseball) and Frank Robinson (3 teams), Ryan is the only other major league baseball player to have his number retired by at least three teams: the Angels, Astros, and Rangers.

Ryan is the all-time leader in no-hitters with seven, three more than any other pitcher. He is tied with Bob Feller for the most one-hitters, with 12. Ryan also pitched 18 two-hitters. Despite the seven no-hitters, he never pitched a perfect game, nor did he ever win a Cy Young Award. Ryan is one of only 29 players in baseball history to have appeared in Major League baseball games in four decades and the only MLB pitcher to strike out seven pairs of fathers and sons.

Pitcher plant

Pitcher plants are several different carnivorous plants which have modified leaves known as pitfall traps—a prey-trapping mechanism featuring a deep cavity filled with digestive liquid. The traps of what are considered to be "true" pitcher plants are formed by specialized leaves. The plants attract and drown their prey with nectar.

Relief pitcher

In baseball and softball, a relief pitcher or reliever is a pitcher who enters the game after the starting pitcher is removed due to injury, ineffectiveness, fatigue, ejection, or for other strategic reasons, such as inclement weather delays or pinch hitter substitutions. Relief pitchers are further divided informally into various roles, such as closers, setup men, middle relief pitchers, left/right-handed specialists, and long relievers. Whereas starting pitchers usually rest several days before pitching in a game again due to the number of pitches thrown, relief pitchers are expected to be more flexible and typically pitch more games but with fewer innings pitched. A team's staff of relievers is normally referred to metonymically as a team's bullpen, which refers to the area where the relievers sit during games, and where they warm-up prior to entering the game.

Starting pitcher

In baseball (hardball or softball), a starting pitcher or starter is the first pitcher in the game for each team. A pitcher is credited with a game started if they throw the first pitch to the opponent's first batter of a game. A pitcher who enters the game after the first pitch of the game is a relief pitcher. Starting pitchers are expected to pitch for a significant portion of the game, although their ability to do this depends on many factors, including effectiveness, stamina, health, and strategy.

A starting pitcher in professional baseball usually rests three, four, or five days after pitching a game before pitching another. Therefore, most professional baseball teams have four, five or six starting pitchers on their rosters. These pitchers, and the sequence in which they pitch, is known as the rotation. In modern baseball, a five-man rotation is most common.

Strikeout

In baseball or softball, a strikeout (or strike-out) occurs when a batter racks up three strikes during a time at bat. It usually means the batter is out. A strikeout is a statistic recorded for both pitchers and batters, and is denoted by K. A strikeout looking is denoted by a Ʞ.Although a strikeout suggests that the pitcher dominated the batter, the free-swinging style that generates home runs also leaves batters susceptible to striking out. Some of the greatest home run hitters of all time — such as Alex Rodriguez, Reggie Jackson, and Sammy Sosa — were notorious for striking out.

Win–loss record (pitching)

In baseball and softball, a pitcher's win–loss record (also referred to simply as their record) indicates the number of wins (denoted "W") and losses (denoted "L") they have been credited with. For example, a 20–10 win–loss record would represent 20 wins and 10 losses.

In each game, one pitcher on the winning team is awarded a win (the "winning pitcher") and one pitcher on the losing team is given a loss (the "losing pitcher") in their respective statistics. These pitchers are collectively known as the pitchers of record. The designation of win or loss for a pitcher is known as a decision, and only one pitcher for each team receives a decision. A starting pitcher who does not receive credit for a win or loss is said to have no decision. In certain situations, another pitcher on the winning team who pitched in relief of the winning pitcher can be credited with a save, and holds can be awarded to relief pitchers on both sides, but these are never awarded to the same pitcher who is awarded the win.

The decisions are awarded by the official scorer of the game in accordance with the league's rules. The official scorer does not assign a winning or losing pitcher in some games which are forfeited, such as those that are tied at the time of forfeiture. If the game is tied (a rare event), no pitcher is awarded any decision. A pitcher's winning percentage is calculated by dividing the number of wins by the number of decisions (wins plus losses), and it is commonly expressed with three decimal places.

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